Voting

Your Vote Can't Really Be Counted, So Vote as You Please

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Voting machine

Since this is the "most important presidential election" of our lives (the tenth or eleventh such that I can remember), you're no doubt on the receiving end of escalating entreaties to use your vote wisely to save our nation from the dread clutches of that bastard — whichever bastard it might be. You need to vote for the "right" candidate, however imperfect he may be, and not fritter it away on somebody you actually find non-repulsive, or on oh-so-foolishly avoiding the polls at all out of naive disgust with the whole process. There are more than a few problems with this argument, but let's focus on one: Your vote doesn't make a damned bit of difference.

Leave aside the fact that, even in a (decreasingly so) squeaker of a presidential election, most of us are voting for electors in states where the outcome is already pretty certain. The fact is, even down to the level of most municipal elections, our votes are statistically insignificant even if they were being accurately counted. But in this imperfect world of ours, accuracy is a tough thing to come by. As the Seattle Times put it during the count and recount after the nail-biter of a gubernatorial election between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Christine Gregoire:

Elections work fine when candidates win by a large margin. When victory comes down to roughly the capacity of a Metro bus, small errors — stray marks on ballots, punch cards that weren't punched properly and human mistakes — can cloud the final vote tally.

Like survey polls that try to show what people are thinking, elections have what statisticians call a margin of error.

Optically scanned ballot

Those margins of error vary from voting system to voting system, and even within voting systems depending on the diligence with which they're administered and maintained. But once you're past the level of a few friends picking a place to grab drinks, there's no such thing as winning a race by a single vote.

Even experts can't agree. It's not clear whether humans or machines are better at vote counting.

But in the end, the question may not matter. No election system is precise enough to determine who won a race this close, they say. Only 42 votes separate Rossi and Gregoire, out of the millions cast.

"It's closer than the technology and our capacity as humans to decipher," said Jeffery Mondak, a political-science professor at Florida State University. "You folks would do as well to flip a coin as to try to determine who actually won."

Just 42 votes out of millions cast is razor-thin, for sure. But just how much slop is there in the counting of votes? Turns out … Quite a hell of a lot. Researchers say (PDF) that the average "residual vote rate" (that is, the percentage of ballots for which a valid vote couldn't be determined) across different voting systems was 1.8 percent in 2000, 2.0 percent in 2002 and 1.8 percent in 2004.

And those down-to-the wire recounts during which ballots are carefully scrutinized by hand to determine who really represents the will of the people? Well, ScienceDaily told us earlier this year:

Hand counting of votes in postelection audit or recount procedures can result in error rates of up to 2 percent, according to a new study from Rice University and Clemson University.

So, in those close elections, flip a coin to pick the "winner." And vote, or not, just to please yourself.

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  1. “Present!”

    1. Who knew AET was Obama!?

      1. Jealous!

  2. I figure if the race is within the margin of statistical error (let’s say 0.01%, which in a race with a million votes would be within 100 votes), an impartial homeless person is pulled in to flip a standard issue quarter for the decision. Election fraud would be mitigated in the case of these close races then.

    1. Serves me right for not reading the whole article, but given a pre-polling error combined with an undercount error (5% MOE on 2% undercount), that’s really a 0.1% potential swing in vote changes, so 1000 votes rather than 100. My coin toss remains valid however.

    2. Stupid.

      Any race within 2% should be decided with a duel.

      This goes for school boards, too.

      1. Two men enter, nobody leaves!

  3. So in other words, voting is pointless. As I’ve continuously said. I eagerly await the schmucks who will rush in to tell me how that’s not true, uh…because something something. I’m waiting.

    1. statistically an individual vote is pointless in a large election, but if everyone followed that philosophy, then the votes would become even more important. If everyone participates, no one matters, if no one participates, everyone matters.

      1. So the best strategy is to discourage everyone who disagrees with you from voting,and to secretly organize everyone who does agree into turning out to vote.

        1. I’m fond of telling my friends that if you vote, it’s all your fault. When they get mad, I tell them to blame George Carlin, not me.

          Seriously though, fuck voting. I’m done playing their game.

    2. I can only offer one point: third parties need to get a certain percentage to automatically qualify for the next ballot. I have my share of problems with the LP, and never was a fan of Bob Barr, but I still voted for him in 2008 because I knew it would help them save them money and effort in the next cycle so they could focus their resources on the actual campaign.

      1. That’s exactly why I vote. For big L libertarians.

        Of course, it begs the question. If voting is pointless, having your third party on the ballot doesn’t change that.

        Still, democracy is the worst form of government except for all the others. So I’ll keep voting.

        1. If voting were really pointless, old wealthy people wouldn’t be fleecing young working people via the government, and supposedly conservative candidates wouldn’t be pandering to old people with free drugs and medical care just because they live in a swing state.

          Old people vote, so Medicare grows and Social Security is sacrosanct.

          Young people don’t vote, so drugs remain illegal.

          1. Not true.

            When the baby boomers were young, the DEA didn’t exist and Social Security wasn’t raided for general spending.

            When the boomers became middle aged, they cracked down on drugs and raided Soc Sec funds.

            Now that the boomers are old, they want free health care and higher taxes on all those rich young people.

            So it ain’t got nothin’ to do with age, it’s all about the size of the demographic bloc.

    3. I vote because I find it oddly amusing that the results of an election tend to fit the inverse of my ballot.

      1. Good for you. It’s better than getting depressed about it.

        1. I find it silly to get depressed about things that are out of my control.

          1. I hear ya.

      2. I vote for the candidate whom is most likely to win so I can mock the losers. If I’m wrong, I lie about it and mock them anyway.

        1. That’s dumb. Common, but dumb.

    4. Individually, yes, in the aggregate, no. I’d think my fellow devotees of the free market would understand how scads of essentially meaningless individual decisions can have great influence when taken in aggregate.

      Also, Tucille ignores the effect of bloc voting. Your individual vote may not be significant, but convincing others to vote the same way can cause a chain reaction. Likewise, convincing a particular group of individuals not to vote at all — as Doherty, Tucille, etc do with libertarians — has the aggregate effect of reducing the effect the positions of that group on the body politic.

      It’s kind of strange to see Reason writers convincing libertarians not to vote (or to vote for a candidate with no chance of winning or making the slightest impact), and then whining when the election winners don’t give a crap about what libertarians think. Next they’ll complain about Caddilac not designing their cars to cater to the desires of minimum wage workers.

      1. So which TEAM BERULED candidate “gives a crap about what libertarians think?” since obviously Johnson “has no chance of winning or making the slightest impact”?

        1. Which TEAM? Really?

          Here’s a clue–Johnson became the Libertarian candidate only AFTER not becoming the Republican candidate

          Or how about Ron Paul, R, TX, who gets support from Libertarians even when he’s no longer running.

          There is nothing like Paul or Johnson on the Democrat side–all their fringes are even more statist than the base.

          Wake up and smell the red paint, boys, ‘cos you’re covered in it.

          1. There is nothing like Paul or Johnson on the Democrat side–all their fringes are even more statist than the base.

            Which is something that needs to change. If we can get a libertarian foothold in the Dem party we’ll be in good shape. It’s going to be hard, though, given that the people in control there are fundamentally hostile to all kinds of liberty.

            1. If we can get a libertarian foothold in the Dem party we’ll be in good shape. It’s going to be hard, though, given that the people in control there are fundamentally hostile to all kinds of liberty.

              Doesn’t your second sentence negate your first? How would getting a foothold in the D party help?

              /no snarc

              1. Well, the second sentence just says that fulfilling the first sentence will be difficult. I guess my idea is to get a small but significant libertarian faction within the Dem party that will behave like an opportunistic infection when conditions are ripe for takeover. If we had a strong libertarian presence in the DP in 2010 that would have been an even better election, since that hypothetical faction would probably have grown by leaps and bounds.

            2. I agree with you. The problem with the libertarian movement is that the pragmatists join Team Red and the principled stick with the LP. Efforts to make the LP more pragmatic have been thoroughly resisted, and the principled are loathe to join either team nominally unless the person happens to also be notably principled like Ron Paul.

              If I were the dictator of the libertarian movement, I’d aim for districts with retiring or vulnerable incumbents from either party, and run a credible libertarian candidate in the primary against them. Generally one can gamble in House races, most voters are going to stick to their preferred party in most cases and not care too much about the individual candidate unless that candidate is crazy. Run a subtle and carefully worded campaign acknowledging the principles of the party, highlight the issues and policies where libertarians agree with the major party on principle. Use a lot of platitudes. When these candidates from all parties get elected, they join a caucus together and eventually get enough members to wield serious power and operate essentially as a ghost third party.

              1. Now that’s a good strategy. But you’d have to herd a lot of libertarian cats.

                1. If these candidates don’t make it onto the ballot, the LP runs a candidate.

                  The problem would be how to broadcast oneself as a libertarian Republican or Democrat without harming primary chances. It’s easier to do after you’ve locked in the primary.

          2. Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, etc. are not on the ballot as Republicans, and most of those who are could care less about libertarian interests. I’d be all for anyone voting for a libertarian Republican (or Democrat) if one was on the ballot.

            1. Ron Paul is a sitting Republican Congressman. Gary Johnson ran for the Republican Presidential nomination. He went LP only after his bid failed.

              There is already a place inside the GOP that is filled with libertarians.

              There is no corresponding place in the Democratic Party.

              1. None of this has to do with why we should vote for Romney or any of the other anti-libertarian a-holes on the ballot in November.

                And both parties become more libertarian when they’re out of power. Libertarian Republicans were persona non grata during the Bush administration.

        2. Neither one, because most libertarians telegraph that they are not going to vote for either one.

          1. All the libertarians who voted for Ron Paul, Rand Paul, Jeff Flake and Justin Amash say you’re a dipshit, Tulpa. Since you haven’t been able to convince the rest of us to join your one-person Romney cult, you have moved on to trying to be dismissive.

      2. Not showing up to play a game that’s badly rigged against you is for losers.

        1. There are times when I wish America had a parlimentary system where parties served based on their percentage of votes and not winner take all, then i remember how many european governments have snap elections because coalitions break down and I thank god I only have to worry about that shit every 4 years.

          1. Which I never understood. You could have a parliment without a prime minister. Just a president and the coalitions would form around the bills being presented. Would be a problem from a committe chairman perspective I suppose but that can be worked around as well.

            1. Well, in actual parliamentary systems voting typically doesn’t work that way–party members vote a party line, unless the party leadership explicitly releases them to vote their conscience on a particular issue. You are truly voting for a party when you cast a ballot in these elections, not for a representative.

              In any case, I don’t see the more-frequent elections as a problem. Remember that these elections have less warning, so it’s not like the two-year run-up to our every-four-year election here is.

        2. How is the game rigged against libertarians?

          Sorry, but this sounds like sour grapes. Like a kid who doesn’t want to practice shooting hoops saying that basketball is rigged against him.

          1. Your analogies are literally the stupidest things I hear in a day. Do you work hard on them, or do they naturally come stupid to you?

            1. Epi, you need to repopulate your insult database. You’re already in reruns.

              1. What did I say about projection, Tulpa Dumb?

                1. Now that’s even more lazy, Epi. You’re not even trying to come up with new insults, just redirecting to past ones.

                  It’s sad to see you degenerate from a minorly amusing sitcom to a flerking clips show.

          2. How is the game rigged against libertarians?

            Um, how about because of the myriad ways the Democratic and Republican parties, despite being nominally private entities, use public funding to conduct their private party business, like primaries, and control “nonpartisan” organizations like the debate commission, keeping a tight hold on the two-party system?

            1. Not to mention voting laws written by and for major parties that make it increasingly more difficult for minor parties to show up on the ballot, but are totally ignored when major parties fail to follow them.

            2. It’s definitely rigged against third parties, though TBH I doubt the LP would have much more success even without the ballot access issues. People don’t want what the LP is selling at this point.

              But I’m talking about libertarians, not third parties. Other interest groups are able to work the two party duopoly to their advantage, why can’t we?

              1. Because unlike other blocs that want free ponies from the government, the libertarian agenda is antithetical to everything the other interest groups want. Politicians can talk out of both sides of their mouths when handing out goodies to corporations and unions, but I guarantee they balk when we demand that they give up some of their power.

      3. I’ll note that the schmuck referred to as “Tulpa Dumb” showed up exactly as I predicted and made the argument I predicted. You’re so boringly predictable, Tulpa Dumb.

        1. I’ll never match your level of predictability. For all we know your posts are just automatic queries from an insult database; they don’t even have to be tailored to a specific issue since you don’t make any arguments about the issue.

          1. Projection is such an ugly syndrome, Tulpa Dumb. You should try not to do it.

      4. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing Tulpa. You say they don’t care about us b/c we don’t vote, I say if we did vote without significant concessions from them, they would simply take us for granted and we wouldn’t get anything out of it, either.

        The answer is to burn the whole fucking thing to the ground and start fresh.

        1. The answer is to burn the whole fucking thing to the ground and start fresh.

          You’ve got my vote.

          Seriously though, be careful what you wish for. I’m afraid that if there was a constitutional convention tomorrow, the final product would contain things like a right to a basic standard of living and a right to health care.

          1. That’s why I said “burn to the ground” and not “hold a congenial convention” ; ).

            Don’t even give them a chance.

            1. So you’re opposing my proposal based on pragmatic concerns… and substituting pure fantasy in its place.

              Libertarians don’t have the ability to “burn the thing to the ground” and even if we did we would absolutely not like the results. The natural replacement for the US govt would be something much more tyrannical, human nature being what it is.

              1. I’m proposing fantasy precisely because there is no realistic pragmatic alternative.

                You see, like epi, I’m an individualist anarchist. Like sarcasmic, I also believe that gangs calling themselves gov’t are inevitable.

                Saying, “Why be an anarchist is gov’t is inevitable?” is like saying, “Why be a libertarian when libertopia isn’t possible to sustain?” (never been done for the long-haul; nightwatchman states always end up growing).

                It’s the ideal, and the realization that reality will never match it. I accept both of those propositions.

                So I respond to you, saying your methods are not feasible, and propose fantasy in it’s place because I don’t believe there is any actual feasible, pragmatic way to make any of this happen.

                1. Nice post, G.

                2. Saying, “Why be an anarchist is gov’t is inevitable?” is like saying, “Why be a libertarian when libertopia isn’t possible to sustain?”

                  But that’s making the perfect the enemy of the good. A truly anarchic society would either split into warlord states or come under the rule of a terrible tyranny very quickly. A minarchist state takes generations, possibly centuries, to degrade, and there are opportunities during that time to reset the clock in a sense by returning to the minarchist principles.

                  1. there are opportunities during that time to reset the clock in a sense by returning to the minarchist principles

                    Really? How exactly does that work?

                    The logical conclusion of any system of government that lacks incentives to repeal shitty legislation is totalitarianism, since shitty legislation begets more shitty legislation that begets more shitty legislation… until nothing exists that isn’t legislated or regulated.

                    Since there has yet to exist a system of government with such an incentive, all governments lead to tyranny.

                    The only reset button is the big one, with no guarantee that the phoenix will give a shit about minarchist principles.

                    1. Getting a compliment on a post from sarcasmic is harder than winning gold in the olympics. I’m touched.

                    2. All you have to do is agree with me. It’s not that hard. 😉

          2. Amendments proposed by a Convention would require 3/4’s of the states to approve. Seeing as how the country is split 50/50 I doubt ANYTHING would pass.

        2. The answer is to burn the whole fucking thing to the ground and start fresh.

          And probably with more than one new one to take the place of this one.

          1. The federal government should devolve more of its power back to the states. We don’t need a constitutional convention for this, just enough people in the Senate and the House to agree.

        3. if we did vote without significant concessions from them, they would simply take us for granted and we wouldn’t get anything out of it, either.

          That’s true if you always vote for the same party and broadcast your intention to always vote for the same party.

          If libertarians were a significant part of the voting bloc, you’d see the Dems at least try to court us. Look at the significant gun-rights bloc in the Democratic Party, which is in large part thanks to the NRA’s willingness to endorse members of both parties. We should emulate that.

          1. The Dems would ‘at least try to court you’?

            Ron Paul, Gary Johnson, Rand Paul. The Republicans ARE you.

            If even half of you would pull your heads out of the liberaltarian asses you’ve got them shoved up you’d realize that you HAVE influence.

            Yes, there are some so-cons and morons in the Tea Parties–but, by and large, the direction they want to move in is one of fiscal sanity, of individual responsibility–a whole swath of the Tea Parties are nothing but libertarians.

            But here, at the home of liberaltarianism, the Tera Parties are eyed warily, they are denigrated mildly and kept at arm’s length. Why?

            Could it be because all the Libertarian writers that somehow always seem to find post-Reason jobs at leftist fever-swamps write in such a way that you’re steered away from natural allies?

            1. “Three or four guys out of thousands in this particular tribe claim to share our views! That makes their collective the natural place to be!”

              Try harder.

            2. I would suggest to you that the slate of GOP presidential candidates presented a pretty good representation of the factions in the GOP. The Tea Party faction clearly fine supporting a variety of hardcore so-cons like Bachmann, Perry, and Santorum in turn, as well as mega-statist Gingrich. I’d agree that a decently libertarian chunk of about 10% exists, but it’s not at all synonymous with the Tea Party as it stands now.

              1. Self-identified Tea Partiers, you mean.

                If you look at people who actually went to the rallies, I bet far fewer would have been Gingrich supporters.

                1. I considered myself a Tea Partier in early 2009, when I went to the local gathering and got to see Ron Paul give a speech, but felt differently afterward. What was interesting was that he went into his usual non-interventionist stuff and was booed/cheered about 50/50.

                  The person who spoke before him was a Cuban immigrant who spoke movingly of the great economic freedom of the U.S. compared to Cuba, but then went off on an anti-gay marriage tirade that soured me quite a bit, but which many others applauded. I’d say that pretty well sums up the typical Tea Party mix, and that was before Obamacare, mid-terms, and all the rest. So no, I’d say of the people who went to the rallies, even back then, a good number of them would’ve been fine supporting Gingrich.

            3. Why do you keep changing your name, Tulpa?

              1. I haven’t been allowed to use “Tulpa” since registration began. They reserved that name for a now-nonexistent email address.

      5. So of course we should all vote for Romney to save the country. Right Tulpa?

    5. One vote may be almost worthless, but the absence of a vote is worthless. See snowflakes on a branch, straws on a camel, c.

  4. Researchers say (PDF) that the average “residual vote rate” (that is, the percentage of ballots for which a valid vote couldn’t be determined) across different voting systems was 1.8 percent in 2000, 2.0 percent in 2002 and 1.8 percent in 2004.

    Uh, Tucille, this is counting the number of voters don’t understand how to mark the ballot. If you know how to mark the ballot and do it correctly, you can be assured you’re not one of the “residual votes”. (Presumably it’s impossible to get invalid ballots when using voting machines as opposed to paper ballots or punch ballots, since the machines physically stop you from voting for too many candidates, etc.)

      1. He works hard at it, Hugh. Really, really hard.

      2. No more protection from the guards. I’ll pull you out of that one-bunk Hilton and cast you down with the Sodomites. You’ll think you’ve been fucked by a train! And the library? Gone… sealed off, brick-by-brick. We’ll have us a little book barbecue in the yard. They’ll see the flames for miles. We’ll dance around it like wild Injuns! You understand me? Catching my drift?… Or am I being obtuse?

      3. Tulpa is obviously so smart that the bad decision making sets in right around noon.

      4. So what you’re saying is you have no argument against my position.

        1. Actually what I’m saying is that you seem to be (accidentally or deliberately, we’ll never know) ignoring the glaring realities of the past 200+ years of American voting in order to make your pedantic little rebuttal to JD’s point about residual votes.

          What about ballots that are misprinted? Or that are invalidated in transit from the polling place to the counting machines? Or that are damaged by the machines themselves? Or are tampered with after being cast? Or are thrown out after being cast? Or are counted twice? Or not counted at all?

          And electronic voting has its own flaws and vulnerabilities. Don’t be too proud of the technological terror of voting machines. The ability to cast a vote is insignificant compared the margin of error created by mechanical failures and outright fraud.

          1. Haha, excellent last paragraph.

          2. I find your lack of faith disturbing.

          3. In any case, you’re now talking about flat-out fraud, which is not the topic of Tucille’s post.

            1. JD’s post is about the statistical value of any individual vote. Fraud effects that. Your argument is invalid.

    1. I really have no doubt that there are people able to cast invalid ballots on voting machines.

      The real issue here is why people that are too dumb to mark a ballot are allowed to vote. The other issue is why we have a system where 49.9999% of people can be effectively denied a representative.

      1. It’s a lot more than 49 percent being denied a representative. 60 percent don’t vote, and 50 percent who do vote end up losing, so it’s more like 80 percent without a rep.

        1. I believe Obama won just over 30% of total eligible voters.

      2. Not without knowing that it won’t be counted. The “residual vote” cited in the original post includes ballots where the voter chose not to vote for the highest office.

      3. The other issue is why we have a system where 49.9999% of people can be effectively denied a representative.

        With respect to the House, it’s because federal law as of 1967 prohibits multi-member congressional districts. If we got rid of single member districts, we’d lower the threshold for getting elected, which would theoretically increase the chance of electing people from a third party. But that would require our duopolist Congress to abolish this law to its own detriment, so I guess we are stuck.

    2. Residual votes include those who can’t figure out the voting method, but it’s a larger set than that. It really does mean ballots for which a valid vote can’t be determined, and yes, that includes many machine votes, which add other concerns, too.

      1. From the link you give:

        Residual vote rates were calculated as the percentage of ballots cast that failed to record a valid vote for president (in 2000 and 2004) or governor (in 2002). 2897 counties were analyzed in 2000, 1847 counties analyzed in 2002, and 3034 counties analyzed in 2004.

        So they’re counting ballots that were improperly filled out. If you want your vote counted, vote for all the offices on the ballot. It ain’t hard.

        There’s no indication at the link that the “residual vote” refers to machine errors that the voter has no control over.

        1. “Residual votes” is a term of art for the industry and for researchers. It means more than voter error.

  5. avoiding the polls at all out of naive disgust with the whole process.

    .

    You say this like it is a bad thing. I normally only vote against things – taxes, mill levy increases, new bond issues, etc and skip the rest of the ballot. I will vote this year to regulate mj like alcohol.

    1. Sorry — I meant that non-voters are accused of naivete, not that being disgusted is naive.

  6. Harry Reid said all elections will be decided by rich guys with no teeth.
    Harry Reid!

  7. So in other words, voting is pointless.

    Not quite. In Epi’s home state of Washington during the gubernatorial election cited in the article, several hundred or so anarchists going to the polls for the first time in their life could swing the election to the point where it would be harder for the vote-counters to steal it by manufacturing votes.

    But, since you almost never know in advance whether any of the races on the ballot are going to be nailbiters, and anyone who wins an election is wildly unlikely to represent the political POV of a libertarian anarchist, and your time is worth something, it is rational for someone like Epi to not vote. He’s got better shit to do with that time, and so do most of us.

    And this is coming from the FN CHAIR of the LP in Hawaii. =P

    That being said, I’m gonna vote by mail for Gary Johnson, and prolly leave most or all of the other races blank because Gary will be the only libertarian on my ballot. The psychic satisfaction of spitting at The Man and registering my protest is, to me, worth the minute or so of my time it will take to fill in and mail the ballot.

    Shorter: don’t vote unless you have someone you feel good about voting for, and enjoy giving the middle finger to the system.

    1. Voting isn’t totally pointless, but one’s vote doesn’t count that much. The reality of it is what it is. It’s about the minimal participation someone can have in the political process.

      1. Your participation is statistically pointless and meaningless. Sorry. Feeling good about “participation” doesn’t mean shit and doesn’t change that.

        1. We’re in agreement, Epi. We’re just saying it in different ways.

        2. Trying to help a third party get 5% or whatever it is in your state to automatically qualify the next cycle is a lot more statistically feasible than expecting the least hated candidate to win it all.

          Also, sometimes they read off the best write-in votes on the radio for the enjoyment of listeners. Why not Cthulu?

          1. Because they can’t pronounce “Cthulu” on the radio.

          2. I put several Cthulu campaign signs outside my cube.

            “We tried hope. Give fear a chance.”

            “Why vote for the lesser evil?”

            “Vote for the greater evil.”

            Last election I had a Ralph Wiggum 2008 poster on my cube.

            My coworkers think I’m weird.

    2. As chair of the Hawaii LP, I think ballot access for third parties should be the first point you make when talking to “principled non-voters”. If there aren’t any third parties that reflect their beliefs, suggest they start one. Being represented on the ballot is the best we can do until there are some serious electoral reforms, like approval voting.

  8. The government can’t count up votes accurately but if I was to be a few percentage points off on my taxes they will fine me or throw me in jail.

  9. Saying your vote doesn’t matter because there are a lot of them is buying into the collectivist mindset. If we’re stuck with a semi-democratic form of government at present, why not express your preference with a vote?

    Individualists and libertarians believe that individual actions and choices matter, not “group” actions. If done semi-accurately, what is being tallied up in elections is the expressed preferences of many individual voters.

    You can choose to cast yours (or not) however you want. For me, dropping by the voting booth and voting for the candidate of my choice is a rewarding activity, because it’s a chance to flip off the establishment, albeit anonymously.

    1. For me, dropping by the voting booth and voting for the candidate of my choice is a rewarding activity

      That requires having a candidate of choice.

    2. Somebody doesn’t understand math.

    3. The open question in your first to paragraphs is “to whom?” Voting to express your preferences to people who aren’t going to listen to them doesn’t seem like a worthwhile activity.

      And since they’re not going to listen to your preferences, voting only matters to the individual. So if you feel good watching Toddlers Tiaras, or listening to Nickelback, or casting a meaningless ballot, by all means do so. But don’t blame me for staying home on election day.

      1. To whom is to the people counting the votes, and to those (like me) who check the results. 0.4% for the LP candidate DOES get reported, and those who care can find it. If that grows to 0.8% and then 1.5% and then 4.5%, we’ll know we’re making progress, and the other parties will start to notice.

        And I had a 4.0 GPA in math, in 23 years of schooling.

        1. Well I got a PhD from the Schoola Hard Knocks, and I know that my vote doesn’t matter to anyone, least of all me. So I will find something productive to do on election day.

          1. I accept that my vote has an approximately 0 percent chance of determining the election, but it has close to a 100 percent chance of indicating my preference, as long as I vote for the candidate I prefer and don’t try to vote so as to affect the outcome.

            1. Well put. In any system with more than one voter, no single person determines an election, only differences in aggregate votes do. If you don’t vote then there is no way to account for your preferences.

  10. I know that the secret ballot is a time-honored American tradition with some good reasons behind it, but I’d be willing to agree to a waiver of secrecy if I could publicly post my vote.

    1. You can publicly post your vote. It’s called the Internet.

      1. That’s not the same. One could vote one way and then say something else publicly.

  11. Your participation is statistically pointless and meaningless. Sorry. Feeling good about “participation” doesn’t mean shit and doesn’t change that.

    Not always. The mayoral race for Honolulu is likely to be a nail-biter, and if Cayetano wins, the multi-billion dollar rail boondoggle is likely dead. If the douchebag opposing him wins, the jobs program for unionized workers rolls on. So I prolly will weigh in on that race.

    But, I hear you, Epi. Voting would, in Objectivist terms, be a sacrifice because of how you feel about voting. So, it’s completely rational for you to not vote and submit yourself to feeling like you did something that is horrifically wrong for you.

  12. As chair of the Hawaii LP, I think ballot access for third parties should be the first point you make when talking to “principled non-voters”. If there aren’t any third parties that reflect their beliefs, suggest they start one. Being represented on the ballot is the best we can do until there are some serious electoral reforms, like approval voting.

    Well, actually not. There’s a 0.0% chance that the LP in Hawaii will gain ballot access because of getting enough votes in this election. Regaining ballot access after this election will come down to me and a handful of other people going around and gathering 700 valid and accepted signatures on a petition for LP ballot access. Which means, in practice, getting about 1200 signatures, because those bastards who screen the petitions will throw out signatures for the slightest technicality.

    I’ve been upfront with the handful of anarchists I run across like Epi who don’t vote because of how they feel — I tell them they’re right to act that way. I encourage them to continue to not vote if they have that level of disgust at the system. I’m one of those rare anarchists who does vote, but I totally get Epi’s POV.

    1. So why don’t you and Epi start an anarchist party where the candidate vows to slash and burn all government to the ground and shut down the treasury, if elected? Anyone who votes for that candidate is surely making a statement at least and will attract a lot of attention for the cause of anarchism.

    2. 700 signatures? Here in OK it is 50000…which is truly bullshit, but even 700 is crap…the number of signatures to get on a ballot should be 1…the candidates

  13. Residual vote rates were calculated as the percentage of ballots cast that failed to record a valid vote for president (in 2000 and 2004) or governor (in 2002). 2897 counties were analyzed in 2000, 1847 counties analyzed in 2002, and 3034 counties analyzed in 2004.

    So they’re counting ballots that were improperly filled out.

    According to that definition, residual vote rates also includes ballots that were properly filled out, but someone didn’t vote in a given race because there wasn’t anyone on the ballot who the voter felt deserved their vote.

    For example, most of the races I’m eligible to vote for get blank-balloted because the choice is between two statists. Fuck that. Not voting for the slightly lesser of two evils.

  14. My coworkers think I’m weird.

    Your coworkers are confusing “interesting and funny” with “weird”.

  15. Nah, Libertarians, your vote doesn’t matter. Just stay home on election day. Your vote doesn’t matter at all. After all, Tuccie says it can’t even really be counted, right?

    So stay home.

    Then, in the next election cycle, you can complain about the two TEAMS, root for your favorite republican(as always), complain about the lack of attention being paid to Libertarian candidates/issues, sulk for the eventual LP candidate, declare the pointlessness of it all, and resolve, once again, not to vote, all over again.

    1. You’re essentially correct. A vote for the Liberatarian Party’s presidential candidate doesn’t have any significant effect on the presidential race, but…

      … the Libertarian Party come up with awful presidential tickets for years. This time around they’ve finally come up with a quality presidential and vice presidential candidates. So, I’m going to vote LP for the first time in a long time just to send a small signal to the LP leadership that they did good.

      1. Same here, I like Gov. Johnson and will vote for him if he managed to get on the ballot here. Otherwise I won’t be voting, which breaks my heart because this is the first LP candidate in years I really believe in.

  16. This is why I always fill in all the bubbles and draw a penis on the ballot.

  17. I live in California, where Obama is the guaranteed winner. Even if half the state slid off into the Pacific, it would still elect 55 Obama electors. If Janis Jopin is correct that freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose, then I’m free to vote for the greater good instead of the lesser evil! It doesn’t matter if Romney is marginally better than Obama, my vote for Romney won’t matter. So I’ll vote for Gary Johnson instead.

  18. I live in California, where Obama is the guaranteed winner. Even if half the state slid off into the Pacific, it would still elect 55 Obama electors.

    Depends on which half slides in — and whether any of the residents of the slidy part survive to vote. The coast is Democratic, inland is generally Republican:

    http://uselectionatlas.org/RES…..=0class=3

  19. Fuck, SF’d the link. Just google “california election results by county map 2010”.

  20. I vote and tend to vote Libertarian in the vain hope that if enough like-minded individuals do so, one of the major parties will take note of a block of potential voters and run a candidate sympathetic to my views. It also allows me to get smug with my TEAM RED and TEAM BLUE family members and friends, regardless of who wins the election.

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