Don’t believe in voting? Fine. Vote anyway.

Picture of a wall on which is written "if voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal". The word "illegal" is crossed out, and written below is "seem pointless, irrelevant and detached from people's lives"
Original pic from

In the runup to today’s election (and fine, okay, that one you USians are having next year that I’m already tired of hearing about), I’ve seen a lot of you write eloquently about why you refuse to vote, and I get it: voting is flawed. Representative democracy is too. If you’re looking for a complete overhaul of the way that we construct our society or run our economy, this election is unlikely to bring you the change you need.

Vote anyway.

You say that by not voting, you’re refusing to prop up a system that bolsters unequal relations. One that enshrines the leader-follower model in the institutions that run our lives.

What do you think will happen if you don’t vote? Do you think that a low voter turnout will cause any change? Nonvoters are more likely to be progressive than voters. By not voting, you give the establishment a gift: with one less potentially opposing vote to worry about, they have one less supporting one to work for.

There isn’t a candidate who wholeheartedly supports your views? Hold your nose. Pick the lesser evil. Vote anyway.

You don’t have to agree with representative democracy to vote. You don’t even have to agree that nation-states should exist at all.

All you have to accept is this: we live in a representative democracy. We have a limited ability to affect what type of government we have. The small changes that government will make affects all of our lives. So vote.

Pick the lesser evil. Pick the person you can’t stand just a little bit less than the other. For a few minutes, one day every five years, stand in a box and mark a paper.

It won’t change the world. We’ll still be stuck in the same system tomorrow- but we will be if you don’t vote, too. But if you vote, there’s a chance that in the next five years, someone will make a decision that helps rather than harms. So vote anyway.

I don’t care if you disagree with voting. I’m not in love with it myself. But I do it. Because a government comprised of the least-worsts will make a far more liveable society, for all of us, than one comprised of the worsts.

If you stay home and refuse to participate? You’ve put your ideological purity ahead of practical change. You’ve privileged your ideals over doing the dirty, everyday work of improving society from every angle you can, every time you can. When you stayed home, you didn’t do a damn thing to change anything. And any time you privilege ideology over practicality, someone will suffer.

Do you want to repeal the 8th amendment? Vote today. Do you want to get the Church out of our schools and hospitals? Vote. Do you want refugees to be given the welcome they deserve on our shores? Vote. Do you want businesses to pay their taxes? A health service worth its name? Irish Water abolished? A living wage? Access to housing? Respect for people with disabilities? A fair economy? Vote.

If you’d rather sit at home writing about how you’re so above authoritarian systems of government and you refuse to participate in the electoral process because of it? Understand that right now you’re stuck in this system whether you like it or not. Frankly: get your head out of your ass. Get out. And vote anyway.


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Don’t believe in voting? Fine. Vote anyway.

9 thoughts on “Don’t believe in voting? Fine. Vote anyway.

    1. 1.1

      Hi! Thanks for commenting. But: if you’re going to comment with a link, in future could you add a comment or explain why you’re sending that link? It helps me to distinguish genuine comments from spam, so you’re more likely to get through the mod filter. And it shows any other readers why your link is relevant, and adds to the discussion here.

      Thank you!

    1. 2.1

      Yeah. My general rule is… if you don’t vote, and could have, you don’t have a right to b***h about the results of the election. If you do vote, *even if the person you voted for got in*, you have the right to complain, and if you genuinely *couldn’t* vote (eg not a citizen), you have a right to complain, but if you could have voted and didn’t? Shut your trap.

  1. 3

    Here’s what I tell my students: when you vote, you aren’t just voting for a candidate, you’re voting for your demographic group (due to exit polls). If you were a politician, and you noticed that 70% of seniors in your district voted, but only 30% of college-age young people, and you had to choose between cutting prescription drug benefits and cutting college aid, what would YOU choose?

  2. 4

    Determinants of the likelihood of a person voting are 1) Wealth, the richer you are the more likely you are to vote. 2) Age, the older you are the more likely you vote. 3) Fear, the more emotional you are about the vote, fear of the gay/Muslim/ anti-Christian agenda or gun grabbing, the more likely you are to vote.

    Liberals and Progressives do NOT have a good record of voting consistently.

  3. 5

    What happens if you don’t exercise your body? Muscles atrophy, and you lose them.

    What happens if you don’t exercise your right to vote? Democracy atrophies, and you lose your right.

    One may not like the available choices today and balk at having to pick one. But in both government and fitness, change takes time and effort. It doesn’t happen overnight.

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