Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Why do you even bother voting

  1. Nov 4, 2014 #1
    Whenever I start discussing about this topic, I always get negative response and people say that I'm stupid for asking such a silly question.

    However, if you think logically, your vote has absolutely no impact on the results. Even if you manage to convince your family, friends and a hundred more people to vote exactly like you, the results would still be the same.

    It takes a minimum of hundreds of thousand of people perhaps a million to slightly alter the results of an election in a country that has a population of around 300 million.

    No matter what you do, no matter how hard you try, you cannot change the results of an election. It have already been predetermined by the mindset and opinions of millions of individuals across the country.

    Does anyone think the same way I do? What are your opinions?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 4, 2014 #2

    collinsmark

    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    You need to expand on that point: It has already been determined by the mindset and opinions of millions of individuals across the country who voted.
     
  4. Nov 4, 2014 #3
    So what happens when those 300M people take your advice. Then what?
     
  5. Nov 4, 2014 #4
    Your view is actually very illogical. I wouldn't say you're stupid...but this is a pretty silly question.
     
  6. Nov 4, 2014 #5

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    This is the only "stupid" part:
    You are way, way off in your estimate of how much a single vote matters. There are Presidential, federal Congress, state and local elections. Only in the Presidential election does everyone who is eligible vote for the same people and even then there aren't 300 million eligible voters. It is quite common in the local elections for them to be determined by dozens or even single digit votes.

    And even in the Presidential election, small numbers of votes can matter due to the Electoral College system. Bush won Florida and thus the Presidency in 2000 by just a few hundred votes.

    But mostly, I want my vote counted whether it impacts the outcome or not. I want the candidates to know exactly how many people do and don't support them.
     
  7. Nov 4, 2014 #6

    StatGuy2000

    User Avatar
    Education Advisor

    To the OP:

    In addition to the excellent point raised by russ_watters in his post above, it should also be noted that your decision to vote does not take place in isolation from the rest of society. While you may believe that your specific vote may not amount to much, you may be surprised to learn that your decision to vote has an impact on those you interact with. If the people within your social circle see and are made aware that you see no point in voting, then they may question whether it is even worth voting for them (I believe social scientists refer to this phenomenon as social contagion).

    If enough people conclude that voting is pointless, then a significant fraction of the people may in fact decide not to vote, essentially disenfranchising them and keeping them out of the decision-making process on choosing who is the next political leader. So all those "non-votes" will actually end up making a difference.
     
  8. Nov 4, 2014 #7

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    The first applies where you are, but remember that not everyone is. In my area, we have municipal, provincial, and federal elections. Each election lasts for one day only, and has no impact upon the others (other than smaller ones somewhat being popularity polls for the larger ones). We vote for the candidate or the party, according to our own preference. Mayoral candidates don't usually sport a party affiliation, while Representatives do and all Provincial and Federal ones do. I always vote for the person that I like best for mayor, and almost always for the party or independent of my choice for the others.
    As to the reason, I agree totally with your second statement. There's pretty much no chance that Alberta is going to kick out the PC's within my lifetime (although we did manage to eject their leader and thus Premier during her term; another Conservative replaced her). Federally, it bounces back and forth among 3 major, one intermediate, and a few minor parties (plus the oddball independents). So here, a few hundred votes could actually make the difference in who is Prime Minister.
    The saying here is that if you don't vote, you have absolutely no right to complain about what you get.
     
  9. Nov 4, 2014 #8
    I vote for emotive/personal reasons more than anything else to be quite honest; I don't trust any of the main parties. Thing is, in the UK there's quite a lot of voter apathy and quite a lot of the people who are most fervent about voting also tend to support the more xenophobic parties.

    I'm an immigrant.

    You can see why this is a problem: I'm fed up and scared of the rampant xenophobia in some quarters. I'd rather it not get any worse because I've pretty much built my life here. And even though my vote is only one among the millions of votes out there, at least I can cast one vote against the xenophobes rather than just shut up and let them screw me over. Heck, I can even have a stab at convincing the thousands (at the very least) of people out there who don't vote that keeping the worst of a bad bunch out of power is worth it - I'm willing to bet that if more of us spoke out, we could drown out the shouting about how immigrants on benefits are destroying British society.
     
  10. Nov 4, 2014 #9

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor


    So you at least acknowledge you were way off in your estimate of how many votes matter, right?


    Anyway, Statguy's point was good as well. Voting or not voting is a cultural thing and you are a part of that culture and have an impact on whether others choose to vote. You could also become an activist if you wanted, with the potential to influence thousands of votes directly.
    Again: I also want to make sure my vote is counted so my representatives know whether I voted for them or not. A person will govern differently if they earn a small vs a large majority of the votes.
     
  11. Nov 4, 2014 #10

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

  12. Nov 4, 2014 #11

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    I wish that were so.

    First, the statement that "[ones] vote has absolutely no impact on the results" because one is in a large pool of voters is demonstrably false. It shows sloppy writing, and one can reasonably conclude sloppy thinking. There have been a number of elections that have come down to a single vote - there have even been ties in elections with tens of thousands of voters.

    Second, it assumes that the only measure of political power is how often one is the single deciding vote. Again, this is demonstrably false, as a quick glance at the literature of the mathematics of voting systems will show. (Google Banzaf and Shapley-Shubik)

    Finally, it makes the assumption that a candidate who wins by a small margin will govern exactly the same as they would had they won in a landslide.
     
  13. Nov 4, 2014 #12

    lisab

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Exactly. They need to know someone is watching.
     
  14. Nov 4, 2014 #13
    To the OP: yes you're right, you shouldnt bother voting. Leave that chore to us.
     
  15. Nov 4, 2014 #14

    Astronuc

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    Adding to what Russ and the other voters mentioned, I vote in order to participate in the process of maintaining a local, state and federal government. My one vote is one of many statements of support for the person I choose, whether or not that person wins election, and it is statement of disagreement with the political opponent.

    I also vote on local and state initiatives. I also plan to become more active with the parties in order to better understand them and to make my opinions known.

    We live in a 'participatory democracy'.
     
  16. Nov 4, 2014 #15

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That's a totally irrelevant question; in Canada, at least, it's illegal to release poll results until the last vote is in. There is a system in place to allow for time-zone differences, of which we have 5 1/2 (Pacific, Mountain, Central, Eastern and Atlantic... and 1/2 hour later in Newfoundland). The media are allowed to release projected outcomes based primarily upon "exit polls", but not the real thing in a zone where the polls haven't yet closed.
     
  17. Nov 4, 2014 #16

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    It isn't the law in the US, but it is a guideline....not that it is always followed:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United...#Exit_polling_and_declaration_of_vote_winners
    I think though that that debacle probably solidified the guidelines for better election reporting since.
     
  18. Nov 4, 2014 #17

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Kinda relevant here:
    http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/03/opinion/opinion-roundup-mandatory-voting/

    Apparently it is more or less mandatory that everyon vote in Australia. The impact of such a law appears to be that people who are less passionate and therefore less partisan who ordinarily wouldn't vote do vote. That results in candidates being less partisan because they have to appeal to a broader base instead of just motivating their hardcore voters to turn-out. Sounds like a good idea to me (not that it necessarily would be easy to implement).
     
  19. Nov 4, 2014 #18

    Danger

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Yeah, some of our laws aren't always strictly adhered to, but someone is definitely going to raise unholy **** if they aren't. The most-broken one is that it's illegal to have a campaign ad or poster or sign publicly viewable on election day. Some idiot always tries to keep one on his lawn right near the polling station.
    In the instance that you cited about Florida, I have no idea as to whether that was an accident or election fraud. (Doesn't matter; the election there was fraudulent anyway.) Modern technology has really made those poll result laws archaic, even though they are good and proper. In the most primitive case, a radio or TV broadcast signal can easily skip across the border from Saskatchewan to Alberta, even though Saskatchewan's polls close an hour earlier. (And one town is actually straddling the border, so try sorting that one out...) Things like cable and satellite TV, not to mention the net, make it essentially impossible to isolate results. We just have to hope that people are smart enough to go ahead and vote anyway for the reason that you mentioned of making sure they know where they stand even if it's not where you want them to be.

    Pardon your redundancy? :p
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  20. Nov 4, 2014 #19

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Not me as an individual, me as a statistic. I want him to know how many people actually want him in power.
    Agreed. But who's fault is that? It's your fault, not mine. I voted, you didn't. It is your fault (and the fault of others who think like you) that not everyon's opinion got counted. Not doing your civic duty because others won't either is still a your failure and just because others failed too doesn't make it ok.
    Nonsense. And your attitude is really offensive to me. It isn't wishful thinking that one vote can and often does change an election result, it is a fact. It isn't self-centered to think you might be that one vote, it is a duty. A responsibility you (and others like you who also don't do their duty) have to your country to be that deciding vote. Your attitude -- and the failure to do your duty that manifests from it -- is what can cause societies to fail.

    And it doesn't just apply here. Ever been a pall-bearer? Participated in a game of tug-of-war? Been the lazy team member in a group project? "Do you vote and why or why not?" is something I'd ask in a job interview. To me, this is a matter of character and ethics.
     
  21. Nov 4, 2014 #20

    russ_watters

    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    As of about now, the Connecticut governor's race margin (with only 60% of votes in) is 7 votes out of 700,000.
     
  22. Nov 5, 2014 #21
    Surely this argument is actually saying if you want your vote to count then you should be out campaigning, rather than don't vote.
     
  23. Nov 5, 2014 #22
    lol at all the rage.

    Come on, he is obviously right in a way: due to the statistics involved his vote will not matter in a major election. However, as what most of you seem to be trying to say, a democratic society will break down if his mindset takes root and people stop caring and hence it's in his interest (as he is a part of the society) to involve himself and vote.

    But IMO the more interesting question is why people get so mad in this thread? Sure you should try to convince him, but at the end of the day it's his choice if he doesn't give a fk. Maybe it's the terrifying thought that you alone, despite all your American individuality and sense of importance, are just another vote, another number, as far as the politicians are concerned?
     
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2014
  24. Nov 5, 2014 #23

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    That you would argue this even after being pointed to counterexamples is the equivalent of putting your fingers in your ears and saying "Lalalala! I can't hear you! I can't hear you!"

    We usually expect better reasoning here.
     
  25. Nov 5, 2014 #24

    Pythagorean

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I'm going to go against the tide here. I'm not entirely against votes - there has to be some consent based decision making system. But there are a couple reasons I don't vote.

    1) I'm not informed. I have no idea about unintended consequences or the complexity of issues or how candidates actually fit into them despite their rhetoric.

    2) it runs against my neutral philosophy, this essentially fits into 1), or rather 1) is one of the reasons behind adapting a neutral philosophy:

    3) I'm more interested in change through education and discussion (social change) than legal change. I think art and science and social media are more powerful in that respect than formal elections (whereas elections are the hand of social change). I don't see winning by 1% of votes on an issue as really winning because you have 49% of the people unhappy with the results.

    Anyway, I'm not against voting in general, and I think a particular group of people will always vote if they can, but that's not quite my social function.
     
  26. Nov 5, 2014 #25

    OmCheeto

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Hopefully, lisab is still listening, as I'm sure I've posted this analogy once before, and she has a great memory for t-shirty slogan thingys.

    Anyways....

    Beamthegreat, you vote every day. Voting is just a form of economics, much like energy.

    For example:

    You go to the store, and see a variety of dishwashing liquids.
    If you are a democrat, you look for a union label. (a bit spendy)
    If you are a republican, you look for the manufacturers label, to determine if you are invested in their stock. (a bit less spendy)
    If you are a green partier, you look for something, well, green. Whatever. (holy Moses, nobody can afford this stuff)
    If you are a libertarian, you look for the cheapest stuff on the shelf, because all these manufacturers are stealing from you. (cheap as dirt)
    If you are a tea-partier, you ignore everything, because you shop at Walmart, and everything you buy is dirt cheap, and made in China.​

    So you get home, with one of these 5 products, and determine the following:

    Democrat: Works
    Republican: Works
    Green Party: Works
    Libertarian: Took a whole bottle to clean two dishes.
    Tea-Partier: Whatever. I'm eating buffalo wings. Just throw the dishes in the trash. Paper is cheap, and paper grows on trees.​

    So why is it worth even bothering to vote, in an election?

    hmmm....

    I don't really know.

    But I voted yesterday, and everything I knew anything about, won.
     
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Loading...