You're Viewing the Archives
Return to IVN's Frontpage

Power of the Vote: The Hopeless Vote

by David Yee, published

It's incredibly sad that in a country that is supposed to be the "city upon a hill" example to the world, we rank 120th out of 169 countries in voter participation.

In 2012, just under 55 percent of the voting age population turned out to vote, in a presidential race that was decided by 5 million votes.

That's a lot of votes, but it could have been easily swayed either way by the 106 million voting age citizens who didn't think their vote mattered.

We could learn a lot from countries where people actually go to the polls to cast the hopeless vote. Take for instance Cuba. With a 91 percent voter participation, the Communist Party still easily wins every election by a landslide because of the mechanics of the system. Yet in 2013, almost 1.5 million voters (18 percent) still went to the polls to cast their ballots against the ruling party.

We should follow this example, even if our votes at times seem to matter very little -- because in local elections our votes almost always matter.

In the small town in Kansas I live in, there are roughly 4,500 residents, of which only 181 people bothered to vote for mayor this past year. And this is the norm in local elections, not the exception.

It might seem hopeless to vote for any presidential candidate other than a Republican in Kansas (or vice versa in any other of the noncompetitive states), but that hopeless vote means everything in the local elections that often determine our tax rates.

We don't need to make voting easier, we just need a fundamental change in our culture's view toward voting -- because it seems like 100 percent of Americans like to complain, yet only about half do something about it.

Because at times that's the true power of the hopeless vote: the satisfying knowledge that you actually made the effort to change something.

About the Author