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Monday, November 04, 2002
a last minute plea to vote your conscience
Tomorrow is the midterm election in the U.S. of A. and this time it is once again the most important election since an election that occurred at some point in the past. If you are eligible to vote in the U.S., there are many organizations that say you should vote but before following or ignoring their advice I hope you read the rest of this entry.
Quite simply, unless you are eligible to vote in an election, primary, referendum, initiative, mileage proposal and/or popularity contest where the difference between the number of votes received by the top two choices ends up being one or fewer votes, it makes absolutely no difference whether or not you vote. And if you do vote but not in a contest where the difference between the number of votes received by the top two choices ends up being one or fewer votes, it makes absolutely no difference who and/or what you vote for.
It should be stated that contests where an individual’s decision to vote or not vote or who or what to vote affects or would have affected the outcome are not unheard of, particularly in contests that receive relatively small numbers of votes and little media attention. Still they are rare and the chance that your vote any particular election will make a difference is roughly zero.
I certainly hope that by saying this I’m not discouraging anybody from voting. I for one will vote tomorrow as I find it to be a relatively satisfying use of my time since there are few other moments when I possess even this small amount of political power. But I think that if you do choose to vote that you should do with the recognition that it is very unlikely that your vote will make any difference and thus your voting is for all intents and purposes and existential act.
So with all of that in mind, I ask you to vote your conscience and not take into consideration who or what is likely to be the winning outcome. If you don’t like the major party candidates or at least prefer an independent or third party candidate, you should go ahead and vote your conscience. If you don’t want to vote for somebody who supported giving President Bush authority to attack Iraq, then don’t vote for such a candidate and pick somebody who opposed giving Bush that authority. Whatever the contest, vote for the candidate or the choice that you would ideally like to see get the most votes.
Of course if you want to vote for the lesser out of two evils in the off chance that your vote will make a difference, then by all means go ahead do so. That is your right. I just have to wonder what the most of a democracy is if you don’t feel empowered to vote for your favorite choice.