Election 2014

Not Voting? Don't Worry About It

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Didn't vote? Don't want to vote? Don't worry about it. It almost certainly won't matter anyway. In this 2008 video, Gordon Tullock, a Professor Emeritus at the George Mason University School of Law, and one of the founders of public choice economics, explains why. 

Vote if you want to. Vote if you enjoy voting. Vote if you care about a candidate, or about the process itself. But don't vote because you feel obligated to do so, or because you think your vote alone is likely to make a difference. And no matter what, if you don't vote, don't feel bad about it. 

In 2012, Reason's Katherine Mangu-Ward explained why your vote doesn't count. And over at Bloomberg View, Megan McArdle* offers five good reasons to skip voting today. For the counterargument, here's Reason's Ed Krayewski making the libertarian case for voting

*I am married to this person. 

NEXT: Guam Votes to Legalize Medical Marijuana

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  1. That was a lot of effort just to brag about having a wife there, Suderman.

    1. Plus John reminds us all the time.

  2. Not that I think my vote is statistically significant. It’s not. But, if there were any candidates worth voting for, I’d vote. There are candidates out there right now that I’d vote for if they ran in my district, like Justin Amash. But here I am in a place with no good candidates, which is like 99% of the US, therefore I don’t bother.

    1. I would not have voted were it not for the Medical Marijuana iniciative. I live in Florida – I also voted for the LP candidate for governor – the Republicrat candidates are a crook who used to run a hospital and a crook who is a lawyer.

  3. This is the first election in a long time that I haven’t voted.

    Just couldn’t work up enough of a care, really. Even though we have a close race between a hacktastic non-entity (Ron Barber, who inherited Gabby Giffords’ seat) and an interesting challenger (Martha McSally, former Warthog pilot and kind of a hardass).

    One item of interest: Arizona has mail-in ballots. I did not request one, but got one anyway. That’s some fine ballot management and poll security, there.

    All you have to do to vote by mail is sign the form saying you are who the ballot says you are. That’s it. If you harvested these things out of the mail when they are sent to the voter (dead easy, as they have very distinctive envelopes), you could vote as many as you could lay your hands on.

  4. But…but…voting FEELZ good! And since I’m terrible at math, I don’t understand what statistical significance means! That’s why I have to vote! To stop the other TEAM!

    Fuck, people are idiots.

    1. But Epi, if you don’t vote, you can’t complain!

      1. Oh hell yes I can. Who’s gonna stop me?

        1. The ghosts of people who died so you could vote!

          1. Nah, they have already voted in Cook or Madison County, IL or maybe Philly.

      2. Yup, that was today’s editorial cartoon in the paper: “I voted, so I get to complain about my government.”

      3. Remember, silence is not consent.

        1. Affirmative consent, except with voting.

    2. If the other team wins, then YOU are personally responsible for failing to vote for the right team! YOU caused all of this!!

      1. Finally, some recognition!

  5. I’m not voting, but I’m totally going to hang out near the polling station and catcall all the ladies.

    1. …and provide verbal commentary on what they’re wearing

        1. GILMORE, Why are you posting outtakes from Girls? How is that on topic?

        2. Pretty trippy, there, G.

          1. It is more real than real

            I lived on that very block for 14 years

            My ‘fashion critic’ persona is probably stolen partly from Sam Hyde’s interview-schtick there, which is something like a “Bellagio-Fountain of Contempt”

    2. Holder is on to you:

      “I want the American people to know that the Justice Department will stand vigilant ? working in a fair and nonpartisan manner to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot free of intimidation, discrimination or obstruction”

      1. to ensure that every voter can cast his or her ballot

        GENDERIST! No wonder you’re resigning!

        1. Whether or not they haqppen to be U.S. Citizens.

    3. War on women.

      1. FRAUKRIEG F?R IMMER

        1. Saudi-Arabien ist ein gro?artiger Ort f?r Frauen.

  6. Conversation with my wife last night, based on one of those position surveys where they ask candidates a half dozen questions on “key” issues:

    I dont care about their position on the issues, I care about what their process was to reach that position. Those issues arent generally ones I care about, but how they reached them will tell me how they are going to vote on issues I do care about.

  7. Give me a meaningful choice, and I’ll consider voting. Otherwise, it just validates and encourages the shitgobbling weasels who currently own and operate the political system.

    1. I’m going to vote libertarian or not vote. So, I’m not going to “spoil” one party’s election – they aren’t counting on my vote.

      I guess the only downside is that my vote would be one less vote that polls wouldn’t report, which might be important for people to see that libertarian candidates are a viable option.

      So, I guess the question is: Why bother being democratic when your vote counts for nothing?

      Another question: Being an economist, this guy probably understands market forces, and those forces are composed of millions of small decisions to contribute to something larger. If he understands the value of his decisions in the large role of a market, why does he think his vote isn’t worth anything?

  8. All you have to do to vote by mail is sign the form saying you are who the ballot says you are.

    It’s an Oath.

    An OATH.

    1. I’ll repeat what I said in the morning links: “Morality. Ethics. Ends not justifying evil means. All hallmarks of the primitive heteropatriarchal hegemony.”

  9. To get a mass audience to stop voting stupid, we need education. So I’m going to launch a TV show, like Bill Nye’s old show, but for liberty. Pro Lib the freedom glib. Nounifying glib. For kids.

    Freeee-dommmm is cool.

    1. They already tried this, and then Tom Wopat and John Schneider asked for more money and it went all pear shaped.

      1. I was thinking a little less rednecky. And for kids.

        1. I look forward to the episode written by SugarFree.

          1. No you don’t, trust me.

            1. What?! You don’t consider him a master of the double entendre?!

              1. Wait. There’s another meaning to sucking a shit nugget out of an asshole?

          2. Episode? No. But he will get commercial time. Hey, he paid for it.

    2. Isn’t that what Stossel in the Classroom is supposed to be?

      And Milton Friedman’s series on PBS back in the day?

      1. For kids. Fun. Kind of slapstick but with sexual innuendo that they can’t comprehend for the parents. Think Benny Hill meets Bill Nye meets Hayek.

  10. Meh, it’s a ritual of civic engagement. I vote every time in person for that very reason.

    Plus, your vote may not be statistically insignificant in local races. My hometown had a tie in the mayor race back in the early 90s that was decided by a contested coin flip. That election totaled about 1500 votes.

    And now in Oakland, we get to use ranked-order voting for our mayoral race, which allows me to throw a vote to either the guy who once shot a gang member in front of his house, or the guy who is running on a “conceal carry for all” platform.

    1. Plus, your vote may not be statistically insignificant in local races. My hometown had a tie in the mayor race back in the early 90s that was decided by a contested coin flip.

      Counter-argument: I know nothing about my local races. I live in a small town that I’m not from. No newspaper, no knowledge of the community, no knowledge of candidate’s positions, and not really any way of finding out without considerable effort.

      So, fuck it. My time is better spent masturbating.

      1. I say ritual of civic engagement, you say masturbation
        Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto
        Let’s call the whole thing off

      2. You can do both. Masturbate while waiting in line at the polling place.

        You have to be subtle about it, though. In 2008, I started moaning in the booth, and I got kicked out because they considered it open advocacy for the LP.

          1. Laughing in the polling booth is also considered openly advocating the LP.

            1. How about retching when you see the choices?

              1. Idea: Handing out LP branded barf bags just outside the no political speech zone.

    2. If it came down to a coin flip, then your vote had zero influence on the outcome as did everyone else’s. Why not just skip the whole charade and just go straight for that instead?

      1. I’ll go you one better — why have elected officials at all? Just flip a coin on every decision. Being wrong half the time would be a vast improvement.

  11. I agree that voting is worthless. Leave it to the stupid people to vote. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. One of the two (or three!) shit candidates will win office. This was going to happen whether you voted or not.

    2. I see it as a dichotomy. It’s worthless and it’s powerful, moslty used as a tool to legitimize coercion. Whatever you gain from voting can be taken away by voting. You might gain some respite from other fools who lose (like the Dems this elections) occasionally, but it is not a tenable way for freedom at all.

  12. I vote for propositions, but it rarely goes the way I vote.

    I’d be more inclined to fill out the ballot for candidates if there were a “-1” system where you could choose to vote against a politician instead of only being able to vote for a politician.

    1. I wonder if a state could do that in a federal election.

  13. I just got back from voting. There is a Libertarian trying to steal the Governor’s Mansion from Nikki Haley… I also wanted to vote for a proposition that would allow charities to have raffles, instead of treating them like illegal lotteries like they do now.

  14. I think I am going to vote for the deal Libertarian when I get off work today.

    1. the dead libertarian (can’t type today)

  15. This is America, and you have to vote. If you don’t like it, you can giiiiiiiiiiiiit out.

    1. I only vote because the polls are less than a mile from my house and on the way home. If they were any further away, I would not make the effort

        1. Oh right, I forgot to type that. Thanks for saving my ass again Fist!

    2. “Fist of Etiquette|11.4.14 @ 1:27PM|#

      This is America, and you have to vote. If you don’t like it, you can giiiiiiiiiiiiit out.”

      Which is funny, because if you try? They take all your shit.

  16. I’d be more inclined to fill out the ballot for candidates if there were a “-1” system where you could choose to vote against a politician instead of only being able to vote for a politician.

    If the position were left vacant if no candidate out-polled “None of the Above” that would at least make it entertaining.

    1. If the position were filled by a potted plant if no candidate out-polled “Potted Plant” that would make it *more* entertaining.

      1. I would be entertaining to Godwin the whole thing.

        Rauner – 48%
        Quinn – 47%
        Hitler – 3%

        I could probably sell ‘Hitler for President’ bumper stickers to the Hipsters, right?

  17. Going to vote, I heard an ad where some woman argued that no one should elect this one candidate because “he teamed up with the Koch brothers to fight against women and against raising the minimum wage.” That was one I was going to leave blank, but after hearing that, I made sure to vote for the guy.

    And yeah, I know voting is essentially pointless, but then, so is not voting.

    1. If you don’t vote, you don’t get an “I voted” sticker to put on a child, dog, or cremation urn.

      1. I stuck mine on the trashcan as I walked out last time.

      2. I guess they’re cheap in NH. I didn’t get one.

      3. this made me laugh, thanks.

      4. Does anybody know when and how they started handing out those stickers? I don’t remember adults walking around with them back when I was a kid.

        And while the cost of those stickers is probably less than a rounding error within a rounding error, it still needs to be said…

        Nothing. Left. To. Cut!

    2. And yeah, I know voting is essentially pointless, but then, so is not voting.

      Only if you’re paid straight salary. A lot of people have opportunity costs associated with voting.

  18. If you actually do vote, embrace being a spoiler. Unless you’re very, very lucky, you aren’t getting the chance to vote for someone who’s worth your vote this year. That’s fine. But if you spoil the election, you are voting powerfully for a candidate you might want in 2016.

  19. I don’t vote, and I feel free, as a true blue American, to unhesitatingly complain my ass off.

    FUCK OFF, SLAVERS.

    1. You should – that “you do not have a right to complain if you do not vote” argument is absurd on its face. If I opt to not join a Union (and therefore cannot vote for Union leaders) do I have a right to complain if they drive the company I work for bankrupt?

      1. If you want to criticize North Korea, maybe you should move there and participate in the political process first so you have a right to complain.

        1. Exactly, and what they do there impacts all of us – so it is our duty to participate in the North Korean Political Process.

  20. Also, that crap about “Vote for the winner, or you’re throwing your vote away” pisses me off.

    If you’re a libertarian, vote for the libertarian.

    Be a proud loser. Hold your head up.

    1. Definitely, this. I wrote in a couple (L) candidates. They don’t have a hope in hell. But I’d agree with them a lot more than the other clowns.

    2. I’m proud that I’ve never cast a vote for anyone that has won public office. My conscience is clean.

  21. I vote out of Spite.
    At this point in my life, Spite is a great motivating power.

  22. The question that matters most of all this election cycle is: has Ann Coulter shown up at Ron Bailey’s house to try to drown him for voting for Sarvis yet, and if so, is there video of it somewhere?

  23. I make sure I at least vote against all incumbent judges – smarmy bastards and bitches need some humility! I leave the unopposed blank (no reinforcement for you!) and only had three L’s to vote for 🙁

    1. What state do you live in? I had only three LP candidates to vote for also.

      1. IL (former “Land of Lincoln” now “Will the Defendant Please Rise”)

        1. Do you think Rod Blagojevich could make a comeback? After all, he is not that different from most politicians. I think a Blagojevich / Spitzer ticket for 2016 would be pretty interesting.

          1. All we need is a Republican candidate to say “Jesus Christ himself would not vote for Rod Blagojevich.” and the voter base would be effectively mobilized in the opposite direction.

            But then, the Republican party in IL found a way to demonize a man for wanting to have sex with Jeri Ryan while married to her. So, I even doubt their ability to intentionally take a dive.

            1. That was one of the strangest elections in history. And if Alan Keyes had not insulted Dick Cheney?s daughter Obama might not be President today. The whole election was just — weird.

              1. You know who else came to power after an unusual set of circumstances transpired?

                1. Are you encouraging me to Godwin the thread?

                  Abraham Lincoln.

    2. I make sure I at least vote against all incumbent judges – smarmy bastards and bitches need some humility!

      I always vote against keeping any incumbent judges. I also read all ballot questions as “Should Socrates be executed for corrupting the Utes?” and vote no on them as well.

  24. Well, I just voted. On the way out some old guy asked if I would sign an initiative to strengthen so-called Clean Elections.

    I asked “So that’s when taxpayers pay for campaigns, right?”

    “Yeah.”

    “So instead of money being voluntarily contributed, it’s taken from the taxpayers?”

    “Yeah.”

    “I can’t support that.”

    And a fellow who was in the middle of signing the thing said “I didn’t realize that’s what it was. I can’t support it either.”

    Ha!

    1. I always ask “How much will you pay me to sign?” They walk away every time.

      1. I always listen to what they have to say. Sometimes they want to legalize the bud or lower taxes, and I’ll sign those.

    2. Good for you! See, education is the key. The more you know …

    3. “And a fellow who was in the middle of signing the thing said “I didn’t realize that’s what it was. I can’t support it either.””

      Nice.

  25. I pencil in the names of dead outlaws and vote for them. I figure voting for dead criminals is far better than approving living ones.

  26. Absurd argument and a complete abandonment of civic duty

    Reminds me of the morons who brag about getting out of jury duty

    Considering the TINY margin that Gregoire beat her opponent in WA state for governor, this argument is even more absurd

    1. He is mathematically correct.

      Just as I don’t buy a lottery ticket and imagine what I would do with the money.

      The probability of my winning with and without a ticket are practically the same. Sure, one greater than zero and the other is zero, but the one that is greater than zero is so close to zero that it is negligible. The odds are essentially the same.

      As far as civic duty goes, say I own a shop that is regularly shaken down by gangsters. Now lets say those gangsters give me a multiple choice ballot where I get to vote for their leader. Does that mean I now have a choice or a stake in what the gang does? Am I part of “the system” if I vote? Do I have a duty to help choose the leader of the armed men who regularly rob me?

      Voting is stupid. I do it anyway, but it is stupid.

        1. You say that like it is a bad thing.

          1. It is when you resign yourself to being a victim for the rest of your life. IMHO.

            Shit can get better.

            1. I choose not to stress over things that are out of my control. If you call that being a victim, I don’t really care. You see, I have no control over what you think. Nor do I have any control over the outcome of an election. But I vote anyway.

    2. Considering the TINY margin that Gregoire beat her opponent in WA state for governor, this argument is even more absurd

      Not as much, when you consider that her winning margin was probably manufactured after the fact.

      One of the most recent well-publicized voter fraud cases occurred in the Washington State governor’s race in November 2004 in which Democrat Christine Gregoire allegedly defeated Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes after weeks of vote counting. The Washington State Superior Court found that 1,400 felons voted illegally, along with illegal votes cast by 53 dead people, two non-citizens and 27 double votes. Since Washington State does not have party voter registration, there was no way of proving exactly how they voted, so the judge ruled there was not enough proof to void the election.

      http://humanevents.com/2007/12…..ter-fraud/

    3. If my favored candidate hasn’t a Fudgsicle’s chance in hell of winning and the other candidates are establishment hacks (which is almost always the case) I don’t give a fuck about civic duty. Voting then becomes a gesture of absurdity.

      I do, however, vote on ballot measures which are statistically more plausible than voting for fringe candidates.

  27. And a fellow who was in the middle of signing the thing said “I didn’t realize that’s what it was. I can’t support it either.”

    The FBI would like a word with you.

  28. Ima go vote now. Libertarians and even 1 democrat. Anyone running unopposed will lose my vote to Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny and Judge Napolitano gets the nod for my Supreme Court Justice #2 as both Team’s candidates are abysmal.

    ROCK THE VOTE!

  29. I always vote and will do so today.

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