Mock the Vote
09-24-2009
At some point in the past 20 years, you have probably seen a celebrity in an MTV Rock the Vote public service announcement encouraging young citizens to vote, only to learn later that the celebrity’s own record of turning out at the polls is somewhat less than stellar. But what if the voter absent on Election Day is instead a serious candidate for a major elected office? Such is the case of former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, who is running for the Republican nomination to replace Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. It appears that Whitman’s voting record (until recently) is almost nonexistent.
 
Whitman has already issued a public mea culpa (while still managing to tweak her opponent in the same breath), in hopes of moving on with her campaign. It is true that some individuals believe that voting is an irrational act, since any single vote is unlikely to change an electoral outcome, but Whitman certainly isn’t taking that particular angle on her dereliction of civic duty.
 
As someone who has spent many years trying to help students appreciate the notion of personal efficacy that can go along with participation in the political process, I am interested to see whether any of this will matter to California voters. While voting is not the same as governing, and Whitman’s big selling point is no doubt her private sector management experience, it sure will make for an awkward (and rare) photo op at the voting booth on Election Day.


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