"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Voting for the non-voter

One of the top Oregon political stories last week concerned 1st District Republican candidate Rob Cornilles and his voting record, or lack of. The Oregonian reported that Cornilles “has missed voting in nine of the 27 elections held since 1998, according to the Washington County elections office.”

Meanwhile, the three main Democratic candidates, Brad Avakian, Suzanne Bonamici and Brad Witt, have not missed voting at all during that time.

That lack of desire to vote really ought to be a significant issue. (Cornilles’ arguments that he was out of town on business on a number of occasions rings phony in Oregon, home of the three-week window for voting by mail, where ballots can be cast from overseas.) If you don’t care enough, consistently, to vote in elections when the spotlight’s not on you, how seriously are the rest of us supposed to think you take the public’s business?

Not all voters see it that way, though. Some comments about this being a serious blow to Cornilles’ campaign notwithstanding, the reality is that such checks have periodically turned up spotty voting records, and there doesn’t seem to be a lot of correlation to end results.

Case in point. In December 2009, the Oregonian ran a counterpart story on Republican gubernatorial contender Chris Dudley, noting that he “has missed voting in seven of the last 13 elections since 2004, a record that Dudley acknowledged was embarrassing and a mistake.” Dudley, you’ll recall, came very close to being elected governor last year.

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