Why I don’t vote

November 8, 2006

Every election season, I am bombarded with requests from friends/acquaintances/random strangers who tell me that I need to vote.  However, deciding to vote is irrational.  Here’s why:

  • Your vote counts, but it doesn’t matter.  Election irregularities aside, the probability of your vote being the deciding vote is essentially 0.  Thus, voting has no affect on the outcome of an election.  Of course, the classic counterargument is: “Well, if everyone thought that way…”, but most people don’t, so as an individual decision, voting is a waste of time.
  • Not voting doesn’t cause any harm.  What negative externalities are caused by my not voting?  People claim low voter turnout rates are bad, because the elections don’t reflect the will of the people, but why do I want the apathetic to vote?  Moreover, my not voting actually empowers the people who do decide to go to the ballot boxes – their votes are worth slightly more now.

Are there any set of circumstances that would lead me to actually vote?  Well, based on the above, if almost everybody decided they weren’t going to vote this year, I’d vote, because then my vote would actually matter.