I didn’t vote

Andrew Hintzman

I know you’re disappointed with me, but I’m probably disappointed with you as well. Lawrentians seem to have strong feelings about voting. However, they seem to have weak reasons to vote.
In the weeks prior to the election and especially on Nov. 2, one could expect to be told many times to vote. Even university administrators openly encouraged students to register as voters. People posted fliers and advertisements all over campus during the weeks leading to the election; you couldn’t possibly avoid the message.
Yet almost every posting merely stated that one ought to vote. I think of myself as a rational person. I don’t uncritically obey commands when I can help it. There are many things for which I have reasons to do, but voting is not one of them. Perhaps I am missing something.
I went directly to the student body for help. Many students with whom I spoke had no problem saying that I should vote, yet they became visibly uncomfortable or confused the second I asked why. That’s fair. Voting isn’t something we’re used to justifying. It’s just what you do in a democracy, right?
I didn’t vote for a combination of reasons. I felt no obligation to vote. I saw no obvious civic duty to vote; I never promised nor agreed to vote; and though I have many rights for which great people gave their lives, it doesn’t follow that I’m obligated to exercise any of those rights.
I also didn’t agree with the viable candidates on important issues. I wasn’t going to vote outside of the two major parties. It just doesn’t make sense to vote for someone with no chance of winning.
People often say that one should pick “the lesser of two evils” – that I should vote for the candidate with whom I disagree the least. However, the point of a vote is to express how one wants to be governed. If you disagree with a candidate on major issues, you shouldn’t give them your consent and support. It’s irrational to strive for something you don’t actually want.
But even if I did agree with a candidate, there still isn’t a sufficiently good reason to vote. The most common reason I was given referenced the effect a vote has. I could “have an impact” or “make my voice heard” by using my vote. However, when juxtaposed with the hundreds of thousands or even millions of other votes, the effect is miniscule. Further, it is accompanied by a relatively high cost.
To vote properly requires one to extensively research the positions of the viable candidates beforehand. But that takes hours and hours to do. The small impact my vote would have isn’t worth the high cost of being a responsible and informed voter. This is the argument I found myself falling back on many times when others tried convincing me to vote. I have yet to find anyone who can overcome this objection.
So, I didn’t vote this election, and I will continue to not vote unless anyone can provide good reason to do so.

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