Original image
Getty Images

10 Public Figures Who Choose Not to Vote

Original image
Getty Images

We’re not telling you not to vote. We’re just saying that these 10 people won’t be (or didn’t).

1. Nate Silver

When “Poblano” began publishing his 2008 presidential election predictions and analyses on Daily Kos in 2007, people paid attention. Then “Poblano” moved to his own blog,, where he later revealed he was really Nate Silver, the guy behind PECOTA, a system that predicts Major League Baseball players’ performances. After Silver accurately predicted the results of 49 of 50 states’ 2008 election results (and all 35 Senate races), FiveThirtyEight moved to The New York Times. But none of the eyes on Silver this week will catch him at the polls: he has not voted since he moved to the Times and doesn’t intend to this year, though he told Charlie Rose that if he did, “it would be kind of a Gary Johnson versus Mitt Romney decision.”

2. Jim Lehrer

When Lehrer moderated the first presidential debate this year (you may remember it as the “Big Bird” debate), Politico dubbed him “the most trusted moderator in America.” Lehrer had moderated debates 11 times before, and according to “MacNeil/Lehrer Report” cohost Robert MacNeil, “He stays so far out of the political swamps that he doesn’t even vote.”

3, 4 and 5. Generals David Petraeus, George C. Marshall and William Tecumseh Sherman

Though he is registered as a Republican, General Petraeus stopped voting in 2002, when he became a two-star general “to avoid being pulled in one direction or another, to be in a sense used by one side or the other.” His voter abstinence follows a long military trend of non-voting generals, which includes both Marshall and Sherman. General Marshall famously disagreed with President Truman's plan to recognize the state of Israel, saying, “If I were to vote in the election, I would vote against you.”

6. Leonard Downie, Jr.

Len Downie worked in the Washington Post newsroom for 44 years, first as an intern in 1964. By 1991, he was the paper’s Executive Editor, overseeing coverage for every election from 1984 through 2008. In 2004, Downie revealed that he’d stopped voting years ago, "when I became the ultimate gatekeeper for what is published in the newspaper. I wanted to keep a completely open mind about everything we covered and not make a decision, even in my own mind or the privacy of the voting booth, about who should be president or mayor, for example.”

7. President Zachary Taylor

Wikimedia Commons

Before “Old Rough and Ready” was elected president in 1848, he had never voted. This can partly be explained by Taylor’s constant relocation as a soldier; he never established residency and never registered to vote. But our 12th president also reportedly claimed that he would never want to vote against a potential commander-in-chief—even when his name was on the ballot.

8. Jake Tapper

ABC New White House correspondent Jake Tapper, like Nate Silver and Len Downie, doesn't exercise his right to vote in order to maintain a sense of fairness in his coverage. On “This Week with Christiane Amanpour” this September, Tapper said, “I don't vote in races I cover. After I became a reporter, I found that, after I voted absentee ballot on a race I covered, it felt like I'd made an investment, and it was an uncomfortable feeling.”

9. Lew Rockwell

Unlike those who choose not to vote out of a sense of journalistic duty, libertarian commentator Lew Rockwell doesn’t vote for a number of reasons, including “The whole system is corrupt,” “It’s a pain in the neck,” and “Your vote doesn’t count,” which strongly echo the sentiments of many nonvoters. Rockwell's site is home to a number of articles on why rocking the non-vote is a citizen's best option.

10. Keith Olbermann

Getty Images

In a 2008 visit to The View, Keith Olbermann revealed that he doesn’t vote. Later, Olbermann explained to Portfolio that the reasoning behind his “very idiosyncratic” ballot-casting abstinence makes sense: “I don’t want anything, even that tiny bit of symbolic connection, to stand in between me and my responsibility to be analytical and critical." Unlike Downie, who is widely respected for his impartial coverage, liberal Olbermann’s anti-vote stance didn’t garner much esteem.

So: Who's voting and who isn't, and why?

Original image
Why America Has So Many Empty Parking Spaces
Original image

When you’re driving around looking for a spot to park on tight downtown streets, you’re probably not cursing city planners for mandating too much parking space. (You’re probably thinking the opposite.) But while some areas, depending on the time of day, are inundated with more cars than spaces, for the most part Americans lead lives of parking privilege, surrounded by empty spaces they don’t need to use. By one estimate, there are eight parking spots for every car in the U.S. (Others say it's more like three, which is still a lot considering that number doesn't take into account home parking.)

Why does the U.S. have so much extra parking? A new video explainer from Vox (spotted by Arch Daily) has the answer. It’s because laws mandate it.

In the video, Will Chilton and Paul Mackie of the transportation research initiative Mobility Lab explain the rise of the parking meter, which was invented in the 1930s, and the regulations that soon followed, called mandatory parking minimums. These city laws require that those building an apartment complex or shopping center or store have to provide a minimum number of spaces in off-street parking for customers to use. The cost of providing this service is carried by building developers—giving the city a free way to get new parking without having to manage their street parking situation closely. Go to any suburb in America, and the parking lots you leave your car in are probably the result of these parking minimum rules.

The ease of parking in America isn’t a good thing—though it may feel like it when you slide into an open spot right in front of the grocery store. Experts have been calling for an end to zoning laws like these for years, arguing that excess parking encourages unnecessary driving (why take the bus or carpool if it’s easy to drive yourself and park for free?) while simultaneously making it harder to walk around a city, since parking takes up a ton of land that’s difficult to traverse on foot, interrupting the urban fabric.

These parking minimum regulations take very specific forms by building type, including number of spaces required per hole at a golf course, per gallons of water in a public pool, and per beds in a nursing home. Before you cheer for free, plentiful parking, let the experts at Vox explain just why this is a problem for cities:

[h/t Arch Daily]

Original image
A Microsoft Font Might Have Revealed Political Corruption in Pakistan
Original image

Note to wrongdoers: Check your fonts. Right now in Pakistan, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his family are in legal hot water over what might be falsified government disclosures, according to Slate. The proof? The typeface used in the documents, as the investigative report submitted to Pakistan's Supreme Court notes.

Calibri, the sans-serif typeface that serves as the default for Microsoft applications, was designed in the early 2000s. But it didn't become widely available to the public until Microsoft Vista and its accompanying Office update were released in 2007.

This is where things have gotten tricky for the prime minister. His daughter may have fabricated documents that would show that she and her family had made the proper official disclosures on their finances. The documents, which were supposedly signed in 2006, were written with Calibri—a year before it was released to the public.

Defense lawyers argue, of course, that Maryam Nawaz Sharif could have just had access to Calibri before Windows Vista came out, since it was designed before 2007. The typeface's designer, Lucas de Groot, has said that the very first release he was aware of came out in 2006 as part of beta testing for the Vista operating system. But based on the sheer size of the files involved in such a beta product, it would have required "serious effort to get," a representative for LucasFonts told the Pakistani news outlet Dawn. And that would have been a super early test version, since the first public beta didn't come out until June 2006, four months after the documents were supposedly signed. Unless she was a huge computer nerd, Maryam probably didn't have access to Calibri back in early 2006, indicating the documents were faked. 

Whether you're turning in a term paper or falsifying legal documents, you're always better off going with Times New Roman.

[h/t Slate]


More from mental floss studios