They always catch you as you’re walking out of the grocery store. It seems like a good idea in theory; people need food. But the plan fails because most people are in a rush and those who do stop, do so out of some sense of obligation to listen to the solicitor’s pitch.

Now I’m all for people being encouraged to participate in the civic process. The only problem is that the average citizen is not informed enough to make snap judgments about politics – let alone legislation – as they walk into or out of the grocery store. Combine lack of information with the fact that signing these petitions is one of the places that our voting power is real, and you have a recipe for disaster.

When I think about the last few voting cycles and the proposed legislation, and how when I read the text and analysis, most of these proposed bills were very poorly writen. They often focus on some lofty idea, but when it comes to planning, implementation and fiscal cost, the initiatives are seriously lacking.

And how do these bills end up on the ballot? Because people sign while rushing out of the store. Having done no real research, and only reading the tiny summary presented on the petition. It’s sad that one of our most powerful political decisions is, more often than not, made in ignorance. Then we wonder why…

I don’t sign because I know that at the time of presentation, I usually don’t have the information to make such an important and simple decision. I want to make sure that I use my power wisely, and wish others would be equally prudent.

Next time you’re walking out of the grocery store and someone asks you to sign a petition, pleading with you to perform your civic duty…Before making a decision you don’t fully understand, just write down the name of the bill and go look it up. The solicitor won’t get his commision for your signature, but if you should decide to sign later, you rest assured knowing that you are truly an informed voter.