Why should I vote?

This essay is a rehash of some aspects of an earlier entry but I figured it would be appropriate today since it is Election Day. I want to write about reasons why you shouldn’t vote and reasons why you should.

If your goal is to affect the outcome of the election, you should just stay home and save the gasoline. If the benefit you will receive from an election is determining the outcome, your one vote won’t make a difference and does not outweigh the costs involved in voting. The only times you will change the outcome of the election with your vote is when, if you didn’t vote, the election would end in a tie or your preferred candidate would lose by one vote. In all other circumstances, your vote makes no difference in the outcome. The chances that your vote will make a difference drops as more people vote in the election so it is least rational to vote in the presidential and other large-scale elections. How often has even a local election ended in a tie? The mayoral election in Wilder a number of years did but that is the only one I can recall.

So, even if your vote won’t make a difference, why not vote? The answer is there are costs involved in voting. We have outlawed the Poll Tax with the Twenty-Fourth Amendment in 1964 but there are still costs associated with voting. Besides the above mentioned gas, you have to take time to vote. Like the saying goes: Time is Money. Voting, similar to any action, incurs Opportunity Costs. The time you spend going to vote could be spent doing something else. What is the benefit of that other activity to you? That is a cost of voting. Then if you spend time researching the candidates and the election you are just racking up more opportunity costs. If the only benefit you receive from voting is the chance to change the outcome of the race, there is no serious calculation where the benefits will outweigh the costs incurred with voting.

So, why vote? You must obtain other benefits from voting that will outweigh the costs of voting. Some people just like being involved in the contest and having a rooting interest. Others use the occasion of voting as a small social opportunity to meet with neighbors and spend time with poll workers. In the early 19th Century, voting in America was a two or three day affair that included much drinking and carousing at the polls. That environment was actually given by some as the reason women should not be allowed to vote; women should not be exposed to the depravity of the polling places.

I think voting is important because it is a civil action that brings us together as a community. That everyone in the community, in the whole state for the primary and the whole nation in the general election, is involved in the same activity on the same day is an important aspect of our national identity. About the only other activity that almost everyone in the country participates in on the same day is watching the Super Bowl, which isn’t quite as galvanizing of an experience. Voting on the same day brings us together as Americans in a common activity that strengthens our community.

So, join the crowd. Go out and vote. Be an American and participate in our common action and heritage, just don’t think your vote will make a difference in the outcome.

(If you are looking for information on who to vote for, I highly recommend the online Statesman’s Voter’s Guide. Just type in your address and all of the races and candidate information are provided. You can even print out a “ballot” with your preferred choices. This is a legitimate endorsement as the Statesman is not paying for it or my blogs.)

Go Yotes.

Dr. Jasper M. LiCalzi
Department of Political Economy
The College of Idaho

Why vote?

Because your vote WILL make a difference in the outcome. Every vote makes a difference, though not always in who wins or loses. But "margin" matters. A huge margin is a mandate, a slim margin is not.

A huge margin may determine the next round of new candidates, as might a slim margin encourage a challenger to go at it again.

So vote because it matters. Vote because it is your duty. Vote because you can. Vote to protect the very act.

Not necessarily

snip...The only times you will change the outcome of the election with your vote is when, if you didn’t vote, the election would end in a tie or your preferred candidate would lose by one vote... snip

Actually, the times when you will change the outcome doesn't hinge on just your vote, but on your vote combined with the votes of all others who did not vote. It's hard to say what the effect would be on elections that are close, but nowhere near a 1 vote margin.

Not accurate

You will have changed the outcome of an election if you do vote, and the election ends in a tie or your preferred candidate wins by one vote.

Those who do not vote are irrelevant and do not affect the election. Our nation is run by those who show up, pure and simple. And that is as it should be.


If you don't vote don't gripe about the foul water, poor employment, bad roads, poisonous toys, rampant unemployment, bank closures, zillion dollar national debt, having to learn Chinese to communicate with your landlord and many many more.

Chinese landlords don't like dealing with HUD, do they?

If this had been an actual troll post the attention seeking you just read would've been followed by screaming, name-calling and cutting and pasting for no apparent reason. We now return you to the Idaho Statesman already in progress.

I think voting matters more than that

To me, the reason to vote is that you need a large group of people to vote to affect the outcome. While my voting may not result in that outcome, my not voting distinctly hurts that outcome; if my goal is to see person X voted in, my refusal to vote represents a distinct step that I am perfectly capable of that I am not doing. Once I have decided not to do it, because the costs for me are too high, then I have no reason to think that anyone else will find the costs worth the vote. To me, its about being a part of a coalition; though a single members' union dues will not make or break the union, being a part of a coalition means accepting certain responsibilities; at the point you refuse to accept those responsibilities, you are no longer a member and have no ground to request the membership of others.

So how did Larry Craig matter...

if he came from a town so small you would've needed an EPA permit to flush?


Somebody actually LIKES Larry? Or you don't like my description of Cambridge?


Been there, like the place but it's a spot on Hwy 95 and at least the spot won't get painted by the road crew.

Original comment 5/08


Here is a real life situation, the town I just moved to wanted to build a community center complete with a fitness center. Well the local fitness center of course didn't like that at all, so long story short the ballot was mailed out a good month before the "election" day and the vote on election day was tied. So the proposal died, I voted and if one more person would have voted as well maybe that new community center would be ready by next year for the community to enjoy. But then again I guess that other vote could have been against the community center however I think the community would have felt better closure on the subject, to date there are five grassroot lobbists that are trying to get the community center back on the ballot for next year, and I say good for them, it's not over in a tie vote. I was new to the community but that didn't stop me from voicing my opinion. It's silly to complain about something or someone and never intend to do anything to change the situation can you imagine where we would be if everyone was like that??!!!

Let us know when the government confirms your...

conspiracy theory. The naive are rising from the dead again.


Sour RAISINS now.

Kids, you gotta VOTE to make any statements. If Larry Craig was an embarrassment, this was was a shame.

Vote for NOBODY

NOBODY will keep election promises
NOBODY will listen to your concerns
NOBODY will help the poor $ unemployed
NOBODY cares!
If NOBODY is elected things will be better everywhere for everyone
NOBODY tell the truth

Then you'll have to vote NEVER...

Tou get that already.

I say vote, not because it's a 'duty' or a 'responsibility' or

a 'right'. I say vote because you want to make a difference. By saying that your vote doesn't matter you're submitting to what the GOP and DNC want you to do because that makes us predictable. Kind of like how Idaho is a Red State and California is a Blue State. Why would Red's go for Cali and why do Blue's go for here?
I also find it funny how the dems are preaching change, but they don't want anyone to vote. Voting IS change. Voting does make a difference. If you've been beaten down by the system so much that you actually believe your vote doesn't count or matter, than the people you complain about all day have won.

Life is misconception and everybody thinks this.

It's the culture of coming down and undone, Change is a reflection of who's finally tired of what, and whatever.

There is no us or them. It's the two that drive each other to depression over nothing they have in commonand everything that they do.

Life works because everyvody'd different and a blithering idiot in everybodyies' eyes.

Of COURSE all the people waiting for you to come around can't fathom their comrades.

I had leg cramps several times because I worked to exhaustion rearranging my shed and fixing /putting away and hooking up my valued "Gear". Then I got brunch and aired my bike tires (gee, it's a lot faster) and spent another hour fending off the phone and somebody that couldn't understand that I was standing with a blanket over my nudity trying not to pass out there or have a coronary and I wan't getting dressed and knew the cramps would come (not full leg ones or in waves for hours anymore and no back spasms) and while it would be great to have free tire anti-thorn liners I knew my bike shop had a lot of other work and my other bike is still out being worked on, I had to actually sit down and lace the new shoes and not put the old problems back onh for being in a rush...

Okay. I'm goofy, hard to understand, stubborn, feel "raped" some days and there are 6,999,999 other lunatics just like me except they are different.

I hope this doesn't make me "Dear Blog Abby".

My legs are working again and I need to go finish destroying them. I'm not very good at it I guess.

Opah or whatever.