Voting is widely thought to be one of the most important things a person can do. But the reasons people give for why they vote and why everyone else should too are flawed, unconvincing, and sometimes even dangerous. The case for voting relies on factual errors, misunderstandings about the duties of citizenship, and over inflated perceptions of self-worth. There are some good reasons for people to vote some of the time. But there are a lot of bad reasons to vote, and the bad ones are more popular.
Every Vote Counts
Your vote will almost certainly not determine the outcome of any public election. In all of American history, a single vote has never determined the outcome of a presidential election. University of California, Berkeley, economist Aaron Edlin used poll results from the 2008 election to calculate that the chance of a randomly selected vote determining the outcome of a presidential election is about one in 60 million.
Voting Is a Civic Duty
Many people who follow politics closely hold views that are dangerous and wrong (see George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan”s October 2007. Even if everyone who had the slightest suspicion that he was not knowledgeable enough to vote stayed home on Election Day, millions of people would still be casting ill-informed votes. The gap between the promised and real consequences of electing one guy over the other is very difficult to anticipate. Millions were hopeful that President Barack Obama would be better than his predecessor on issues such as civil liberties and the war on drugs. Look how that turned out. You don”t know as much as you think.
Rock the Vote
Encouraging more ignorant people to vote is not just pointless, argues Jason Brennan; it”s morally wrong. There is no duty to vote, but many people may have a duty not to vote. Boosting turnout among citizens who are young, uneducated, or otherwise less likely to be engaged”the primary targets of get-out-the-vote campaigns”is likely to have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to fail in that duty. Washing one”s hands of the whole system is a good way to ensure that they remain clean, even when the politicos are dirty.
If You Don”t Vote, Don’t Complain
Say a man votes and his candidate wins. The voter is then “understood to have assented” to the acts of his representative. Most of the time people are disappointed in the person they elect. The right to complain is, mercifully, unrelated to any hypothetical duty to vote. It was ensured, instead, by the Founders, all of whom were extraordinary bellyachers themselves.
A U.S. presidential candidate only needs 50 percent of votes from the popular states to win 100 percent of the state”s electoral votes. The Electoral College also gives votes to states and not to the people. Don”t you think this has unfair consequences? Are the smaller states” interests really protected from the bigger states” interests? By giving votes to smaller states, the Electoral College also perceives that fewer people live where they actually do and more people live where they actually do not. The electoral votes make presidential candidates interested only in a few states, at the detrimental cost of all fellow Americans.
So, friends do you still think your votes matter? As American citizens, why do we actually vote? Do we vote since it is our constitutional right to vote, regardless of the final outcome? Or do we vote to pacify our conscience that we have supposedly voiced our opinion and performed our civic duty, regardless of the final outcome? In any case I can sleep well knowing that my vote doesn’t really matter especially in a system so flawed.
Our political candidates are hand picked by monied interests and then paraded to the voters after they’ve been purchased. My opponent talks about it “being better to be counted than discounted” by voting. This sounds great except that our vote is already discounted before we even start.
My opponent says to “EVALUATE ELECTIONS THROUGH THE ORIGINAL POSITION OF A VOTER”
The candidate that wins often becomes something else. How many would vote again for Obama, either Bush or even Bill Clinton. The progressive ends up moving toward the middle and so does the conservative. Because at the end of the day these candidates more often than not really don’t believe in anything except getting re elected. I don’t see how more ignorant people voting is more democratic. The fact is that the majority of voters cast their vote not on issues but looks, hype and following the crowd. Most people can’t tell you three things the candidate is about.
CHOOSING THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS PREVENTS GREATER EVIL OR SEND A REAL MESSAGE WITH A WRITE-IN or THIRD PARTY VOTE.
This may be the most ridiculous argument of all. If I have to choose the lesser of two evils then I’m choosing someone that by definition I don’t want. That is just stupid! I can write in or vote for a third party. The net effect of these actions are to elect the favored candidate of one of the two main parties. I would never choose to do that. I’m
Sixty years old and I’ve voted in every election since 1972. The last presidential election that I voted in was 1992 when I wasted my vote for Ross Perot the independent candidate. Since my vote basically elected Bill Clinton I realized just how useless it was. Then because I live in New York I also realize that only democrats will ever get my vote. So I have happily not voted for president since and I’ve seen the quality of our candidates dwindle over the years.
So while I don’t suggest that you shouldn’t vote, I hope you will agree that I don’t feel that I should.