PEP 308: Alternative conditional operator forms

Dave Brueck dave at
Tue Feb 11 17:23:37 CET 2003

On Tue, 11 Feb 2003, Laura Creighton wrote:

> > You'll never know how many don't care but didn't vote, so I'm not sure
> > if trying to include that as an option in the vote is really going to
> > get you a figure that reflects reality.
> It has got to reflect reality better than simply assuming that those
> who do not care do not matter, or that those who wish to participate
> in the political process must be forced to take sides, or that
> abstainers fall neatly into 50% pro/ 50% anti proportions.  It also
> means that the entire political process is not subordinate to the job
> of 'picking winners and losers' ... it actually represents an attempt,
> however flawed, to 'find out what people want'.  You alienate members
> of your society when you hold a vote and give them no way to express
> their views.  I think that this is evil, and moreover, it makes it
> really hard to get them to show up again should you ever decide
> to have _another_ referendum.

Laura, I find your perspective facinating but I still don't quite "get it"
(please don't think I'm being sarcastic - I'm *really* trying to
understand you but haven't yet). Can you explain a little more what you

When there's a bunch of us deciding to order pizza, I'll often not vote
because I don't care. Since the point of voting is to come to a decision,
how would tracking my "don't care" vote affect the decision? In effect I
_am_ casting a vote - a vote to not participate - so that the people who
_do_ care about the influence can work it out amongst themselves.

The same holds true for political elections. Sometimes I don't vote
because I don't feel informed enough to make a good decision, other times
I don't vote because I don't really care either way, and sometimes I do
vote. But again I don't see how keeping track of an explicit "don't care"
matters - the whole point of the vote is to reach a decision, right?
(maybe your point is that it's not the whole point?) If there's a 0.5%
voter turnout, then you can infer just as [in]accurately that people don't
care about that particular issue, right? This is why "Get Out the Vote"
drives in the U.S. scare me - the encourage people who just don't care to
participate in making decisions. Yeah, I guess we could add a "don't care"
slot to the ballot, but why? What does that _mean_? How should it affect
the outcome?

FWIW, I am opposed to straight "democratic" voting anyway because the
quality of the decision is often rather poor (due to various factors). I'd
much rather vote to select a handful of "trusted" individuals - a healthy
mix of pro- and con PEPers, and let them go off and have an intelligent
debate, and then accept what they come back with, but maybe that's a topic
for a different discussion.

Thanks for your patience,

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