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Article > Voting
Description :: Does your vote count?
Possibly the worst way to make your voice heard is through the election of officials to represent you.

Especially in the U.S.A, we find ourselves with few choices in the polling booth: we may have as many as three candidates for president, all of whom have signed documents stating that they will adhere to their party platform (at least until elected.) You may even have looked at those platform documents: mismatched sets of "important issues" with, usually, simple pro- or con- directives.

Unless you happen to be a drone, convinced that your particular political party is right in all respects, you probably find yourself with a dilema at every vote: which issues do you care about most? You may agree with candidate A's platform to 3/8, and B's platform to 5/9 ... but will you be happy voting for B, when she makes decisions on those 4/9 of the "important issues?"

Your vote is diluted too: in elections with bottlenecks, like the US presidential elections, it's possible to have at the final stage a 100% vote in one direction, when overall only 51% of the population voted together: why? Any time we use some form of grouping to bundle up votes, we select the dominant choice in each group, ignoring the rest. If each of the states of the US had only 51% of voters in favor of a particular president, each state might report that, overall, it voted "for" that president. Does that seem fair to you?

With multi-level elections, it gets worse. Every level is a bottleneck, but every level also has similar electoral power. There could be enough voters, overall to secure one candidate, but they might all be in the same local province: after the first level of elections, possibly only one province may vote in favor of that candidate (although forcefully) while the rest of the provinces may mildly favor another -- the end result is that redistricting (under any name) may help shift votes one way or another, while the voice of the people hasn't changed. The following quote has been attributed to Joseph Stalin, though it is considered a potential hoax: "It's not the people who vote that count. It's the people who count the votes." (The truth of a phrase such as this should probably not be judged by its source, but perhaps by its merits, if any.)

If you want your voice to be heard, ask for referendums at every opportunity. Elected officials must take extreme positions in order to secure "market share" among voters: the truth is, though, that our opinions are much more subtle than anything that can be expressed by a reduction to party platforms or the views of a few officials.

Of course, no matter how we count the votes, elections can't create a concensus out of disagreement. And who needs voting if we already agree? Therefore, in any situation where we disagree, at least some of us won't be happy to live under the rule of those who won ...

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Owned by Unordained - Created on 06/12/2003 - Last edited on 07/03/2003

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