Voting is Not Enough

John Thibault
7 min readNov 29, 2018
Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

Over the weekend, on the car radio I heard parts of the Global Citizen conference in New York City and some of the speakers talked about the importance of citizen engagement, of changing the world, of coming together with like minds and really being a powerful influence and force on society, politicians and their communities.

They urged everybody to go out and be empowered. They said they should register and vote. The crowd loved it. Why wouldn’t they? It feels good.

Global Citizen says, “Just vote.”

Yesterday I got my sample ballot in the mail.

I usually get it about a month before the election. So it was right on time. But aside from the few names I knew and the short biographies they provided, it was really hard to assess whether or not an individual would be the best candidate for public office.

What made things even more confusing were the propositions and ballot measures at the back of the book. In fine print, what looked like 10 point font, they described the ballot initiatives in dry, mind numbing, bureaucratic language. Page after page of solid text.

County Sample Ballot Language

And unless you had read a lot about the specific ballot measures, it would’ve been hard to decode and understand the relevancy of the various propositions they were putting forward.

In the current environment where no one has time, it’s hard to penetrate our consciousness with dense text and we’re expected to understand the detailed language of the initiatives. Were they initiatives or were they ballot measures or were they referenda? They’re all different.

I probably asked a question that a lot of us ask. Should I vote on them if I don’t really understand what the impact is?

In fact, I could be swayed one way or the other. So I read the proponent’s side. Then I read the rebuttal. Then I read the counter-rebuttal, and in the end, I still couldn’t decide.

You have to do more but don’t expect any help from the campaigns.



John Thibault

Founder, CEO iLobby & Author How to Change a Law, SWAY and The Political Game. Change policy and see around corners.