Column by Paul Bonneau.
Exclusive to STR
I wonder how many of our readers ever participated in an election, in which their vote was the decisive one? The chances are pretty small, mathematically. But they are actually even smaller than the math predicts!
Let’s imagine a race between Statist Candidate A and Statist Candidate B, and in the vote count, they differ by only one vote. And say that vote was your vote. Now, does it really matter which candidate you had gifted with your vote?
Of course not. No matter what, the state wins and you lose. The only way you can get any benefit out of this race is by withholding your vote.
Since virtually all races for some position in government are between two statist or easily-corruptible candidates, and since you get no benefit from voting in such a race, we can eliminate from consideration almost all of these races. So, it becomes even more improbable than you thought, that your vote could “make a difference.”
But it gets even worse. Let’s consider only the remaining races, which are things like ballot measures and tax levies. For a tax levy, one can at least reliably identify the less statist position, that of cutting taxes or preventing their increase. Can your vote make a difference there?
Imagine there is such a levy, and it has been passed by one vote, and if you had voted, it would have failed. Should you be kicking yourself that you didn’t vote?
On first glance, it would appear so. But let’s investigate this notion more closely.
The failure of a tax levy amounts to a huge financial loss, typically amounting to millions of dollars, to the favored constituency or class of cronies (“diffuse costs, concentrated benefits”). Do you really think they are going to let a single vote stand in their way?
All such groups have slush funds or other ways to apply pressure to the people counting the votes. And guess who counts the votes? Either government employees (the cronies’ allies), or people who believe in government, that’s who! And guess what, government employees are not saints. On the contrary, they are less moral as a class than most of us. Their very paycheck depends on government violence and aggression, and they are just fine with that! Their job involves bullying others, usually. Have you ever met a government employee who felt guilty about how he made a living?
Any close vote is going to go through a recount, and it would be a pretty worthless member of the parasitic crony class who could not manage to bribe or blackmail an election worker to come up with a few more votes going the “right” way. In fact, with the larger public employee unions, it is almost guaranteed they have people pre-positioned as election workers. Now, the larger the margin between the yes and no votes, the more difficult it is to accomplish election fraud (assuming the whole election process from top to bottom has not been rigged through electronic voting, an increasingly unlikely assumption to make) -- but the larger the margin is, the less important your single vote becomes, doesn’t it? It’s only in the very tightest of races, the ones most amenable to fraud, where your vote could theoretically matter -- and easily-accomplished fraud makes it not matter at all!
It’s a rigged game, folks. Even the mathematical odds of affecting an election outcome are grossly overstating things. When it comes to elections, the voters don’t matter.