The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Exercising your right not to vote

Great post at Reason.

First, voting is futile. It would be a mathematical miracle if our vote actually decided the result of an election. And aren't we all told, when we contemplate voting for a Libertarian or a Nader, that doing so is "wasting our vote" because the third party candidate "can't win"? This means causing a victory is the only way not to waste your vote.
But the result of any national election will be the same regardless of whether, or how, any individual votes. For your vote to be decisive, you would have to be a single deciding vote in the single state whose electoral votes decide the election—so unlikely it's barely worth contemplating.


Defending non-voting in bars across this great land, I often hear the ultimate "shut up"—that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain about politics or society. The reality is the exact opposite: By voting, you are playing a game whose rules are that the majority vote winner gets to control the reins of government, in all its unspeakable power. If you complain about the results of the game you chose to play, you're just being a sore loser—or winner.

I had this same conversation Sunday night. I got the same response too.

Read the whole thing. (Hat tip Ahren)

2 Comments:

  • I think that this Slate piece makes a good case for voting:

    http://www.slate.com/id/2108029/

    And this post by Tyler Cowen is pretty interesting too:

    http://www.marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2004/11/should_you_vote.html

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 2:29 PM  

  • "Let's suppose we start out with the (somewhat unrealistic) belief that the true vote count for Bush in Florida is equally likely to be any number between zero and 6,000,000. Given the 52-43 poll result, the Bayesian computation puts the chance of a tie at about 1 in 5 million. If the polls were exactly even, the chance would go up to 1 in 300,000. Those still aren't fantastic odds, but both beat the 1-in-120 million chance of winning Powerball by a mile.* Suddenly voting seems a lot more justifiable."

    No it doesn't.

    By Blogger DannyNoonan, at 6:50 PM  

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