11/03/2004

The election is over.....did you do anything to help?

The debate comes up every election year. Does voting matter? Looking at the margin, probably not. Especially if you live in Utah. Others suggest that there is more to voting than the motive of swaying the decision. Some, or most, see it as a moral obligation-their patriotic duty. Personally, this has to be the reason for voters in Utah where the majority goes to Republicans and where the electoral votes really don't matter. Yet, maybe in states such as Ohio, it does matter even at the margin. The coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team required all 105 of his players to vote in yesterday's election.

One writer at "Marginal Revolution" gives some suggestion on how instead of voting, one might better serve their fellow man.

I once had an Econ professor who lived by this principle and refused to vote. He argued that his vote would not matter. I don't know if he was Republican or Democrat, but he seemed to be at peace with himself knowing that his vote didn't matter.

Of course, proving this would not change the way people act. I agree that the moral and emotional elements are far too influential to stop people from voting. The paranoid public who do vote would always be asking themselves, "What if I don't vote? What if nobody votes?". Maybe next election I will heed the suggestions of certain bloggers who said working in a soup kitchen or even driving people to the polls.

11 comments:

stevepadilla2 said...

Voting doesn't really matter. It is politically and socially responsible in the eyes of many; however, voting is unconsequential. Like Steven E. Landsburg writes in Armchair Economist, "one hundred million Americans casted their vote in 1992. I wager that not one of those hundred million was naive enough to believe that he was casting the decisive vote in an otherwise tied election. Like Andre Weil one of the nations greatest mathemematicians wrote :I could not count the times that I have heard the objection (when I tell people I don't vote)'But if everyone were to behave like you...'-wo which I usually reply that this possibility seems so implausible that I do not feel obligated to take it into account." Needless to say, one vote doesn't make a difference. I heard the comment last night by a journalist "do you think it was a waste of money trying to get younger voters to vote?" I thought to myself of course it is a waste of money. I figured as more and more people voted the same outcome would prevail with just a greater turnout.

John West said...

I'm gonna take a stand and say that it does matter if you vote. Certainly that one vote isn't going to sway the election by any means, but it is a right that was bestowed upon us by our forefathers. They came to this country from a monarchy that basically decided all of their major decisions in life for them. To me it is mostly the freedom of having a say to what goes on, that brought them to this new continent an in-turn changed the world for good forever. Besides their are many initiatives placed on ballots and they most certainly matter if you don't vote.

I look at the person that doesn't exercise their freedom to vote, as sort of a person that just is taking up space in society. They complain about issues, but do nothing to fix them. There is more to be said about a person that doesn't vote, than just the fact that they didn't vote. It also means that they really don't deserve the freedom afforded them. It doesn't suprise me that the post and comment preceding this one are filled with the idea that voting doesn't matter. This is the idea that most young people take. Voter turnout for this past election was just 17% for those between 18 and 35. Young people must make their voice heard because one day it will be up to us to decide how our childrens lives will be.

peter_parker said...

I can see both sides of the picture. I agree that we should vote as sort of a demonstration of appreciation for those who fought for our freedom. I also think that voting on initiatives and smaller, local, even state elections can have an impact. As far as a presidential election though, with more voters and following the electoral college system. My vote for president didn't really matter. But I did vote.

Anonymous said...

Saying that my one single vote really mattered in this election would be like saying that me throwing a rock into the Grand Canyon would lead to the canyon being filled up. I didn't vote, do I appreciate that I can vote, of course I do, but when our forefathers fought for our freedom didn't they fight so that we would have rights too. I beleive that the right not to vote is just as important as the right to vote. If we were all made to vote we wouldn't be very free would we. I didn't vote because I didn't feel I could make an informed decsion. Maybe if I had studied what each canidate had to offer a litte more I may have been inclined to vote, but because I had no particular stand I didn't take one. That is my right isn't it?

John West said...

Anonymous, I'm glad that you didn't vote since you weren't informed on the issues. Although to me that excuse lacks a lot of backbone, it still does carry some merit. There is a national movement for those that do not care to learn the issues and take a stand, to not vote. It is better to stay away, if you are not going to become informed.

I just can't imagine living in a world that I didn't know what was going on in. At some point a person has to try to know the issues and stay on top of current events in order to just to be a good person in society.

Bryce Larkin said...

I don't think it is a good idea to make people think their vote does not count. In the last election many of the young voters did not vote because of this reason. Now for this election the largest turnout of younger people voted than ever before. I believe that it makes a difference and people died for America to have this right. People should not disregard it so easily.

peter_parker said...

I agree too that if you are not informed, you shouldn't vote. I think there is a difference between voting to vote and becoming active in your community, state, and country. Voting is just one way to do that, even if statistically your vote may not count.

Taber Wolrab said...

I can see the issues on both sides. Out of an hundred million votes why does it matter if I vote? My opinion isn't going to change the outset of the entire election. However, if half of those hundred million don't think it will matter, now it matters. Because half of the people didn't vote because "my vote doesn't matter." I think we see a lot of this in the U.S. which in essence results in about 12% of the population deciding who is the president. (About half of the population that can register is registered; only about half of the registered voters vote, because there vote doesn't matter; and with a close elections only 12% choose the president.)

Dr. Tufte said...

This was an interesting and emotional set of writings.

I have two thoughts. One, is that the big question is why do people vote if it can't make much difference? To me, this means that we are missing something important about the value of voting.

Secondly, I think we should view not voting as a choice. How would things turn out if every vote required a majority? I think we'd vote more seriously, but about far fewer issues. That seems like a good thing to me.

Maudi said...

Voting is somthing that is my right as an American citizen. Although we live in a state that is strictly Republican, it is nice to know that if it came down to one vote that I voted for Bush. Voting is very important and if you believe in democracy it is your right and your duty to vote. I know that this great system and land was set up by our forefathers, who understood to importance of having the fredom to choose.

Kova said...

The right we have to vote as American citizens is something special. I also think it is something that far too many people take for granted. If having the chance to vote isn't that important, why are so many other countries trying to get that right as well. Why did women fight for the right to vote in the early 1900's, why did blacks fight for it and why did we fight to have the voting age changed to 18? Obviously there is a bigger picture here and some concepts that we are missing.