A member of my friends’ list, aspasia93, recommended a site this morning:
Don’t Vote.org

The site’s premise is a test to show you that the average person is uninformed about local politics and that until you have a better understanding of the issues, you should not vote. In the site’s opinion: haphazard guessing does more damage to our electoral system than anything else. They support voting, but only AFTER you have thoroughly educated yourself.

Personally, I’m going to say this site is an absolute waste of your time. I disagree with the message they are giving, the means they are using, and most importantly the hypocrisy of the site.

I’ll give you an overview of how the site works, why I think what they are doing is pointless to their message, and then my impressions about what is actually going on.

Don’t Vote gives you an exam. 30 pages each with a picture, and two questions.
Question 1: Who is this person
Question 2: What is their title

We of course start with GWB. Of course there are also pictures of Bill Frist, Kofi Annan, Nancy Pelosi, and of course Ban Ki-Moon. Oh, there’s also pictures of Martin Sheen, Alec Baldwin, Madonna, and Paris Hilton as well as Laura Bush.

Some of you are probably already wondering, “Who the hell is Ban Ki-Moon?” He will replace Kofi Annan as “Head” of the UN on the first of the year.

Now here’s where this all goes wrong:

The average person would not recognize many of the faces, though they might recognize the names and titles.

Unfortunately, if you don’t know the face of the Senate minority leader.. then you are haphazardly guessing.

The savvy internet user will probably have two panes open and google/wikipedia the names they don’t recognize and then score well. Much like the last minute research many of us do on the issues.

But the harshest part was when I didn’t recognize Paris Hilton. Overall I got 97%. I was docked 3% for not recognizing Paris. This is the same 3% I would have been docked for not recognizing the President. The actors are thrown in to ask, “Do you know that they are actors and not important leaders?” But it would seem my inability to recognize Paris does count against my ability to vote knowledgeably.

This site also does not actually mention any issues at all. It simply gives you a series of photographs of political figures and titles.

The site was created by Internet entrepreneur Phillip Ferreira who created a dating site and a car sales site. I am amused that the one or two democratic women that are pictured look like rehab pictures from the tabloids while the rest look like they were taken from well crafted publicity materials.

I completely advocate an informed vote. I think folks are being rallied to vote by friends, peers and people of similar philosophy and politics. But I think these people are being motivated because they have an understanding of their opinions and some of the issues. The problem is that they are still competing with the wealth of traditional, habitual voters who have been blindly voting party lines for several generations.

The site is aimed at the newer voter (in my opinion) as a form of intimidation. And I do not believe it succeeds in putting forth the ideals it claims.

I found an article agreeing with me on this on Beliblog while researching this post. This article recommends the AARP’s Don’t Vote.org site. I haven’t checked this one yet.

Please get out and vote today if you can. But above all else. Have an understanding of what you are voting for. Because so few people who do vote really do understand what they are voting for.

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