Election 2020

Voting Is Overrated

It might be better to find something else you'd rather do on Election Day.


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Wearing an "I Voted" sticker on Election Day announces that you are a proud participant in the grand tradition of representative democracy, the worst system except all the others. It says "I care."

But voting is overrated. The reasons people give for why they vote—and why everyone else should too—are flawed, unconvincing, and occasionally dangerous. The case for voting relies on factual errors, misunderstandings about the duties of citizenship, and overinflated perceptions of self-worth. There are some good reasons for some people to vote some of the time. But there are a lot more bad reasons to vote, and the bad ones are more popular.

This video is based on the essay "Your Vote Doesn't Count," from our November 2012 issue.

Written and hosted by Katherine Mangu-Ward; motion graphics by Lex Villena; sound effects by Isaac Reese and Regan Taylor.

Music credits: "Decision Making," by Deep Down."Good Time," by Dancing Raindrops. "Pizzicato Waltz," by Chromaticity. "VHS," by Lingerwell. Licensed by Artlist.

Photo Credits: Photo 175645041 © Ljupco Dreamstime; Photo 162148863 © Alexeyleon Dreamstime.com; Gage Skidmore; Wellcome Images; Everett Collection Newscom; ID 140366215© Konstantin Kamenetskiy Dreamstime.com; ID 46619287© Viorel Sima Dreamstime; ID 129830274© Gearstd Dreamstime; Photo 76220106 © Ratz Attila Dreamstime.com; ID 35370943© Flas100 Dreamstime.com; ID 47025085© Wavebreakmedia Ltd Dreamstime.com; Photo 158004222 © Viorel Sima Dreamstime.com, Illustration 32629836 © Razihusin Dreamstime.com, Photo 102949586 © Jim Lawrence Dreamstime.com, ID 70296563© Catalin205 Dreamstime.com; Photo 73714134 © Nattul Dreamstime.com, ID 22189521© Jeanne Mcright Dreamstime.com, Photo 50885651 © Ljupco Dreamstime.com; ID 176226664© Igor Tokalenko Dreamstime; Matthias; YURI GRIPAS REUTERS Newscom; Circa Images Newscom; Raza Malik; ID 162926467© Viorel Sima Dreamstime.com; Photo 937467 © Julián Rovagnati Dreamstime; Illustration 164669584 © Sabelskaya Dreamstime.com; Tony Webster; Marc Nozell; Gabriele Holtermann-Gorden Sipa Newscom; Michael Reeve; Photo 162732480 © Milkos Dreamstime.com; Photo 94006907 © Ljupco Dreamstime; John Lamparski Sipa USA Newscom; Mathias Wasik; ID 36193262© Kianlin Dreamstime.com; Fred Murphy; Tony Fischer; Barbara Kinney for Hillary for America

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  1. I want to get some “I didn’t vote” stickers made.
    Though I’m seriously considering voting this time.

    1. I didn’t miss an election for twenty five years. Now I doubt I will ever vote again unless voting ‘none of the above’ would result in the office being empty until the next election.

      1. I’m in California so my vote not only doesn’t count I’m in a mail in vote counting only county so my vote is literally not counted

        1. I’m not so sure. I’ve known people who work the polls and they’re pretty religious about it, regardless of the outcome.

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        2. Don’t be buying into the conspiracy theories. Get your ballot in on time and it will be counted.

          1. ah, a man of faith i see!

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          2. Oh, it will be counted.

            The problem is, it doesn’t count.

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              Here’s what I do…….EasY EarninG

      2. Meh, I’m pretty sporadic in my voter participation, but I always try to maintain the same, healthy level of nonchalance whether or not I decide to show up at the polls.

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      3. I didn’t miss an election for twenty five years.

        Cool. Just like me, except the complete opposite.

        1. I vote in every election where I have the opportunity. I actually gave a speech in the high school auditorium on Town Meeting night Two years ago that the town newspaper said was responsible for voting down the proposed school budget. There was talk of funding a football program when they were planning to cut the existing music program. This year I have selectmen, state reps and other officials who often win or lose by a small handful of votes. My ballot was already in hand. Why wouldn’t I take that opportunity to put my name in the “not Trump” column? My state will elect Joe Biden by probably the largest percentage of any state in the country. There is no reason for me to vote for him as far as the electoral college is concerned, but on the off-chance that Trump is re-elected, helping make him lose it by the largest popular vote in history might help quicken its demise.

          1. Prepare for disappointment.

    2. I want one that says “I don’t care that you voted you virtue signaling simp”
      I’d make it longer but I don’t want people taking an hour to read my sticker

    3. But if I don’t spend all day every day between now and three days after the election filling out absentee ballots, how can we be sure that Joe will win?

  2. Flagged for ILLEGAL voter SUPPRESSION!

  3. Contrary to what some say, I don’t think that people who don’t vote or vote third party are necessarily stealing votes from one if the main parties.

    But when Reason makes these incessant requests for us not to vote while ignoring the worst things about Biden, I get the feeling they are actively trying to steal votes from Trump

    1. I dunno, the video seems to make a pretty principled case, and KMW has been consistent in it for as long as I’ve been visiting Hit’n’Run.

    2. Definitely not making any sort of argument for libertarianism

    3. Most of the staff at Reason seems to vote. It’s just KMW and maybe one or two others who don’t and they have been very consistent on that for many years. Their stance is no different than in any other election for at least 12 years.

  4. So is Reason trying to grt voters to stay home, for what purpose, to make their vote for Biden more powerful?

    1. Are you aware that Reason was branded a racist, conservative rag during the Obama years because they criticized the guy based upon libertarian principles?

      1. Leftists call anyone who doesn’t 100% agree with them racists and fascists and white supremacists and any other name you can think up. They are so pathetically craven.

        1. Trump supporters aren’t much different.

          1. Comes down to who you think is a bigger threat, racists or lizard people who have sex with children before cooking them into pizza.

            1. Pedo pizza eating lizards sound pretty dangerous compared to imaginary racists. You’re a strange guy, Tony.

              1. Imaginary? Republicans don’t support antiracism, so they are racists. Each and every one of them. The logic is irrefutable.

              2. The Pubs aren’t the ones proposing Truth and Reconcilaition commissions.

                1. Do you even know what that means or where it comes from?

                  Jesus Christ you people are so fucking stupid.

            2. Or just realizing that either one of them is hell-bent on fucking me in my little corner of the world.

              I last voted in ’92, and I will never vote again until there is a viable choice.

              PS – I do vote in the elections of my other citizenship because it is a parliamentary system and not a one-party posing as two farce. American elections are a fucking joke. Heads or tails, the donor class comes out on top.

          2. The only parties curreny claiming those who don’t celebrate CRT are the democrats and Jo.

  5. I like the ritual of voting, and I see it is a civic responsibility, even if my vote doesn’t matter or even if there’s no guarantee it will be counted. I did what *I* could to elect the right people (or defeat the really wrong people), and what other people do isn’t really my business unless they’re interested in my opinion how to vote (which they usually aren’t).

    1. I always vote. And usually just because it’s been drilled into me. But for local races and measures my vote actually counts. Not much, but I have a bigger chance of making a difference for school board than I do presidential race.

      Which is why I find it hilarious that those people most ardent about getting you to believe that your vote counts are nowhere to be seen on the off-year elections.

      Anyway, I have no illusions that my vote counts in a national race. If I find some congressional candidate I am impressed with, I’ll send a check his or her way. Otherwise I don’t pretend my vote matters.

    2. I like the ritual of voting, and I see it is a civic responsibility

      What is the motive to the secret ballot? This, and only this: Like other confederates in crime, those who use it are not friends, but enemies; and they are afraid to be known, and to have their individual doings known, even to each other. They can contrive to bring about a sufficient understanding to enable them to act in concert against other persons; but beyond this they have no confidence, and no friendship, among themselves. In fact, they are engaged quite as much in schemes for plundering each other, as in plundering those who are not of them. And it is perfectly well understood among them that the strongest party among them will, in certain contingencies, murder each other by the hundreds of thousands (as they lately did do) to accomplish their purposes against each other. Hence they dare not be known, and have their individual doings known, even to each other. And this is avowedly the only reason for the ballot: for a secret government; a government by secret bands of robbers and murderers. And we are insane enough to call this liberty! To be a member of this secret band of robbers and murderers is esteemed a privilege and an honor! Without this privilege, a man is considered a slave; but with it a free man! With it he is considered a free man, because he has the same power to secretly (by secret ballot) procure the robbery, enslavement, and murder of another man, that that other man has to procure his robbery, enslavement, and murder. And this they call equal rights!

      1. A ballot is a tool, like a sword or gun. Don’t blame the inanimate object.

        “And it is perfectly well understood among them that the strongest party among them will, in certain contingencies, murder each other by the hundreds of thousands (as they lately did do) to accomplish their purposes against each other.”

        It seems old Lysander is trying to start another Civil War thread.

        1. Yep, published 1870 – hard to miss the reference to “as they lately did do.”

        2. A ballot is a tool, like a sword or gun.

          Best if never used? Interesting that you chose weapons.

          1. It can be used for self-defense…or for aggression. There’s the relevance of the comparison.

          2. “Best if never used…”

            Idiotic and unrealistic is no way to go through life son.

      2. Yet Samuel Clemens bawled out his vote in the public square in Hannibal, MO some 30 years before Spooner broadsided the Kleptocracy. Then again, Brazil had non-secret ballots in the 1920s with winners taking (as counted) 99% of the vote–as happened in 1926. Only 2% were even eligible to vote.

  6. If President Trump is reelected, we’ll be out of Afghanistan by the end of April, the Supreme Court won’t be packed, and there won’t be a Green New Deal.

    If Joe Biden is elected, the Supreme Court probably will be packed, there will be a Green New Deal, federal taxpayers will bail California, Illinois, and New York out of their pension crises, he will launch a war on guns like we’ve never seen before (per his campaign website), and the consent decrees governing speech on social media will be written to please progressives and social justice activists.

    Whether any one vote is of major significance is beside the point, and whether the outcome of this election has a major impact on all of our lives depends on whether Joe Biden loses.

    P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

    1. Do you acknowledge that climate change is a real thing that’s happening?

      1. >>is a real thing that’s happening?


        1. I think it’s a relevant question for someone who’s mocking a politician based on his environmental platform. Ken wouldn’t want to be seen as an uneducated rube who prioritizes tax cuts and trans-free bathrooms to saving the environment. He wouldn’t want to be thought of as insane.

          But then he thinks Joe Biden is more corrupt than Donald H. Fucking Trump, so there you go.

          1. mho nobody can answer “is a real thing that’s happening?” because there’s no definition of Climate Change … it’s an empty canvas free for use and abuse.

            1. No it’s not.

              “Climate change includes both the global warming driven by human emissions of greenhouse gases, and the resulting large-scale shifts in weather patterns. Though there have been previous periods of climatic change, since the mid-20th century the rate of human impact on Earth’s climate system and the global scale of that impact have been unprecedented.”

              Wikipedia. Glad to clear that up for you.

              1. none of those words mean anything to anyone but tyrants for abuse.

                everyone else goes outside & there’s sunshine and oxygen. every day. forever.

                1. Wow think of all the misallocated resources being spent on scientists when we could have just asked you if you could still breathe.

                  1. you could have asked everybody and received the same answer.

                    and yeah, think of all the misallocated resources …

                    1. Have you considering making a good-faith attempt to understand this issue? Worst case scenario is we get clean energy sooner than we needed it.

                    2. it’s not my gig I’ve ignored it since it was Global Warming in the 80s and everything has been fine.

                      I didn’t believe Erlich either

                  2. There was an alternative universe where someone captured a similar concept. Steve Carells space force general decides to launch in spite of the umbrella prepared scientist or engineers best instincts… instincts based on science AND… wait for it… the scientists own insecurities and biases.
                    And that was from hollywood… sure surprised the heck outta me!
                    I guess the blind pig found a truffle.

                  3. If America blacked out like CA and endured endless forest fires to decrease the average global temp by a couple degrees, China will more than make up for it. And that’s the best you’ll get. A decrease in temperature by a couple degrees.

                    The global temperature may theoretically decrease if a large segment of the population was wiped out and led to less consumption of energy and resources. That’s precisely why some lefty loons are either secretly pleased by Covid or see it as an opportunity.

                  4. Haha. “Misallocated resources”?

                    Clearly the people who waste “resources” (other people’s money) should get more! That’ll fix things!


              2. I will humor you Tony, since its friday. I someone who is a ‘hard’ scientist, i have followed agw and now ‘climate change’ since the mid 90s, reading much of the relevant data, models and counterarguments. I have learned three things that can answer your question.
                1). The complexity of the system makes grand statements on cause and effect extremely difficult and the best, most advanced models still, to date, fail to match empirical evidence.
                2) solar effects and accuracy of historic data are two poorly understood areas that severely compound the issues in model accuracy.
                3). The agw proponents have taken a tact of lying and exaggerating to such a degree that 95% of the ‘facts’ strewn about in discussions of the topic are based on outright data manipulation and falsehoods.

                So, ‘climate change’ is at best a working theory that should neither be believed or disbelieved, but instead discussed and researched until the point at which we have better understanding. And at worst, is outright propaganda designed to manipulate behaviors

                1. 3). The agw proponents have taken a tact of lying and exaggerating to such a degree that 95% of the ‘facts’ strewn about in discussions of the topic are based on outright data manipulation and falsehoods.

                  This suspicion is no longer even in dispute.

                  Plus it’s not really possible to take the greens’ arguments seriously considering that they inevitably end up prioritizing signaling exercises (ELECTRIC CAR MANDATE!) or naked handouts from the favor factory (WIND AND SOLAR!!) over things which might actually have a long-term impact.

                  Hell, the US has gotten greater carbon reductions out of the fracking boom than they ever would have with a series of mandates and just look how that was received. It’s almost like the mandates are the entire point.

                  1. This is where the science left me behind…

      2. The climate has always changed sweetie.

        Do you acknowledge climate is and has never been a static thing?

        1. Climate is relatively stable in human timespans, except for now.

          All this internet access and you still can’t lift your understanding of the issue beyond your own confusion about semantics.

            1. So your claim is that deaths in the tens of millions are no big deal as long as the cause is natural?

              Today’s climate change is human-caused and worse. I only know that because I keep up on the subject. You appear to be keeping up on conspiracy theories.

              If you can’t fit scientific reality into your political worldview, your political worldview is wrong and should be abandoned.

              1. Tony, do you have ADD?

                Climate is relatively stable in human timespans, except for now.

                That is the claim I was rebutting with actual, you know, facts.

                Today’s climate change is human-caused and worse.

                No it isn’t. And worse than what? You may want to look up when the LIA was before attempting to answer the first part. And may want to read up on this before answering the second.


                According to these authors, such superhabitable worlds would likely be larger, warmer, and older than Earth, and orbiting K-type main-sequence stars.

                In fact the WMP was an explosion in population for humanity based on warmer conditions.

                If you can’t fit scientific reality into your political worldview

                You’d have to actually learn the science before you can do that buddy.

              2. Today’s climate change is human-caused and worse.

                Is it?

                Let’s check.

                Pick 10 newspapers in the northern hemisphere, and 10 in the southern hemisphere–no more than one per country, if you please.

                Pick a day of the month.

                Now, check the commuter weather forecast for each of these papers going back 20 years month by month.

                And then, when you’re done, come on back and apologize.

                1. The level of stupidity here is astounding.

                  1. It is, and we keep hoping you’ll fuck off so it drops.

          1. In fact, if you really want to have fun, go here Tony. Try to form even a middle school education on the topic.


            1. You know a local climate shift is not what we’re talking about here?

              Do you know that even if a major devastating problem is not caused by humans, it’s still a major devastating problem? This one happens to be caused by humans, but you’re still managing to fuck up logic.

      3. “Do you acknowledge that climate change is a real thing that’s happening?”

        Tony doesn’t acknowledge that the Green New Deal is a bad idea regardless of whether climate change is a real thing that’s happening.

        There’s no point in discussing this (or anything else) with him.

        1. P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

          1. and jeffrey epstein didnt kill himself

            1. Why hasn’t Joe Biden denied the authenticity of the emails?

              Why hasn’t he denied their contents?

              P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

            2. Why I say, “Joe Biden is a crook”, I’m not even contradicting Joe Biden–since he hasn’t denied the authenticity of the emails or their contents!

              Is any of this sinking in yet?

              P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

              1. I’m reminded of Gabriel Byrne in “Miller’s Crossing.” He said something close to, “They probably had grifter parents and grifter grandparents, and someday they each spawn little grifter kids.”

                Joe Biden is a crook, but the best part of a Trump victory would be never having to hear another word from his smug, arrogant twat wife.

              2. clarification: i wasnt calling out your sign off… was just adding another one totally …. unironically? doesnt seem the right word here. Just something else people need reminding of once in a while.

        2. Convincing argument. Also Biden is explicitly not supporting the GND. So there’s that.

          1. Tony is either an ignoramus or a liar . . .

            “Biden believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework for meeting the climate challenges we face. It powerfully captures two basic truths, which are at the core of his plan: (1) the United States urgently needs to embrace greater ambition on an epic scale to meet the scope of this challenge, and (2) our environment and our economy are completely and totally connected.

            —-Joe Biden Campaign website


            . . . either that or Tony knows more about what Joe Biden isn’t supporting than Joe Biden!

            P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

          2. a rose by any other name….

            1. Actually, Joe Biden supports the Green New Deal by name. I linked to it on his campaign website above.

              P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

        3. He also doesn’t seem aware that his own team has admitted the GND has nothing to do with the environment and everything to do with remaking the economy as a centrally planned socialist enterprise, so yeah, ignore him.

      4. Yes, climate change is real.
        Mankind is contributing to it, although the degree of that contribution is debatable.
        What mankind can do about it is even more debatable, and even if an effective plan of action can be implemented, it still doesn’t answer the question as to whether the costs of such a plan would outweigh any benefits.
        And the likelihood of Joe Biden taking the right actions to do something effective in a cost effective manner is the most unlikely outcome at all. At least Trump won’t blow a few trillion trying to fix the weather.

        1. Doing nothing is the most radical choice it’s possible to make. It’s a policy of significantly altering the chemistry of planet earth where we live. The only reason there isn’t action, which again would be the literally conservative option, is because oil interests don’t want action, and they pay good money to make you misinformed and complacent.

          1. Doing nothing is the most radical choice it’s possible to make.

            I don’t think you know what the word radical means. Otherwise, the comatose are some of the most radical people on Earth.

          2. No it isn’t.

            Carbon levels have been up to 5 times higher than they are now. Again, it was an explosion of life during the period.

            Carbon increases have actually led to a greening of the earth:


            This has provided both more food per square acre as well as more useable square acres. With an added benefit of using less water per plant, as plants utilize less water when there is more carbon present.

            Again Tony, you don’t understand basic science. You only repeat alarmist narrative.

            1. Please just read what the fucking science is. It’s on Wikipedia. Stop this nonsense. You are making choices for other people with your shameless Republican cocksucking. At least be informed.

              1. reading about politicized science on wikipedia? surely you jest!
                i could write that article just by cobbling together talking points from all the ‘climate affirmer ‘ posts on any article posted at ars technica.

          3. Are you advocating for war against China to get them to stop building a hundred coal fired powerplants a year? Hell, do you even advocate for building new nuclear plants here?

            1. No. Just raising taxes. Americans must pay. Original sin, or something.

            2. No war, yes nuclear. Any rational society will figure out how to produce energy in a different way before their current method kills us all. If we happen to be irrational societies, well it was fun while it lasted.

              How many peaceful international treaties to deal with climate change do you support?

          4. Doing nothing is the most radical choice it’s possible to make. It’s a policy of significantly altering the chemistry of planet earth where we live.

            Tony, earth didn’t have polar ice caps for most of primate evolution. When carbon dioxide levels were 1000 ppm, earth had a milder and more hospitable climate than we have today. Those are simple facts you can look up in standard textbooks.

            Policies on climate change are economic cost/benefit tradeoffs. You can look at the Obama administration’s analysis of the problem and find that action on climate change is not warranted. The best strategy is to let climate change happen and deal with the consequences. Again, that’s what Obama’s own data shows.

            1. No it isn’t and you’re being willfully stupid. Just read the most basic goddamn children’s introduction to the subject if that’s all you can handle. You either except those texts or you’re a an insane ranting conspiracy theorist.

              1. I’m sorry, who’s ranting here? The people making arguments against your position, or you, running around calling anyone who disagrees with you “stupid”?

                Just fuck off already.

                1. There is nothing to disagree with!

                  How am I supposed to react when people insist that the earth is flat, and that they know this because they refuse to read any books or basic introductory children’s articles on the subject?

              2. No it isn’t and you’re being willfully stupid.

                No, Tony, it is you who is being “willfully stupid”.

                My statement about pre-historical climate conditions is standard textbook stuff.

                And Obama’s own climate change report demonstrated that with standard economic discount rates, doing nothing is the correct policy for the US. The only way Obama could justify any climate change policies was by using an absurd discount rate for future climate damage.

                Facts, Tony.

      5. Tony, if you stopped reading The Daily Worker and actually paid attention to what’s going on in the US, you’d know that pretty much everybody across the political spectrum agrees that climate change is a real thing that’s happening.

        Where people differ is in what to do about it. Not surprisingly, you prefer authoritarian, wasteful, ineffective solutions because you are too uninformed and dumb to understand aspects of climate change.

        1. Not the people here. Talk to them before they stupid the rest of us into extinction.

          Unfortunately for you, no serious solution will involve libertarian ideas, not least because most libertarians choose to be in denial about the problem instead of thinking of any solutions to offer. That’s kind of on you. People who have nothing to offer should shut the fuck up and let the grownups work.

          1. Not the people here. Talk to them before they stupid the rest of us into extinction.

            Climate change is not going to lead to “extinction”. Both the UN’s and the Obama administration’s climate change reports are crystal clear on that point. That’s what the science actually says.

      6. Climate has always changed, and always will. Like everything else. Except me, unless you count deterioration as change.

        1. We’re talking about something specific. Just google it.

    2. Another muslim/Isreal normalization to ignore today here.

    3. They’ll try to overturn Citizens United.

      That’s democrats openly embracing political censorship right there.

    4. > If President Trump is reelected, we’ll be out of Afghanistan by the end of April

      BWA HA HA!

      1. Do you have any reason to doubt that–or are you just telling us about your feelings?

        P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

      2. Or maybe I should ask why you think that’s funny!

        Is it because you’re unaware that Trump signed a peace deal with the Taliban that gets us out of Afghanistan completely by the end of April?

        Is it because you’re unaware that the Taliban and the U.S. backed government in Kabul have exchanged prisoners and are currently engaged in peace talks as part of Trump’s peace deal?

        Is it because you’re unaware that Trump withheld foreign aid to the U.S. backed government in Afghanistan when they dragged their feet on releasing Taliban POWs?

        Is it because you’re unaware that Trump has repeatedly threatened to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan by Christmas to light a fire under the Afghanistan government’s asses?

        The U.S. backed government in Afghanistan is presently dragging its feet in peace talks in Qatar because they believe that Biden is elected in November, the chances of U.S. troops being withdrawn from Afghanistan completely diminish substantially.

        Do you know something that the U.S. backed government in Kabul doesn’t know?

        P.S. Joe Biden is a crook.

        1. Good news for Trump means bad news for Brandy.

  7. Best news I’ve heard all day…that all the phony libertarians here stay home on Election Day! Outside of all the improvement, we’ll never notice the difference!

    1. All I know is old people vote, and Social Security and Medicare can thus never be cut or privatized or phased out.

      So maybe it would be helpful if more libertarian leaning citizens voted more often.

      But yeah, your individual vote isn’t going to determine the election, even in a swing state. (Automatic recount anyone?) And the only way to waste your vote is to vote for a candidate you don’t approve of. If voting for someone who is likely to lose is wasting your vote, then anyone in a blue state should vote for Biden, and anyone in a red state should vote for Trump.

  8. Yes it matters to vote and the reason Koch assholes hope you’ll either stay home or vote for corrupt Joe Biden so their benefactor can make a few billion more before he follows his brother.

    1. You are just making shit up. The non-voters here have been quite consistent on the point for many years, no matter who the incumbent was.

  9. This mirrors something George Will (among many others) have been asking for years: do we really want uninformed or poorly-informed people voting? I guess the saving grace, if there is one, that such voters are (hopefully) somewhat equally spread across the political spectrum. Hopefully.

    1. >>do we really want uninformed or poorly-informed people voting?

      who judges?

      1. Bright people. Yeah, bright.

        1. Q: What do you call someone who graduated bottom of the class in law school?

          A: Your Honor.

          1. A different version of the same joke: “What do you call a burnt-out or over-the-hill lawyer?” Same answer.

      2. I am not proposing it as a policy — just as an observation. And your question, “who judges” is completely relevant and is the reason nobody should be discouraged from voting.

    2. no, uninformed voters skew heavily Democratic. which is why Democrats call any attempt to enforce even modest restrictions on ensuring the eligibility of the voters “voter suppression”.

      But yeah, by Dem logic you make better decisions by dragging more uninformed people into the committee to make the decision.

      1. True. On the other hand, folks over 65 make up a nearly identical percent of the population as those under 30, and are much more likely to vote. So there is that.

      2. “Vote for your life!”


        1. If that’s not a cynical appeal to the uninformed I don’t know what is.

          1. No argument here.

    3. I think everyone should vote if they want to, but I don’t see much good in encouraging people who don’t really pay attention to politics to vote.

    4. This mirrors something George Will (among many others) have been asking for years: do we really want uninformed or poorly-informed people voting?

      As long as people vote on stuff they themselves pay for, it doesn’t matter how informed/uninformed they are. But in our democracy, group X votes on how group Y’s resources and property are redistributed. That’s the problem, and it has nothing to do with informed/uninformed.

      The only way to fix that is the libertarian way: you form voluntary associations and you get to vote in those voluntary associations based on your membership stake. (Maybe we can extend this to the government we have by having only property owners vote in local elections and only having income tax payers vote in federal elections, but I’m not hopeful.)

      PS: George Will is a pompous, ignorant authoritarian a-hole masquerading as a conservative. If there is someone who shouldn’t be allowed to vote on anything, he’d be at the top of the list.

  10. Not watching a video, but it is not voters who have an inflated sense of self-importance. I know, I was an “independent” too, in middle school.

    The problem is people conflate voting with political activism. They’re so goddamn lazy that they think that performing the drudgery of basic civic duty is sufficient for them to virtue signal. This being an act that traditionally takes place in a private booth.

    Voting is choosing people to fill jobs that are filled by election. It’s paying your water bill, except optional. If you don’t care about who gets the job, that’s valid, but unconvincing when the stakes are high. It’s exactly the same as choosing your employee association president except for the stakes.

    1. This being an act that traditionally takes place in a private booth.

      This comment puts me in mind of George Michael, God rest him.

      1. In the words of Ralph Nader, “a mouth is a mouth.”

        1. Was that Ralph Nader or the guy on the other side of the glory hole you made at the truck stop near your house?

    2. What’s unconvincing is your explanation of which election outcome you actually affected. Which one was that, again?

      1. Nothing, but if ten thousand people in Wisconsin had this attitude, it makes a significant difference. Do you neglect feeding your children because it doesn’t significantly affect national child starvation rates?

        1. “Do you neglect feeding your children because it doesn’t significantly affect national child starvation rates?”

          I would feed any of my hypothetical children because feeding them would definitely affect their outcome, which makes it completely different from voting.

          Do you have any more gotcha questions?

          1. Individual votes don’t and shouldn’t usually matter. An election is not an individual act.

            1. If you’re looking for a convincing reason why someone might choose not to take the time and energy to vote, “My individual vote doesn’t matter” is a pretty good one.

              1. If you might entertain the idea of voting for Trump, you can not vote to your heart’s content. By all means please don’t vote.

                1. It’s so sad the way you understand what you can’t admit.

                  1. All I understand is I’m tired of having grossly incompetent mass murdering vote-supressing Nazi sympathizers in power.

                    Sophisticated and subtle choice this November, I know.

                    1. I’m sure Joe Biden would be proud of you, if he knew how you were.

            2. you’re suggesting that perhaps its a murmuration of tribes of human starlings?

  11. I just want my own virtue signaling yard sign which reads:

    In this house, we believe we’re better than you, so I put out this virtue-signaling yard sign.

    1. Sheesh, why don’t you just put up a swastika, ya racist/homophobe/science-denier/sexist.

    2. “My dog can virtue signal better than your honor student”

      1. In fact he’s virtue signaling on your sign right now.

    3. “My neighbor voted for Trump, burn and loot his place instead.”

      I’d rather vote than have to shoot people dead on his lawn but, hey, it’s a free country.

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  14. “Voting is overrated”? I respectfully disagree. This is literally the most important election ever.

    My favorite libertarian writer Shikha Dalmia had the best take. When it comes to implementing Charles Koch’s open borders agenda, Biden is the only logical choice.


  15. Bless your Katharine!

    Statistically one’s vote in a national election is meaningless. Not so much for a local race, but even statewide races don’t hinge on individual voters.

    Want to make an electoral impact? Spend day actually helping a campaign. Can’t be walking precincts in pandemic age, but can volunteer to be calling voters, putting up signs, etc.

    But even a single precinct isnt’ going to make a difference in a national race. Even Florida 2000 wasn’t a single precinct, but a single county in a swing state. If you’re not in a swing state, stay home and eat ice cream. It’s more productive.

    That’s all if you actually believe in politics as your personal savior. If you do not, then voting is like playing the slots, but with no chance of winning. Do it for the thrill, don’t do it because you think you are changing anything. If you want a fantasy to believe in, try the Great Pumpkin or Santa Claus.

    1. Oof, campaign volunteers are the worst. The last couple weeks I’ve been getting inundated with text messages from both Democrat and Republican campaigns (no idea how they got my number, I’ve never been affiliated with either in any way). Somebody told me about a little trick; I started replying back, “I’m with a national campaign that advocates for individuals tracking which politician sends them the most unsolicited mail, texts, etc. in a given race and then voting for their opponent.” The text messages have mostly stopped now.

      1. Surprisingly, I don’t recall anyone ever knocking on my door and campaigning in person to me. I would probably actually respect the effort if someone did, and would probably even engage them in an honest conversation.

    2. It has a negative implications, if you decide that voting for a certain candidate/party (ahem) is equivalent to volunteering in the community or donating to a charity. It means you’ve done nothing while getting the feeling that you’ve done a great deed, which will decrease your tendency to do actual good.
      There was a WSJ article a week or so ago on how giving to a political campaign hits the same do-good, feel-good part of the brain that giving to charity does. This is what our society has become.

    3. I did all those things, mostly for the LP, and was totally discouraged before Milton Friedman’s hint in “Free To Choose” uncovered the law-changing clout of small party spoiler votes. Suddenly, after understanding “The Case for Voting Libertarian,” volunteer activism became worthwhile, fulfilling, enjoyable–enhanced now and then by the charred remains of communist and fascist candidates felled by our platform planks.

    4. This is wrong.

      Statistically one’s vote in a national election is meaningless. Not so much for a local race, but even statewide races don’t hinge on individual voters.

      Every single election everywhere hinges on a single vote.

      One vote puts the issue or the politician or whatever it is over the top.


      After that vote is cast, everything else is icing.

      That vote, the one that clinches the deal? That vote is ALWAYS the vote YOU cast.

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  17. I was going to skip this one, but then requesting an absentee ballot online is stupid simple. What the heck? If my vote isn’t counted,
    1)How will I know? 2)I don’t really care.

    I always vote in the little local elections that nobody shows up for. It’s still statistically stupid, but it is nearby and takes me less than 10 minutes. (Yes, I time it.)

    1. Depending on your state, you may be able to track whether or not your mail-in ballot was accepted and counted. In California, it varies county-by-county. Some have a website, some have a call-in number. So check your state.

  18. Maybe Reason needs some new blood running things. It is a manifest historical fact that small parties averaging 1% to 5% of the vote wrote the 16th and 18th Amendments. Junior high math reveals this means each such spoiler vote packs from 6 to 30 times the law-changing clout of a vote wasted on the Kleptocracy dogfight. Yet as soon as the logistics curve ramped up to a vote share increasing 80% per year, the LP and Reason promptly bristle with communist anarchist infiltrators doing everything short of tossing live grenades to sabotage our chance of getting votes. Why not fire them the way we toss out looter politicians?

    1. I too wonder about some of the Reason staff, and if it’s been infiltrated with establishment toadies looking to undermine its libertarian messaging.

      Nevertheless, I agree, swing voters have a disproportional impact on the race between the two (or really one?) establishment parties, because it gets the candidates to advocate something the swing voters like to get their vote and put them over the top.

      I urge libertarians to vote and let the politicians know where you stand and what they’ll need to do to get your vote. This is what has brought some improvement in freedom to us in the past 50 years. If you listened to the 2016 debates, Hillary almost sounded libertarian, expect she was lying.

      If you don’t tell politicians what you want via your vote and you vote for an evil, evil is what you’ll get.

      But then, if we had Instant Runoff Voting or Approval Voting, which allow many candidates, yield a winner by majority (not plurality like our elections), and only require one trip to the polls (or one mailed in ballot), then your vote would matter a lot more and wouldn’t be “wasted” (for those who think that way) on a libertarian. In fact, it would lead to a lot more libertarians in office, because so many Democrats and Republicans would prefer the libertarian to the other party’s candidate, and pick them second. Just consider this: 5% of the voters prefer the libertarian first, while 47.5% prefer the GOP and 47.5% prefer the Democrat first, but most of these 95% choose the libertarian second. That makes the libertarian the winner, and why the political establishment doesn’t want this voting system used. Political junkies know “The Party Decides” who the candidates will be, but not with these voting systems.

  19. As always…

    If voting really didn’t matter, there wouldn’t be so many people trying to convince you not to.

    So go vote. Even the assholes among you, like Mangu-Ward, who is trying to convince you not to.

  20. Why do I feel like if Trump had a 51% to 49% lead over Biden this site would suddenly turn into a 24/7 wailing cry to get out the vote?

    I wonder if other third parties have media that encourages its base not to vote.

    Fuck you KMW. You don’t own me. I voted for Jojo because that’s the president I want. One vote doesn’t “make a difference” but what is a wave but a collection of water droplets? You can sit there like a bump on a log bemoaning the fact that no one listens to you, or you can speak up for the kind of government you want and shift your droplet in the direction you want the wave to go. Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, it won’t go the way you want. But it won’t ever go a way you want unless a critical mass of people who agree do actually make the effort and push.

  21. If disaffected, anti-social, obsolete misfits and malcontents elect not to vote, perhaps it is for the best.

    1. I agree. It IS better if you don’t vote.

  22. What Katherine is really saying is that *you* shouldn’t vote. She’ll definitely be voting.

  23. I don’t think the issue is whether voting is irrelevant or not. In states like CA my vote goes to waste most of the time, but occasionally the public mood shifts in a certain way and my votes may count.

    What’s concerning about voting is the “mob rule” aspect. If not for the electoral college, two states would effectively rule over the entire nation, much like kings, churches and nobility had domain over their people. It’s been cause for discontent or strife throughout history and was a basis for the American Revolution.

    1. What’s concerning about voting is the “mob rule” aspect. If not for the electoral college, two states would effectively rule over the entire nation, much like kings, churches and nobility had domain over their people. It’s been cause for discontent or strife throughout history and was a basis for the American Revolution.

      … just how populous do you think those “two states” are?

      This kind of oft-repeated claim only makes sense if you ignore the actual population numbers. Yes, a handful of states are significantly more populous then others. No two states make up 50% of the population. Heck,the two most populous states (California and Texas) don’t even make up 25% of the population. They make up 20.7%.

      And whataya know, those two most populous states make up 17.3% of the electoral college. If that 3.5% difference in influence is really the only thing keeping “mob rule” in check, you’ve already lost.

      1. I stopped voting long ago, but without the electoral college, many states would be outright ignored at the federal level. Something like 80% of the US population lives within 100 miles of a coastline and while my geography may be off, paces like Idaho, Missouri, Montana and many others have no coastline.

        1. California and Texas are ignored during presidential campaigning because of the electoral college.

          The electoral college was not invented as a tourist marketing ploy for shithole states.

          1. California and Texas are ignored during presidential campaigning because of the electoral college.

            California is being ignored because it has become a socialist single-party state, and in a winner-take-all system, that means that it is pointless to campaign there. If Californians want to be taken more seriously, they should switch to a proportional allocation of their electors. Don’t blame the nation for California’s stupid choices.

            Texas is somewhat competitive and hence not being ignored.

        2. Just like Tony said, the EC does not broaden the focus of campaigning for president. It just moves it to swing states. In most presidential election years, the vast majority of the time and money spent campaigning is in less than a dozen states.

          Since you mentioned them specifically, how many visits and how much ad money was spent in Idaho, Missouri, and Montana by Trump and Biden?

          I wouldn’t scrap the EC entirely the way that Democrats mostly want to, but I would love to see all states with more than 3 electoral votes go with some kind of proportional vote. They could do like Maine and Nebraska and give 1 vote for each House district won + 2 for the statewide total, but that still encourages gerrymandering. I would rather see a straight allotment by percentage of the statewide total.

          1. Allocating EC votes of each state proportional to the votes in that state sounds like a good idea. It’s also politically feasible, since the overall outcome of such a change under the current situation is fairly neutral.

  24. By all means, all you Democrats should take Katherine Mangu-Ward’s advice – Since your vote is insignificant, DON’T VOTE! Let the rest of us make the decisions for you. From what I’ve read of too many of the bumper sticker, talking point arguments on this post, passing an IQ test should be mandatory to be allowed to vote!

  25. Mangu-Ward writes an article like this, as if to say “Feel sorry for us that we’ve determined that the electoral process needs to be rejected because most of the public has rejected the libertarian platform. So we will take our ball and go home.”

    Good riddance. Go home and whine. Don’t let the door knob hit you on the way out. Good God, what babies.

    1. You are so virtuous and important.

      1. Not like people who think literally doing nothing is a virtue signal.

      2. You’re just another baby who will stay home…we all hope.

  26. “A ballot is just a substitute for a bullet. If your vote isn’t backed by a bullet, it is meaningless. Without the bullet, people could ignore the election outcome. Voting would be pointless. Democracy has violence at its very core!” ~Muir Matteson, “The Nonviolent Zone”
    “Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” Herbert Marcuse
    “Working within the system means to become a part of the system. When you go into the voting booth, the only meaningful significance that your action will have is to show that one more person supports the state”. ~Mark Davis

    1. Must be fun to be an anarchist.

      1. EWM is not an “anarchist”, he is a totalitarian; he is “anarchist” only in that he wants to destroy existing societies.

    2. “Free election of masters does not abolish the masters or the slaves.” Herbert Marcuse

      Coming from a proponent of totalitarian government like Marcuse, you should take that remark for what it’s worth.

  27. I think of voting as this little lightsaber I can use to put the brakes on liberty-destroying politicians and proposals, along with approving liberty-friendly ones. Not voting is essentially saying you would prefer others to make political decisions for you.

    I’ve considered and even tried anarchism, and the example of Somalia demonstrates that the only people who benefit from it are the ones with the biggest guns and most people. In short, anarchism is a civilization based mostly on conflict since contracts mean nothing unless you have a single entity with legal authority to enforce them.

    Imagine a Muslim violating the rights of a non-Muslim. The Muslim’s legal system is based on Sharia, the non-Muslim’s court system is based on English Common Law. Whose legal system will have jurisdiction in the dispute? The non-Muslim? The Muslim will laugh and say “You’re my bitch infidel!” He will then call his local Ummah to his aid.

    1. “Not voting is essentially saying you would prefer others to make political decisions for you.”


    2. I’ve considered and even tried anarchism, and the example of Somalia demonstrates that the only people who benefit from it are the ones with the biggest guns and most people.

      Somalians have demonstrably been better off with national chaos and local self-governance than under their prior Marxist regime (incidentally, the Marxist regime that Ilhan Omar’s family was part of).

  28. “Every election is an advance auction of stolen goods.” – H. L. Mencken

  29. Deciding to not vote does absolutely nothing. Voting for a third party send a message to the two major parties.

    1. And as Ralph Nader fans know, that message is “ignore and mock those people and blame them for all your problems for a generation.”

    2. And the message to the other party is “Someone cut Ralph Nader his check and tell him thanks for the seatbelts or whatever. Now that we’ve won, how about we make torture legal!”

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  31. “Let’s start with the basics: Your vote will almost certainly not determine the outcome of any public election.”

    I so hate this ludicrous argument. It is the one thing I really don’t like from Ilya Somin on Volokh Conspiracy, since he talks about it also. This whole ‘the odds of your vote being the deciding one vote is elebenty-billion to one!’ just makes no sense whatsoever. So what if the odds of an election coming down to just one vote are astronomical? No one walks into a voting booth knowing exactly how close the election will turn out. Trying to base your decision to vote on whether it ‘decides’ the election or turns out to be excess would be pretty stupid.

    Let’s say that you looked into your crystal ball and saw that your vote would make your candidate win by 2 votes. So, you think, I might as well not show up, he’ll still win! How do you know that there aren’t two or more other voters on your side that also have crystal balls?!? For crying out loud, why do politicians and parties spend so much effort working for high turnout? That doesn’t even get into the absentee ballots that get rejected for errors or signatures that aren’t close enough, or provisional ballots because of some other error. Those are people that thought they voted, but their votes won’t count, literally.

    Even the whole concept of being the ‘deciding’ vote is moronic. If you’re in the line passing water buckets to put out a fire in some western movie, are you going to think that your effort doesn’t matter because you aren’t the one actually throwing the water on the fire, and so you decide to not bother and go home?

    The whole point of making decisions through voting is to build a coalition of people that want roughly the same things from government that is larger than the coalition that wants something different. No one in their right mind simply stops working to increase the size of their coalition just because they got the one vote more than the other side that is needed to win. With a secret ballot, you simply don’t know the outcome until the votes are in and counted, so better safe than sorry. That’s especially true when voting is voluntary and you don’t just have to convince people that your side is better, but also to show up and say so.

    One other factor is how the vote total affects the next election. Running up the score by getting 65% of the vote this time discourages the opponents from trying harder in the future. Why do you think so many legislative seats go unopposed or with only token opposition? It is better, really, to have more competitive elections so that the eventual winner feels more pressure to respond to the voters and not the special interests. It is better for the losing side to get 48% than it is to get 35%. Knowing that a win is within striking distance can motivate better turnout the next time.

    So many reasons why this line of thought is just plain wrong. I have to wonder if it is some libertarian conspiracy to suppress turnout among their own followers.

    1. If your vote only mattered if you vote for the winner, everyone should just vote for Biden.

      The purpose of a vote is to express your preference, so it is recorded and reported, regardless of who wins.

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  34. Libertarians, you are right, please don’t vote

    But libertarians are liars anyway, they actually want the wealthy and powerful to remain wealthy and powerful and so the best way to do that is to discourage regular people from engaging in the process

    1. libertarians want the people who create wealth to become wealthy and remain wealthy. Much better than their productive wealth being sapped away by the leeches in government sharpening their knives on behalf of the masses (as long as they get to lead them.)

  35. Makes me think of P.J. O’Rourke’s book, “Don’t Vote! It Just Encourages the Bastards”. But I think what we should do is vote for anyone who isn’t owned either by the Jets or the Sharks. The more people who vote for non-Republicrats, the clearer it becomes to the ruling oligarchy that they are not wanted.

  36. Just voted for Jorgensen. Probably won’t sway California’s EC votes.

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  39. Feel free not to vote.
    If you live in a swing state, don’t vote, and yet complain about the results you have a piece of your brain missing.

  40. This video comes out as pretentious, ill narrated, over the top in condescension. It would be better advised to express that politicians are overrated, or that our Republic has become inefficient.
    While the video presents 2 economists, it doesn,t explain how they came to that conclusion.
    If one sees election as a form of chinese auction where you can only bet once, that the value of each single vote can be viewed as counting.
    The problem is that we view voting in a very individual manner, and the chances are that if you belong to a political party for example, you will probably adopt its platform more uniformly, and if the party wins, and the elected get much of their platform into law and policies, than you vote bring much reward. If you are independent, then your vote is the result often of major compromise and you won’t found solace in a platform, but hope that certain of your concerns will be met. And even if your candidate win, it is possible that the few changes you were hoping for won’t happen.
    If you argue about math to make this argument, present real math, if a vote is viewed as an investment, you may look at its expected value in terms of your individual preferences and collective preferences.
    The only thing which resonates here is that because we are in a representative democracy, our vote is less valuable then in a direct democracy. But with complexity, direct democracies are synonymous with stagnation.
    Do you believe we should surrender our sovereignty and our vote to a polities, made of Big Tech stupid narcissistic oligarchs, is that your kind of benevolent Aristocrat lead Republic.
    Do you adhere with Justice Barrett that women are really better then any men at everything they do?
    The general populist air of Overconfidence is killing the Country…

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