Journalist sparks outrage by sharing video of his blank ballot: ‘Misguided, foolish, and selfish’

‘Not voting is a dereliction of your civic duty’

Shweta Sharma
Friday 11 November 2022 07:38 GMT

A journalist in Minnesota has caused outrage after he revealed that he casts a blank ballot in almost every election, with thousands of people calling him out for a “privileged” choice.

Dave Orrick, a reporter with the St Paul Pioneer Press, shared his video of feeding a blank ballot into a voting machine, saying he has been casting empty ballots every year since he became a journalist.

“This is the way I’ve voted in basically every election since I became a journalist: Blank ballot,” he said in the tweet.

“Only because of the current climate do I feel like sharing publicly. #PoliticalCelibacy.”

The video has been viewed more than 600,000 times on Twitter and drew thousands of angry responses from Americans who slammed him for, in their view, failing his civic duty. Several journalists also called out Mr Orrick saying being a journalist does not mean one does not have opinions or values.

“A pretty ridiculous thing to do, let [alone] post publicly. Being a journalist shouldn’t mean you don’t have values,” said independent reporter Aaron Rupar.

Jamil Smith, an essayist with the Los Angeles Times, said: “Abstaining from voting because you’re a journalist is misguided, foolish, and selfish, and I just felt the need to share that publicly.”

Julia Shumway, a politics reporter, said political journalists are among the best-informed voters because of their profession and “not voting is a dereliction of your civic duty”.

“Objectivity and neutrality aren’t the same thing. And in the face of injustice, if you choose to be neutral, you have indeed chosen a side,” David Moscrop said.

Following the backlash, Orrick reasoned that he bothers to vote because he checks the ballot to take in the scene and see how things are going there and secondly he is still exercising his constitutional right.

Responding to criticism that being a journalist should not restrict him from exercising his democratic right, Orrick said: “I value not rooting for a winner when I’m tasked with covering them all fairly and accurately.”

Speaking to Newsweek, Orrick said he has been a journalist for 26 years and he has rarely cast votes.

He said he takes the idea of “playing it down the middle very seriously” and it helps him “disable the part of my brain that is trying to say, ‘Do I want this guy to win? Am I rooting for this guy?’”

“If the Minnesota race got really close and got nasty things could get ugly, it could get violent,” he said. “There could be a lot of lies, misinformation, and I would invariably be accused of being a shill for one side or the other.”

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