Folks who know me know I don’t vote. Many roll their eyes at this decision. Others awkwardly skirt around it preferring to avoid asking why I don’t vote (I don’t usually go into why unless prompted). And most people just assume I do vote. Of all my friends and family and coworkers, I’m unsure how many have given a second thought to the act.
Do they simply accept the rhetoric that it’s some moral imperative to vote? That it’s a duty? That it’s a right you must exercise to preserve?
I don’t know.
And here I’m talking about incredibly smart people, which is to say (call me an elitist if you must) that the population at large probably has never given a second thought to the dogma supporting the act of voting. And I’ll just sidebar and say that a huge swath of U.S. citizens actively choose to skip the vote. Why? Are they weak in character? Is it simply not worth their time? I’m sure the reasons are many — my reasons are.
Back to my much smaller network, the reality stands: it’s so much taboo to talk about voting that it usually never gets talked about.
But I just read a great write-up that succinctly captures the main reasons I don’t vote. It’s over at Strike the Root and written by Carl Watner (and was pointed out to me by Patri Friedman via G+) and starts with a quote from Henry David Thoreau, followed by Watner’s main four points on why he chooses not to vote:
How does it become a man to behave toward this American government to-day? I answer that he cannot without disgrace be associated with it . . . . What I have to do is to see, at any rate, that I do not lend myself to the wrong which I condemn.
— On The Duty of Civil Disobedience (1849), Henry David Thoreau
[Watner on non-voting]
Truth does not depend upon a majority vote. Two plus two equals four regardless of how many people vote that it equals five.
Individuals have rights which do not depend on the outcome of elections. Majorities of voters cannot vote away the rights of a single individual or groups of individuals.
Voting is implicitly a coercive act because it lends support to a compulsory government.
Voting reinforces the legitimacy of the state because the participation of the voters makes it appear that they approve of their government.
My three year old daughter is already being taught in her daycare about the importance of voting. She admonished me (seriously) for not voting last night. I’m not overly bothered by this and I calmly told her I don’t vote because I don’t like controlling the lives of other people. I asked her if she liked being told what to do but I’m afraid it’s a bit too early for that rebuttal.
When the day comes that I can explain to a more receptive (patient!) ear, I think Watner’s list here may resurface. So it is that I’m keeping it here for future reference.
I don’t vote. I didn’t vote. Why? There are so many reasons and these are but a few.
How many reasons do you really need?