The purpose of voting is to elect political leaders through the democratic process. All citizens in the United States and democracies in the world have the right to vote. Voting is the only way through citizens exercises power on who to represent them and determine how to be represented.
According to Soy (1) “voting is a given right that any citizen of true democracy has the privilege to possess.” However, within this cacophony, both political scientists and defenders of democracy have raised concerns on the impacts of voter ignorance on democracy.
Inability to make rational Decisions
After reviewing the ABC documentary by Stossel, one important aspect of democracy is put to the test. The uninformed electorate is a great threat to our democracy. Even though voting is a right for all citizens, democracy can only be sustained when voters can make rational decisions.
The documentary reveals that most voters make decisions out of the information they receive through the media and other sources, not out of rational thought and a clear understanding of the political situations. The situation of uninformed voters raises critical questions on their abilities to vote for politicians they understand best.
This is because making rational decisions on the choice of candidates demands a better understanding of their leaders as well as their policies. The role uninformed voters play in threatening the democracy of a nation becomes more poignant when analyzed from the role of public opinion on governance policy.
According to Soy (2) “literature shows that public opinion does have a significant impact on at least the broad outlines of policy and voter knowledge is a potentially important input into the policymaking process.” The concern becomes important when public opinion is based on unfounded and unrealistic decisions made out of irrelevant choices by uninformed voters.
Lack of Critical Thinking
Furthermore, uninformed voters cannot apply critical thinking techniques in voting in the right leaders. This kind of thinking enables a person to responsibly judge between political candidates in a country, evaluate society’s need for nuclear power plants, and assess the implications of global warming.
Also, critical thinking calls for patients in search of the truth behind any given information. Bowell and Kemp, (27) explain that “critical thinking involves reasonable, responsible, reflective, and skillful thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe in or perform.” Therefore, the voting process demands a person who thinks critically, can ask appropriate questions, gathers relevant information efficiently and creatively.
Furthermore, the person should be able to sort through this information, reason logically, and come to a reliable and trustworthy conclusion about the world. The uninformed voter is deprived of all these skills and knowledge and may not be in a position to apply these strategies in making rational decisions.
Whereas political scientists, defenders of democracy, and scholars posit that ignorance does not warrant imposing constraints on democracy, the underlying factor is that it threatens the very foundations of democracy. Voters have a right to make voting decisions as they please, nevertheless, ensuring that freedom is upheld demands that these decisions are made out of informed decisions. A voter who cannot identify a political candidate may not be in a position to understand whether the politician is championing for the best interests of the nation or not.
Bowell, Tracey, and Kemp, Gary. Critical thinking: a concise guide: Routledge. 2005. Print.
Soyim, Ilya. Democracy and Political Ignorance. 2009. Web. 23 Sep. 2011.