I’m a U.S. citizen and on a federal level I don’t vote… I recently found that these three words frustrate many people. I spoke with a group of master students who got a little heated when I told them that I don’t vote.
Voting tends to pull out an emotional response. Once people have made up their mind, it’s hard to incorporate new opposing information. This psychological pitfall is tied to cognitive dissonance.
Politics generally polarize and can split even the closest people apart. Some families go so far as to ban politics conversation at family gatherings. This can be a useful approach… but it’s a bit extreme in my mind. Instead, you can take steps to having a more objective conversation. Only then, can you rightfully strengthen your resolve… or change your mind.
I’m guessing your mind – like most – is already made up on voting. Although, I urge you to review my research below with as much objectivity as possible.
1. Voting Statistics: Your Vote is Counted but it Doesn’t Count
There’s a reason actuaries and data scientist are paid the big bucks. Their skill sets are transferable across industries and help businesses uncover valuable trends. They’re always looking at cause and effect relationships. And on the federal level, they would tell you that your vote has virtually no effect on the outcome of a presidential election. It’s not statistically significant.
In the 2016 election, over 136 million Americans voted. Based on that number, your vote would have made up 0.0000007% of the total. Although, the state you live in and the candidate you vote for change the impact of your vote slightly… but my point doesn’t change. Your singular presidential vote is counted but it doesn’t count for much. (If you want to argue this point, please read the next section first… and please bring numbers to back up your argument.)
Common Counter Argument: If everyone thought this way, no one would vote.
My Response: It might be a good thing that everyone doesn’t think this way and If the number of voters dropped, I’d be more compelled to vote (and research the candidates). That’s why I’m more likely to participate in local elections.
2. You’re (Probably) Not as Informed as You Think
Would you rather have 10 doctors diagnose your illness or 10,000 citizens? I’m guessing you want the doctors. Now let’s extend this logic to diagnosing America’s issues and keeping the nation healthy.
Our nation is much more complex than a single human body. Do you really think the average American is well enough informed to make a reasonable vote? Before you answer, let’s review the average American…
- About 65% of Americans don’t have a college degree
- The average national mortgage debt is $201,811
- The average time watching TV daily is about 4 hours
- Daily time spent on social media is over 2 hours
I’m going out on a limb here… but I’m guessing you’re above average since you’re reading this. Still, learning how our country and economy works takes a deep understanding of many topics. I don’t think I’m well enough informed to cast a worthwhile vote.
Common Counter Argument: Get informed and then vote.
My Response: It would take more time in a day than I have to “get informed.” There’s a lot of uninformed or misinformed voters. Most all media sources are biased and if you go straight to the candidates, they make a lot of campaign promises but how many come to fruition? There are also many special interest groups pulling strings that the public doesn’t know about.
3. Voting Condones a Broken System
The majority of taxes are paid by a minority. The top 20% of Americans make up 52% of total national income but will pay 87% of the total income tax. As a result, many voters are getting more out of the government than they contribute.
Asking some of the wealthiest – and smartest – people to vote is similar to four foxes sitting around a table asking a chicken what it wants to eat. Democracy is a feedback loop that will lead to more and more government. Inevitably taxes and deficits will climb. These abuses and others have destroyed all democracies throughout history.
Voting in a democracy isn’t a perfect system but it’s one of the best to date. It’s easy to point out a problem but finding a solution is the hard part. I don’t have a fix for the voting system but I do know how you can improve your impact on election outcomes…
Want Your Vote to Count? Here’s My Solution and Conclusion
Money runs politics and better financed candidates tend to win. Three researchers found that every election (except one) from 1980-2012 showed a positive correlation between money spent and candidates winning.
With this evidence in mind, if you want to have more impact on election outcomes, start saving money. And maybe instead of spending so much time debating politics, start a business that adds value to others. If you solve other people’s problems you can amass a fortune. You can then use that fortune to have a larger impact on election outcomes. Also, at that point, you’d likely have a better understanding of the economy and could make a more informed vote.
Please always remember that it’s the right to vote, not a forced vote. If you get mad that I don’t vote, you’re probably letting emotions get the best of you.
For comparison, Australia and other countries make voting mandatory. But is a forced – and likely uninformed – vote really any better? You might want to take a closer look at the money behind efforts to get people in America to vote. There’s a push to get certain demographics to the polls which tend to vote certain ways. It’s all a numbers and correlation game.
In conclusion, I’m extremely grateful to have the right to vote but I exercise my right not to… that’s until I feel compelled enough to take a trip to the voting polls.
Invest Your Time and Wealth Mindfully,
P.S. In any competitive environment, running the numbers is vital for success. Here’s a unique breakdown of why you shouldn’t follow your dreams