‘11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?’ – NYTimes.com

What is the most persuasive argument you can find for not voting?

Voting is a leap of faith. Calling it a civic duty is not enough. Either you believe that the system is both changeable and worth changing, or you don’t — and most new voters are not convinced.

The arguments against voting have been persuasive to many Americans. But what about the flip side? Why bother? Here I think the arguments are better. War and peace. Equal rights for women and same-sex couples. My personal favorite, the balance of the Supreme Court. The prospect of meeting the love of your life at the polling place. Several people argued that if you don’t vote, you lose your right to complain about the results of an election. But I respectfully disagree. In our society, the right to complain is even more fundamental than the right to vote.

I don’t know what, in the end, forces me to vote. It could be fear; it could be guilt. Although my mother died over 10 years ago, I feel that she is watching me, and I don’t want to disappoint her.

via ‘11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?’ – NYTimes.com.

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16 thoughts on “‘11 Excellent Reasons Not to Vote?’ – NYTimes.com

  1. draper15 says:

    I am an IR major with minor economic background; however, I argue that the greatest reason not to vote is because it is economically illogical to do so. Check this out:

    http://www.freakonomics.com/2005/11/04/why-vote/

  2. Reason #12 not to vote: all my Libertarian friends (yes — I have somehow managed to make friends with Libertarians) here in Utah tell me that, as a Democrat, my vote automatically doesn’t count…. ouch.

    Yet, sadly, it is kind of true. So should I bother voting?

    My desire to rebel tells me that I should vote, just to stick it to the Man (as Jack Black and the guy with the goofy hair in the video both say), or at least the “libertarian” Man.

    But maybe I’d be better off if I can just find a Republican and tell them that I won’t vote if they won’t vote so we can cancel each others’ votes out. Then I won’t even have to bother going to the voting stations….

    But, joking aside, what I find most interesting about making the decision to vote is how many people say they will vote, and then don’t. In a recent Gallup poll, only 4% of people surveyed said that they do not plan to vote this year — but it seems that during a really “good” election year, we’re lucky if we get around half of the population that can vote to vote. So I think it’s really interesting that Americans in general seem to be ashamed to say that they won’t or don’t vote… like it is socially unacceptable to say that you won’t. But if the majority don’t actually vote, is it really unacceptable?

    http://www.gallup.com/poll/158420/registered-voters-already-cast-ballots.aspx

  3. brindyjean says:

    I appreciated this article. Voting truly is a leap of faith. I try my best to block out any reasons for why not to vote because in my hard of hearts I love the privilege we have to vote and feel that if not anything else, it’s a powerful symbol. Although, reasons for not voting do manage to creep into my mind every now and again. And I often wonder just what I would sacrifice to vote. What if voting day comes and the only chance I have to vote is in the middle of the day and I have to choose between a leisure lunch and voting? In this circumstance, I could see myself trying to justify my way out of voting with the excuse that since I am from Arizona, my vote won’t mean a thing because the state is very red. Making the effort to vote truly is a challenge.

    So, come election day and you’re struggling to decide between a leisure lunch and voting- watch this and hopefully it’ll be enough to persuade you.

  4. When I found an article by the BBC about how today’s voting turnout by today’s youth is so low, I was slightly surprised when I realized it was about the UK, not the US (http://www.bbc.co.uk/newsbeat/18727320). I think a lot of 18 to 24 year olds today are not voting because they are suspicious of politicians, and possibly a little weary of the partisanship. One young adult mentioned how he ended up choosing the party or candidate he hated the least, because there was no party he really wanted to put into power. Another young man said how current politician’s are so distant from today’s youth, and are “not part of his world.” Sound familiar?

    Ultimately, whether or not you vote is up to you. People can present arguments, like mention how people died to give you your vote, and how, despite class, wealth, race, gender, sexual orientation, or other various characteristics, you have the same vote as they, if you don’t believe that the system responds, your not likely to exercise efficacy and go out and vote. But I think that voting is something more than just trying to affect the government. Do I believe my vote counts overall? Most likely it’s not going to swing my home state, so no. But does my vote count to me? Definitely.

  5. While looking up alternative sources of information about voting in the United States, I found this article by the Economist:

    http://www.economist.com/blogs/lexington/2012/09/art-voter-turnout

    In it, the writers of the Economist explore the idea of compulsory voting in the United States and wonder if a new policy of compulsory voting would mean that the Democrats would win every election (the people most likely to support Democracts–the poor– tend not to vote). The article also talks about the alleged “voter-suppression” of the Republican party. That is, the Republican party has been passing laws intended to stop in-person voting fraud, something that does not seem to exist, but may disproportionately affect voting rates of the poor.

  6. n8hogan says:

    There are definitely a lot more than 11 reasons not to vote, and although some of them can be quite convincing, I think that the more important question is; why not vote? Even if it may not swing the state or make any drastic impact, voting is important simply because it is an opportunity to exercise our democratic rights. I have a lot of friends living in the dorms who I know just didn’t take the time to apply for an absentee ballot, and now can’t vote. I, however, don’t think that this is a good enough excuse. This article includes a survey asking why Americans don’t vote, and I think it is interesting to see what we think is more important than voting.

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/thepoliticalsystem/a/whynotvote.htm

  7. Especially as the generation that will make up the workforce of tomorrow we should voice our opinions. It would be wrong to deny that right. Yes, it is intimidating to put down your opinion in stone. Yes, it is also difficult to come to a firm decision when both options have many pluses and minuses. However, we as students need to take advantage of the fact that our voice matters. Even if it may not mathematically end up having much a sway it will still at least count for just one vote. Your vote.
    Here is an article about students and voting at California State University. http://www.csusm.edu/news/topstories/articles/2012/10/tsRegister.html

  8. katiaroque says:

    I strongly agree with President Lyndon B. Johnson’s reason for voting: “The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.” I find it very interesting that so many people died trying to achieve this amazing and powerful goal and a few generations later, people do not care anymore. I don’t think we should take this right for granted. Even if you think your vote does not matter, the act of chosing a prefered candidate shows to this and future generations that you do care to what happens to your country and aknowledge what will happen to you personaly as a result of this sacred action.
    http://www.sos.wv.gov/elections/civics/Documents/Why%20is%20Voting%20important.pdf

  9. This article tells of a social scientist’s experiment with voting in Switzerland: each citizen received a ballot in the mail, which they could fill out and send back by mail as well. This would make voting more convenient, right? However, the outcome was actually a decrease in voter turnout. The article claims that the convenience factor isn’t as relevant as the social factor — people will see you, a responsible citizen, fulfilling your civic duty at the polls.

    While it is hard to gauge national civic involvement vs. apathy here at BYU, it seems to me that being politically involved is becoming more popular, albeit in a different way than before. 2008’s voter turnout percentage was the highest it’s been since the 60’s. We’ll see what 2012 brings us.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2005/11/06/magazine/06freak.html?pagewanted=2&_r=0

  10. cpesci says:

    If everybody were to take an apathetic approach to voting, and choose one of these reasons, or other reasons for that matter, to not vote, nobody would vote. Power would be assumed arbitrarily or by means of force. We live in a democracy, a governmental structure that necessitates active participation on the part of its citizens. If citizens refrain from voting, the system of government does not properly reflect the beliefs and desires of its people. We read that voter turn varies around the 50% mark. That means half of the country is opting to let the other half decide for them. Some people may say, “What does my vote change? Things will continue along as there are anyway” and they will refrain from voting. They are fulfilling their own prophesy and letting that same 50% decide how things should be governed.

    With respect to voting, a topic that is always brought to the public’s attention is whether the president should be elected by the popular vote or by the electoral college. This hyperlinked article shows that the majority of Americans feel that the president should be elected by a popular vote, rather than through representation of the electoral college. This begs many questions, “Do only 50% of Americans feel this way, too?” and “Would this type of voting process garner a higher percentage of voter turn out?”

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/decision2012/voters-favor-popular-vote-over-electoral-college–daily-tracking-poll/2012/10/30/1e7f1432-22d9-11e2-ac85-e669876c6a24_video.html

  11. michaelseancovey says:

    I think the only good reason to ever not vote would be if the entire country teams up and decides that they will not vote to send a big message to politicians. But if public support for the government was ever that low I think there would an armed revolution instead. Because this is highly unlikely in our country I don’t think there’s any good reason why we should not vote. I think it’s a moral obligation to vote. I think that most people who don’t vote are just a little lazy and don’t plan ahead with making sure they are registered on-time, getting to the polls on election day, getting a stamp for their mail-in ballot, etc.

    I vote because I care too much about our country to let it go to pot. Granted, among the millions of ballots, my vote doesn’t make much of a difference. But by small and simple votes are great elections brought to pass. It’s just something little I can do to invest in our great country.

    I think our low-voter turnout rate is embarrassing. We are the greatest country in the world and yet only about 4/10 vote in Presidential elections. We need to step it up. However, I don’t think we should ever force citizens to vote or fine them for not doing so, like in Australia. http://www.idea.int/vt/countryview.cfm?id=231 …. Instead, I think parents across the country need to do a better job with educating their kids on the history of our country and the importance of being an active citizen.

  12. AsaClements says:

    This article made me want to take a look at voting on world wide scale here is some of the interesting things I found.
    There is roughly 196 countries in the world today. A quick survey of list on wikipedia and http://www.politicsresources.net/election.htm shows that almost all of them exercise some type of voting. However, free, fair and regular voting, the UN’s and other NGO’s way of telling how democratic a nation is, is lacking in many nations. http://www.democracyweb.org/elections/principles.php Nearly 35 nations require voting or have compulsory voting. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compulsory_voting

  13. joshuacordon says:

    So I just read an article showing that campaign spending on ads has just topped $500 million dollars. I had to pause for a moment after reading that. I hear more and more frequently that our vote does not matter, but it looks like the presidential candidates believe differently. They are desperately fighting for our votes. So apparently our vote has to mean something.
    Im going to rant for a little bit. I believe that is whole question about whether or not our vote matters give me the chance to discuss why we need more federalism in this country. If more power was at the state level. Than your vote would mean a lot more. Because then the result of the election directly affects you. I wonder sometimes why we even have states at all anymore because as our federal government grows less and less power is given to governors to enact the change that their citizens need. Even if the citizens of another state don’t need it. Legislation is far more personalized at the state level.

    http://firstread.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/08/16/13319834-political-campaign-ad-spending-tops-500-million?lite

  14. ludimilasdp says:

    There is no excuse, and no good reason, for not voting. Over the past three centuries literally milliions of people have fought, and countless hundreds of thousands, have died, for this human right. To voluntarily refuse it to yourself is simply execrable. I think the vote should be mandatory. It’s all about redeeming the central promise of American citizenship. Generations marched, fought and died for the right to vote. The least Americans can do now is treat that right like a responsibility.

    Read more: http://ideas.time.com/2012/08/21/should-voting-be-mandatory/#ixzz2Awpe5qmD

    http://ideas.time.com/2012/08/21/should-voting-be-mandatory/

  15. emilylheath says:

    Although I believe that a democracy can only be sustained on the backs on participating citizens, I found myself finding excuses not to vote this year. The drive home, the time lost, and the seeming lack of importance of my ballot caused me to question my desire to vote. I found myself comfortable with the excuses at hand and second guessed by patriotic duty. After all, my vote won’t elect a president. On the flip side, however, there are a lot of good reasons to vote (and in my case they ended up outweighing the sacrifices I would have to make): guilt, mothers, desire to cast a ballot and participate in history, the desire to feel a part of the country, a deep feeling of responsibility, and especially the expectations for a political science student. These reasons to vote pushed me to the polls this year, and I believe they will for the years to come.

    There may be and endless list stating reasons not to vote, but reasons to vote are just as valid. It seems however that many Americans do listen to their procrastination/slacker tendencies quite often. For a modernized, democratic country, the USA experiences a very low voter turnout. Will this election change history in that regard? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections

  16. emilylheath says:

    Although I believe that a democracy can only be sustained on the backs on participating citizens, I found myself finding excuses not to vote this year. The drive home, the time lost, and the seeming lack of importance of my ballot caused me to question my desire to vote. I found myself comfortable with the excuses at hand and second guessed by patriotic duty. After all, my vote won’t elect a president. On the flip side, however, there are a lot of good reasons to vote (and in my case they ended up outweighing the sacrifices I would have to make): guilt, mothers, desire to cast a ballot and participate in history, the desire to feel a part of the country, a deep feeling of responsibility, and especially the expectations for a political science student. These reasons to vote pushed me to the polls this year, and I believe they will for the years to come.

    There may be and endless list stating reasons not to vote, but reasons to vote are just as valid. It seems however that many Americans do listen to their procrastination/slacker tendencies quite often. For a modernized, democratic country, the USA experiences a very low voter turnout. While the past elections have shown higher turnout than the early 20th century, the number of those who throng to the polls may continue to decline in America. Will this election change history in that regard? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_turnout_in_the_United_States_presidential_elections

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