My friend can't be arsed to vote. Am I irrational to be irked with her?

To continue this point, what about someone who voted for a particular president, thinking that he was the best man for the job given the limited information he/she had on the candidates. After the election the president turned out to be an incompetent boob and the voter felt betrayed and swindled. Does that voter have a “moral right” to complain? This is not intended to be snarky, I seriously want to understand what annoys you all so much about us non-voters.

I don’t vote. I don’t care who is president. Politics bore me to death and I have no interest in them. That’s just my personal standpoint, though…I don’t care if you or he ir she or they are into politics and all that, I just can’t stand them myself.

However…I don’t complain or moan about how the country is run or the state of the country either.


IMO, you do have a right to complain. You didn’t actively choose to forfeit your vote, you never had an opportunity to do so.

IMO, yes. That person participated in the democratic process, they have a right to complain about the outcomes.

I also believe that foreigners and children can complain all they want. I believe if you wanted to vote and circumstances prevented you, you can still complain. I believe if you are ludicrously ill-informed and choose your candidate for absurdly dumb reasons, you are still allowed to complain. It is the act of actively choosing not to participate in the basic mechanism of democracy that removes your moral right to complain about the outcomes of the democratic process.

Since we’re not being snarky, I’ll ask one back. I’ve always suspected there is a correlation between non-voters and those who duck jury duty. Many of my peers think I’m a little nuts in that I have never tried to get out of jury duty because I think it’s my societal obligation. My motives are similar (not identical) to voting. Any thoughts?

I’ve never had jury duty, but I think ducking it is more forgivable than not voting. Jury duty usually involves a lot more time and disruption of one’s normal activites than the act of voting does.

I’m a dork, I absolutely love voting. I’m proud to live in a country that gives its citizens the right to particpate in the democratic process. It makes me sad that others don’t care. I would definitely not be listening to the complaints of someone who deliberately chose never to vote. They may have a right to complain about anything they want, but they don’t have a right to be taken seriously.

From a rational choice theory point of view, it does seem to be irrational to take time out of your day to vote - your odds of making a difference are infinitesimal.

I think you can not vote and still be pissed off at the outcome: after all, whether you voted or not would have done nothing to change the outcome, unless it was exactly tied (which never happens). You can still be pissed off at all those people who collectively voted the ‘wrong’ way.

Now, you may respond in a typical ‘what if everyone thought that way?’ vein … well yes, but we’re not talking about whether everyone should vote, but whether one person should vote.

I think that ‘everyone should vote’ is something approaching a noble lie or national myth of western democracies. Your friend may have flaws (droning on), but prima facie is acting totally rationally.


You have the right to feel irritated; she has the right to not vote. Equally, if she doesn’t vote, she has no cause to complain about the result. But really, the two of you should just avoid talking about politics.

One’s individual contribution to jury duty is potentially far more meaningful and consequential than than one’s individual vote. Ducking jury duty seems much less forgivable to me.

For those of you who think less of those who do not vote: Do you feel the same way about people who vote for third-party candidates? Aren’t those people throwing their vote away just as surely as those who do not vote?

A fair question. As I mentioned in my first post, I’ve never been summoned for jury duty and I have heard (no cite) that is due the fact that they get juror lists from the registered voter list. However if I were summoned I would have no problem serving. In fact, if the case were interesting, I think it might be sorta fun. After all, my reason for not voting for prez is that my vote is so unlikely to matter, if there were only 13 (?) voters, that stance would certainly change.

I don’t want to hijack the post, but for the record, I wouldn’t be opposed to a manditory voting system, or perhaps some kind of small tax credit for voters. I think there are plenty of intelligent people like myself who simply choose not to vote for no reason other than the statistics.

The more I think on it, the more I feel irritated not by her voluntarily disfranchsing herself, but doing so while bitching about the Bush incompetence, McCain perfidy, and Plain stupidity. My other friend is no less vocal about her dislike of the Demoncratic ticket, but she doesn’t bother me a hundredth as much.

I agree with you all the way. Voting isn’t rational. But not voting is not the same as not voting and complaining about the outcome. And rationality does not equal morality.

I see what you mean though – morality here is something a little different than “normal” morality. There is some kind of national mores that demands voting.

Just to be clear, I only think a little less of those who don’t vote. I think Skald is in the same camp. I have no problems with third-party voters (with a possible exception for Floridians voting for Nader or Buchanan in 2000 :slight_smile: ).

I try to use this argument every time I come across a determined non-voter.

One of the frequent complaints about Presidential and Congressional races is that neither “side” is acceptable. They’re all crooks. Well, you know what? Almost all of them start somewhere where your vote has a much bigger impact. They start as alderman or city council members, as small-town mayors, school board members, maybe even county sheriffs. Start participating in the electoral process at these smaller levels, and you’ll have a chance to select the future candidates for higher offices.

I’m in your camp, muttrox. Just as I’m not particularly bothered by my other friend’s voting McCain (except for resenting the number of :rolleyes: that requires of me), I’d not be bothered if the friend I’m complaining about voted for Nader or Barr (except that I’d sue her for the expense of having my eyes renucleated after they rolled out of my head). I should add that her complaining about not being given time off when others were to offered it so they could go register is also vexsome.

Here is another thread about this subject, by the way, made a few years back.

I’m annoyed at people who don’t vote, whether they complain or not. And I get even more annoyed at women who don’t vote, considering how difficult it was for women to even get the vote in the U.S. I get that people think their one individual vote won’t count for jack. My grandparents never voted, because he was a Republican and she was a Democrat, and their votes “cancelled each other out.” But if everyone who was eligible to vote took the time to do so, those votes could add up to enough that it actually would make a difference.

That being said, I’d rather have someone not vote rather than cast a completely uninformed vote. I get really annoyed seeing how often propositions pass here, even when they make no sense. I think people must think something along the lines of, “well, they figured they were important enough to put on the ballot, so I’m going to vote in favour of them.” But I still steadfastly cast my “no” votes on those propositions that I oppose, in the hopes, again, that enough intelligent votes will be cast that my desired outcome will be reached.

Me too. I’ve been known to roll up the ballot and use it to rub one out in the voting booth. I’m hugely depressed by the switch to touch screens. Absentee ballots just don’t have the same cachet.

What’s worse, for someone to not vote at all, or to cast a vote without any clue about what the politicians stand for?
Would you be proud of your friend if she did go to the polls but made her decisions of what vote to cast based on whether she liked the sound of the politician’s name on the ballot or not?

My view is that if you don’t care enough about politics to want to vote, you probably don’t care enough to have a well-informed opinion, so as far as I’m concerned, feel free to stay home.

Obviously such persons should write in Fabulous Creature. We can trust him as our [del]chief exploiter and virgin ravisher[/del] president.

More seriously, for a black woman of my friend’s age not to vote–not to see the importance of voting–seems stunningly and willfuly stupid; likewise not paying enough attention to the issues to have formed an opinion. Either is akin to not allowing your children to be vaccinnated for the chicken pox and then pestering your doctor for antibiotics to give them when they catch it.

As for the lower-level elections, the likelihood of one’s voting having a meaningful impact is probably less, not more, at least where I am. Most congressional districts are gerrymandered to provide incumbent safety, and Northern Virginia is no exception. And while Virginia may be a swing state overall, localities in this area tend to be firmly red or firmly blue, so party affiliation and the obscurity of local election candidates generally translate into incumbent protection as well. There are occasional transformative elections, but they’re rare.

Arrant nonsense. Vaccination is almost certain to prevent your kids getting disease. One vote makes no difference to the electoral outcome. The cases are completely disanalogous.

Fact is, I can do nothing to change the outcome of the election. Whether I vote or not, the party with a majority will win. I can be angry at the people who:

  • are so misguided to think that voting Democrat is a good idea, for being so stupid
  • (as a block) imposed a Democrat government on me

without having taken part in some meaningless ritual showing my allegiance to the tribe/nation and religion/voting ideology.