Skip to main content

See also:

Voting in the New Jersey 2014 Congressional primary

Today's primary will choose the candidates to run in November for seats in Washington.
Today's primary will choose the candidates to run in November for seats in Washington.
Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Today, June 3rd, 2014, is the primary election day in the State of New Jersey. If you are a registered voter in the State of New Jersey, the conventional wisdom says that I ought to encourage you to vote. After all, this is your opportunity to have a say in who will serve your interests in Washington, both in the United States Senate and in the House of Representatives. If you do not vote, you are abdicating the option.

Yet there is some unconventional wisdom that perhaps you might take a moment to consider. There are some who suggest that many registered voters--possibly including you--should not vote. Indeed, our Founding Fathers put through voting policies that were not merely far from universal, they were intentionally so. We scoff that they did not permit women to vote, and in many cases did not permit blacks to vote. However, they were much stricter than that. In most states you had to own real estate, and in many you had to pay a poll tax whose purposes were both to fund the election and to ensure that voters had enough wealth that they were willing to part with a small portion of it.

Today we would accuse them of limiting government to the wealthy, but their purpose was rather to limit it to the educated: voters should be informed about the issues and the candidates, and should have the kind of stake in the outcome that means they might face financial losses if the government proved incompetent. If you had no money, you probably had no education, and would not understand the consequences of different proposed policies.

Today we have nearly universal suffrage (someone has proposed that a partial vote ought to be extended to children, to be exercised by proxy by their parents until they come of age; we also do not allow proxy voting for those whose mental capacity has failed to the point that they do not choose to vote, and in many states anyone previously convicted of a felony cannot vote). It is not entirely clear that this is the best idea. Some argue that a large number of voters have been bought and paid for by government handouts, that they will vote for the party that supports financial assistance programs. This, though, is not limited to the poor--there are certainly also businesses who support candidates who protect their financial gains. Education does not necessarily prevent unintelligent selfishness in voting.

Still, many who vote do not understand the issues, do not know the consequences of their choices. They often vote for the party, not the party they themselves have intelligently chosen but the one that their parents or peers taught them to support. It might be argued that many--even the majority of--voters are ill equipped to vote, and that our nation would be better served if they did not.

I am not going to make that argument here. Rather, I am going to suggest that you make sure in your own mind that you have reached an intelligent decision concerning who you are supporting in this primary, and then go to the polls and cast your vote accordingly. We have provided some brief background on the candidates--you can find an index of articles covering races in all twelve congressional districts here, and there is sufficient information on the Internet about all the candidates for voters to know something about each. You won't necessarily agree with my positions or my assessments, but if you disagree intelligently our country is best served by both of us, and everyone else who makes an intelligent consideration of the matter, to do so as well.

We hope to have the results tonight or tomorrow.