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Local journalist tweets that he always casts a blank ballot, sparking debate (updated)

He tagged Elon Musk to complain about the replies.


Cecilia Lenzen


Posted on Nov 8, 2022   Updated on Nov 11, 2022, 12:57 pm CST

A local journalist in Saint Paul, Minnesota said he always votes by not voting and tweeted a video of himself casting a blank ballot on Election Day.

The boastful statement resulted in him getting dragged by other Twitter users.

Dave Orrick, a state government and politics reporter at Pioneer Press, says he has always voted by casting a blank ballot since he became a journalist. The Pioneer Press is a newspaper based in Saint Paul, where Orrick has worked for 16 years.

“This is the way I’ve voted in basically every election since I became a journalist: Blank ballot. Only because of the current climate do I feel like sharing publicly. #PoliticalCelibacy,” Orrick wrote on Twitter.

The tweet drew harsh backlash from other Tweeters, some of which questioned why Orrick even bothered casting a ballot if he didn’t fill it out.

In a reply to his original tweet, Orrick outlined his reasoning for still bothering to “vote.” For one, he wants to check the ballot, “take in the scene” and see how things are going.

He also claims he is still exercising his constitutional right to vote by showing up at a polling location and casting an empty ballot.

Multiple Twitter users called Orrick’s tradition an exercise of “grotesque privilege” and an “embarrassment.” Several said his blank ballot demonstrated a lack of caring for marginalized communities and a choice to side with “oppression.”

“The grotesque privilege it takes to actually perform a stunt like this. You have chosen the side of the oppressor. Shame on you,” one user tweeted at Orrick.

Another wrote, “Something especially weird about going through all the steps you could take to protect the rights of your fellow Americans, to the point that with a small movement of your hand you could help- you’re already there- but then just being like ‘nah’ and jerking yourself off about it.”

“This is ridiculously performative. Congrats?” a fourth said.

Orrick’s tweet drew criticism from other journalists, who debated whether impartiality needed to extend as far as elections.

“Dude, seriously, you’re embarrassing all of us journalists who actually understand fairness, balance, and how to do our jobs,” a science and health journalist tweeted.

Brandon Bird, a well-known artist, tweeted, “Newspapers have a food section; do you also eat a flavorless nutrient paste? What about film? Do you abstain and stare at a blank screen for two hours?”

Orrick, seemingly doubling down on his stance after seeing the backlash, wrote in a reply to his original tweet, “So this is the tweet that gets ratio’d. A statement of neutrality. Nice place, this Twitter.. @elonmusk.”

In reply to a tweet calling his blank ballot “ridiculous,” Orrick explained himself further, “I value not rooting for a winner when I’m tasked with covering them all fairly and accurately.”

Orrick told the Daily Dot that he wasn’t meaning to boast or flex by tweeting about his blank ballot.

He says he was only trying to be “transparent” and viewed his tweet as a disclosure for people to know where he stands in covering politics without bias.

“I’m part of a sort of philosophy of some journalists, who tend to be older, who believe that not voting is maybe an extreme but useful way of disciplining ourselves and showing that we can have a real credibility,” Orrick said

Orrick acknowledges that not all journalists, and definitely not everyone on Twitter, agree with that philosophy. In hindsight, he says she shouldn’t have tweeted about his blank ballot and regrets doing so. 

This post has been updated with comment from Orrick.

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*First Published: Nov 8, 2022, 9:19 pm CST