As the Campus Organizer for the Democratic Party at Lawrence, I was saddened to read Andrew Hintzman’s editorial about why he didn’t vote. However, as a Government major here at Lawrence, I also understand where he is coming from. He didn’t feel a sufficient sense of duty. He didn’t agree with the candidates he thought could win. His vote wouldn’t have made a difference. Informing himself was too great a cost to him.
It fits almost perfectly with Riker and Ordeshook’s theory of the Calculus of Voting. According to this theory, R = B x P + D – C where R is the reasons to vote, B is the benefits of your candidate winning, P is the probability your vote will influence the election, D is your sense of civic duty, and C is the costs.
P is so low that it’s practically zero. Thus B and P are largely irrelevant. The only way Andrew would show up to the polls is if D outweighs C. Yet he felt no sense of duty to vote while he saw too many costs.
Let me address these issues.
You absolutely have the duty to vote. It might sound cheesy, but our founding fathers put their lives on the line for this Great Experiment. If you don’t feel a sense of civic obligation to take part in the decision-making process you are throwing away the gift of Democracy which men and women have died for across the planet.
That being said, there are costs. Andrew mentioned the “hours and hours” needed to research candidates. That’s quite a hyperbole, but it is a concern. Unfortunately, our university’s policies forbid most forms of political persuasion on campus beyond a non-partisan appeal to voting. Campaigning for candidates and letting students know why to support a candidate is limited to the tables in the Campus Center.
The other cost is that there are three different polling places and none of them are on campus. The shuttle provided by the university is an insufficient solution. Appleton needs to end the gerrymandering of campus and give Lawrence its own polling location.