• Philosophim
    1.2k
    Voting is not a fight. Not even in the slightest bit. It's an exercise in statistical bureaucracy to find out who people want to hold that office. There's not even the tiniest element of 'fight' in it.Isaac

    That's your belief then. I'll keep voting and have some victories while you can sit home and let people like me decide your future without opposition.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    I'll keep voting and have some victories while you can sit home and let people like me decide your future without opposition.Philosophim

    Voting (or not) does not decide my future. It's not a belief, it's a fact.

    If 60% of the electorate want candidate A, then candidate A will be elected, and so determine (that element of) my future.

    This is true before the election even takes place.

    This is true whether I vote or not.

    The matter of what a majority of people in my constituency feel politically is what determines who wins an election. Voting is simply the bureaucratic exercise of officially informing the returning officer of that position.

    If I vote, I give the returning officer a more accurate dataset. I do absolutely nothing to change the population from which that dataset is drawn. My vote changes nothing. It adds to data accuracy. The situation the data is recording is not made any more or less the case by my improving the accuracy of the record.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    Politicians always tell you to vote and they always want you to vote. If the turnout is very low it looks bad on them. sometimes I want it to look bad on them.

    One suggestion has been to count the spoilt ballots, and if the spoilt ballots 'win' all the candidates are barred and a new election with new candidates is held. Politicians invariably reject this idea, and that makes me think it a good idea. It has the merit at least of distinguishing protest from apathy.

    Anarchist slogans I have known and loved:

    Don't vote, it only encourages them.

    It doesn't matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.

    But in practice, I usually find someone to vote for, or at least someone to vote against.
  • Marchesk
    4.6k
    I'll keep voting and have some victories while you can sit home and let people like me decide your future without opposition.Philosophim

    Your vote doesn't matter. It won't change anything unless you vote in a small enough election where it's possible for one vote to matter. You aren't deciding anything for anyone by voting. The belief that our vote matters is only important on the scale of many voters. Or if you're able to convince enough people to vote a certain way.
  • Manuel
    2.8k
    Well, the point of an election is to see which candidate ends up with the most votes. That takes into consideration those who do not vote. If, in effect, one does not see a practical difference in voting, then I do not see why it shouldn't be considered a political position.

    Although I understand the sentiment behind, I do not agree that voting should be made compulsory. It should be something people would want to do.
  • Philosophim
    1.2k
    Your vote doesn't matter. It won't change anything unless you vote in a small enough election where it's possible for one vote to matter.Marchesk

    That's only if everyone votes. And for everyone to vote, you must vote. Meaning your vote matters.
  • Cuthbert
    999
    Voting (or not) does not decide my future. It's not a belief, it's a fact.Isaac

    I think this a problem for any sphere in which individual actions count for little or nothing but group actions determine the result. Reducing your carbon footprint by 90% or increasing it by 200% will do practically nothing to save or to harm the planet. Having just one cigarette in a pub is not going to give anyone emphysema. Etc.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    Reducing your carbon footprint by 90% or increasing it by 200% will do practically nothing to save or to harm the planet. Having just one cigarette in a pub is not going to give anyone emphysema. Etc.Cuthbert

    No, it's not like those things at all.

    If I reduce my carbon footprint then I have done some very small amount of good. It may not be enough on my own, but it is good, there's less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    If vote (in a situation where I know I'm in a minority) I haven't done some small amount of good. I've done no good at all. The opposition party have won and get to enact their policies in exactly the same way they would have if I hadn't voted. Exactly the same. Not a small but insignificant difference (such as with reducing one's carbon footprint), absolutely no difference at all.
  • Cuthbert
    999
    Not a small but insignificant difference (such as with reducing one's carbon footprint), absolutely no difference at allIsaac

    Doesn't that lead to a paradox? If your vote carries no weight and your vote carries the same weight as everyone else's, then nobody's vote carries any weight. The sum of a finite number of zero weights is zero. And yet the number of votes determines who gets elected.

    We seem to have reached a point in this discussion where one side is arguing that voting is utterly pointless and the other side is arguing that it's not utterly pointless, only almost utterly.

    If I came here hoping to take up a career in promoting democratic engagement then I certainly won't quote this thread on my CV.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    If your vote carries no weight and your vote carries the same weight as everyone else's, then nobody's vote carries any weight.Cuthbert

    That's right. Nobody's vote carries weight in the matter of affecting the way we are governed. Votes are a statistical exercise.

    It's like claiming that filling in a census actually changes the demographic make up of the population. It clearly doesn't, it just records it more accurately, the actual demographic make up of the population is what it is regardless of whether you fill in the census or not.

    If I ask you what you think of Shakespeare, you might tell me, or you might remain silent, or you might lie - none of which changes what you actually think about Shakespeare.

    If the returning officer asks the electorate which candidate they most want in that office they might tell him, or they might remain silent, or they might lie - none of which changes the fact of which candidate they actually want in that office.
  • Pie
    1k
    One suggestion has been to count the spoilt ballots, and if the spoilt ballots 'win' all the candidates are barred and a new election with new candidates is held. Politicians invariably reject this idea, and that makes me think it a good idea.unenlightened

    That one got a chuckle out of me.
  • Pie
    1k
    .
    I think this a problem for any sphere in which individual actions count for little or nothing but group actions determine the result. Reducing your carbon footprint by 90% or increasing it by 200% will do practically nothing to save or to harm the planet. Having just one cigarette in a pub is not going to give anyone emphysema. Etc.Cuthbert

    Nailed it.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    If vote (in a situation where I know I'm in a minority) I haven't done some small amount of good. I've done no good at all. The opposition party have won and get to enact their policies in exactly the same way they would have if I hadn't voted. Exactly the same. Not a small but insignificant difference (such as with reducing one's carbon footprint), absolutely no difference at all.Isaac

    This is not true. Political movements inevitably start small and have to grow. One way they are seen to grow is by increasing their support in an election. Thus If I vote Green and the Green candidate does not win, still I have demonstrated some support for Green policies.

    For another example, the Brexit party never made much of an impression in winning elections, but they managed to 'get Brexit done', by influencing other parties who became frightened of having 'their' voters poached. Showing support influences others.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    One way they are seen to grow is by increasing their support in an election. Thus If I vote Green and the Green candidate does not win, still I have demonstrated some support for Green policies.unenlightened

    Absolutely. I don't see how that contradicts anything I've said.

    Voting is simply the bureaucratic exercise of officially informing the returning officer of that position.

    If I vote, I give the returning officer a more accurate dataset.
    Isaac

    Voting gives a slightly more accurate impression of how people feel politically than would be given if you didn't vote.

    A well constructed survey would do a considerably better job of the same task.

    Neither change the way things actually are, which is what determines who gets into power.

    I can see a case for voting making a difference in the very specific circumstance where it is unclear what people's political views are (it's usually blindingly obvious), but in such cases a survey would be a better method.

    Showing support influences others.unenlightened

    Does it? Does showing support for United at a football match influence City supporters? Are football fans constantly changing ends?

    Are the wealthy surprised by opposition, or do they merely expect it?

    Tories are not necessarily persuaded to be less bigoted by an increasing Labour vote. They may even be persuaded to be more bigoted to pick up the EDL vote to compensate.

    Besides which, again, there are way more effective ways of showing support. Protests, consumer choices, strikes... Which render mere voting trivial by comparison. Very few people strategically go on an anti-racism march. Strategic voting is so commonplace as to render the tally almost meaningless in terms of support.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    664


    It is a strategy that is highly unlikely to work. Yes, if you hate all possible candidates equally, perhaps it makes sense not to vote (or really if you like them all equally). However, if you hate all the candidates, you generally have other options such as as submitting a write in or a spoiled ballot. This registers disapproval or disaffection in a way not voting at all does not.

    Research on low turn out has generally concluded that it is the result of people not caring that much about election outcomes, rather than them disliking their options. The slump in US turnout in the 20th century has receded, and turn out is way up, even as people's unhappiness with the government has spiked. You see this is fledgling democracies too. People were very unhappy with their governments in Egypt, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. but turn out was huge despite serious safety risks for voters. Not voting is generally more a sign of comfort than disapproval.

    Low turn out could sap the legitimacy of the government, but historically this is not the case. You would probably need absolutely abysmal turn out to really challenge the legitimacy of the process if access to the polls was relatively open. The collective action problem of getting 80-90% of eligible voters not to vote is going to almost always be harder than just running a candidate people actually like, making it a bad strategy.

    Plus, people are generally not actually indifferent between candidates. They are either not informed enough to know which candidate best represents their preferences, uninterested in voting because of the low likelihood that their preferred candidate will win, or trying to make some sort of morale statement about not picking any of the candidates, despite actually liking one more than the other. In general, this isn't a good strategy. You're better off at least voting for the candidate you dislike less, unless voting takes a long time and your opportunity cost is high.

    Some partisans don't vote because they want their least preferred candidate to win. The idea is that "things will get bad enough that we'll get real change." This view is sort of common in the US with the far left. "Let Trump overturn an election and have the Court strip more freedoms, this will finally provoke a true reaction and move us forward." Historically, this is a bad strategy. The group with institutional power tends to do better, and even if your preferred group wins, if a struggle turns violent, the outcome can still be worse than having the group you dislike keep power. Violent struggle can also transform your preferred group into one you hate (e.g., communists who ended up hating what the Russian Communist Party became under Stalin).




    The weightlessness of someone's vote is going to vary by voting system. In an instant run off or ranked choice voting system, your vote is almost always going to have some weight. Even if your preferences are far from the median voters', your vote will still move the needle towards your preferences and away from the ones you most dislike.

    Voting strategies become more fraught when you have things like closed primaries, a strong two party system, and first past the post, winner take all voting. There, your vote can appear meaningless if your candidate didn't win. But voting for the candidate you least dislike is still an option.

    Your vote isn't weightless though, that's not how the mathematics works out. Votes aren't weightless in this system, but instead what you have is a tipping point. If you are balancing weights on a fulcrum, and you have more weight on one side than the other, and so you get a tip to one side, it isn't that the mass on the other side is reduced to zero, it just isn't enough to stop the tipping.

    And as one sided as the US system can get, you still get surprises. Massachusetts has had two long term Republican governors recently who were quite popular. Kentucky currently has a Democratic governor. Parties with dominating leads in average voter preference can still manage to muck things up for themselves.

    Winning on slim margins may also signal to election winners that they may need to moderate their views if they want to win re-election. This isn't always how it works, but it sometimes does. Charlie Baker was the most popular politician out of all Congressmen and governors despite being a Republican in a deeply Democratic state because he knew he had to moderate his positions. This doesn't always happen. Donald Trump didn't moderate his positions after an extremely narrow win, but then again he also went on to lose almost all the year's swing states and garner 7.5 million fewer votes, so it's not like that was a smart strategy.
  • unenlightened
    7k
    Tories are not necessarily persuaded to be less bigoted by an increasing Labour vote. They may even be persuaded to be more bigoted to pick up the EDL vote to compensate.Isaac

    Indeed. Life is complicated. One can influence different people in different ways with the same small act. Nevertheless, Brexit got done despite the Brexit party never winning significantly, because the movement became a bandwagon and the bigots climbed aboard. So losing votes matter.
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    It’s certainly not a winning strategy, and wouldn’t change the results of any election. I think that’s largely the point of refusing to vote.

    It’s more a conscientious objection. But it has the potential to effect serious change. In some cases non-voters are a large enough constituency to make moves outside of elections and with other means than the vote, so it’s not a complete waste. The problem is probably organizing other non-voters.
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    Is refusing to vote a viable political position?NOS4A2
    No, I don't consider it a viable position. Here's why:

    At least in my country, abstention helps the stronger party. (E.g. if a party wins the elections with 45% against 43% of the runner-up and 20% percent have abstained from voting --usually it's more-- if a significant part of them had voted any party, and esp. for the runner-up, but even for smaller parties, then the second could achieve a larger percentage than the now declared first one.)

    Unfortunately, in my country, blank ballots (showing no preference) are considered invalid, and as such they are ignored! It's as if you didn't vote at all! As if you weren't present in the election center/station! I once did that, casting a blank ballot as a disagreement/protest against both the strongest parties. It was then that I found that it didn't count as a vote!! In my opinion, it is a legitimate vote. Well, next time that I wanted my vote to have the same effect, I voted for an unimportant party.

    So, in essence, by not voting, one supports the strongest party, whether this is known beforehand or not.
  • praxis
    5.4k
    So the question remains, is refusing to vote a viable political position?NOS4A2

    It’s an irresponsible political position, or in a word: libertarian.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    Even if your preferences are far from the median voters', your vote will still move the needle towards your preferences and away from the ones you most dislike.Count Timothy von Icarus

    And that does what?

    voting for the candidate you least dislike is still an option.Count Timothy von Icarus

    I don't think anyone is denying it's an option.

    what you have is a tipping point. If you are balancing weights on a fulcrum, and you have more weight on one side than the other, and so you get a tip to one side, it isn't that the mass on the other side is reduced to zero, it just isn't enough to stop the tipping.Count Timothy von Icarus

    This would only be the case if voting were random. It isn't. Someone's voting behaviour is determined by their political preferences, which exist prior to the act of voting. So voting cannot tip the balance. The balance is already tipped (or not) by a slight change in political preferences. The vote merely records this change, it cannot cause it.

    as one sided as the US system can get, you still get surprises. Massachusetts has had two long term Republican governors recently who were quite popular. Kentucky currently has a Democratic governor. Parties with dominating leads in average voter preference can still manage to muck things up for themselves.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Did the communists get in somewhere? Was there a surprise landslide toward the radical eco-anarchists in Alabama? Somewhere we expect to be Republican turning Democrat is not a 'surprise' they're basically the same party anyway and to the extent they're different the changes will be undone/smothered completely by next election.

    Winning on slim margins may also signal to election winners that they may need to moderate their views if they want to win re-election. This isn't always how it works, but it sometimes does.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Not of the slightest interest to someone who dislikes both the leading party and the second though. You're just assuming a binomial political system and considering the effect of voting for the runners up. Not all of us fall into one of two camps.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    Brexit got done despite the Brexit party never winning significantly, because the movement became a bandwagon and the bigots climbed aboard. So losing votes matter.unenlightened

    I'm not following your line of thinking. The brexit movement promoted brexit sufficiently to get it done. What's that got to do with the votes they got? If anything they made progress despite low votes, not because of them. I guess I'm just not seeing the link you're seeing between their votes and their success. Do you not think their success is far more likely to be down to their (Cambridge Analytica) campaign strategy, rather than people seeing a few measly votes and thinking 'sod it, let's leave Europe, I'm sold"?
  • unenlightened
    7k
    Do you not think their success is far more likely to be down to their (Cambridge Analytica) campaign strategy, rather than people seeing a few measly votes and thinking 'sod it, let's leave Europe, I'm sold"?Isaac

    No. I think their success was down to frightening the Tories into adopting their policy, which they did by "splitting the vote." Without those losing votes, there would have been no referendum.
  • Count Timothy von Icarus
    664

    I'm assuming a binary because the way the US runs most state elections and all federal ones produces a binary. Different systems have different contexts.

    With ranked choice voting, pulling the leadership towards your preferences results in policies you prefer more. It doesn't mean you're going to be happy, you'll just be less unhappy.

    Preferences exist before elections, votes do not. Elections are decided by votes and the structure of the election system, not by preferences. If preferences = outcomes than the Republican party would be extinct at the national level because it fares worse with median preferences continually.

    It is viable in part because of election mechanics (e.g., the electoral college, partisan districting, capping the House of Reps early in the 20th century, the arbitrary representation of the Senate), but it's also viable in statewide elections where it has a disadvantage on preferences because turn out determines elections, not preferences. Having less support, but supporters who are much more likely to vote is the thing that keeps the GOP competitive, none of the other stuff would save them without that edge. For all the talk of voter suppression or theoretically illegal expansion of mail in ballots, the fact is that the parties have always fought over these issues and the variances have always been marginal numerically, although they can be enough to decide the election.

    As for radicals getting elected, it does happen. It's just that in the US system they run as members of a major party most of the time. It just happens rarely because radicals are, pretty much by definition, far from median preferences, and so are unlikely to win in any electoral system. But even if you're a radical you probably have competitive candidates that are closer to your ideal than others.

    For a sports analogy, complaining about losing an election despite getting more votes, when the system isn't based on absolute vote totals, is like saying the Mets should have won the 2015 World Series because they led for 92% of the innings. It misses that having a flaming dumpster fire for a bullpen can still make you lose games because games are decided by runs, not who is winning the longest. Same for Tom Brady's perfect season run that ended with a close loss to a mediocre Giants team in the Superbowl.

    On the other hand, preferences <> votes is like saying "why play the games, the Nets have all the megastars they will win," and then they crash when you play the actual games. You could have written off the Mets as a clown show because they were pinch hitting their pitchers, because their lineup was such trash last year, but the games still get played, and this year it turns out they're amazing.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    No. I think their success was down to frightening the Tories into adopting their policy, which they did by "splitting the vote." Without those losing votes, there would have been no referendum.unenlightened

    I see what you mean. I think maybe the misunderstanding here is in the sort of movement I'm imagining. Brexit was popular (despite people not actually wanting that party in power) and we could see how popular it was just by looking out of the window. I don't think Tory policy really waited for the actual election results before designing the strategy. They knew which way the wind was blowing. It goes back to what I said earlier. If you want to know what people are thinking politically, there's better ways to do that than elections.

    I think the mistake here is conflating campaigning (which might be associated with an election), data-harvesting (which might be via an election, but need not be), and actually voting.
  • Isaac
    8.5k
    Elections are decided by votes and the structure of the election system, not be preferences.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Only if people vote randomly. If people's votes reflect their political preferences then clearly their political preferences determine the outcome. Otherwise you might as well say that the returning officer determines the outcome and the actual votes merely cause him to decide to call it that way.

    If preferences = outcomes than the Republican party would be extinct at the national level because it fares worse with median preferences continually. It is viable in part because of election mechanics (e.g., the electoral college, partisan districting, capping the House of Reps early in the 20th century, the arbitrary representation of the Senate)Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yeah, true. Not votes either though is it? In fact I don't see how this does anything but undermine your position. Voting matters even less if the system is rigged.

    Having less support but supporters who are much more likely to vote is the thing that keeps the party competitive, none of the other stuff would save them without that edge.Count Timothy von Icarus

    As I said earlier, I don't consider the Democratic party to be any different from the Republicans so the fact that there's a set of non-voters who could get Democrats elected in some areas is irrelevant. If there were a set on non-voters who could get a socialist party elected I'd be more interested, but I already know there isn't. I don't need an election to tell me that. I can look out of my window.

    It just happens rarely because radicals are, pretty much by definition, far from median preferences and so are unlikely to win in any electoral system.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Making voting for them pointless.

    even if you're a radical you probably have competitive candidates that are closer to your ideal than others.Count Timothy von Icarus

    Yes probably. And if they're going to lose, they're going to lose. If, and only if, a moderately preferable party was a few votes behind a less preferable one I might be persuaded to vote, if it wasn't raining, and I had nothing else to do that day. Slightly increasing the chances of getting a slightly less awful party elected for a brief period where they will probably achieve none of their promises anyway, is not high on my list of priorities.
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    Not voting is quite the opposite. Zero support is given. Besides, the effect of not voting is nil, and one doesn’t violate his morality by refraining from participating.
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    It’s an irresponsible political position, or in a word: libertarian.

    I’ll accept that. Statist responsibilities are little different than the slave’s, in my opinion.
  • praxis
    5.4k


    After your endless displays of Trump boot-licking you would have us believe that you’re some sort of anarchist? I suppose it’s good that you recognize your lack of responsibility though, very Trumpian.
  • NOS4A2
    6.2k


    Someone is sour and couldn’t come up with anything better to say. Very praxisian of you.
  • praxis
    5.4k


    What can I say, irresponsibility rubs me the wrong way.
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