My Vote Don't Count
January 29, 2020 1:34 PM   Subscribe

My Vote Don't Count, by YelloPain (SLYT), a 3:48 lesson in civics aimed directly at people who (like YelloPain) have given up on voting. Co-produced by Desiree Tims, who is running for Congress in Dayton.
posted by Etrigan (19 comments total) 56 users marked this as a favorite
That's great, thanks for posting it.
posted by LobsterMitten at 2:00 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]

Very much this. And, you know, it's sometimes baffling to vote in the elections that affect you the most: so many candidates for judge positions, school board, etc. It can make your brain hurt.

My strategy is to go through and cross out all of the kooks*. Then I cross out all of the people endorsed by the wrong folks (looking at you Howard Jarvis). Then I cross out all judge candidates who have an overly-punitive slant. Then I look for endorsements from groups I trust. And if that doesn't settle it, I just pick randomly among the remainder because any of them will be better than the others.

It's a lot of work, frankly. It takes me the better part of a day because where I live the ballots are ridiculously long. But, again, these are the elections that affect you the most.

* As an engineer, I cross out all of the engineers. YMMV, but IMO the ones who get the politics bug are all kooks.
posted by sjswitzer at 2:15 PM on January 29 [39 favorites]

Loved how he sucks the listener in during the first part listing all the reasons he didn't vote, so that people who don't vote will go "yeah, that's why I don't vote either", and then he switches gears and serves up a civics lesson. "If we gonna fix the US, we gotta start with them two letters- me and you." Soooo good.
posted by 23skidoo at 2:19 PM on January 29 [14 favorites]

I don't know how it is in other states, but in California, candidates are not required to submit a candidate statement for the voter guide. The voter guide, which is mailed to all registered voters at the address listed when they register, might be many people's only source of election/candidate information. The result is that for many local elections (at least in the places I've lived in Southern California) there are people on the ballot that are basically blanks because they have a party declaration and an empty space for their statement.

I would hope that people would think that these candidates are at best too disorganized to get a statement together and submit it and at worst are proxies for special interests, etc. and not vote for them (although that's still a problematic approach). This is just one small, local example, but I guess my point is that, while I love this video so much and I want to blast this from the roof of my apartment, it really frustrates me how many ways voting is set up to actively work against so many people.

TL;DR I love Yellopain and Desiree Tims for doing this. I just wish that so much of the system wasn't actively conspiring to keep so many people from voting successfully, if at all.
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 2:55 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]

Good point. No candidate statement: no vote.

I'll admit to another thing I do. Someone running for school board who lists their occupation as "educator" instead of "teacher" gets at least a side-eye.

But anyway, the point of this video is really important. It's easy to think of voting as being about top-of-ticket issues. And that's important, obviously. But there are a lot of down-ticket votes that affect everything from how your local police department is managed to how your congressional districts are apportioned.

And because the media is mostly focussed on the top-of-ticket issues, you just have to do the work and educate yourself.
posted by sjswitzer at 3:07 PM on January 29 [6 favorites]

Slightly tangential, but a few years ago we had two local ballot initiatives concerning a certain soccer field in Golden Gate Park. These initiatives were diametrically opposed in their effects and they both achieved over 50%! The one with the larger tally won out (and it was the better, anti-NIMBY, one so yay!), but sometimes the results of elections make no sense at all. (Another argument for educating yourself and voting on down-ticket issues.)
posted by sjswitzer at 3:15 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]

I needed that, thanks

Will be looking into more of this guy's music
posted by SystematicAbuse at 3:52 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]

Good video. Especially the point about how down-ballot races are what actually affect your day-to-day life. They are also less likely to be affected by gerrymandering and the Electoral College fiasco.

I wonder if anyone has looked into how much of not voting is apathy vs not being able to get time off work or adequate childcare to stand in line at the polls. Is turnout higher in places that have no-excuse absentee voting/mail-in voting, or have an election day holiday? I mean, the fact that Mitch McConnell hates it means it's probably a good idea, but where are the numbers?
posted by basalganglia at 4:15 PM on January 29 [3 favorites]

Damn. Never heard of YelloPain before but he's got skills. And good on Desiree Tims for producing this.

I'm law school and FB friends with the person behind today's "Sheet Cakes for Impeachment!" move, which is getting lots of mockery and/or praise depending on where you're looking. I know that the person I'm thinking of is consistently one of the most frustratingly uneducated about issues but loves to get passionate about them. I've been frustrated all day with thinking that this is a pretty stupid gesture, won't have any effect, etc., but hey, it's trending! That's good, right?

Then I see this, and realize this is what is actually needed. And I love that the issues its talking about are largely ones I would never have as a priority. Food stamps, child support, these aren't issues that affect me, so while I can have a position on them if I want to, that won't matter even if there are a billion of me voting like me. So it was sobering to get a viewpoint on just how little my own liberalism really matters to others even in my own community.

But most of all, the message that "they don't want you to care about these elections because they DO care about these elections" is so fucking on-point I almost want to get a tattoo of it.

But it's also tough. In Harlem, we get a voter guide, for sure. But I also have a number of friends who are deeply involved with the Working Families Party. Whenever any election, local, state or federal comes along, I vote, as do my friends, and we tend to get our list from those involved friends. Because we have involved friends.

If you don't have that, it's harder to know who will represent you, who actually cares about your interests, etc. even with a voter guide, where the candidates likely won't be addressing those issues I mentioned above anyway, because the people who care about them have been trained that their vote doesn't matter.

This, though. Stuff like this. This is the way to change that tide.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:24 PM on January 29 [15 favorites]

Ok. This has legs. Spreading.

Edit: I am not spreading my legs, apologies for the double meaning there....
posted by RolandOfEld at 5:48 PM on January 29 [8 favorites]

Ok, the rabbit hole is deep with YellowPain. His other videos are quality stuff too.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:05 PM on January 29

And because the media is mostly focussed on the top-of-ticket issues, you just have to do the work and educate yourself.

I think we have to figure out how to get better at doing this work together locally. There's too much to do one-on-one, that's why the voter guides are so essential, but I wonder what we could do if we just had better local organization, monthly meetings doing something like what YelloPain is doing here plus amateur investigation/journalism and in general people doing legwork to figure out how to be each other's voter guide informed by their stories of each other's problems and interests. I imagine precincts do something like this, but I don't know.
posted by wildblueyonder at 11:19 PM on January 29 [1 favorite]

Democrats in particular have a history of focusing all their energy on some messianic Presidential candidate and figuring if we just get him elected, he'll save us all. This was especially true of Obama because of the whole symbolic significance of the first African-American President, but it didn't start with him by any means.

Very important to focus on down-ballot and mid-term elections. The Republicans spent a lot of time and energy doing this, and now they rule the world from their dark tower in Mordor. I think the left is starting to wake up to this, but it's important to drive that idea home. Every single county commissioner in your county has as much or more impact on your day to day life as the President.
posted by Naberius at 6:49 AM on January 30 [6 favorites]

In my small-ish town (40,000 residents), there are candidate forums that interested folks can attend - if you're free at 7:00 AM on a Tuesday (for example) and the League of Women Voters puts on a panel for 'major' local races (City Counsel, Mayor, County Commissioners). In both of these, the audience submits questions for the candidates. I've attended many, and was a candidate a few years ago, and it's usually the same faces that show up (plus campaign managers/supporters of the candidates). So those are there - but very few people take advantage.
The voters guide is good as far as it goes - but it's really hard to get solid info on judges, so I rely on some local attorneys I trust for guidance.
All of this is to say that it's up to each of us to engage with the candidates, and find out about them. Look up their campaign site, go to their events, hear what they have to say, answer the door if they're out doorbelling. Our State Rep still remembers us from a doorbelling she did at our house 16 years ago!
The down-ballot races are where the parties build from - every State Rep/Congressman started somewhere else, usually on a school board or city council or the like. And these races absolutely have more effect on your day-to-day life than the 'big ' races do. It's amazing the results you can get just by getting to know the folks in local office!
posted by dbmcd at 6:57 AM on January 30 [3 favorites]

I love the message of this. It is absolutely true and people need to know. I really hope people who get it forwarded to them decide to watch past the first minute.
posted by mabelstreet at 10:43 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

Simple voting algorithm for those things you don't know anything about. If you want to try to find out specific information about everyone, knock yourself out, but you should think of voting more as a low-stakes fun party than a high-stakes, dour, serious thing.

(1) Never ever vote for a Republican. Ever. (possible NY exception)
(2) If there's more than one Democrat to vote for or the office is nonpartisan then:
(a) If there are names you are confident are black people, vote for them.
(b) If there are names you're confident are women, vote for those.
(c) If there are names you're confident are otherwise not anglo, vote for them.

Possible NY exception for (1) because fusion ballots which are super fun: If it's one of those times where there's a Dem against another candidate who's the GOP, Working Families, and Conservative candidate, it's probably okay to vote WF and help elect the person who's also GOP because the Democrat is likely a fuckwit. Mostly I've seen that the other way though -- a Dem/WF/Con vs a Republican whose doofus-ness must be just legendary
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 11:16 AM on January 30 [1 favorite]

Wow that was good.

I've made this argument before: these days your vote counts a hundred times over. That vote will be sliced and diced into how much your age group, race, geographical location, urban versus country, sex, religion, sexual orientation, etc. votes.

And from that turnout politicians will decided who they can screw and who they can't screw.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 1:25 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

And from that turnout politicians will decide who they can screw and who they can't screw.

Wow. True. If you're not a demographic that votes, you aren't worth paying attention to. Can we get that on a t-shirt? Something bumper-sticker-sized?
posted by amanda at 2:08 PM on January 30 [1 favorite]

I wonder if anyone has looked into how much of not voting is apathy vs not being able to get time off work or adequate childcare to stand in line at the polls. Is turnout higher in places that have no-excuse absentee voting/mail-in voting, or have an election day holiday? I mean, the fact that Mitch McConnell hates it means it's probably a good idea, but where are the numbers?

As it happens, Postcards to Voters is running an ongoing volunteer campaign to get handwritten notes sent to every registered Democrat in Florida who's not currently signed up for the state's no-excuse Vote By Mail program, to encourage them to do so. Here's what they've said in their emails (emphasis mine):
A big change for Florida VBM voters: In the past VBM had to be mailed in or dropped at the Supervisor of Election Offices. New for 2020 will be option of dropping the VBM ballot at the polling place.

Here are some numbers conducted by a long-time data person in Lee County Florida. He shared these with me after a recent conversation about Postcards to Voters' VBM push. He and other Democratic leaders in Lee County can hardly wait for us to write to their voters because they know the significant a boost VBM brings.

Based on turnout for the 2016 General Election, looking at so-called "hot" Democratic voters, VBM ones were 5% MORE likely to cast their ballots than non-VBM ones. (A "hot" voter for the purposes of this study was someone who voted in both the 2012 and 2014 General elections.) Among "warm" Dems, the increase among VBM voters was 34%. Looking at just the turnout from "cold" voters, (those who had NOT voted in EITHER 2012 or 2014 General elections), VBM turnout was 174% higher than the non-VBM voters! And finally, among brand new voters with no past history, but they were registered Democrats, when they voted by mail, they were 47% more likely to do so than their non-VBM peers.

This is in line with what all the other studies we've seen and shared before. Having a ballot sent to a voter without them needing to ask each time dramatically increases the participation levels. Look at how close some recent elections in Florida have been. Is it any wonder why the entire Democratic leadership including candidates and Andrew Gillum always include VBM enrollment as a key part of their 2020 plan to win?
Postcards to Voters is doing this county by county. Currently they're working through Democrats' addresses in Lee County (named, yes, for Robert E. Lee). The local Democratic party intends to follow up on the written postcards with their regular phonebanking and canvassing efforts; the postcards are a tangible jumping-off point for a discussion about registering for Vote By Mail.

If you're interested in participating and want to learn more, it's easy to sign up, and you can do it from anywhere in the US: Text JOIN to (484) 275-2229 or email
posted by sugar and confetti at 6:14 AM on January 31 [2 favorites]

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