Barack Obama, via Twitter, once again sounded the call to his supporters to encourage voting this time via the Facebook application, “Commit To Vote,” on Thursday, October 28, 2010. The application’s development was funded by Organizing for America, a community organizing project of the Democratic National Committee. Although the app is not partisan in nature it raises some serious privacy concerns, and it encourages more mindless, uneducated activism.
Regardless of the supposedly neutral stance the app takes, the amount of information the Facebook application requests of its users is concerning. The app is particularly one sided, especially given its origin. It encourages voter activism, mines excessive amounts of data from its users and their friends, and neglects to encourage any real sort of voter education or prudence in return. Had this application been sponsored by a private, or independent, organization, I might not be concerned that the destination of yours and my personal data is now legally in the hands of the President.
The arrival and promotion of this application is also ironic given Senator John Kerry’s controversial statements on September 24th, 2010. Senator Kerry said, “We have an electorate that doesn’t always pay that much attention to what’s going on so people are influenced by a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what’s happening.” The DNC played on simple slogans and the good intentions of voters in 2008 to get President Obama elected. Now, in addition to suspicious data gathering efforts by the President, the DNC encourages more voter simplicity through the late deployment of this (tr)app.
This coming midterm election cycle is perhaps the most important election in recent history. The state of the economy has everyone from college students to CEOs paying attention. If it takes a shallow, suspicious, hypocritically funded, ‘Commit to Vote’ app to bring people to the ballot box, there is something wrong.
Libertarian political satirist, PJ O’Rourke, wrote the book entitled, Don’t Vote, It Just Encourages the Bastards. While the book is certainly humorist and satirical in nature, there is some thought behind telling uninformed citizens not to vote. Instead of hurting the rest of the population by casting an uninformed vote, simply abstain and educate yourself until the next round. Still, voting is a right bought and paid for with the blood of our American forefathers and servicemen. When we vote, not only are we participating in the civic process, we are honoring their sacrifice. Exercise this right because you can and you should, however, if you’re not prepared to cast an intelligent vote, please quite pretending like you are. There is, however, another way.
Write in a vote for a cartoon character, or Santa Claus. They can’t hurt anyone with your vote.