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[P]
Lackluster voting a good thing?

By skim123 in Culture
Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 06:54:13 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

As this year's presidential election draws near, we constantly hear the disparaginly low voter turnout stats. Less than half of the voting age population votes... but is this such a bad thing? A USAToday article looks at why low voter turnout may be a good thing.


I strongly encourage you to read the article, but (for those too lazy to click a freakin' link) the jist of it is that voters unaware of a need to vote are living in a healthy government/society. To quote: "A half-century ago, naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch suggested that an apathetic citizenry might be a sign of civic health. 'Wouldn't a really healthy citizenry in a really healthy country be as unaware of the government as a healthy man is unaware of his physiology?' he asked."

Makes me feel a lot less guilty for deciding not to vote. Since there are no issues that I feel strongly enough to need to get out there and make my voice be heard, voting doesn't appeal to me. The effort needed to cast a vote is greater than the outcome of my actions, since there are no issues that deeply concern me. Since there are no issues that personally incite concern, is that a sign that times are great, that things are wonderful, or am I just being closeminded, ignorant, and living in my own little world?

I leave you with a good reason not to vote: "There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome. The probability of your single vote changing the outcome is less than the probability that you will be run over and killed by a ready-mix cement truck on your way to the polls. Better stay home."

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Poll
Are you going to vote in the Presidential elections?
o Yes 51%
o No 5%
o Maybe 6%
o Not of voting age 2%
o Not registered to vote 2%
o Not a US citizen 31%

Votes: 234
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o USAToday article
o Also by skim123


Display: Sort:
Lackluster voting a good thing? | 120 comments (114 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Don't vote . . . for my sake. (2.92 / 13) (#1)
by duxup on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:23:27 AM EST

I vote, and I appreciate the large numbers who do not vote, because by doing so it adds just slightly more power to my vote.

My personal thanks to those of you out there who don't vote.

I Agree (3.44 / 9) (#2)
by Lance on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:29:38 AM EST

Here in Australia, voting is mandatory and I dare say this has an effect on the final result. I'm sure there are people out there who just don't care and therefore don't vote properly. For this reason, I think voting should be optional and that people should only vote if they really want to.

I disagree about not voting because the chances of your vote changing the result are very low. If 1000 people all had this same opinion, and didn't vote for this reason, then that could have a profound impact on the result, one way or another.

Re: I Agree (3.66 / 3) (#5)
by duxup on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:51:22 AM EST

Mandatory voting eh?
That's sort of scary to me (I live in the states). I'm imagining political parties, easily hiding their actual intents, working to appeal exclusively to ill-informed voters. Whom are forced to the polls who have no clue what they're deciding and possibly making terrible decisions.

[ Parent ]
Re: I Agree (3.75 / 4) (#12)
by willie on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:12:49 AM EST

This luckily doesn't (really) happen (that much). There was a party a while ago, called One Nation that got a little popularity this way. But it didn't take very long for them to get shot down by all other parties and by the media as well.

I actually think this system is better. I can't really describe why, but I like to think that most Australians are forced to think about political issues and at least be slightly informed. It obviously doesn't work like this in all cases, but my opinion the first time I voted was "if I'm going to vote, I may as well do it for the right party"

[ Parent ]
Re: I Agree (3.50 / 4) (#16)
by duxup on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:55:16 AM EST

I can see some possible advantages. It would be nice to know that everybody (well almost everyone) is getting involved.

I do worry that voter apathy here sometimes is self perpetuating, and would keep people from participating who may do a lot of good. Not just keeping them from voting but participating in politics even further. Party ideals and such might be quite different then.

Perhaps even news organizations would treat things differently. In the US they tend to report on the election, but not really the candidate's ideas or issues. An example would be the debates we recently had, there is lots of news about the candidates. However, not much coverage of the content or issues. If most people were voting, I wonder if they would cover more issues than being busy critiquing the candidates debating skills.

What is the punishment for not voting?
I assume that it isn't enforced much.

[ Parent ]
Re: I Agree (3.00 / 3) (#19)
by willie on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:40:23 AM EST

There is a much bigger focus on issues/content rather than the candidates themselves in Australia (for any Aussies who don't agree, two words: John Howard). It's mostly because of the fact we have a Prime Minister, rather than a President... John Howard is just another minister who happens to be the head of the party, and doesn't have the same unquestioned power that the US president (seems) to have.

The punishment for not voting? A fine in the magintude of a few hundred $'s I think.

[ Parent ]
Re: I Agree (3.66 / 3) (#49)
by daani on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:14:27 AM EST

What is the punishment for not voting?

Happened to me once, I got a $15 fine. So I didn't pay it and a couple months later I got a $30 fine (Australian $ obviously). I paid it in the end. Pretty funny now that you bring it up, a parking ticket can cost you 4 or 5 times that!

[ Parent ]

Re: I Agree (none / 0) (#118)
by goonie on Tue Oct 10, 2000 at 01:49:11 AM EST

One point that I should make is that you're not obliged to actually cast a valid vote. You're obliged to turn up, get marked off the electoral roll, and place a folded up ballot paper into the ballot box. Nobody will know if leave the paper blank, draw stick figures on it, ask the scrutineers if they're available next weekend for a date, etc. etc. So, if you feel strongly that you shouldn't vote (or you don't particularly care about your voting but know that there's an attractive MOTAS counting the votes), there's nothing stopping your expressing your opinions at the ballot box - you just have to make an effort to do so rather than doing it out of laziness.

[ Parent ]
Re: I Agree (4.00 / 3) (#52)
by itsbruce on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:23:07 AM EST

I'm imagining political parties, easily hiding their actual intents, working to appeal exclusively to ill-informed voters.
I thought that was what all parties did?

--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Those with the loudest voices... (none / 0) (#119)
by brandtpfundak on Thu Oct 12, 2000 at 10:09:39 AM EST

Something I've noticed lately...

If the people who posted to boards like Kuro5hin were indicative of the entire US populace, Nader would win in a landslide.

Brandt

[ Parent ]
ignorant or unconcerned? (4.12 / 8) (#3)
by duxup on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:41:40 AM EST

"Since there are no issues that personally incite concern, is that a sign that times are great, that things are wonderful, or am I just being closeminded, ignorant, and living in my own little world?"

I would say there's a difference between not voting because you know there's nothing for you to be concerned about, and being close-minded and ignorant.

I think following current events and politics (by whatever means you chose) is important to know if there may be something that concerns you. If you don't keep track of what's going on a decision may be made that your not aware of. It's the difference between an educated non vote, and oblivious one.

(2.88 / 9) (#4)
by Beorn on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:50:13 AM EST

To quote: "A half-century ago, naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch suggested that an apathetic citizenry might be a sign of civic health. 'Wouldn't a really healthy citizenry in a really healthy country be as unaware of the government as a healthy man is unaware of his physiology?' he asked."

No ... There are still problems to solve, still issues to resolve, in every single democracy in the world. There's still power to abuse, and people who are willing to abuse it.

There are some valid points here, of course. Voter apathy can be seen as a sign of the *general* well-being of a country, but it does not mean that every single problem is being solved perfectly. It follows that everyone should concern themselves with politics.

The only real argument in support of voter apathy would be that a large turnout could give power to politicians I personally don't like -- but this is a fascistic and highly questionable view to take.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Re: (2.33 / 6) (#6)
by duxup on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 05:56:24 AM EST

"No ... There are still problems to solve, still issues to resolve, in every single democracy in the world. There's still power to abuse, and people who are willing to abuse it. "

I don't think anyone would say the system is perfect. However, the implication is that there's nothing so outstanding that some people feel they don't need to participate.

Look at it on the good side, those people not voting allows your vote to be stronger in helping solve the problems you feel it necessary to vote on.

[ Parent ]
Re: (3.00 / 6) (#8)
by Beorn on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:58:36 AM EST

Look at it on the good side, those people not voting allows your vote to be stronger in helping solve the problems you feel it necessary to vote on.

They also make it easier for populists and power lovers to get elected. Voter apathy is related to cynicism, and cynicism is actually a good quality in a voter, because it makes us more immune to the regular voter-fishing tactics.

Elections shouldn't be left to those who are naive enough to believe in politicians.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

How can you not be concerned? (3.11 / 9) (#7)
by chaotic42 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:08:15 AM EST

Note: The following is US biased, since I live in the US

--
True, your vote isn't really important if you think in terms of Democrats and Republicans. A vote for Bush and a vote for Gore aren't really very different. There are candidates, however, that have genuine concerns about the government, and the people.

I personally am voting for Nader. Unless you're happy with things as they are now, try to pick a candidate who will do what you think is right. As the saying goes, if you aren't part of the solution, you're part of the problem.

Re: How can you not be concerned? (2.60 / 5) (#60)
by Quark on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 09:39:47 AM EST

Being from outside the US, I consider the current American political situation to be scary. There are two major ball-players, Bush and Gore. I will not go into what I think of either of them, but the whole idea of just having either of these two being the next most powerful person (in theory) in the world really scares the creeps out of me. Am I glad to live in a country where there are 4 major factions, 3 up-and-comers and a respectable amount of change to pick from. The Dutch goverment currently exists of a left-wing, central, and right-wing combination which allows for a nice amount of fighting and compromising to keep things interesting.

On the other hand, in a country of only 16.000.000 people, one vote actually is worth quite a lot more, of course:-)

So much bandwidth, so little time...
[ Parent ]
But it still doesn't matter (1.50 / 2) (#89)
by DebtAngel on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 05:01:18 PM EST

Note: I am Canadian and think the US Presidential system is the greatest plie of crap in existence.

Unless you can vote in strength (i.e. with a lot of other votes), you have no hope of getting Nader to win in your state. Ditto for people voting Nader in the other 49 states. Therefore, the final tally is Bush 29, Gore 21, Nader 0.

Whoever thought that boiling millions of votes to 50 or 100 should die until he's ... oh, never mind.

Is this post not nifty? Sluggy Freelance. Worship the comic.
[ Parent ]
Re: But it still doesn't matter (3.00 / 1) (#93)
by winthrop on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 06:00:55 PM EST

I've said it before, but I guess I'll keep saying it until everyone's sick of me. Voting for third party candidates can have real consequences even if they don't win. Here's why:
  • A lot of states--and the federal government--regulate party status based on the number of votes they received in the preceding election. Here in Massachusetts, any party that receives 3% of the vote in a statewide election is considered a major party. This makes it easier to get candidates on ballots and will soon qualify the party for money under the Clean Elections law.
  • Even if there are no tangible benefits in your state/district, a large display of support for a candidate may make the media and the rest of the electorate less likely to dismiss her next time.
  • If a candidate and an issue are tied closely enough, opposition candidates may adopt the candidate's position in the future to try to woo supporters of the losing candidate. This happened with D's and R's adopting one of Ross Perot's signature issues, paying down the national debt, and less so with a lot of R's voting in favor of Campaign Finance Reform after John McCain's run.

    [ Parent ]
Re: But it still doesn't matter (2.00 / 1) (#101)
by Ranger Rick on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:43:08 PM EST

Even if there are no tangible benefits in your state/district, a large display of support for a candidate may make the media and the rest of the electorate less likely to dismiss her next time.

Exactly! Just think back to the differences between this year's election and that of 12 years ago, or even 8, or 4. 3rd parties are *much* more in the forefront of the media than they used to be. Whether there's any practical difference or not, people are much more aware of alternatives than they used to be, and that can only get larger as time goes on.

If you really want to see things change, vote how you feel, and things *will* change. Not overnight, but voting is certainly a better way to make your point than not voting. :)

:wq!


[ Parent ]
Re: But it still doesn't matter (1.00 / 1) (#109)
by chaotic42 on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 11:03:48 PM EST

Yes, the whole electorial college thing is a pile of crap. That said, the purpose of voting for [insert favorite 3rd party candidate here] is that the more votes they get, the more steam behind their party. If Nader gets 5% of the vote this time, and we get the word out to people (He was on Meet the Press), Nader might get 8 or 10% next time. Extrapolate that (of course, this is taking an optimistic view of the people), and soon he might have 15%, and might be able to get in the debates (but that's another story all together), or at least get more airtime than he does now.

But, aside from that, I'll be _damned_ if I'm going to vote Republicrat.

[ Parent ]
Game theory (4.18 / 11) (#9)
by Potsy on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:22:10 AM EST

You have to look at this from a standpoint of game theory. Whether or not your single vote affects the outcome is not the point of voting. Voting only works if everyone participates and votes the way they want regardless of how anyone else is going to vote.

The fact that opinion polls can be inaccurate and combined with the fact that the American voting system is a secret ballot, means that you cannot know ahead of time what the other voters are going to do. If you study game theory, you know that in a situation like that, the only winning strategy is to vote for who you want, and ignore what you think everyone else is going to do (since you can't know what they are going to do anyway).

For that reason, I always get very angry when people talk about "thowing away your vote", and "a vote for so-and-so is really a vote for so-and-so-else". The Democrats have been really been playing up this sort of scare tactic lately by running around saying "a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush". What nonsense. It's just infuriating. And what's worse, some people believe it, like in <a href="http://www.salon.com/politics/feature/2000/10/04/nader/index.html">this Salon article about Nader. On the first page, it describes a woman who has been so successfully brainwashed by the Democrats' story that she breaks down in tears at the thought of inadvertantly putting Bush in office. Argh!

Re: Game theory (with CLICKABLE link) (2.25 / 4) (#10)
by Potsy on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:25:59 AM EST

Sorry about the bogus link in the last post. Here is a clickable link to the article I mentioned.

Scoop has the bad habit of helpfully converting all your quotation marks ( " ) into the HTML string "&quot;" even when inside an "href" tag.

[ Parent ]

Re: Game theory (4.14 / 7) (#18)
by Simon Kinahan on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:38:36 AM EST

Unfortunately those who favour "tactical" voting (ie. voting for your nth choice candidate because your 1-(n-1)th choices seem to stand no chance of winning) have a point. The game-theoretic situation is a little more complex than you make out.

If you believe that the race between Bush and Gore is very close, as seems to be the case, but your preferred candidate in Nader, who is much less likely to win, and you would strong prefer Gore to win over Bush, or would simply prefer Bush to lose, the rational thing to do is vote for Gore. Of course, if you have no preference between Gore and Bush, or only a very slight preference, then the rational thing is to vote for Nader anyway, on the off-chance that he might win, or at least get his party federal matching funds next time round.

There seem to be two determining factors: your preferences for the outcome, based on the information you have about the consequences of each outcome, and the information you have about the chances the candidates have of winning. This is the rationale for more complex electoral systems than the Anglo-American "first past the post" system, where seats in a legislature are given in proportion to the number of votes cast, or candidates for a post can be ranked on the ballot in order of preference and some algorithm used to select the actual winner.

In a first past the post system, the tactics used by the candidates can be quite interesting, mostly centering around manipulating the public's impressions of likely voting patterns. The case you cite of the Democrats claiming a vote for Nader is really a vote for Bush is a rather crude example of exactly this kind of thing. Its in their interest, given a third party candidate with a real chance of cutting into their vote and with no real chance of touching Bush's, to try to discredit and marginalise him as much as possible.

Similarly, at the last UK general election in 1997, the candidates and supporters of the 2 then opposition parties showed considerable sophistication in cooperating to ensure the oposition vote was not divided in most seats, so the anti-government vote was consolidated, resulting in a huge majority for Labour, and a trebling of the number of seats held by the Liberal Democrats. This is the opposite case to the Gore-Nader thing: choosing to cooperate rather than compete. Perhaps this is a prisoner's dilemna type game for candidates who share a voting block ?

Simon

If you disagree, post, don't moderate
[ Parent ]
Re: Game theory (2.66 / 3) (#86)
by rbird on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 03:34:10 PM EST

This is why Sen. John McCain did not run as an independent after losing in the primaries. He would almost certainly get a large number of votes, but the split of the Republican votes would probably allow Gore to win. Bob
Bob
[ Parent ]
1 vote DOES count (2.66 / 12) (#11)
by SwampGas on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:35:15 AM EST

The story is a little fuzzy in my head, but I remember waaay back in American Government in high school, the teacher told us that there was an election (don't remember if it was here in PA or national) that was a tie, and 1 vote DID matter.

And on that same note, why do millions of non-voters complain about how they hate the president or hate an elected official? Unless they participate in an election, they have no place to complain, since they did nothing to stop that person from being elected.

I can't help but use a K5 analogy for this. Lots of people complain about the "lameness" of stories getting on the pages recently, but unless you actually read the submission queue and vote them down, you really can't complain.

Anyway, it may be time for another revolutionary war. If we take away the peoples right to vote, perhaps they'll realize just how sacred and important such a power is.

Heard of the electoral college? (4.50 / 4) (#58)
by BradyB on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 09:07:37 AM EST

Actually one vote does count, in a presidential election, the electors from any one state. Sure people sometimes vote the electors into office, they casts the "electorial" votes in the state. And being that it's a winner take all the candidate could win by one vote of an elector the entire state.

Rather than voting in a direct popular election, U.S. citizens in each state technically choose between slates of electors that represent each party. Taken together, the winning electors form the Electoral College. There are 538 electors, with each state getting one elector for each representative and senator it has (there are three more electors for the District of Columbia). The electors meet after the November popular election to cast their votes and officially elect the president.

They are not bound by the actual votes the "citizens" cast. In fact, a president with a minority of the popular vote has won the Electoral College vote 15 times in U.S. history.
Just thought you all might have forgotten about the electoral college.

Read for yourself here
Good is not enough, when you dream of being great.
[ Parent ]
Re: 1 vote DOES count (3.00 / 1) (#80)
by kallisti on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:44:33 PM EST

You might be thinking of Rutherford B. Hayes.

<SMARTASS> For those too lazy to click on the link, </SMARTASS> In this election, the poular votes in several states were too close, so a panel of 8 Republicans and 7 Democrats was formed. The panel decided all votes in favor of the Republican 8-7. What an amazing coincidence. By winning all the disputes, he won by 1 electoral vote.

[ Parent ]

the poll (3.42 / 7) (#13)
by bobsquatch on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:15:53 AM EST

I find it fascinating that the poll attached to this story asks you to vote for whether or not you're going to vote.

No wonder that currently, the "I'm going to vote" crowd is in the clear lead, among U.S. citizens who voted. :)



Is not voting really a sign of civic health? (3.00 / 9) (#14)
by GreenHell on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:29:26 AM EST

Perhaps that, as stated, could be the reason: the citizens have nothing to really worry about at that level and as such don't see a reason to vote. Or perhaps, and I personally think this one is far more likely, they don't see a choice.

After all, over and over I've seen comments that imply (but never saying it directly) that a third party vote is almost the same as not voting, and with the republicans and democrats fielding candidates who are so similar, perhaps they don't see anything they can relate to. I mean, what really fundamental differences are there between Bush and Gore? (To bring up the Onion: "Bush is for the death penalty, while Gore is strongly in favour of it")

It kinda puts the third-party candidates in a Catch-22 situation doesn't it... They won't be considered major (or serious) contenders until they get a larger percentage of the vote, they won't get a larger percentage of the vote until the are considered to be serious contenders. No offense to anyone, but it kinda makes me glad to not be a US citizen, not that Canada's system works all that much better, but at least there's more choice...

On a final, editorial note, the link in the submission no longer points to the right article, it points to something on Hollywood now...



-GreenHell
This .sig was my last best hope to seem eloquent. It failed.
Re: Is not voting really a sign of civic health? (3.50 / 2) (#38)
by Asperity on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:15:20 PM EST

the link in the submission no longer points to the right article, it points to something on Hollywood now...

Strangely enough, though, the Hollywood story supports the point that perhaps it's a good thing not everybody votes. If the majority of the US population are nitwits that think marijuana is "dangerous and destructive" and (even more) that Jennifer Lopez is "glamorous and admirable," like the Hollywood article says, maybe it's best they don't vote. Dollars to donuts, though, those are the ones that -are- voting. Bleah.

[ Parent ]

So which of the "big 2" candidates do yo (3.72 / 11) (#17)
by rednecktek on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:18:51 AM EST

skim123 wrote:
There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome. The probability of your single vote changing the outcome is less than the probability that you will be run over and killed by a ready-mix cement truck on your way to the polls. Better stay home.

The only reason I can see for you to write this is that you know a great deal of K5 members don't like Gush and Bore. I'm calling your bluff. The probability of a single voice causing a desired outcome is the reason I'm writing a response. Your point is disproven, one person can make a difference.

It is your DUTY as an American citizen to vote. It is your DUTY as a registered voter to learn about the candidates (all of them) and judge for yourself who can lead this country the best; not just be most pouplar. In the end, of course, no one can make you vote, just don't bitch about who's in office if you don't.



Just remember, if the world didn't suck, we'd all fall off.
Re: So which of the "big 2" candidates d (3.60 / 5) (#29)
by bgalehouse on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 12:51:13 PM EST

You do not have a duty to vote. It is a right, not a duty. However, if you do not vote, you loose much of your moral authority to complain afterwards.

The real problem with the initial statement is something else. The difference you make might not be in the outcome of this election, but in the attitudes next election. I won't vote for the greens because their spamming pissed me off, and because Ralph doesn't seem that different when you look for skeletons. (www.realchange.org) However, every percent of population that votes alternative is a message to the winners. A third party might not have anybody in Washington, but every vote that they get makes people in Washington think a little longer and little harder about how to be more like them.

[ Parent ]

A counter rant (3.84 / 13) (#20)
by trust_no_one on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:41:01 AM EST

There's a terrific Ralph Nader quote in the video for Testify by Rage Against the Machine (which can be found at Michael Moore's web site. "If you you're not turned on to politics, politics will turn on you."

I'm a little tired of people who argue that whatever they do will make no difference. You can't know unless you try. Everything else is just self centered whining. The powers that be (Republicrats and their corporate masters) encourage this attitude. It serves their interests. You stay home and the status quo endures. It takes no longer to go vote than it did for you to write this article.

You don't care for Gore or Bush? Find someone you do care about. Check out Nader, or Browne or (god forbid) Buchannan. Find a local race to get involved with. Doing something is better than doing nothing.
I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused

Re: A counter rant (2.80 / 5) (#31)
by skim123 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:28:54 PM EST

You stay home and the status quo endures

What if I'm happy with the way things are and I want the status quo to endure? Things are good for me at this time, I would vote for the candidate that came out on the debates earlier this week and said, "I will not do anything new, just try my damdest to keep everything exactly the way it is now."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: A counter rant (3.20 / 5) (#32)
by trust_no_one on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:39:53 PM EST

Then vote for that guy. Make sure that things don't change. If he's not one of the two major candidates, find another candidate. Find the one who'll screw things up the least. But don't sit and tell me that by not voting you're actually performing some sort of civic virtue.

If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice - Rush
I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused
[ Parent ]

Can I have your vote? (3.45 / 11) (#21)
by reshippie on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:45:05 AM EST

If you are choosing not to take advantage of your legal right to help choose the president, can I do it for you? I'm voting for Nader, and I've heard the argument of, "He's not a major candidate, so you're throwing your vote away." Imagine if all of the people that bought into that actually voted for who they wanted. I think it would really shake up the system.

As for voter apathy, I think it's is the exact opposite. If people don't care about how the government is run, then something is wrong. They aren't paying enough attention. In a country this big, there should be huge groups of people that get affected with every choice the US makes. I don't think that there is a single issue that the entire country can agree upon without making small changes.
We all want health care, but where does the money come from?
We all want better education, but how to do it?

If you're not gonna vote, at least take the time to show up at the booth. There are other things being decided than just the US pres.

One last thing, note that neither of the 2 current reigning parties existed at the start of this country, that means that they had to fight their way in.

Those who don't know me, probably shouldn't trust me. Those who do DEFINITELY shouldn't trust me. :-)

Analogies and thoughts (2.81 / 11) (#22)
by schporto on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:49:28 AM EST

OK I'm making a stretch here, but work with me. In a war (on a computer or real life) does one grunt really matter? Does it matter that this one rifle man is there or not? As another analogy - If a butterfly flaps its wings in Padagonia will it rain in New York? Or as the old Ben Franklin quote goes - "For the want of a nail, the shoe was lose; for the want of a shoe the horse was lose; and for the want of a horse the rider was lost, being overtaken and slain by the enemy, all for the want of care about a horseshoe nail." The point being that in one sense one vote does not make a difference, but that this one vote does not stand alone and works with other votes to form a whole. Is your one vote really going to change the outcome - No. However if everyone followed this belief then one vote would make all the difference.

On a slightly different track. I've heard some people say a few things that bug me. First "you are throwing away your vote" or "a vote for A is a vote for B", or "voting for a third party is a waste". This is not entirely true. Yes in all likelyhood your vote for the third party will not get them elected, but if the get X (I',m not sure what X is) percent of the vote then they get federally matching funds and must be included in debates. In the history of the U.S. we've had 42 presidents. 16 have been democratic, 16 have been republican, 2 were Federalists, 4 were Whigs, and 4 were Democrat-Republican. We have not always been a two party system. Nor should we. Second thing bothering me - "there's no important issues", "there's no difference between the candidates". Realize it is commonly believed that whoever gets elected will appoint 3 judges to the Supreme Court. That's a lot of legacy to follow around. And all of the issues about freedom that we consider important are actually on the table. Do you know who any of the candidates will put up? Its a really important thing. Well it is to me at least.

-cpd

If you don't care - don't vote (3.57 / 7) (#24)
by zakalwe on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:16:58 AM EST

I don't agree with the article. Having fewer voters is, I think, a bad sign. However this is not a reason to urge everyone to go out and vote - really that's trying to hide a symptom than deal with the problem. The actual problem is that not enough people care about politics. If you're not actually interested in the issues, or don't have an opinion, then don't vote, you're just diminishing the opinions of those who have actually thouht about it. ( But I'd much rather people do start to think about the issues )



(4.50 / 16) (#25)
by baberg on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:07:32 AM EST

There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome

My vote for Ralph Nader will not make him "win" the election. However, if he receives at least 5% of the popular vote, then the Green Party will receive money from the government in 4 years because they will finally be considered a "viable party" (that is, unless they change THAT rule, too).

Will he win the election? No. But voting is about saying "I believe in this person's ability to lead enough to waste some time out of my day" THAT's a good reason to vote.

You call me lazy for not clicking on your link?? (3.00 / 14) (#26)
by M3 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:14:29 AM EST

You're not voting because you're too lazy to learn the issues and make an informed choice.

There are many huge issues that are being debated now, including digital security, electronic patents, and funding for pure research - which is where the next generation of our technology will come from.

Don't try to make yourself feel better for not voting by having a pity party here, asshole!
ISAPI?? More like ICRAPI

Logic Flawed? (3.14 / 7) (#30)
by RadiantMatrix on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 01:21:39 PM EST

'Wouldn't a really healthy citizenry in a really healthy country be as unaware of the government as a healthy man is unaware of his physiology?'
I don't know that this logic stands - I mean, if you're healthy and you have a romantic relationship, at some point you might become very aware of your physiology. :)

Seriously, though, I do agree with the article to some extent - not voting maintains the status quo, and thus nonvotes could be interpreted as "Things are fine, thank you." I wonder if that is really the cause of apathy in the US, though - or is it that people feel that thier vote doesn't count sufficiently to make it worthwhile?
--
I'm not going out with a "meh". I plan to live, dammit. [ZorbaTHut]

Not voting does NOT maintain the status quo (none / 0) (#117)
by error 404 on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 04:21:32 PM EST

Low turnout favors the zealots, of whatever stripe.

You can guarantee that the True Beleivers will ALL be out there. The people who are OK with things the way they are are the ones who sit out.

..................................
Electrical banana is bound to be the very next phase
- Donovan

[ Parent ]
I vote. I voted here. (0, Don't Care) (3.33 / 6) (#34)
by Speare on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 06:41:45 PM EST

I try to vote in every general election, but I registered as Independent. Why? I don't want to vote in the primaries, to select from multiple candidates from the same party.

(To step off-topic for a moment, I sometimes think k5's moderation works in kinda the same way. I love reading new content, so I keep the Moderate New Stories down to zero. What do I find? By the time they hit the front page, they're old news, and definitely not interesting anymore.)

Back on topic, the fewer who vote, make each remaining vote more powerful. 100/100 vote: everyone gets 1/100th of the power of the decision. 5/100 vote: each voter gets 1/5th the power of the vote.

Kinda scary, when you put it like that.

If you want the decision to be made according to the peoples' wishes, vote. Even if you assume your vote would be offset by someone else on the other side, it provides a stronger signal/noise ratio in the tallying room. A few zealots won't be able to out-voice the real feelings of the general population.


[ e d @ h a l l e y . c c ]
Bizarre. (4.12 / 16) (#36)
by aphrael on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 07:25:35 PM EST

People who are closely following the news know that today in Yugoslavia (Serbia) there was a revolution because the sitting government was attempting to ignore the election results and the people who had voted the sitting government out of power got pissed. Half a million people marching, risking their life for the right to have their vote heard. Today.

And yet, here in the lap of privilige, people argue that their vote is meaningless. It's a bizarre disconnect.

Here's a question back to the original poster: if you don't vote, how do you expect your voice and your opinions to be heard?



Re: Bizarre. (3.83 / 6) (#39)
by magney on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 09:18:00 PM EST

Not only that, but they succeeded too. As of 2200 GMT, Kostunica is the president of Yugoslavia, and Milosevic has made himself scarce. Sic semper tyrannis.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Re: Bizarre. (2.40 / 5) (#41)
by skim123 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:29:53 PM EST

Here's a question back to the original poster: if you don't vote, how do you expect your voice and your opinions to be heard?

I don't. There really aren't any issues that I care about strongly enough to want to have others hear my voice. Keep things they way they are, that's what I'm all for.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
you never step in the same river twice (3.50 / 4) (#59)
by sera on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 09:24:05 AM EST

Keep things they way they are, that's what I'm all for.

Not to get all Zen or anything, but things will never stay the way they are. Society is a complex, ever-changing thing which is constantly being influenced by the flux of a thousand different interests, whether that of CEOs, college students, hackers, grandmothers, poor people, rich people, etc., etc. Social and political mores constantly change, and there are still many questions that society has left unanswered.

In life, and in politics, you can ask for stasis -- some even pray for it -- but you will never get it. The best you can ask is that as society moves from state to state, that it stays humane. And that's what politics is for: A way to inject human consideration into a massive, sometimes amoral system.

firmament.to: Every text is an index.
[ Parent ]

Re: Bizarre. (3.50 / 6) (#44)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:48:56 AM EST

People who are closely following the news know that today in Yugoslavia (Serbia) there was a revolution because the sitting government was attempting to ignore the election results and the people who had voted the sitting government out of power got pissed. Half a million people marching, risking their life for the right to have their vote heard. Today.

The point of my post wasn't to say, "Voting is universally unimportant." Rather, it was to say, "Hey, if people view voting as trivial, that's good, right?"

If ten years from now, only 50% of Serbians vote (due to voter apathy), I would consider that a good thing, since it would be a sign that things are going well over there... that was the point I was trying to discuss...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Bizarre. (4.40 / 5) (#53)
by itsbruce on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:30:17 AM EST

And yet, here in the lap of privilige, people argue that their vote is meaningless. It's a bizarre disconnect.
Not at all. The scarcer something is, the more people value it. That applies to freedom just as much as anything else.

I remember reading a passage in "The Russians", by Hedrick Smith (former Moscow correspondent for the New York Times) where a Russian dissident (this was back in Soviet times) complained that he had visited London, gone into a bookshop, seen piles of books by all his favourite banned authors/poets and nobody was paying any attention, reading them or making any fuss. He hated it. What made those poems so valuable to him, over and above their literary merit, was the lack of freedom to obtain and read them.

--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Good reason(ing)? (3.00 / 8) (#37)
by Ranger Rick on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 08:13:04 PM EST

I leave you with a good reason not to vote: "There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome. The probability of your single vote changing the outcome is less than the probability that you will be run over and killed by a ready-mix cement truck on your way to the polls. Better stay home."

The problem with this is that if everyone thinks this way (which certainly seems to be the trend), nothing will ever get done. The truth is, if you're disappointed by our politicians, you should be trying to get everyone you know to vote. The reason your vote doesn't make a difference is precisely because you let yourself believe that, and so everyone else will happily believe it along with you.

:wq!


Re: Good reason(ing)? (2.00 / 4) (#40)
by skim123 on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 10:28:04 PM EST

The truth is, if you're disappointed by our politicians, you should be trying to get everyone you know to vote

Agreed. But what if you're very content with the status quo? Should you still bother voting?

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Good reason(ing)? (3.50 / 4) (#42)
by robl on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:17:22 PM EST

<i> Agreed. But what if you're very content with the status quo? Should you still bother voting?</i>

Yes, you should to make sure you can continue to live happy under the status quo.

[ Parent ]
It makes sense (2.00 / 7) (#43)
by AgentGray on Thu Oct 05, 2000 at 11:18:05 PM EST

However, if everyone thinks this way, it will be the case.

Besides, if you do not vote you I think you should HAVE NO RIGHT to complain about the administration, or country you live in.

Of course, if you think about it, by not voting you change the outcome.

It's sad because all those people in the past died for their country (and you) to have the right to vote. Of course they died so that you would have the right to choose not to as well.

Anyway +1 - good topic.

Re: It makes sense (2.25 / 4) (#45)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:51:21 AM EST

if you do not vote you I think you should HAVE NO RIGHT to complain about the administration, or country you live in

I agree. If I had something to complain about, though, I would vote!

It's sad because all those people in the past died for their country (and you) to have the right to vote. Of course they died so that you would have the right to choose not to as well

I am not saying voting is bad. Rather, I am asking, "Is voter apathy a sign that things are going well?" I don't vote, yes, but it is because things are going well. I don't see any crises that are facing our nation that warrant me to get off my duff and vote. Things are great! "Four more years of the status quo," should be the candidates' positions (at least from my prespective).

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Get out of my country (2.45 / 11) (#46)
by Miniluv on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 04:51:04 AM EST

If you don't vote, I don't want you living here. You don't feel strongly about the issues...BULLSHIT. If you don't now you better figure out why you should.

The effort needed to cast your vote is greater than the result? How on earth did you figure this one? What sort of new math states that driving/walking to your nearest polling place is harder than exercising one of the most important rights protected in the Constitution of the United States? Voting is more than a right, more than a privilege, it's a responsibility that every contributing member of this society ought to take seriously.

Are you trying to tell me that it's only important to vote to keep people like Hitler or Stalin or Mao out of office? Lemme tell ya buddy, if they're on the ballot it's way too late for your vote to matter, which is why it's high time you started figuring out what candidate you can support and practicing your locally approved voting methodology.

I refuse to apologize for the vehemence of my above statement, and if you think I feel strongly, ask a veteran how THEY feel about voting. Preferably somebody who served in WWII. See what they say about this attitude that you seem to think is oh-so-enlightened regarding the return on investment your vote has.
"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'

Re: Get out of my country (2.75 / 4) (#51)
by itsbruce on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:18:11 AM EST

If you don't vote, I don't want you living here.
Come back Senator McCarthy, all is forgiven. I mean, suppose everybody else comes back to you and says "If that's how you think, we don't want you living here."
if you think I feel strongly, ask a veteran how THEY feel about voting.
And how many veterans did you ask, before you presumed to speak for them all? Those people fought for all kinds of reasons: some for principles of freedom, some because they were told to, some because they hated the Germans or the Japanese, some because they wanted to kill someone, anyone. And even if they all fought not only for the right to vote but the obligation to vote, would that make them automatically right?

--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
[ Parent ]
Re: Get out of my country (1.00 / 1) (#96)
by Miniluv on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 07:00:49 PM EST

I don't feel the obligation to vote should be made a legal one, if I had I would've said so. I do however feel that people who do not vote, especially when they categorize it in terms of effort expended compared to "reward" received, are severely lacking in any sort of patriotism.

Patriotism doesn't have anything to do with waving a flag, or joining the armed forces or anything of that sort. It merely means loving ones country. Merely is something of a misnomer in that sentence, because love of ANYthing is no small endeavor, and loving one's country is no different.

I'm of the firm belief that if you do not love the country in which you live, you ought to be moving. There is no reason to live somewhere you cannot love, and there are enough varied forms of government and life style available on this Earth that people can find someplace they are able and willing to love.

I do not want to share my country with people who do not love it, despite it's flaws. There are things our illustrious government does that I do not agree with, cannot conscience and which will cause me to cast my vote for or against certain people come election day, but in spite of all of that I can love my country. I'm willing to go further and say that I would die for my country, and for the right of any person on this planet to have the rights I enjoy by virtue of being a US citizen and being protected by the Constitution.

As far as the question of veteran's goes, I do not think to speak for all of them, though I've spoken to quite a few, and have heard the same sentiments almost exactly echoed from every single one. I think the main difference between generations of Vets is the shape our country was in when various wars were fought. This is not to say that WWII vets contributed any more or less than those of Korea or Vietnam...just that the sentiments of those fighting were different and rightfully so.

Again, I will not apologize for the vehemence of my views, and I recognize that not everyone holds them. I will however ask that people give them thought before dismissing them as extremist. I'm not proposing that we throw anyone out of the country, or in jail, or anything else McCarthy-esque...I consider that man and his actions, and those of his supporters, to be the most profoundly un-American acts committed in modern memory. He attempted to stifle rights gauranteed in our Constitution, those of free speach, freedom of religion and free association...along with the freedom of the press.


"Its like someone opened my mouth and stuck a fistful of herbs in it." - Tamio Kageyama, Iron Chef 'Battle Eggplant'
[ Parent ]
A modest proposal ... (2.66 / 3) (#75)
by John Jorsett on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:16:23 PM EST

So, how about we force people to vote? Sort of like jury duty. If you don't cast a vote at the polls, you don't get your next tax refund, your driver's license is revoked, and we fine you. Miss more than 3, and you're thrown in jail for 30 days. That'll get us an enlightened citizenry.

[ Parent ]
Re: A modest proposal ... (none / 0) (#99)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:18:33 PM EST

I do hope you are joking.

So, how about we force people to vote? Sort of like jury duty. If you don't cast a vote at the polls, you don't get your next tax refund, your driver's license is revoked, and we fine you. Miss more than 3, and you're thrown in jail for 30 days. That'll get us an enlightened citizenry

Ah yes, no better way to enlighten people that at the end of a gun.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
Re: Get out of my country (2.00 / 2) (#100)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:23:43 PM EST

If you don't vote, I don't want you living here

Funny, I feel the same way about unattractive women.

ask a veteran how THEY feel about voting

I asked my grandpa (he fought in WWII), who votes religiously. He said, "I just vote for whoever your gradma tells me to vote for."

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
(4.62 / 8) (#47)
by itsbruce on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 07:44:32 AM EST

There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome.
I think that's a destructive viewpoint. It discourages those with a minority alliegance from expressing it. If people follow that line, then it makes the winners look more popular than they are. It's bad enough that elected governments tend to use their majority vote as an excuse for trying to railroad through every policy, as if everyone who voted for them agreed with everything they stand for, without inflating this tendency.

Unfortunately, I think a lot of people do think like that. I think there's evidence, both in the US and the UK, that a substantial number of people vote for whomever they think is going to win. This evidence can be found, for example, in the way that early US election results affect the later results, which usually show a swing towards the early winner.

This is bizarre and senseless behaviour - but all these particular voters are doing is taking your argument to it's illogical conclusion: "If I vote for the likely loser is most probably not going to affect the outcome and so is wasted. I'm not a committed Republican/Democrat, so I might as well back the winner and feel I chose the winning side."

This can only change, I think, if your vote counts whether or not your candidate wins and if it continues to count after the election. As long as we have systems that make people feel that their vote has little value and that for only a short time, then voter disenchantment and apathy is only going to grow.

It could only be healthy to have some way of constantly making elected officials remember: "OK, you won, but these people wanted something else and don't forget they're there."

--

It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
We DON'T want everybody voting. (1.66 / 12) (#48)
by wowbagger on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:11:39 AM EST

I've said this in other forums, and I shall say it here:
>WE DON'T WANT EVERY MORON VOTING!
If you are too lazy to research the issues, if you are too apathetic to care, then STAY THE !()#*~ HOME on election day! I don't want your additive Gaussian noise corrupting my signal to my elected officials!

I'm really going to hack off a lot of people with this next comment, so start getting over it now.

Many <18 year olds complain that the voting age should be lowered. BULL$#!7! If anything, the voting age should be RAISED. Consider: many younger people have never had the joyous experience of seeing over a third of their paycheck disappear into taxes before they get it, yet they are quite happy to say "The goverment should fund ${THING}". Sorry, but if you don't pay taxes I really don't feel you should have a say on how the money is spent. IT'S MY DAMN MONEY THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING FROM ME BY FORCE! I should have the say in its use!



Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (3.28 / 7) (#56)
by bobsquatch on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:45:35 AM EST

Many <18 year olds complain that the voting age should be lowered. BULL$#!7! If anything, the voting age should be RAISED. Consider: many younger people have never had the joyous experience of seeing over a third of their paycheck disappear into taxes before they get it, yet they are quite happy to say "The goverment should fund ${THING}". Sorry, but if you don't pay taxes I really don't feel you should have a say on how the money is spent. IT'S MY DAMN MONEY THE GOVERNMENT IS TAKING FROM ME BY FORCE! I should have the say in its use!

So, in other words: "$THEM should all be disenfranchised because they have interests that don't match mine."

How amusingly self-serving.

[ Parent ]

Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (2.00 / 1) (#73)
by John Jorsett on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:11:34 PM EST

No, it's the "my house, my rules" argument. If you want a chance at calling the tune, kick into the kitty that pays the fiddler.

[ Parent ]
Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (2.00 / 1) (#83)
by thePositron on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 02:17:52 PM EST

18 year olds can be drafted to serve in the Military they should have the right to vote. If you can be called upon to lose your life for this country you should be able to vote. Your argument is similar to those who did not want blacks or women to vote because they could not be trusted with the vote.

[ Parent ]
Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (3.66 / 3) (#94)
by bobsquatch on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 06:42:34 PM EST

This "house" has many rooms, and it doesn't belong to you alone.

In the "tax-n-spend" room, we have:
The government decides who pays what taxes. Incomeless people should be disenfranchised because they never pay taxes.

In the "abortion" room, we have:
The government decides what abortion procedures are "constitutional." Men should be disenfranchised because they never have abortions.

In the "draft" room, we have:
The government decides when to draft the 18-30 year olds and send them off to die. Geezers (yeah, that's you, boomer boy) should be disenfranchised because they'll never be drafted.

In the "internet freedoms" room, we have:
The government attempts to increasingly restrict free flow of information on the internet, in the name of IP or pr0n or post-Columbine madness. Those who never use the Internet should be disenfranchised because they aren't being restricted.

It's awfully self-serving to claim that $YOUR_PARTICULAR_PET_PEEVE_ISSUE is the only important issue in government, and that $THOSE_WHO_HAVE_A_DIFFERENT_INTEREST should not be allowed to vote. It makes it sooo much easier to win if your opponents aren't allowed to take the field.

(BTW, John, I honestly applaud you for at least having the decency to come right out and state your position (here, and in a more blatant example). Most people tend to hide their selfish tendencies behind a wall of bad faith; at least you're up-front about it. And in the interest of being up-front, I might as well say that I'm 27 and pay quite a lot of income tax, too.)



[ Parent ]

Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (5.00 / 1) (#104)
by davidduncanscott on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 12:04:35 PM EST

The government decides when to draft the 18-30 year olds and send them off to die. Geezers (yeah, that's you, boomer boy) should be disenfranchised because they'll never be drafted.

Just a quickie here: like many (most? I'm not sure -- I guess it depends on that boom in the birthrate) Americans (me included) you've never seen a wartime draft. Vietnam, remarkably enough, was all done at peacetime draft levels, including a compressed age range, college deferrments, etc. As I recall, the World War II draft cheerfully pulled in 40 year old men, although they may have been given combat assignments less frequently, if for no other reason than lower health.

Of course, I'm 41, so I'll stay here on the porch and watch the whole thing on TV -- if it stays interesting. Otherwise I'll switch back to Matlock.

[ Parent ]

"peacetime" draft? so? (1.00 / 1) (#107)
by bobsquatch on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 06:22:28 PM EST

Vietnam, remarkably enough, was all done at peacetime draft levels, including a compressed age range, college deferrments, etc

Um, respectfully, so what if it was "peacetime?" The point was that young people (for male values of 'people,' though that might change in the future) face the possibility that a draft will be imposed, and they'll have to go die in a swamp somewhere. Even if the draft is limited, it's still a draft, and it still hits the young, healthy guys hardest. Even if there is no current draft, there's always the possibility that there will be one imposed by the new government.

So there's always a life-and-death interest in the new government for 18-N year old males. Whether or not they pay income tax.

(Actually, I'm pretty sure you understood the point, and were just throwing out some historical trivia -- thank you! This post is mainly for anybody reading who didn't get the point.)



[ Parent ]

Re: "peacetime" draft? so? (none / 0) (#108)
by davidduncanscott on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 07:30:27 PM EST

I just don't want the 31-year-olds getting complacent -- there is a possibility that they would have to clean up any mess that they started. Most of us have our perception of war from Vietnam and later, and have never seen this country fully committed.

I absolutely agree that anybody subject to the draft should be allowed to vote. If, as one poster suggested, the voting age should be raised, than certainly the draft age should rise with it. Impressment without representation is clearly wrong.

[ Parent ]

Re: "peacetime" draft? so? (1.00 / 1) (#111)
by bobsquatch on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 05:13:09 AM EST

Ah... dawn breaks over marble head. I get it, now. :) Good point.

[ Parent ]
Re: We DON'T want everybody voting. (3.00 / 1) (#85)
by bridgette on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 03:31:04 PM EST

Your argument that only those who pay taxes should get to vote and therefore those under 18 shouldn't get to vote is somewhat flawed.

First, the notion that if you don't pay taxes then you don't deserve a vote is way off. The govenment (fed, state and local) is more than just "deciding how to spend the taxes". Foriegn policy, abortion, the war on drugs and gay marrage are just a few examples of areas that have little to do with taxes. Moreover, local and state govenments are notorious for passing laws that specifically restrict the rights of minors, who can only defend themselves by convincing adults to vote for thier causes. Things like restricted access to abortions and birth control, teen curfews, drug testing and locker search in public schools and parents having the right to have their children committed are very serious issues that would be addressed differently if teens could vote.

Second, the assumption that adults pay taxes while mionors do not is flawed. Lots of minors have jobs and are taxed, they may not make as much nor get taxed as much as heads of households, but they still pay taxes. Moreover, minors pay sales tax. Really poor adults effectively pay no taxes and often get tax credits.

A wealthy minor could pay more taxes on his/her trust fund than thousands of low income adults pay in income tax ... is that kids voice more valid than those thousands of adults?

Our system gives enough political power on the basis of wealth, thankyouverymuch. If anything I'd like to see political power uncoupled form net worth.

[ Parent ]
Excellent! (2.88 / 9) (#50)
by Zanshin on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:16:37 AM EST

People not voting makes my vote count all the more. Thanks.

Although, I really can't imagine why people wouldn't want to vote. There are some really serious issues and/or problems out there and they ain't gonna get fixed by people sitting on their asses and going with the status quo.

why your vote is important (3.66 / 6) (#54)
by Anon6731 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:38:45 AM EST

I agree that given the choice most people have at the voting booth, it is hardly worth the effort to vote. But I suspect that most k5 readers are on top of all the candidates, such as the presidential election.

So the question becomes, does my vote count?

If you vote for a third party, then I think the answer is YES, your vote counts. If you think in terms of numbers, the third parties get fewer votes and so your vote has a greater impact in terms of number of votes.

but more importantly, it sends a message to the dems and reps that you do not agree with what they are doing.

It is certainly interesting to be considering this year's presidential elections with "Spin" providing the context. For those of you who have not seen those satellite backhauls of the 1992 season, you can still check it out at:

www.PhDepot.com

Or, you could sell your vote and go get something for it. :)

Oops - wrong link (3.60 / 5) (#55)
by deaddrunk on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:42:59 AM EST

Shame about that, as I am interested in US politics, even though I live in the UK. Much like the US, we have 2 main parties that used to represent left and right, but now, thanks to the Reagan/Thatcher 'special relationship' the party of the left, Labour, began aping the 'successful' policies of the Conservative party. So now, just like the US, we have 2 'corporate' parties that broadly have the same political beliefs (although there's always a few renegades on either side) but with a third party that attempts to take the moral high ground on issues such as education and health. The point of my ramblings, though, is that the concept of a vote being 'wasted' if it wasn't a vote for Labour or the Conservatives, was comprehensively proved wrong in 1997, when the hated Conservative administration was thrown out of office by the voters voting tactically en-masse, so where the third party had a better chance of winning all the Labour voters voted for the third party, giving them around 50 seats in the parliament, the most that they've had for 20 years. Democracy can work if people feel strongly enough to do something about it. Sadly the government we got is just as poor as the one we had before (witness the recent blockade of oil refineries over the ludicrous amount of tax on petrol), but that still doesn't disprove the point. If people vote according to their beliefs, or even just to strike a blow at the system, rather than not at all or for the 'evil of 2 lessers', changes can occur. Imagine how Gore or Bush would feel, not to mention their paymasters, would be if 20% of Americans voted for Nader. I understand that Ross Perot got about this much in 1992 and some things did change.

more on why your vote would count (4.37 / 8) (#57)
by Anon6731 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:53:12 AM EST

I wanted to complete the thought i started about why your vote counts if you vote third party.

If you take a look at what was happening in the earlier part of this century, you'll notice that there quite a large socialist movement in the third parties.

Many people think this is why the larger parties woke up and realized that there were these other opinions out there, and started incorporating these ideas into the laws and programs.

So your vote for a third party would count because you would help inject these types of ideas into the other parties.

A vote for a third party also counts because it would bring off the sidelines millions of other voters who do not vote. For example, Harry Browne is hoping to get several million votes this year, and if he does, then the media may have to recognize him as a viable choice, which will inject millions of newer voters into the situation.

So I wouldn't give up just yet. There are still some choices left. ;)



Conservatives and Liberals have alternatives. (3.00 / 2) (#68)
by maynard on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 12:03:46 PM EST

That's right. I'll vote Nader because I agree with his policies. However, for those who find his progressive politics an anathema to their values, there are plenty of alternative candidates out there; Libertarian, Reform, Natural Law, whatever.

I simply won't vote for either the Democrats or the Republicans any longer; they're both corrupt to the core. Frankly, I'd rather vote Libertarian than Democrat in a race without Green support even though I don't agree with most of the Libertarian positions. We need more than just a viable third party, I'd like to see political power break down among five or six parties throughout politics, locally and nationally.

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Would the converse be true? (3.71 / 7) (#61)
by bearclaw on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:09:28 AM EST

Would the converse be true of his arugment? Would high voter turnout indicate civil unrest? I'd be interested to see the voter turnout statistics for 1933 (during The Great Depression). I looked up voter turn out rates for the last presidential election (49.08% turn out) and I also looked up voter turn out rates during the height of civil unrest with the vietnam war (1964 election, 61.92% turn out).

So it would seem his argument has some merit, but I believe it has more to do with the individual beleiving that:
  • ..their vote does not matter
  • ..a politician is a politician
  • ..laziness(everyone knows we have lower turn out if it rains, simply because people do not want to get wet!)

So how do we fix this? Do we mandate voting? I don't think so. It is always important to vote, since that president's philosohpy will shape the country for the next four years.


-- bearclaw
Re: Would the converse be true? (none / 0) (#98)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 08:10:56 PM EST

So it would seem his argument has some merit, but I believe it has more to do with the individual

I disagree... Voting turnout, IMHO, reflects society's temperment at the time. Trust me, if Bush was saying, "We need to draft folks in their early 20s to go die in a war right now," I would most definitely be voting (for Gore) and encouraging everyone I knew to vote. I'd be sending Gore money, working voter registration booths, etc.

But fuck, things are good, no one wants to send me to die. Bush says, "tax cut for ya," and Gore says, "Me too, a tax cut for you," (although Bush's would benefit me more). Basically, they're both saying the same thing. Things are good... I'm not going to be drafted anytime soon, the economy's chugging along nicely... No need to get actively involved, IMO.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
"Healthy Society" (2.75 / 4) (#62)
by joeyo on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:27:51 AM EST

"Wouldn't a really healthy citizenry in a really healthy country be as unaware of the government as a healthy man is unaware of his physiology?' he asked."

Maybe. But you can be unaware of your physiology and still have health problems. And when you are unaware that you even have a problem... well, that is a much more serious problem.

--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

Too lazy to read the article? (1.50 / 2) (#63)
by ccweigle on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:33:05 AM EST

I strongly encourage you to read the article, but (for those too lazy to click a freakin' link) the jist of it is that voters unaware of a need to vote are living in a healthy government/society?

Er, actually, I'd love to read the article, but it was replaced about 90 minutes after your bit was posted. The link now points to an opinon peice about debt relief for Africa. Someone have a link to the original article?

Wrong article (1.00 / 2) (#64)
by cobweb on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 10:33:42 AM EST

The link to the article pointed me to an article written by Corretta Scott King about how the US should help Africa. It said nothing about voting. Can someone point me to the right article?

Ephemeral URL (1.00 / 2) (#65)
by marlowe on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 11:11:20 AM EST

It probably pointed to the right article at one point.
-- The Americans are the Jews of the 21st century. Only we won't go as quietly to the gas chambers. --
[ Parent ]
Not Voting = Apathy? (2.66 / 3) (#66)
by Alarmist on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 11:26:40 AM EST

Having a large part of the citizenry declining to vote generally only means one thing: the people do not care enough to vote. They might not care because they think everything's okay, or they might not care because they think somebody else will do it. Given the way a lot of people here act, though, I would be willing to bet that at least 25% or more of those people don't vote because they can't be bothered to take 30 minutes out of their busy schedule to go and cast a vote about what they think is important. Sure, they'll bitch about politicians over dinner and fume at talk radio shows, but none of them can stop being short-sighted enough to actually do something about it.

Perhaps I'm being overly harsh. We have a well-entrenched media machine in this nation, one that makes it hard for people to care about things because they're consistently spoon-fed lies and misrepresentations. (Note that I said "spoon-fed". The truth, to quote a popular show, is out there.) It takes a lot of effort to give a damn about these things.

But it's worth it. It will always be worth it. And if you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself.

Fight the Power.


new voting system? (4.16 / 6) (#67)
by Rainy on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 11:47:54 AM EST

This question comes up over and over again: people vote for gore even though they prefer nader, cause their guiding principle is fear of bush. That might be true. In that case, why don't we have a system where you could say, 'i vote for gore, second preference is nader, and 3d is bush'. And, gore gets a point, nader gets half a point, and bush gets zero in such scenario. Or perhaps another system, where you could say 'if nader is winning, i cast vote for nader, and if he's losing, i cast vote for gore'. If 40% of population give this sort of vote, nader may win even though with an old system he'd lose. The real problem with current system is that it's conceivable that most people want candidate C, but vote for candidate B because they think most people want candidate B, and C has no chance, and they prefer B to A. It's more realistic if you consider the possibility that both A and B are sold out to big corporations, while newspapers/tv stations that run polls ARE parts of big corporations. I'm not saying that is the case today, I'm merely saying that it's not impossible, and that Bush did get something like 70 million from big companies in donations. I mean, damn, that *is* alot of money. For 70 million you can buy 70 luxury villas or 1400 BMW's. You could probably feed most of India for that money for quite some time. It's not peanuts.
--
Rainy "Collect all zero" Day
None of the above ballot option better. (2.50 / 2) (#69)
by maynard on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 12:23:11 PM EST

Or perhaps another system, where you could say 'if nader is winning, i cast vote for nader, and if he's losing, i cast vote for gore'. If 40% of population give this sort of vote, nader may win even though with an old system he'd lose. The real problem with current system is that it's conceivable that most people want candidate C, but vote for candidate B because they think most people want candidate B, and C has no chance, and they prefer B to A[...]

I think a none of the above ballot option would be better simply because most middle American folks would find this too complex in the voting booth. Forcing a candidate to get at least 50% of the vote, along with a binding none of the above ballot option, would at least give us voters the choice of saying we think all the candidates suck.

Another possibility would be proportional representation in congress and the senate, similar to many parlimentory systems. But this would require a constitutional ammendment, and as such is probably not going to happen. Splitting political power among multiple parties is probably the best we Americans can hope for.

J. Maynard Gelinas

Read The Proxies, a short crime thriller.
[ Parent ]

Re: new voting system? (4.33 / 3) (#78)
by winthrop on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:29:46 PM EST

Your system still has a lot of problems. People would only vote for one candidate (often known as 'bullet voting') in order to make sure their first-place candidate won. For good alternate voting systems, check out the Center for Voting and Democracy.

The best system for a simple, winner-takes-all election is probably the Instant Runoff Vote. Each person lists their preference among all the candidates. Then, in each round, the candidate with the fewest votes votes is eliminated, and each vote for them is reassigned to the next candidate listed on that ballot.

But the short answer to your question why don't we have a system where... is because nobody in power wants that system to exist. Systems don't just come into existence because they're good; they come because people who would benefit work for them. Not that you didn't know that, but it's important to remember when discussing politics.

[ Parent ]

Not voting... (1.33 / 3) (#70)
by Wariac on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 12:36:05 PM EST

I think the quote naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch suggested that an apathetic citizenry might be a sign of civic health hits it right on the head. For the most part, I believe that Americans are quite satisfied with how the country is doing. They may not agree with what <insert name here> is doing, but overall everything is going fine.
Now, if there was something going on that directly affected americans (i.e. poor ecomony) I think then they would have a little more motivation to get out and vote.
Myself, at 31 I have never voted. I watch the ads on TV, the debates, read the articles and the only message I have ever gotten from any of the party's is We are right, everyone else is wrong . All that I see are people who are so scared of saying the wrong thing, they end up repeating the same phrases and slinging mud.
It quite frankly saddens me.

Wariac

By all means (3.33 / 6) (#71)
by John Jorsett on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:03:02 PM EST

Please, stay home. All of you. I'm a baby boomer and vote without fail, and the fewer young people voting the more likely my cohort will get its way. It'll be much easier for us to pick your pockets for Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs, and any other benefits we can shake you down for. So what if you'll be saddled with crippling tax rates and reduced benefits down the road? We'll be retired or dead, so we certainly aren't going to give a damn. Not voting sounds like a great idea (for you) to me.

I wonder at times.... (2.50 / 2) (#72)
by Vicegrip on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:07:52 PM EST

Whether for many americans (or canadians) it would make any difference at all if they lived in a dictatorship. Most people I know are so un-interested in what occurs in political life, even the educated people with good jobs, presuming from the get-go they have no influence... voluntarily choosing to avoid making a statement or being informed... it all seems to be behavior quite suitable for subjects of a dictator.

As I sit and watch a leadership contest being fought on what seem to be largely personality issues it occurs to me that the King of Jordan was much more interesting a leader then either of those men could be... I guess it's as the old saying goes.. you don't know what you have until you've lost it.

Sometimes I think a few nasty years of dicatorship would be good medecine for the multitude of people who would let others decide for them what by right they should be deciding for themselves.

Why not voting is a bad thing .... (3.50 / 4) (#74)
by lamfada on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:11:54 PM EST

I personally plan on voting for Nader. To a large extent, it is because I am concerned with the corporatization of the US, the rightward drift of the Democratic party, and precisely because I don't see issues of concern to me being addressed.

Even though Nader is unlikely to win, I hope to be able to influence the parameters of debate in this country, to have more discussion on the increasing tendency of the US to be little more than a corporate police state where freedom of speech is devalued in favor of the `rights' of corporate entities. I hope to let the Dems know, loud & clear, that they don't deserve my vote, just because they are slightly more to the left than the Republicans.

I am sick of our government and environment being handed over to corporations whose only contributions consist of campaign cash and pollution.

So Gore is marginally better than Bush. So what? He is just as bought & paid for, and that I refuse to vote for either. That does not mean that I have no choice, nor does it mean that voting is not worth the effort. How much effort is it really? 30 minutes out of my day? I spend more time than that just expressing my displeasure with the current state of affairs.

Voter Apathy (2.66 / 3) (#76)
by jabber on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:22:31 PM EST

I don't know if I agree with the views that people do not vote because they are "above that sort of thing", or because they are blissfully unaware of the processes of government. Instead, I think that people do not vote because they feel that NO ONE adequately represents their views on the issues which they consider important.

Take the past debate, for example. Gore came out on the side of 'pro-choice' and environmentalism, while Bush weighed in for 'pro-life' and tax-cuts for businesses.

What if I'm pro-life, but and environmentalist as well? What I'f education reform hits close to home, since I'm a parent? Well, it makes the choice tough. And it raises another, related question. How do we want to be represented??

Do we want to elect someone who has strong, well thought-out beliefs? Or do we want someone who will hear us out and speak in our stead? In the former case, this person needs to have beliefs that very closely match our own; in the latter case, they do what the Clinton/Gore tradition has become - telling us what we want to hear, and worshipping the gallup polls..

Yeah, I know, saying what we want and doing what we want are two very different things - and so here we are... Looking for Mr. Right, who feels the way that we do, about all the things which we care about. The American people are just unwilling to make a commitment, and so we listen to them talk about themselves... We watch them check each other out.. But we don't take either one of them to bed.

[TINK5C] |"Is K5 my kapusta intellectual teddy bear?"| "Yes"

USA Today article partly off the mark (4.00 / 2) (#77)
by deanc on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:29:38 PM EST

In an effort to curry favor with its readers, the USA Today article went off the mark over who is "not voting." Outside of a few isolated examples, the "intellectual elite" is probably the most likely to vote.

It is "the masses" that are apathetic and disaffected from the whole process. However, the USA today readership is mostly "the masses", and no writer is going to say anything like, "turnout is low because all you readers are a bunch of lazy ignoranamouses." It's much easier to blame ill-defined "elites" for low voter turnout.



IRV would be good for the US (4.57 / 7) (#79)
by gnulizard on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 01:43:44 PM EST

In a recent article in The Nation (a decidedly progressive political magazine), one of the editorials proposed an IRV system much like those in Europe. IRV Stands for Instant Runoff Voting, where instead of voting for a single candidate, you make multiple choices, ranking all the candidates in the order you would prefer them for the seat. If no one gets the majority in the first count, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and a runoff round of counting occurs counting the second choices of those who voted for the eliminated candidate instead.

An example of this: Suppose Bush got 45%, Gore 44%, Nader 9%, and the rest 2%. With IRV, after Nader loses in the instant runoff, Nader supporters would propel Gore over the 50% majority and defeat Bush.

The major implication of this would be that people like Nader couldn't be considered "Spoilers" who only take votes away from the other candidate(s) on his/her side of the political spectrum. That is, Nader couldn't be considered as taking votes away from Gore.

If anything could get people to the polls it would be a system like this. I'm assured by the editor that this is a completely consitutional system, and AFAIK some states do have an IRV system of voting (Maine, I think is what's mentioned). We wouldn't have anymore just 2 parties, but probably lots of semi-major parties who could actually make a difference. The Greens, for example, may not get too much power in government, but their presence could help pull the Democrats back from their rightist slides, especially if the Greens *second* choices got our Mr or Mrs. President elected.

I won't go into whether or this would ever actually happen here in the US. The idea flies right in the face of the Republicrats stranglehold on the status quo, so most likely the only way to get a system like this to even be considered here would be to actually elect a third party candidate which in itself would be a difficult task with or without IRV. But hey, I'm a political optomist, so we can always hope I suppose.
local $_ = "0A72656B636148206C72655020726568746F6E41207473754A";
while(s/..$//) { print chr(hex($&)) }

Approval voting would be better (4.33 / 3) (#90)
by roystgnr on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 05:25:59 PM EST

In approval voting, instead of each voter getting one vote to cast for a single candidate, each voter gets to cast a "yes" vote for as many or as few candidates as he wishes. So, in your election scenario, most of the Nader supporters would also vote for Gore, many of the Gore supporters would now vote for Nader (since it wouldn't mean "throwing away their vote"), and you'd see something like:

Bush: 47%
Gore: 53%
Nader: 29%
The Rest: 0-15%

I'm pretty much convinced that we won't see third party or independent candidates make a big showing in national elections in the US until something like approval voting is implemented... and the cynic in me is certain that approval voting will never see the light of day for that very reason.

[ Parent ]
Gore should promise this (none / 0) (#110)
by forrest on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 11:15:45 PM EST

to win back the Naderites.

Instant Runoff is really necessary to make the system work correctly; to allow us to vote for who we really like without contributing to having the worse of two evils elected.

I know there are other systems, but Instant Runoff seems the best for its combination of simplicity and fairness. It has to be simple for the general public to understand it, and first choice, second choice, third choice is pretty damn easy to relate to.

If Gore promised to implement Instant Runoff, I'd surely vote for him instead of Nader (where my vote is otherwise going), because to me it's worth four years of President Gore for a change that will make voting meaningful again for the forseeable future of my country.

Another poster mentioned "approval voting" but I couldn't say what I want to say in the voting booth this November with approval voting -- namely, "Nader is best, but if I can't have Nader, I'll vote for Gore". That's not "either Nader or Gore is OK". With approval voting, it seems I'm reduced to tactical voting again (i.e. "I'd better approve of Gore so he beats Bush, even though I don't really want to vote for Gore") while Instant Runoff eliminates the need for tactical voting.



[ Parent ]

Re: IRV would be good for the US (none / 0) (#112)
by ewan on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 06:06:11 AM EST

Im not going to go very deeply into the intracacies of the next-best choice voting system, but i would like to say that some of the countries in Europe that use it (e.g. Italy) then to have quite unstable governments and seem to always end up with one party which got 20% of the votes having as much (or more) influence than a party which got 40%, as the 20% chooses which of the 2 larger parties wins overall by "passing-on" their votes and in return expect massive favours from the larger party.

To me this seems silly, perhaps to others itll seem sensible.

Ewan

[ Parent ]
Re: IRV would be good for the US (none / 0) (#113)
by forrest on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 12:33:31 PM EST

Your post doesn't make sense to me. The "passing-on" of votes to which you refer has to do with coalitions in a multi-party governing body, not the "passing-on" of votes done at election time when I don't get my first choice and my vote passes on to my second. Right? Because if you mean the latter, that makes no sense whatsoever.

As far as "stability" goes -- when more groups in this diverse society are adequately represented, it will take more effort to reach a consensus. That's true, it goes with the territory. A dictatorship would probably be the most stable form of govenment, as long as all dissention is ruthlessly suppressed.

While some degree of stability is important, it doesn't justify the "rule by big corporations" we seem to be headed towards (and to some extent already have).



[ Parent ]

Re: IRV would be good for the US (none / 0) (#120)
by ewan on Sun Oct 15, 2000 at 05:46:55 PM EST

Probably I didnt explain myself clearly (it happens quite often). What I mean by "passing-on" is parties telling their voters (and they do tell them, very explicitly), that their 2nd vote should be for party x.

Ewan

[ Parent ]
Uh, yeah (3.50 / 6) (#81)
by trhurler on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 02:00:37 PM EST

this is called "USA Today boosts readership by giving readers an excuse for their laziness.

Now, lets do some facts:

1) One vote doesn't much matter - similarly, one more cigarette won't kill you, so why stop smoking? Just have one more. Go ahead. No problem. One more. Yeah. Sure. Then you're dead one day. That's the stupidest idea ever.

2) If you don't know what's going on, that is YOUR fault.

3) The two party system is a sham perpetuated by people not voting. You know why Ross Perot got votes? It isn't because his money spread his message; there WAS no message. It was because he was an alternative with so much money that he was -perceived- as not being a wasted vote. There are real third party candidates that actually have a message, but most of you fools will gladly ignore them for fear of "throwing away" a vote, or else just not vote at all, out of sheer laziness, which you will rationalize as "my guy wouldn't win anyway." Well, no, he sure as hell won't with all of you sitting on your asses. Your guy might lose anyway He probably will. So what? You think the only thing that counts is whether your guy wins? In the short term, maybe, but in the long term, that attitude gives you two choices: the republicrats and the republicrats. Get your asses in gear, people.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Ever Read Douglas Hofstadter? (4.00 / 4) (#82)
by Phil Gregory on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 02:13:50 PM EST

There is no point in voting unless there is some reasonable likelihood that your vote will change the outcome. The probability of your single vote changing the outcome is less than the probability that you will be run over and killed by a ready-mix cement truck on your way to the polls. Better stay home.

I am going to vote this year. Not only am I going to vote, but I am going to vote for Nader. Since it appears that Nader is nowhere near the number of votes he needs to attain office, by your (and many other people's) reasoning my vote is pointless. I don't view it as such.

A single vote is not going to make a difference one may or the other. However, a large collection of single votes can indeed do so. For some reason, arguments like this always seem to remind me of the prisoner's dilemma. In the prisoner's dilemma, as in your argument, the apparently rational choice (defect; don't vote) is a poorer choice than its alternative. I vote because I refuse to accept the idea that the "rational" choice is the better of the two.

To put it another way, while one vote usually cannot make a difference on its own, a large group of votes can. Furthermore, any large group of votes is composed of single, individual votes. Take away any one of those and nothing really changes. If, however, you convince a significant percentage of those people that, since one vote doesn't matter, they shouldn't vote at all, then a difference will be made.


--Phil (If you get a chance, read Metamagical Themas by Hofstadter; it has (among other things) good discussion of the Prisoner's Dilemma.)
355/113 -- Not the famous irrational number PI, but an incredible simulation!
What?!? (3.50 / 2) (#84)
by h0tr0d on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 03:24:39 PM EST

"Since there are no issues that I feel strongly enough to need to get out there and make my voice be heard, voting doesn't appeal to me."

I am making the assumption that by being a k5 reader you have at least heard about DeCSS, MP3, Napster, RIAA, MPAA, DMCA, COPPA, to name just a few. If you have any desire at all for the United States to remain a free country then there is a whole hell of a lot that should concern you. I point out the above because to a reader of k5 those should be the obvious ones. What about drugs, healthcare, social security, taxes, and a million other little things that do indeed affect every citizen of the United States. I just can't understand how anyone can honestly believe that their vote doesn't make a difference.

"A half-century ago, naturalist Joseph Wood Krutch suggested that an apathetic citizenry might be a sign of civic health. 'Wouldn't a really healthy citizenry in a really healthy country be as unaware of the government as a healthy man is unaware of his physiology?'he asked"

Boy, where do I start? First off, the ignorant man is just as much unaware of his physiology as the healthy man. And that, my friend, is exactly the state that this country is in. The more ignorant people there are out there that don't feel that it is worth voting the more the cancer known as our government will rage out of control. I'm not saying that government is a bad thing. It is a necessity. Our government is no longer what the Founding Fathers of this once great country intended it to be. It is like a festering cavity in the mouth of the apparently healthy man. As long as his mouth doesn't hurt he doesn't need to go to the dentist. By the time he gets to the dentist it's too late and he has to have a root canal done. I honestly believe that George Washington foresaw this attitude in our time and that is why he so adamantly stated that a revolution would be necessary approximately every 200 years. The farther we go beyond that 200 year mark the more freedoms we have taken away from us and the more ignorant we are becoming to the state of this country. If you don't believe me do some research. As citizens we have lost more rights and freedoms to government control and corporate America in the last 25 years than since the turn of the century. Ironically the rest of the world heads in the opposite direction. Yes, they may have it rough right now, but in time their economies will strengthen and it will be us standing in line for a week to get our ration of toilet paper.

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.

Re: What?!? (4.00 / 1) (#92)
by MrSpey on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 05:39:48 PM EST

I am making the assumption that by being a k5 reader you have at least heard about DeCSS, MP3, Napster, RIAA, MPAA, DMCA, COPPA, to name just a few. If you have any desire at all for the United States to remain a free country then there is a whole hell of a lot that should concern you. I point out the above because to a reader of k5 those should be the obvious ones. What about drugs, healthcare, social security, taxes, and a million other little things that do indeed affect every citizen of the United States. I just can't understand how anyone can honestly believe that their vote doesn't make a difference.

Okay, I read k5 and that other site, amongst others, so I'm aware of DeCSS, MP3, RIAA, etc. Who do I vote for? Where do the candidates stand on things like DMCA, DeCSS, COPPA, etc.? I haven't heard anything from the mainstream sources of news, and nothing on any of the "geek news" sites I frequent have mentioned anything, either. So why should I vote if none of the candidates will act any differently with regard to what I care about?

The more mainstream issues that you mention are somewhat important, but not overly so. Chances are I won't see a change in the taxes I pay, I'm not covered by federal medical insurance, and I'm not going to receive social security for 40+ years. Regardless of who's elected, for the most part my life won't change.

Someone explained to me once that the people in western Europe don't get why we make such a big deal over a new party coming to power, since the changes the new party makes are so miniscule compared to the changes that a new party makes when it comes to power in a western European country. I think that has a lot to do with why people don't vote, also.

Mr. Spey
Cover your butt. Bernard is watching.

[ Parent ]
Re: What?!? (2.00 / 1) (#95)
by h0tr0d on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 06:53:55 PM EST

You have a good point that it is very difficult to figure out where the candidates stand on the tech issues. The best way to do it is to try and figure out where they have stood on similar issues in the past. As I pointed out, these aren't necessarily tech issues but are freedom issues. Look at what the candidates have done in relation to general freedom issues. Sometimes they may have made a decision that you don't agree with but look at their reasoning behind it. This is probably how they will continue to act.

On the mainstream issues you mentioned that you won't be eligible for social security for 40+ years(youngster). If we don't pay attention to where the candidates stand on this issue chances are that there won't be any social security for you in 40 years.

I must agree with your last paragraph completely. Even I have had to convince myself to vote sometimes because I have never voted for a candidate, always against the other one(the lesser of two evils). And as you mentioned, the changes are miniscule. I believe this is partially our own fault. If we, the citizens of the United States, would stand up and vote for someone with enough balls(I know quite a few qualified womEn) to take action and straighten out the mess that is our government maybe we would see some of those changes. I know that those types of sweeping changes are what is needed in this country. But as long as we continue to not vote or vote for the most popular it won't change. So please, stand up and let your voice be heard. It is going to take a major swing in the way that America votes to open the eyes of those in control. I feel that it is not only my duty to vote but also to educate others about the issues. Not voting is one of those issues.

Besides, to counter point the original story it is slowly becoming easier to vote in this country. I am fortunate enough to live in a state where all registered voters may vote by mail early. I have only been to a polling place once in a very long time and that was my own fault for forgetting to order the mail-in ballot. The county has since made it even easier for me in that I can pre-order all election ballots for the entire year. What a great idea! Do check into it in your area. This reduces the chances of getting hit by a cement truck dramatically(unless you just happen to drive through a concrete factory on your way to the post office).

-- It appears that my spleeing chucker isn't working again.
[ Parent ]

A couple of points... (2.50 / 2) (#87)
by Colin Winters on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 04:13:20 PM EST

One, your vote does count. I remember reading about a man in Iowa who was the only one to vote, and he wrote in his a member of his family for each position that was up for election-they all became elected officials because no one else bothered. Two... I actually think the U.S. should be like Australia, and mandate voting. However, I think that when you go to the ballot box, you should be mandated to read over a list of the candidate's issues-the candidates would each prepare 5 (or 10, or whatever) key issues that they are running on. This way the public could actually be informed and make good choices.

Colin Winters

Re: A couple of points... (none / 0) (#97)
by skim123 on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 07:58:09 PM EST

I actually think the U.S. should be like Australia, and mandate voting

Ah yes, that makes perfect sense. And everyone should bathe daily, so let's mandate that, and everyone should be polite to their elders, so let's mandate that. Sigh. I hate people who want to control others. Is it a cultural thing? Is it just the US that has that, "Hey, don't fucking tell me what to do, asshole," attitude? It seems like a lot of other cultures seem ok with "madates," "guidelines," "rules," and other liberty-robbing measures.

Perhaps the only reason we still have liberty here is because our two parties can't agree on how to rob it. Conservatives want to control man's mind, but not his wealth. Liberals want to control man's wealth, but not his mind... Good thing they disagree, or we'd be fucked.

This way the public could actually be informed and make good choices

Ah yes, all good choices come from forcing someone to read 5 key issues and go from there. Johnny, do you want to go to college? Here are 5 reasons why you may want to and 5 reason why you may not want to... you must decide now.

I still like the Simpsons episode where the two aliens disguise themselves as Clinton and Dole:

Dole Disguised Guy: Abortions for none.
Crows boos
Dole Disguised Guy: All right, abortions for all.
Crows boos
Dole Disguised Guy:Hmmm... abortions for some, miniture American flags for others.
Crowd cheers...

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
I think you're over-reacting. (none / 0) (#102)
by static on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 05:13:11 AM EST

What does mandatory voting get you?

  1. Politicians do not have to convince people to vote, just have to convince people to vote for them. Or, to put it more cynically, to not vote for the other guy(s).
  2. Cheaper political campaigns. Last Federal election in Australia, one major party borrowed an American election campaign manager. He almost couldn't believe how much cheaper election campaigns were in Australia - something like 1% or less of American ones.

Okay, now what does voluntary voting get you? Exercise left for the reader. :-)

You seem to have a problem with the government mandating that you have a say in choosing your government.

Wade.



[ Parent ]

Re: I think you're over-reacting. (4.00 / 1) (#106)
by skim123 on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 05:27:53 PM EST

What does mandatory voting get you?

3. Less freedom, since you are having yet another choice taken from you.

You seem to have a problem with the government mandating that you have a say in choosing your government

I have a problem with government saying I must do anything. If I don't want to have a say in choosing my governing officials, that is my call, no one elses.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum


[ Parent ]
VOTE OR DIE (3.00 / 2) (#88)
by b!X on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 04:15:55 PM EST

Once again, as in the "why bother voting" discussion, I point you to the following rant, written by me back in October of 1999: Vote or Die.



"Reasonable likelihood?" (3.00 / 2) (#91)
by roystgnr on Fri Oct 06, 2000 at 05:31:35 PM EST

What, exactly is a "reasonable likelihood"?

Suppose that, for once in your lifetime, yours is the deciding vote in a presidential election. Then your choice would have directly changed the lives of THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE for four years, and would indirectly affect the lives of billions! With that in mind, given that the probability of you casting "the deciding vote" is only around 1 in 100 million, and so your mathematical expectation is only to change three people's lives... isn't that still worth spending an hour on election day?

Re: "Reasonable likelihood?" (none / 0) (#116)
by beergut on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 11:01:00 AM EST

That would be nice, in theory, but your vote simply cannot be the "deciding vote" in a presidential election. This is because we have an "electoral college", which actually decides who gets to be POTUS.

At one time, this was the proper means for electing a president, but nowadays, I'd rather have a direct election for POTUS, such that my vote actually _would_ count.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

two perspectives (4.00 / 3) (#103)
by jwise on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 12:01:48 PM EST

I think people are approaching this question from two different viewpoints. The question seems to be phrased from a macroscopic perspective: does a small voter turnout indicate a healthy state of society? The other question is: is it okay for an individual not to vote?

My answer to the first question is yes. If people don't see the need to go out and vote, then they must be comfortable with things the way they are. This must be a good thing (ignoring the question of whether complacency is good), for what is the point of government if not to find the system in which people are comfortable?

A non-vote is almost a "status quo" vote. The difference is that it doesn't actually have that effect -- someone has to get elected. Thus, to the second question, the answer is no. Not voting doesn't keep things the way they are, so if you want things to stay as they are you have to vote.
Jonathan Wise
More than one election (4.33 / 6) (#105)
by davidduncanscott on Sat Oct 07, 2000 at 12:29:15 PM EST

I see a common thread through all these comments, and in the USA Today article as well. Apparently people believe that the presidential election is the one that matters, when in fact it may be the least important race.

We don't elect a king. We've had bad Presidents and good Presidents, and we've muddled through pretty well, because the President, on his own, doesn't make that big a difference. He's one guy at the top of a huge government that turns about as readily as the QE2 does cartwheels.

You want to see your vote make a difference? Easy. Vote for your Mayor. Vote for your City Councilman / Alderman / Tribal Elder / Grand Dragon or whatever your local officials are. They make decisions you see every day. They fix potholes, appoint police chiefs, collect trash, and decide whether or not you can own a ferret within city limits.

If that all seems too petty for you, try voting for Congresscritters. You'll be voting in your district, not the entire US, your vote will be much more noticable, and in a close race you could probably get your choice of intern to take home for the night if you promised to vote and bring two friends.

You could work your up, if you wanted to, or just stay local.

If voting gets dull, try running for Dogcatcher, Mage, or Knight of the Table Round (again, fill in your local officialdom). Lose or (may God have mercy on your soul) win, you could get your name in the paper and everything.

Presidential races are big and showy, and the press like to cover them because it's hard to get famous covering the City Council, and because we have a secret royalist strain in our national character, but the officials where you live probably matter more to you than the ones in DC (except if you live in DC, whose local government seems to be both powerless and hopeless -- but I digress).

Re: More than one election (2.50 / 2) (#115)
by beergut on Mon Oct 09, 2000 at 10:56:52 AM EST

You're right, in the broadest sense, but there is a great deal of importance in this presidential election - perhaps more important than any other election in recent history.

You see, the next president may be in the position to appoint four or so Supreme Court justices. If you haven't been following things, the Supremes are the ones Hell-bent on making policy in the last half of the twentieth century. It is they who will ultimately decide whether or not you actually have the rights guaranteed you in the Constitution.

i don't see any nanorobots or jet engines or laser holography or orbiting death satellites.
i just see some orangutan throwing code-feces at a computer screen.

-- indubitable
[ Parent ]

Is it just me? (2.00 / 1) (#114)
by Kiscica on Sun Oct 08, 2000 at 02:16:40 PM EST

As far as I can tell, the USA Today article doesn't argue in the least that low voter turnout is a good thing. Indeed it seems to be exhorting everyone to vote.

I'm confused. I think this may be the wrong article -- I couldn't find any sign of the quoted text in it, either. Does anyone have a pointer to the right text?

Lackluster voting a good thing? | 120 comments (114 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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