In Defense of the Undecided Voter

Portrait of confused young man in a casual blue t-shirt scratching his head. Horizontal shot. Isolated on white.
Undecided voters also have lice. Photo: Istockphoto

Since the current campaign for the White House began approximately 36 years ago, there have been twenty GOP primary debates, four general-election debates, innumerable speeches, countless interviews, and millions, if not billions, of words spent reporting and analyzing the positions, plans, and personalities of Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. Yet, somehow, just hours before Election Day, a small number Americans have yet to settle on who they are voting for. These remaining undecided voters have become something of a national punch line, and as this sampling of tweets attests, many think the country would be better off if they skipped the election altogether at this point:

Others have gone even further by kindly requesting that any remaining undecided voters swiftly end their wretched, miserable lives entirely. But let’s stick with the “please don’t vote thing.” Look, we agree it’s ridiculous that some people need more than a year and half to make up their minds. We imagine it is grueling to make plans with these people, and consequently, they probably don’t have many friends. And, true enough, many (but certainly not all) of the Undecideds are low-information voters who simply haven’t been paying attention.

But who says the Earliest Deciders are any better? They’re the ones who are voting for Romney because they don’t like black people, or for Obama because they don’t like Mormons. They’re the ones who vote zombielike for their party’s candidate in every election because that’s how their family and/or neighbors vote. They’re the ones who made up their minds a long time ago and haven’t taken into account anything that’s happened in the intervening campaign. They may be harder to single out, but many of these Earliest Deciders are more of a taint on our sacred democracy than the Undecideds.