Don’t worry about this November’s election

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Don’t worry about this November’s election

By Alexander Pralea, Editor

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Regardless of your party affiliation, you have likely been overwhelmed by the onslaught of imploring reporters and fervent politicians highlighting the value of voting, especially considering that millions of people live in countries in which they cannot vote. Desperate to win the election, these politicians, foremost among them being Presidents Obama and Trump, have attempted to guilt you into voting by calling this election the most important in their lifetimes. [1][2] Therefore, how can you resist that wonderful “I voted” sticker, a sign of your informed participation in your “civic duty,” when all public figures are encouraging you to vote and castigating you if you do not? Not only are these politicians wrong, but voting is, for the vast majority of people, a pointless use of time that could be better spent elsewhere.

Firstly, if you live in Connecticut, one of the bluest of all blue states, the national elections are, for the most part, already decided (if you live in, say, Arizona, this is not necessarily true); the Democrats will retain their seats in the Senate and House of Representatives. As for the governor’s seat, Ned Lamont, the Democratic candidate, has a 5.1% lead over his Republic opponent according to leading polling site FiveThirtyEight, landing the gubernatorial race firmly in “Likely Democrat” territory.[3] Even if you live in a competitive Senate or House of Representatives district, it is highly unlikely the election will come down to you. In a total of 16,577 national elections between 1898 and 1992, only one was decided by a single vote. [4] When researchers Andrew Gelman, Gary King, and Josh Boscardin gathered to estimate the chance that  US Presidential election would be dependent on one vote, it came out to be a minuscule 1 in 10 million at best and 1 in 100 million at worst, better odds than winning the Powerball but worse odds than being hit by lightning.

Of the thirty-six Connecticut districts, only six are remotely competitive (Districts 4, 13, 17, 24, 26, 29), of which all were carried by more than one percent in 2016, meaning that none were determined by a single vote. To calculate how many elections in a hundred year time span were settled by a single vote, economists Casey Mulligan and Charles Hunter looked at 40,000 state legislature elections, of which only seven were determined by a single vote, at an odds of 0.000175 in 1, thereby proving that even in battleground races an individual’s vote matters little. [5]

More likely than not, you will vote based on party or as a single-issue voter. How much do you know about the issues at play? If you are like most Americans, you are among the most ill-informed voters in all the world; you may recognize prominent faces and names, but you will rarely understand the policies the candidates believe in, as the fact that only 34% of Americans know the three branches of federal government proves. [6] If you know so little about the political process and state of public affairs, not to mention that you just might end up voting against your interests, much like how the wealthy do not vote in higher numbers for Republicans than they do for Democrats, why waste your time participating?

If you still have doubts, consider this: you could just take a nap. If you are an overworked parent, student, employee, or employer, a nap is infinitely more useful and economically valuable than hauling yourself to a polling center, where you will make a vote that is 1/2648th the value of a penny if a candidate is worth 0.5% more in annual GDP growth than another.[7] Otherwise, you could relax, watching Netflix, preferably objectively fantastic series like The Office and Parks and Recreation. Waiting in line to scribble in a few boxes next to names you do not remember (and putting yourself at a higher risk for a car accident, mind you) is not an enjoyable or economically fruitful activity. Evidently, not all actions humans take are profitable, but voting has no economic value for most people.

I am not advocating for you to not vote if you are politically passionate. After all, my article will not make a dent in voter participation for the tens of millions of Americans who have made up their minds about whom to support. Party-sticklers or single-issue voters will continue their traditions of single-party ballots. This cascade effect of millions of citizens not voting because of my advice simply will not happen, so “what if”s are meaningless as arguments (if you are already entrenched in your opinions, you will likely keep them, irrespective of my article, and that is fine). Secondly, I’m not advocating for you to remain in the dark about the current affairs of your country either; learn more about current politicians to hold them accountable through other means more significant than voting, such as peaceful protests or other movements. Major controversies, including how to address climate change and other salient issues, cannot be solved through your individual vote, which will not upset an entire system and change the demographic make-up of our prehistoric lawmaker-lawyers. Being a good citizen is not limited to just voting and neither is your ability to complain. So stay home, read a book, or watch a good show, and remember to help out your community through community service and spend more time with your family, tasks that better embody the virtues of “civic duty.”