Frugal Voting

Vote; especially, if you’re an American citizen. I wanted to get that in there first.

If you don’t vote, quit complaining (unless someone is keeping you from voting, but that’s a different issue.)

  • Step one: Notice yet another patch of clouds coming in, so postpone my walk.
  • Step two: Decide to vote, instead.
  • Step three: Pour a mug of tea, grab the voters pamphlet and ballot, and open (Your situation may be different.)
  • Step four: Sip, read, research, vote for a position; and repeat until done.
  • Step five: That comes later.

Let’s see how long this takes a frugal person like myself. To put this in perspective, the Voter’s Pamphlet is 135 pages long. There’s a lot going on.


Oops. Need a pen, not a #2 pencil.
Research only one initiative.
Advisories that are non-binding? Really? Ok.
Ah, Elections.
Interesting. Just based on the list, the Third Party Candidate would be from the Socialist Workers Party. The Libertarians are the seventh party, at least on this ballot.
Easy. I didn’t slow down until I hit the State positions below Governor.
16:54 A real life interruption: a phone call.
The mid-tier slowdown.
Everything filled in and signed.
And, into the mailbox. There’s even plenty of tea left in my mug.

As usual, I’m more interested in making every moment count than in understanding every nuance in political positions. Years and months of debates, platforms, conventions, ads, and social media declarations come down to picking from a very limited set of candidates. Usually, A or B; or at most, A vs B vs C vs D vs E vs F vs G vs write-in. In a republic or a democracy, voting is important. The importance of voting, however, does not mean the decision has to take a lot of time. After all of that time, I frequently find that the few hundred words in the Voters Pamphlet reveal the distinctions between the candidates. When their positions are reduced to one page, they have to emphasize what they consider most important. If the distinction isn’t there, then I research, not before. Just in time research saves lots of personal time, and I’m busy enough to appreciate getting some of my other tasks and chores done.

I do track the odds in the presidential race more because I am fascinated with data than the sport of politics.

The federal positions are the easiest. Even without research, there’s enough unavoidable chatter that enough news gets through. The local positions are very easy, too. I don’t hear as much about them; but I am also more likely to know someone who knows the person, know someone who is affected by the issue, and know whether it will directly affect me. Local elections are far less abstract. It is the middle of the hierarchy where more time is required. The candidates are less well-known. The positions tend to be more restrictive, so the candidates have a tougher time emphasizing a meaningful distinction.

Disclosure: I feel voting is vital to society, and I feel that secret ballots are equally vital. So, no, I’m not going to tell you who I voted for. But, I will tell you that, thanks to Washington State’s diversity, I was able to pick from at least seven parties and a wide range of cultures. I like that. It’s one of the main reasons I enjoy living in Washington State. Normal ain’t normal around here.

Frugality is personal. Frugality is a person valuing their resources based on their values. What’s important to you may not be the same thing that’s important to me. That’s great, and that’s also why democracies and republics are messy. Every individual vote counts because we each represent ourself. Parties and candidates rely on ideology to generalize positions and hopefully gather sufficient support and votes to get elected. If their generalized ideology fits your values, congratulations! That’s how the party got started, like-minded people gathering around a common cause and goal. If their generalized ideology doesn’t fit your values, don’t be surprised. Congratulate yourself on being you.

If you don’t vote; don’t complain.
If you do vote; Great! even if I don’t agree with you.
If you supported a candidate or party; thanks for putting that much more energy behind your values.
If you are a candidate; you have my respect because you’ve done more than most.
If you got elected; congratulations. You’re devoting part of your life to running our country; and losing part of your privacy.
If you’re one of the candidates I voted for; thank you. But, don’t be surprised if I forgot whether I checked your name on the ballot. Hanging onto the logic behind my vote is moot. The vote is cast. Whether my logic was logical doesn’t matter until the next election.

I watch this process played out in the media, and across social media. I look forward to February because the Electoral College should be finished by then, the Inauguration should be over, and friends who’ve unfriended friends may remember they truly are friends.

For the last few years, a thought recurs when I am voting. I come across position statements that make me wonder why no one more qualified is running. I come across unopposed positions. I vote. I’m not a member of a party because none mesh with my eclectic perspectives. And yet, maybe I’ll take that next step and see what it takes to do a bit more than vote. Considering my current financial position though, I wonder if I can afford the time.

Step 5: Remember Step 5 from above? Finish my tea, and pour myself something stronger. As simple as my voting process was, we’re in the midst of a maelstrom that may continue after Election Day.

If only I could vote for the United Federation of Planets.


About Tom Trimbath

consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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One Response to Frugal Voting

  1. Barbara Heizer says:

    This is really a great perspective on voting. I particularly like the part about not necessarily remembering the specifics…”the vote is cast”. How true! I look forward to getting my ballot and voting then letting go of this particular election cycle. This one seems to cry out for “something stronger” than tea.

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