Why Bother Voting for President?

There is a fundamental difference between the worth of an election and voting. People make this mistake all the time, most notably with some version of the phrase, “This presidential election is really important, so make sure you get out and vote because every vote matters.” This is the wrong way to look at it. Elections are indeed very important, or at least have the potential to be, but an individual’s vote in that election is staggeringly inconsequential.

The electoral college only furthers the pointlessness of voting for president, since certain states (Ohio) may ultimately play a larger role in deciding the election than others (North Dakota), which does indeed shake the odds that an individual’s vote will matter, but also further illustrates the pointlessness of casting a ballot. Taken as a percentage of the whole, a single vote for president is somewhere in the 1 in a 115 million range of deciding the election. In a particular state, however, that number might potentially decrease to perhaps 1 in 12 million. Better odds, to be sure, but one might as well go out and buy a lottery ticket for all the good their vote will do.

An individual’s vote only matters in an election if it swings the election, otherwise it is functionally useless and since presidential elections are not decided by a single vote, an individual’s vote is worthless (insofar as it decides that election). People sometimes get very upset at the notion their vote is meaningless, determined to believe that the act of voting is important for the one reason that it is not, deciding elections. Large numbers of votes decide elections, not a single vote, and arguing that the two are one in the same or that both matter equally obscures the fact that what is true for one thing (millions of votes represented by this delicious pie)

is not necessarily true for a part of that thing (your vote represented by this slice of that delicious pie).

A single vote can matter for a number of reasons, but none of them has anything to do with actually electing the next president of the United States. This isn’t to say voting is a waste of time, nor that you should stay home and watch Maury Povich instead of casting a ballot, but this absurd notion that every vote matters is a fallacy, and a destructive one at that.


I am a hermit living in a cave inside a mountain underneath an abyss. Your comments are the only contact I have with the outside world.

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