Vote.

By Phil Plait | November 6, 2012 6:00 am

Listen. I want you to vote.

I won’t make that pandering "It doesn’t matter who you vote for" speech, because, geez, c’mon. It does matter.

But not voting at all is not an option. You need to vote.

I know a lot of folks are undecided, and getting mocked in the media for it. But from what I see, a lot of people have honest problems with both candidates.

I can relate. I do too. But in my opinion, voting is still critical, for a few reasons. But there’s one big one: if you don’t vote, how does that help?

Seriously, staying home and not voting doesn’t help at all, and in fact hurts. Why? Because, for one thing, I bet you don’t hate everything about both candidates. A lot of people frame it as the lesser of two evils, but I think it’s more positive to consider it as the better of the two choices.

Looking over the choices, there must be one who edges out the other, for whatever issues matter to you. That matters. It truly does.

And not voting hurts you, directly. If you don’t vote, you have no say in what the government can do for or with or to you. You’re letting other people make that decision for you. And I think you probably know better what you want than other people do.

Don’t vote, and you are freely allowing others to declare how much tax you should pay, where that money goes, whether or not you have access to health care, how women are treated (whether through pay, health benefits, or a myriad of other ways), and even whether science or nonsense gets taught in schools.

Another argument I hear is that one vote doesn’t count. Lets be honest: in many places, that’s probably true. But not everywhere, and it can be hard to tell just where. Remember, in 2000, the entire national election boiled down to a few hundred votes in Florida. A few hundred.

I look at the swing states, places that can swing the election and where it’s hard to tell who’s ahead, and I wonder. Ohio, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Florida… all these states have big universities, with student populations in the hundreds of thousands, maybe millions. A single freshman class at one of those schools could swing this entire election.

Still think your vote doesn’t count?

I know a lot of younger folks read my blog. You have way more riding on this election than I do. Maybe you’re looking for a job, or have one already. How much tax do you think is fair to pay? What rights will you have with your employer? What kind of health insurance will you get? It’s not sexy to think about health insurance, but it’s going to suck mightily when you break your leg or you need to get your wisdom teeth out, and you find out it’s going to be a cash only out-of-pocket transaction.

Also, you’ll have to live in the future longer than I will. What’s that future going to be like? One where global warming slams us every summer with stronger hurricanes because the government ignored the scientists? One where your kids are taught the Earth is 6000 years old? One where you can’t get contraception?

That’s what your vote means.

On these issues – and a whole passel more – the two major candidates are worlds apart. These issues impact you, now, today. Health care, taxes, women’s rights, corporate law, international policy, gay marriage, climate change… do even a modicum of research and you’ll see the differences shining like a beacon. And we may have a Supreme Court justice retire in the next four years; think about how the two candidates differ on whom they would nominate for that.

And if you like a third party candidate, then great! Go vote for him or her! But don’t complain that it’s a waste of time because they can’t win. It’s a certainty they can’t if you don’t vote for them, and if enough people vote for them they may start to get noticed.

For me, a lot of the decisions I make when I vote boil down to how the candidate faces science, faces reality – which are in many ways the same thing. Maybe you agree. And that brings up a final major point: this election is not just to decide who will be President. We’re voting for Congress as well, and these are the people who make the laws. Congress has the lowest public approval rating they’ve had in decades, and for good reason. But you know what can be done? You can throw out the ones who won’t face reality!

Look up who’s who in your state and district and see what your Congresscritters think. I’ll guarantee there are huge differences between candidates for Congress. And the majority party picks who runs the committees – for example, the House Science Committee, where several of the sitting members are as blatantly antiscience as anyone I’ve ever seen.

Do you love science as much as I do? You can vote them out!

I’ll also note that in local elections there will be people running for school board. Think that’s not important? Think again.

This election is about far more than electing a President. It could mean four more years of science obstructionism, four years we cannot afford to lose.

I’m not a single issue voter, and I hope you aren’t either. But then, reality isn’t a single issue. Antiscience affects global warming legislation, textbooks and class curricula, women’s rights, technology development, medical research, energy production, religious incursions on the First Amendment, and much more. Our very economy is largely based on science and engineering. It’s not too much to ask for people in power to understand that.

In fact, it’s a rock bottom requirement.

So speaking of bottoms, get off yours. The only way you can waste your vote is by not casting one.

MORE ABOUT: Election 2012

Comments (131)

  1. Valhar2000

    Actually, it is the lesser of two evils.

  2. Eric TF Bat

    Disagree on the “vote for a third party” suggestion. A vote for a third party is a vote for Republicans. That’s how it’s been for some decades now, and after Ralph Nader helped elect Bush in 2000 it should be obvious to anyone. You want real democracy, get a proper proportional representation system, but for now there’s no time. So hold your nose if you have to, but vote Democrat.

    This message brought to you by a citizen of Earth. Because the mistakes you people make affect all of us.

  3. Jason Dick

    Right, Eric. Third party isn’t an option for presidency.

    Now, a third party vote is sometimes a good vote for state and local elections. And remember that congressional, state and local elections are sometimes even more important than the presidential election. The presidency is just one office. In particular, the makeup of the House of Representatives will be very, very important in the next couple of years.

  4. AliCali

    And for those who still don’t want to vote for either presidential candidate, still vote…you can just skip that one. I’m betting there are loads of other items on the ballot: should bonds be issued to pay for something, should local taxes go up to pay for something, should these laws be changed, etc. So many items to vote on, and you can skip the ones you’re unsure about.

    Some people say they won’t vote as a protest. I call BS. They won’t vote because of laziness and don’t want to stay in line. If you don’t like the system, we have a wonderful way of changing that: Voting!

  5. vagueofgodalming

    Some of my friends are having to vote for education boards too. That matters.

  6. Eric Riley

    Nonsense- a third-party vote (or fourth party – or sixth party, in some places there are up to a dozen or so) is still a vote. And a vote for, say, Jill Stein, is not a vote for Romney, it’s a vote for Stein. It could only possibly be considered a vote for Romney if the person were going to vote for Obama in a swing state – and even then, as with Gore in 2000, perhaps Obama should think about tacking left instead of right to get those votes.

    Ultimately, your vote is *your* choice; don’t listen to people telling you you shouldn’t vote for your preferred candidate because it will make it easier for someone else to win (Libertarians tend to vote Republican when not voting for Libertarian candidates, does that mean a vote for Gary Johnson (third party) is a vote for Obama?

    AS Phil says, get out and vote. I add, vote for *your* choice, not anyone else’s.

  7. Chris

    While I’m pretty sure who you are voting for, can you make an official endorsement for president or is that not allowed by your editors? I doubt that CNN would announce “Phil Plait has officially endorsed… for president.” but it might be fun to think you hold such power.

  8. Wzrd1

    Some years back, our school board shoved a brand new school down the throats of the populace, complete with increased school taxes to pay for it.
    The reason: the old school roof leaked for years and rotted the roof through.
    So, they wanted us to trust them with a NEW school when they couldn’t maintain the old one!
    So, without option at the time (between elections), the new school was built. And went an entire school year with one window broken.
    Way to build trust in one’s care of a new multi-million building!
    Said school board was voted out by a large margin the following election.
    The NEW school board maintains the building.

  9. Josh

    Also, if you can’t decide between the two, vote anyway for local elections, and vote Green party or something for president. If enough people vote third party, even if they don’t win it will influence more people to think about third parties, which is always a good thing.

  10. JHGRedekop

    The best reason to vote, even if you cannot bring yourself to vote for either of the Big Two and feel you must vote third party, is that it’s impossible to distinguish not voting because you really care about what happens but think the system is flawed beyond repair, and not voting because you don’t care at all. If you care, vote.

    And encourage third parties to be active at the local and state level, where they have a much better chance of getting into power. If the Green party (or whoever) can start making their influence felt in the states over the next few elections, *then* they might have a chance for a showing at the Federal level.

  11. Russ

    I think that voting for local issues is very important and might go to vote just for that. But I will not vote in the presidential election. Our voting system leaves too many people out of the loop and this time around I view both major candidates as equally evil. Perhaps if we didn’t use First Past the Post to determine the winner I would vote for a third or fourth party candidate, but until we put a new voting system in place voting for a third party candidate is not an appropriate option.

  12. DanVeteran

    I vote every election even if I write in John Adams, Mickey Mouse, or “None of the Above” (I have done all three). Some say th0se votes are thrown away, but they are my votes and my way to show my distain for the choices we are given. When I leave work today, I will drive to my polling place, show my ID, and vote for who I think will do best for ME, my district, state, and the US. Don’t be surprised if John Adams gets at least one vote in my district.

  13. sw

    My gut feel is that the only thing that would ever worry the corrupt elements of both parties (not saying they’re all corrupt, but there are corners…) is if the third party/independant votes started to climb significantly. If people aren’t voting, they’re helping the big two keep their deathgrip on American politics.

    Which is fine, if that’s what you want.

  14. LogicBomb

    The lesser of two evils is the best of two choices.

  15. Yes, please vote. Even if you vote for anti-reality (although I wish you wouldn’t) please vote. It’s a right that I spent 20 years of my adult life ensuring that you have the right to do so (you know, defending the Constitution and all that).

    And if you are at all an adherent to reality, keep that in mind when you do vote: http://larianlequella.blogspot.com/2012/10/distrust-of-science-conservative.html I would rather see a vote cast against the GOP and their idiocy than for their total denial of reality! ;)

  16. @ 11. DanVeteran : John Adams would actually have quite a few votes in your district I imagine – back in 1797 at least! ;-)

    (Also one of the best TV themes ever. Click link on my name if you haven’t heard it. Yeah, it screened in Oz. )

  17. Remember, in 2000, the entire national election boiled down to a few hundred votes in Florida. A few hundred.

    Five hundred and thirty seven votes if what I heard on a news show (Foreign Corrospondant) on the TV tonight is correct.

    Mind you, I think you folks in the States could do with preferential voting and a “None of the above” box addition if this Aussie may be so bold! ;-)

    (The USA has a pretty major political influence on the rest of the world and its close allies such as my nation. Like it or not, it is about the most powerful country on the globe and the leader of the free world.)

  18. Wzrd1

    @DanVeteran, Mickey Mouse gets quite a few votes in each election.
    I remember one years, Mickey Mouse and the communist candidate both got substantially larger numbers of votes than previously in history. I remember that one, as there was such a disgust between the big two candidates at the time.

  19. Ken_g6

    I voted early this year. Unfortunately, neither http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/03/30/hal-bidlack-colorados-next-congressman/ nor any other Democrat was running for my house seat this year. So after deliberating whether to write in Charles Darwin (a vote which would be thrown out without being seen anyway), I decided to vote for the Green party candidate.

  20. Louis

    Voting always makes me proud. This year, my state of Pennsylvania doesn’t appear to be a swing state, so it would be possible to suggest that my vote doesn’t, somehow, “count!” Even so, I consider voting to be the very bedrock of our civilization. You, like me, have a voice. Make sure it is heard. Vote.

  21. @ ^ Wzrd1 : Leftwing activist and doco maker Mike Moore famously ran a ficus plant one year as a write in for Congress (?) – and, if memory serves, it (sorta) won. ;-)

    ———————–

    @17.

    (Wonders where the world would be now if Al Gore had got in in 2000 instead of George W. Bush.)

  22. theoncomingstorm

    At least it one thing is sure today, it is over!!!!

  23. John Paradox

    Messier – he also ran a convicted felon for President once, I believe it was on the later of his TV shows “The Awful Truth” [previous was TV Nation]. Seems being a convicted felon does not disqualify one from running for office – though a felon may not be able TO vote in some states.
    [I think I'll see if I can find both/either on YouTube]

    J/P=?

  24. wfr

    I live in a small, ignorable state. I support the electoral college.

  25. Jared Larsen

    Can somebody explain to me why it matters who I vote for when the electoral college selects our president for us anyways? It would actually mean something if the president were selected based on the popular vote, but he isn’t so why do you think my vote is so important?

  26. Chris

    Phil Plait 2012!

  27. Eric TF Bat (#20: I disagree. A lot of conservatives are also libertarians, so some people might vote for Gary Johnson who might otherwise vote for Romney. That’s a drain on Republican votes. What happened in 2000 is very different than what is happening now; back then the drain was on Democrats.

  28. Sean S

    Great blog I am on your side with all of this we need a new party. one has gone to far right you know it we need a future of more science not less knowledge is power so vote knowledge.

  29. Willy

    “The only way you can waste your vote is by not casting one.”

    Nonsense. I cannot in good conscience support either of these jerks. One wants to take my freedom, the other my money.

    That too is my right and to vote for the lesser of two evils (assuming there is one) is as bad as not voting at all if not worse.

    Of course, one could vote for a third party candidate (aka the toilet paper ballot) or write in my dog (at least he is entertaining) but both are a waste of time and paper. Bottom line is – if things get too bad, my feet will vote.

  30. I support comment #23 (Chris). Phil Plait 2012, and 2016, and 2020!

  31. OtherRob

    You know, if everyone who said that voting for a third-party candidate is just a waste of a vote would actually vote for a third-party candidate, it might actually make a difference.

  32. zbmott

    Cthulhu/Skeletor 2012: Why choose the lesser of two evils?

  33. Wzrd1

    @OtherRob, when there is a much larger number of both “Mickey Mouse” (and similar cartoon characters) and communist votes, the parties paid attention to how they weren’t in contact with the populace.

  34. Tanstaafl48

    “Another argument I hear is that one vote doesn’t count. Lets be honest: in many places, that’s probably true. But not everywhere, and it can be hard to tell just where. Remember, in 2000, the entire national election boiled down to a few hundred votes in Florida. A few hundred.”

    People always bring this up but I don’t see how it counters the argument it’s used against.

    “A few hundred” is not one. The marginal voter in Florida in 2000 was as irrelevant to the outcome of the election as the marginal voter in any other state.

    It *is* true everywhere- your vote might be useful as an expression of preferences but it will (with near absolute certainty) not matter in the outcome of the election.

  35. Stephen

    There is another good reason to vote third party if you cannot choose one of the major candidates. Yes, they won’t win today, but if they can get 5% of the vote they will qualify for the Presidential Election Campaign fund next time, which could go a long way toward breaking the duopoly of the Republicans and Democrats.

  36. Woody Tanaka

    The people who think that voting for a third-party candate is a good thing or anything other than a net vote for the party you dislike are delusional as a factual matter. It might make the voter feel something or other, but that’s nothing but him mentally stroking himself while, in the real world, it means that he’s helping the person he likes less to win. So if you’re in a safe state, then voting for a 3rd party is dumb, but harmless. If you’re in a close state, then voting for a 3rd party is an exercise of narcissism or idiocy.

  37. MaDeR

    @Phil:
    “And I think you probably know better what you want than other people do.”
    Error. A lot of people votes against their own interest.

    Republicans are especially good at it. What sane human that is not rich would vote for someone that want to rich be richer and poor being even poorer?

    @Wzrd1: your’e gravely mistaken. This kind of results means these two major parties have nothing to worry. Not that it matters – american system is pretty much petrified and it is virtually impossible to thrid party to influence anything, let alone “winning”.

  38. Fizz

    It would certainly be nice to have more scientists in positions of power than lawyers. Plait / Tyson in 2016? Or would that be Tyson / Plait? Heh. Sadly, i suspect both of them are far too smart to run for political office. :)

    I agree with voting, but more than that i promote educated voting. One of my favorite sites to visit is factcheck *dot* org. It is a non-partisan site run through UPenn. They don’t offer opinions, only a measure of how much the candidates speak / stretch their facts, and what the real facts are.

    Sadly, both sides stretch or outright lie extensively, and it makes parsing through things difficult. But that’s why voter education is even more critical.

  39. Thorne

    I’m going to have to go against the trend here. I’m not going to advise anyone NOT to vote, or who to vote for. That’s a personal choice. My own choice, since 1971 when I first became eligible to vote, has been to abstain.

    Partly this comes from a “traumatic” incident in a high school Student Council election. I knew all of the candidates and didn’t like any of them. It wasn’t a case of “lesser of two evils,” just evil all the way through. But I was not permitted to abstain. I was marched to the voting area with the rest of my class and required to enter the booth. (I found out that it’s possible to exit the booth without pressing any of the levers, but that’s beside the point.)

    Partly it comes from the hatred of politics, and politicians, in general. In order to cast a vote responsibly, I would have to actually dig into the issues to determine what I feel is the right way to go. Doing so, however, tends to send me into a deep depression as I quickly realize that those people are ALL incompetent and crazy!

    But I have to say that my primary reason for not voting is simple apathy. I don’t care. The whole system is, and has been for a long time, fundamentally flawed. I can see no way to even try to fix it without immersing myself into the system, which I equate with fixing a clogged drain by crawling through the sewage system. Not what I want to do with my life.

    I hear people saying that every vote counts, but I just don’t see that. With the possible exception of the local dog catcher, I cannot recall a single election which would have been changed by my one vote. And since I don’t own pets, and don’t love animals in general, I don’t really care who catches the damned things.

    The important issues, such as women’s rights to choose, freedom from religion, reality based education, advancement of science, are all good things, and if my one vote were all it would take to make those things happen I would happily get out there and cast it. But I live in South Carolina, and my vote against the Republicans, or for the Democrats, whichever way you want to look at it, would be like throwing a tiny pebble into a raging sea. It wouldn’t make even a momentary ripple.

  40. Wzrd1

    @MaDeR, not quite true. It’s partially fossilized, but when both parties see significant numbers of voters voting for other candidates than the big two, it tends to get their attention. That is simple self-interest, as they’d both end up losing if the populace ever started paying REAL attention to a third party or independent.

    Factcheck is good, politifact is also pretty good. Though the Romney campaign DID announce that they would not be held to fact checkers in the conduct of their campaign.
    Of course, I’ve long had a saying when reviewing a container that is empty, “Empty as a campaign promise”, which means that even dust isn’t in the container.

  41. Tanstaafl48

    @WoodyTanaka

    If you want to actually be cold and pragmatic, fine: *everyone’s* vote is wasted. If your state is decided by two or more votes than an individual vote is pointless. It has absolutely no influence on the outcome of the election.

    And since every state will almost certainly be decided by two or more votes, on pragmatic grounds everyone’s vote is pointless in the actual outcome of the election. Your super serious vote for a “real” candidate will almost certainly have precisely the same impact as someone “throwing their vote away.”

    If you like one of the two parties, fine, express your preferences as such, but if you don’t it *is* delusional to vote for one of them on the grounds that “then your vote will count” (because it won’t either way.)

  42. Democracy is rubbish. Democracy is a political system without vision or direction. Democracy gets nothing done and sets no standards; it is rule by the lowest common denominator. China doesn’t have democracy, and they are better governed than the U.S. Democracy is on its way out globally.

    What America needs is a Darth Vader to but us back on schedule and remind us that the Emperor is even less forgiving than he is. What America needs is a real imperial ideology to fit our status in the world, one that values science as the best means of increasing the Empire’s power. What America needs is a dark side revolution. Death to the Jedi! All power to the Empire!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bucqg3unq0I

  43. James

    If you’re looking for democracy, move out of the USA.

  44. Renee Marie Jones

    We do not live in a democracy. The two major parties suppress all opposition. They ignore the constitution and they corrupt the election process. In Arizona, where I live, it is ILLEGAL for anyone to count the votes for write-in candidates. Voter suppression and lies are the order of the day.

    At least Jill & Cheri are on the ballot this year. Maybe some day we will have a proper, functioning democracy in this country. Until then I will continue to tilt at windmills and “throw my vote away” on the only honest and decent ticket on the ballot.

    Go Jill!

  45. MaDeR

    @Wzrd1: this will not happen. You did read comments about voting on thrid-party candidates, right? These explain well why people will not vote for thrid party – it is feedback system aka vicious cycle. And two main parties would quell any thrid party that would had by some miracle any real shot to be more than decoration.

    System is not “partially” fossilized. It is set into stone and only revolution of bloody kind could change it – to something even worse (ensuring even more its petrification, as everyone prefer voting rethuglican/dimocrat to some kind of dictature).

    And don’t even get me started on “occupy whatever” movements – they lose by default, because they play by rules and behave. Poor fools.

    In my opinion, fate of american system should be warning to every democratic (not only in name) system in the world. I am afraid that two-party duopoly is result that democratic systems tends to achieve (or at least these systems that have rules similiar to USA). It is like life (leading almost always to its opposite – death) or free market (constantly going in direction of opposite system – corporate monopoly). You can only do what it takes to prevent or at least slow it. For USA it is too late.

  46. theholbert

    If I remember right Perot won for Clinton not Bush. A vote for a third party is not a wasted vote and to say its not an option and now isn’t the time to fix a broken election system is absurd. So when is the time? A vote for a third is a vote for fair elections, as 5% popular vote grants all kinds of money saving bennies to a third party, like equal ballot access and federal funding. In short, if your state is already assuredly red or blue, vote for a third party (Johnson please) . He wont win but the next election will be that much less stacked.

  47. David C. in Canada

    as a Benevolent Noootral, it saddens me that the greatest “democracy” in the world has such a disfunctional voting system, and form of “government” by Lobbiests. Your President and Congress weild such great influence in our world, even our day to day lives, outside of the Geographical United States of America, that it worries me too that so many people find reasons “not to vote”.
    As Phil said, and I have the misfortune or good luck to be in the same boat, this election and ones following it, will affect me less through time because of my age, but for you young ones, it is vital that you get out and vote, as it will influence the world you live in 30-40 years down the road, and the World of YOUR Children.
    And if you are like me and Phil, think and vote with your Children and Grand Children in mind… Vote the Kind of Country you would like them to live in… simple as that…
    I have never missed an opportunity to vote here in Canada, even if the candidate I voted for had a snowballs chance in He!! of winning. The votes are tallied, and my vote still counted… how it turned out was immaterial, I still had the moral right to complain or cheer later on… what moral right does an abstainer have… NONE!! so get out and Vote!!! The World and Your Children are depending on you!!!

  48. ZackS

    I have yet to hear a good skeptical argument for why a SINGLE vote matters. Anyone? Phil?

  49. Jan

    Sorry, not voting, since I’m not allowed to here. I voted in my national elections 2 months ago though, and we got a coalition government of our local Republican/Democrat-like parties. So even if significant amount of people would vote 3rd/4th/5th/6th party, you don’t always win….

  50. My attitude is who will do the most good as long as there isn’t a show-stopper with that candidate like he promises to start WWIII the next time he’s bored.

    To those who write in nonsense such as “Mickey Mouse” to “show your disdain”, I doubt it works out like you might hope it does. It makes you look crazy instead of as a protest.

    If you’re going to write in then write in who you truly believe should hold whatever the office is.

    I voted this morning and skipped several state votes because I didn’t look at the ballet I was sent in advance and I didn’t know whether to say yes or no to I think three people on the state Supreme Court. So I just left them blank. I feel like I abdicated my responsibility there but I couldn’t vote in good conscience when I didn’t know who I was voting for.

  51. theHolbert – you make a good point but I can’t do that because I live in Florida. In 2000 I was stationed overseas so my vote didn’t count twice. :)

  52. Alan Hamilton

    I just don’t buy the “no difference”. Just as a single example, had Gore won in 2000, it’s very unlikely the Iraq war would have happened. That’s tens of thousands of lives, not to mention trillions of dollars of difference. Thanks, Florida Nader voters.

    The Supreme Court is another issue. If you like Citizens United and want to get rid of Roe v. Wade, ensure Romney gets elected.

    And if you want a war in Libya, that’s the way to bet too.

    Yes, I know they’re not extremely different. Obama is certainly not the socialist the Right paints him as. But it’s going to be one or the other, and there is enough of a difference to matter.

    The way to get the third parties forward is on the front end — ie, raise money and advertise. That’s how Perot did it. By the time election day comes around, it’s too late.

  53. A vote for a third party candidate is always a vote for the major candidate you like least. As pointed out above Nader voters put Bush in office. Also Perot voters put Clinton in office. This year at least it seems that third party candidate has enough traction to matter.

    If nothing else, vote for the guy you dislike the least. Like it or not it’s a choice between two guys.

  54. Wzrd1

    @MaDeR, you must not have studied US history very well. The US has essentially always had a two party system, but periodically, those parties are replaced, one at a time.
    The current Republican/Democrat system started in Lincoln’s time, over time, both parties changed their original stances by 180 degrees.

    @CafeenMan, so we shouldn’t vote for Ronald Reagan? ;)
    I started my military career under Reagan. There were a few times we nearly had a thermonuclear confrontation-literally.

  55. Today’s election day!? I had no idea! Why wasn’t there any coverage on TV or radio or the internet or campaigners calling my house 50 friggin’ times a day making me constantly get up and having to listen to all the damn messages they left when I have better things to do like make toast?????

  56. uudale

    @Alan #52:

    Explain to me how Romney would get rid of Roe v. Wade.

    Even if that was his #1 priority, it would take more years than he would be president to be able to stack the Supreme Court with enough conservative justices who would overturn it. And those justices would first have to be vetted and approved by Congress. Then you would have to re-introduce and re-argue the case. Just not happening with the two-party system we currently have.

    Any anti-Romney campaign ad that says otherwise is just demagoguery.

    And I’m not entirely sure Gore would have kept us out of Iraq. Or Afghanistan. Or Libya. Just my opinion.

  57. eu

    actually i think science is doing great with obama!!! reddit.com/r/science
    go read people…
    romney is an old man with a old thinking in my opinion, and he seems pro war instead of progress through science like obama! Obama spoke about technological advances in alternative sources of energy, romney didn’t give a…

  58. mike burkhart

    I have always voted since I redisgerd. I have become an Independet and vote third party, to thoses who think it stupid let me say this :you are brainwashed by the Republican and Democratic partys they controll your mind, hey I understand the Democratic party used to controll mine,but then I broke free and so have many voters we Indepents are growing and we say free your mind from the two partys controll and join us if you relly want the goverment to do anything.

  59. Aerimus

    @Eric TF Bat:

    As a person who votes third party, I disagree. As BA says, perhaps the biggest third party right now is the Libertarian Party, and it tends to have larger support from disillusioned Republicans, so most of those are votes from Republicans, not Democrats.

    But my biggest objection is that when you vote Democrat because you hate Republicans (or the other way around), it is viewed not as a vote AGAINST Republicans, but a vote IN SUPPORT OF Democrats. I don’t support either, so I vote for a third party so that some Democrat or Republican can’t just lob my vote as part of their “mandate”.

  60. Renee Marie Jones

    Well, I voted. I was wearing my “I voted” sticker for a while, too, until O.M.G. I looked at it closely and saw that it contained A COMMERCIAL ADVERTISEMENT.

    The corruption of this country is just so total. It makes me very sad. When I was young, it looked like we had a chance to be something better. Now it seems that most of the population *wants* it to be something worse.

    *sigh*

  61. I live in Utah. Do you think my vote for science does much even at the local level? Not much really, but it’s starting to come closer to doing so as more and more of the “why vote, mine doesn’t matter where I live” people start to come out to vote. Yes, right now my vote isn’t going to make much of a difference, but I will NOT give up my right to a say in the government.

    Just vote. Even if you aren’t voting for who I want.

  62. Wzrd1

    @Arik Rice, you lucky soul. This SE Pennsylvania resident was repeatedly interrupted today by vote for Romney calls and one vote for Obama call from my father’s union. We had voted at 9:00.

    @uudale, Romney DID say he wanted to make the SCOTUS overrule Roe v Wade. Doesn’t mean it’ll happen, but he DID say it. He also said he’d “get rid of Planned Parenthood”, as though he could personally outlaw a privately held organization in the US. Just pandering to whoever he speaks to at the time, which is my greatest problem with him. I’ve listened to him change 180 degrees three times in a day, depending on who he is talking to at the time.

    @Renee Marie, it just goes to prove, look before you sign, look before you WEAR.

    @kelly, in my county, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, both the local republican and democratic parties supported a republican man for the state house. Over the wishes of the state democratic party, who we bluntly told to, errr, sod off. He made it to this election and is both the democratic and republican candidate. So, each vote adds up.
    Can’t agree more. Vote for SOMEONE! Even if it’s the “wrong one” (depending on who one asks). ;)

  63. uudale

    Wzrd1:

    I agree, actually, but c’mon, both sides engage in pandering.

    And I refer back to my original comment and to what you just said: How is he going to MAKE them do it?

    He won’t. So to my original point, any accusation of Romney doing just that is demagoging.

  64. Wzrd1

    @uudale, I didn’t mention it with Obama because I was LOOKING for him to do it and he failed to. He twisted facts, but that was the largest extent of his deceptions. Romney twisted facts as well, but also repeatedly outright lied.
    Frankly, I was fully expecting the bulls-errr, fertilizer to fly throughout the end stages of the campaign from both sides, but only one remained with outright lies that were proved false by fact checkers. The candidate whose campaign manager flat our said that “the fact checkers will not run this campaign”.

    Of course, when Clinton was in the midst of zippergate, I couldn’t understand why the special prosecutor even bothered, as his stated purpose was to prove the President of the United States of America, the premier politician of the land, was a liar. Which is like proving that the sky is blue on a clear day.
    Or that ducks quack. Or dogs bark.

  65. Christopher S

    Third party votes are totally relevant, especially if you don’t live in swing state.

  66. Regarding the discussions about whether a third-party vote means anything and what we should do about it:
    In a presidential election, a third-party vote really is a vote for Republicans. Borderline Democrats are more likely to think “outside the box” and vote for a third party then borderline Republicans. And no, a third party candidate isn’t going to win, not the way the voting is done now.

    However, the thing to do isn’t not to vote, or vote for the third party anyway because screw you that’s why (ok, fine, do it if it makes you happy). The thing to do is support Congresscritters who might be receptive to a bill to amend our voting system towards something like Instant Runoff voting, where you can vote for third parties while still supporting a mainstream candidate “just in case.” It IS possible, it’s just going to take some organization and grassroots work, over the course of several election cycles. If you don’t like the system, work to change it, don’t just complain that it doesn’t matter.

  67. MartyM

    I’d vote for evidence based policy makers, but alas we live in America. There are no evidence based policy makers. Only money based policy makers.

  68. RBoy

    2. Eric TF Bat:
    “Disagree on the “vote for a third party” suggestion. A vote for a third party is a vote for Republicans. ”

    Not in my state… in my state, a vote for a third party is a vote for a Democrat.

    Also, the people who voted for Nader would have voted for Gore is a nice excuse for losing, but there were otherwise Bush supporters who voted for Nader as well.

    But unlike Phil, your vote is wasted if you don’t live in a swing state.

    But I just about always vote the new guy… better to keep them guessing.

  69. Hey Phil can you help me on this one?
    I’m trying to understand how scientists and other lovers of logic, math, science and truth- especially truth(!) can support Obama?
    I’m not in any way supporting Romney, it’s just that I thought this would be the one election where the academia and science really start going over to the 3rd, 4th and even 5th party candidates.
    If a person loves truth and has principles it is basically impossible to support Obama,
    A man elected to invoke the super buzzword “change” has:
    Reinstated, re-signed into law, continued every single policy and law of his adversary (Bush).
    That is, by logic, he supports every policy of Bush, therefore he is like Bush.
    How can someone with any inkling of principles still support this guy? He is in effect the same person they propose to hate.
    And by Logic 101, if you do everything again, that is also definitely not “change”.
    So again Zero principles.
    But if that isn’t bad enough – he adds to the bad policies instead of revoking them.
    NDAA anyone?
    Kill Lists?
    More DHS,
    More TSA
    Drone strikes?
    More wars?
    More debt?
    More Race and Class based warfare anyone?
    How does that fit into the “proposed” Democratic Ideal Catalogue?
    Don’t the scientists and academia have the balls to vote for the other parties?

    What do you think about Ron Paul?
    He’s the only one who tells the truth in Washington!
    For example he was the only one who came out and said straight up – “Waterboarding is torture” all the dem’s and rep’s RATIONALIZED it – including Obama.

  70. @53 VinceRN: If nothing else, vote for the guy you dislike the least. Like it or not it’s a choice between two guys.

    THIS. You may not like it, you may want to protest it, but that doesn’t stop it from being true. The only way to change it is to lobby the people who are actually getting elected to try and change the system. And yeah, that’s a steep uphill climb, but at least it’s an actual path forward.

  71. Wzrd1

    @Joseph G, I’d go with instant runoff, recall elections and campaign finance reform support in our congresscritters.
    As for third parties, the democrats and republicans were third parties at one time. Tory, Whig, no nothing, etc all came and went and in Lincoln’s time, the democratic and republican parties formed. Then largely changed 180 degrees to their original views.

  72. Bandsaw

    I will respectfully disagree with Phil on this issue. If you haven’t bothered to educate yourself on the issues, if you don’t have a good idea of who you should vote for, or if you are the kind of person who needs to be urged to vote DO NOT VOTE. I’d rather have voters participating who have actually thought things through and are voting because they believe it is important, than a bunch of indifferent people randomly pushing buttons inside the booth. If you haven’t cared enough about it to this point, don’t change just because some rock star (or Phil) tell you that you should vote.

  73. Joseph S

    Why is it only a choice between one evil group who scoffs at the science behind climate change and another group that scoffs at the science behind feeding more people? Why not actually take the time to make a difference by doing some research and finding out which of the more than 30 people running for president actually believes in the things you, as an individual, do?

  74. drow

    if you’re not going to vote for either of the monopoly parties, consider writing in NdGT. a penny for NASA!

  75. Keith Bowden

    There are more issues to vote on than simply which person you want in each office at each level (national, state, local), there are the propositions, referendums, taxes, etc. to vote on. Educating yourself, to even a minor degree, is necessary in order to make your choices. It’s not simply a right or privilege, it is also a duty.

    I really hate the “my one vote doesn’t count” mentality. No, national elections have rarely, if ever, hinged on one single vote. The power of one vote is in many people making that one vote. Strength in numbers. One brick more or less is not going to affect a building overmuch. But if you are counting on many people to bring one brick to construct it and too many people think “my one brick isn’t going to make a difference,” well, the building doesn’t stand.

    Not voting is your choice, but my opinion is that you’re taking the easy way out rather than trying to piece together the whole picture of how each possible selection will affect the things that matter most to you. If you’re waiting for a “perfect candidate,” you are setting yourself up for disappointment.

    Now, on the lighter side of things, here’s a link to a nifty site that asks a bunch of questions and based on your answers evaluates how much each of the presidential candidates’ views match yours. http://www.isidewith.com/presidential-election-quiz

    I freely offer that my results showed I have absolutely nothing in common with Mitt Romney’s views and gave me a percentage breakdown on how the others fare with me in each of the broad topics. Jill Stein matched me just a smidgen more than Barack Obama (but i’m still happy I voted to relect anyway). No, I didn’t have to tell you who I voted for, but I chose to. :)

  76. I wonder if people who think “My one vote doesn’t matter because I’m just one person” also think “My one piece of litter that I’m throwing on the beach doesn’t matter.” These things add up.

  77. Number 6

    Bravo, Phil! Extremely well-said!

  78. Wzrd1

    @Kelson, I’d use a tax analogy. Indeed, each persons taxes add up.
    Just ask the Infernal Revenue Service!

  79. Matt B.

    It’s election day? I didn’t get any ads in my dreams about it. :)

    Phil, if you really care about politics (and presuming you’re a registered Democrat), go to the caucus and work your way up to state delegate (which is usually pretty easy) and maybe I’ll see you at the state convention in 2014. I’m 2 for 2 in getting to that level.

    @11 Russ – Actually your problem isn’t that it’s first past the post, it’s that the states (except NE & ME) use the unit rule to give out their electoral votes.

    @12 DanVeteran – If you don’t like your choices in the general election or even the primary, get involved in the party you like the most, and go to the caucus where you have a chance to decide who’s on the primary ballot. And seriously, John Adams? At least write in Thomas Jefferson. ;)

    @19 Ken_g6 – Oh, you poor doomed child. You’re in CD-5 aren’t you? I’m in CD-6 trying to get rid of Mike Coffman.

    @21 MTU says – “Leftwing activist and doco maker Mike Moore famously ran a ficus plant one year as a write in for Congress.”

    That must be why there’s a President Ficus in the card game Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot.

    @25 Jared Larsen – The presidential electors are chosen by the parties through delegates to House district and State meetings. It’s easy to become a delegate to these meetings. Once the popular vote happens, the state government chooses which party’s choice gets to be the state’s electors. Except in Maine and Nebraska, which use the state-wide popular vote only for the extra two electoral votes, and let the others be determined by popular vote in each House district.

    @48 ZackS – A single vote matters because every vote is a single vote. It’s not like a shareholder meeting, where people have different amounts of say. The winning margin is composed of single votes. Think of it like a reverse bandwagon argument. If everyone made the same decision you did, no one would vote and either government couldn’t function or someone would roll a die to decide who ran the whole show.

    @71 Wzrd1 – Um, yeah, we never had a Tory party in the U.S.

  80. Willy

    “The important issues, such as women’s rights to choose, freedom from religion, reality based education, advancement of science, are all good things, and if my one vote were all it would take to make those things happen I would happily get out there and cast it. But I live in South Carolina, and my vote against the Republicans, or for the Democrats, whichever way you want to look at it, would be like throwing a tiny pebble into a raging sea. It wouldn’t make even a momentary ripple.”

    Agreed, I am a rural resident of a largely blue state (Oregon). If I voted red, it would not matter as almost the whole rural area does anyway but Portland and the valley and the coast are mostly blue and way more populous so Oregon goes blue anyway. If I vote blue, well, still no difference. Not just my vote but the votes of the entire Eastern part of the state are just plain irrelevant in a presidential or senatorial election . Then there is local. Mostly evangelical nutbags so that would be a waste as well except for some isolated issues. The only things worth voting for or against are state ballot measures or some local issues.

    Hmm, there is that pot initiative….

  81. Wzrd1

    @Matt B, I misspoke it slightly, the Tories were loyalists before independence. Noticed it after the post timed out.

    @Willy, I’d go with woman’s rights to choose, freedom of religion or irreligion, evidenced based education, advancement of science and universal health care.
    Rather than being a religious ruled, dominating of women, ill educated, third rate industrial power that some are doing their level best to accomplish.
    And doing quite well at it too!

  82. AKB

    I’m hoping for the day that “No” is an option for everything on the ballot, including presidents.

    If you don’t know how to go on any issue (like you don’t trust the fine print) No is always an acceptable choice until they resort to plainer language. An informed choice is more important than just making any choice at all. If in doubt, throw it out, if they really want something passed, it will come up again.

  83. Gary Ansorge

    If we can just get the number of voters down to three, then MY vote will be the deciding one…and the old geezer will win again so, lazy, disenfranchised kids,stay home. I’LL do your thinking for you…

    …snark…

    Gary 7

  84. MaDeR

    @Wzrd1: “The US has essentially always had a two party system, but periodically, those parties are replaced, one at a time.”
    AFAIK there was time when party different than what today is Republicans and Democrats was in office. 18xx whatever, I’m too lazy to look it up at 1:30 am. Since then is eternal two-party duopoly that rots USA together.

    @Joseph G: “If you don’t like the system, work to change it”
    Haha. As long as you play by current rules, you can’t. What is left except complaining? Revolution? Please. They ends usually even worse.

    @Matt B: “go to the caucus and work your way up to state delegate (which is usually pretty easy)”
    I think Phil have better things to do than becoming parasitical scum that deserves only few grams of lead politician.

    “That must be why there’s a President Ficus”
    You know very well that fact of running it with any results at all matters and demonstrates how your system utterly suck. Plant was running for position in congress, not POTUS, BTW. It would won if not for speceism, booo hooo. At least I can say that rethuglican lost to pot plant. Always look for silver lining!

    “in the card game Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot.”
    And it is different from current state of affairs exactly how? Politicians was, are and always will live in la la fantasyland detached from so-called Reality.

  85. What Ithink is very sad is that whoever wins due to the hyper-partisanship and evenlysplit nature of US politics at present about half of the USA is going to really hate the result and be very angry, upset and scared.

    Please Americans try and remember both these men are just politicians and neither individual is evil incarnate or the messiah. Each party tends to think the worst of the other and the best of themselves – and I reckon for my two cents worth that its time all Americans remembered that their own party is fallible and that their opposing political team is also made of humans with good, patriotic intentions and are more complex and multi-faceted than any of the political caricatures, polemics and attack ads make them out to be.

    Whoever wins I hope the other political team accepts the result and move son and unites as much as possible behind the winning political side.

    The truth is neither side is likely to make progress and get all their wish lists and agendas through since the senate and Congress will probably be deadlocked again. An election loss -or win isn’t the end of the world and isn’t going to usher in any utopia.

  86. #86 Continued :

    Both sides please remember that an election loss – or win – isn’t the end of the world and isn’t going to usher in any utopia. (This, btw, goes for pretty much all politics and especially democratic elections everywhere.)

    If Mitt Romney wins – which I think is looking increasingly unlikely (maybe the media has misled us about how close this election really is?) – then Democratic party fans please remember he was about the most moderate of the Republicans on offer this round (Huntsman aside), came from a liberal state which he governed pretty well from what I gather and isn’t really an extremist.

    If Barack Obama wins then Republicans please ignore the conspiracy theories which are, as always, wrong. Obama ain’t the messiah but he ain’t an anti-Christ either, just a moderate centrist politician. Obama is sympathetic to Muslims, more so than I’d like, but he isn’t actually of that religion, he was born in Hawaii and is NOT a socialist or communist and his side are, predictably, disillusioned because he hasn’t gone as far to the Left as they’d like.

    I don’t think either person is their sides best choice for POTUS. I think Hilary Clinton, Rudy Guiliani, Jon Huntsman, Al Gore, Condoleeza Rice, Colin Powell and Newton Gingrich would all be preferable candidates but they’re not the options you have today. I also don’t think either choice is going to be a nightmare or the worst possible one either.

    Finally remember the pessimistic optimists* definition of the job of politicians which is that, as it is works in practice, any given politicians job is basically to disappoint their side of politics and fail to deliver on all the promises they make pre-election.

    So if your side doesn’t win; be reassured that the opposing side is just having its turn to fail to deliver and your turn to be disappointed by your elected representatives will come around eventually too. ;-)

    ————————————-

    * Or if you’d rather the optimistic pessimists definition which is identical.

  87. James Evans

    A few contributors like Russ, wfr, Jared, and Matt mentioned it, but no real discussion about it has taken off in this thread. Cmon, all you brilliant people, let’s hear your opinion, is an electoral college system, or a strictly popular vote system better, and why?

  88. Jack M.

    This is my first year since turning 18 that I haven’t voted (I’m now 30). I just moved to Massachusetts two months ago, and I just haven’t gotten around to registering in my new state. Luckily, my vote is unlikely to matter. Mass is going to Obama hardcore, and I think I’d be just about as happy with either Warren or Brown for senate.

    I kinda wish I had made registering a priority, but I was busy with grad school stuff. There’s always 2014…

  89. Grand Lunar

    A great post, Phil. And definately a good message.

    Glad too that you didn’t simply side with just one canidate. I think that makes what you say here more accessible to others. Far better, IMO, than a video about voting made by Pauley Perrette (she came across more like an ad).

    Glad too I voted early in the morning, getting that off my chest (so to speak).
    I guess tomorrow we see if reason will prevail.

    Incidently, I’m sick and tired of the support for anti-science and anti-reality canidates made in the household I’m staying in. I’ll be glad when this is all over.

    What would make this all worth it is Raymond Burr’s line from “Godzilla 1985″.
    I’m sure people here will know the one I speak of.

  90. Fizz

    @87 Messier Tidy Upper
    Well said sir. I think i agree with everything you say here. It is nice to see a modicum of non-partisanism, particularly on the internet.

  91. LEAPHTY

    YOU CAN NOT TAKE AWAY MY RIGHT TO ABSTAIN!! YOU CANNOT FORCE ME TO VOTE. MY CHOICE IS TO VOTE “NO!” I CANNOT, IN ALL GOOD CONSCIENCE VOTE FOR EITHER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. YOUR ATTEMPT TO SUGGEST I HAVE NO OPINION BY NOT VOTING IS VULGAR. VOTING IS A PRIVILEGE. ABSTENTION IS AN INALIENABLE RIGHT. DON’T MESS WITH MY RIGHT TO ABSTAIN.

  92. @81 Willy (and all those talking about swing states):
    The sad irony is that the Electoral College system was designed so that some large states wouldn’t have a disproportionate amount of power in Federal elections. And yet now a few states do wield a disproportionate influence – not by dint of population size, but a quirk of demographics.

  93. @87 Well said! No utopias or antichrists here. Ultimately, Congress decides what gets done and how, and recently they’ve been pretty darned dysfunctional. I’ll be happy if they can show any semblance of patriotism and cooperation when addressing the whole fiscal cliff issue.

  94. @92 LEAPHTY: VOTING IS A PRIVILEGE.

    It’s actually more of a cherished right that people have fought and died for. Also, I think your capslock key is broken :)

    In any case, your objection would still have more weight if you just filled out a ballot and wrote in “none of the above”. As it stands now, no one will ever even know that you decided not to vote for a reason other then being too lazy to separate ass and couch. You do have a right to abstain, but presumably you’re abstaining because you have a problem with the status quo. Which is quite understandable, but how do you intend to change it?

  95. LEAPHTY

    you don’t think the number of voting age folks not showing up to a poll is something that is kept track of? all ya gotta do is not register and you’re not allowed to vote. you have no moral jurisdiction over others to vote or to not vote. it’s a secret ballot and your desire for people to vote is dandy but your instruction to vote is illegitimate. your judgement of those who make a free choice to intentionally not cast a vote is immoral. voting is by no means mandatory. i will not need to fight for my right to abstain as it is also something for which folks have shed blood. i am quite apathetic as to the status quo. things will proceed as driven by psychohistory. step off, Beavis. (see, the CAPS key works just fine.)

  96. Calli Arcale

    LEAPHTY — are you seriously saying there are no elections in your area that you can have a meaningful vote on? The President isn’t the only one up for election. Last night, I voted not only for President, but also for a US Senator, a US House Representative, a state senator, a state representative, six different judges, two city council members, a county commissioner, and three different soil and water conservation officials. Also, I voted on two state constitutional amendments.

    Too many people vote for or against the President, but ignore all the other things on the ballot. Every four years, we get an awesome turnout for the election. The intervening years, not so much. And I think that’s kind of sad, because those local officials actually have more direct influence on your life. Why would disliking both major candidates for Prez induce you to ignore these other elections? Vote as Mickey Mouse as a write-in candidate for president, and then vote seriously on the others. I know a lot of people who do precisely that — they vote on the issues for which they care, and vote ridiculously on the rest. That way, you are still expressing your sentiment that you don’t want to vote for either of them, *and* you are casting your vote.

    Yes, you have the right to not vote. It’s none of our business who you do or do not vote for, or even whether or not you vote. But you brought up your disinclination to vote, and so we get to respond to that. And yes, there are actually attempts to keep track of the voting rate. Census figures tell them how many citizens of voting age there are. Subtracting those disqualified from voting (felons, for instance) gets you an idea of the total electorate. But the number of people who actively abstain (by showing up and casting their vote for someone with zero chance of winning) *does* get counted. Accurately. In my state, Obama & Romney collectively took 97.62% of the vote. That’s 2.38% who took the time to express their dislike of either candidate.

    BTW, there were at least six people on the ballot for President in my state. Not just two. Yeah, the others had no realistic chance, but that doesn’t mean you only had two options.

  97. LEAPHTY

    Thank you Calli Arcale for your observations. I perfectly understand that the presidential election is not the only election occurring when elections occur. I’m somewhat homeless so ‘local’ has something other than the common meaning for me. I drive a truck to pay bills for my mother so she has a roof over her head as well as now my son. I don’t take the time to research the candidates in the area of the address that is on my driver’s license. I will only vote for folks I can reliably vouch for. My father was deeply involved in local politics for years. He knew the candidates personally whether he voted for or against them. I applaud that. You have no knowledge of my personal situation any more than I know of yours. I do not instruct others on what to do with their vote and should be able to expect that others will respect my right to do with mine as I see fit. Just because someone is on the ballot that doesn’t mean they have any business expecting my vote. There are deal-killers with either of the most popular presidential candidates and none of the candidates has earned my vote. That is what’s necessary. I was only commenting on the presidential election because that is the fodder for the most popular discussion. My vote is mine alone and what I choose to do with it is my choice alone. No one has any business criticizing my decision. That’s the freedom people have died for. Anyone telling me what to do with my vote is disrespecting those that have fought for that freedom of choice. Peace out.

  98. LEAPHTY

    Oh, and there’s less paperwork when your inclination is to just not register. Sometimes I’d rather just be ignored and let us not forget that “ignore’ is the root word of ‘ignorant.’

    8*)

  99. Peter Davey

    I can’t quite remember, but was it “moron” that was supposed to be derived from a Greek word referring to someone who refused to play a part in public affairs?

    As Churchill once said: “Democracy is the worst possible form of government – with the exception of all of the others, that have been tried.”

  100. Chris Winter

    ZackS wrote (#48): “I have yet to hear a good skeptical argument for why a SINGLE vote matters. Anyone? Phil?”

    Here’s one: Voting rights are bragging rights. What I mean is that, once you’ve voted, you have a right to say you participated in the process of democracy and, if you get into an argument with someone who voted the other way, your position is the stronger because you went to the polls.

    Also, if you’re an opinion leader in your community, your one vote could influence other votes. I know everyone is supposed to make an independent decision; but that’s not the way it usually works.

  101. Chris Winter

    Arik Rice wrote (#55): “Today’s election day!? I had no idea! Why wasn’t there any coverage on TV or radio or the internet or campaigners calling my house 50 friggin’ times a day making me constantly get up and having to listen to all the damn messages they left when I have better things to do like make toast??????

    I worked a phone bank for the Obama campaign just concluded, so I heard this often. One fellow was so annoyed at getting three pro-Obama calls that day he swore he would vote for Romney if it kept up.

    I’ll grant you that a deluge of identical messages is beyond annoying. But you can always unplug your phone. If you have a cellular phone in addition to your land line, reserve that for personal calls.

  102. Chris Winter

    @Bandsaw (#72):

    I wish it were so. Unfortunately, we in the United States of America don’t have that luxury. Ignorant people are going to vote, and demagogues will do their damnedest to make sure they do. That looks to me like an argument for even halfway-informed people to vote.

    Along with that, of course, sharing information is important. In this election just past, for example, it was often pointed out that the math in the Romney/Ryan budget didn’t add up. How many people really heard that message?

  103. Matt B.

    @85 MaDeR – Being a delegate to a convention is not the same as being a politician, except that there is a bit of a competition to be national delegate.

    About the Killer Bunnies stuff, it’s a joke in a card game. Calm down, have some dip.

  104. LEAPHTY

    In some places in the United States it is actually illegal to influence someone else’s vote.

  105. Nigel Depledge

    Leaphty (96) said:

    it’s a secret ballot and your desire for people to vote is dandy but your instruction to vote is illegitimate.

    It’s not an instruction, it’s an exhortation. Obviously, no-one is going to force you to GOYA and make your voice heard in the ballots.

    your judgement of those who make a free choice to intentionally not cast a vote is immoral.

    Not really. Your choice to not even show up at the polling station (which, obviously, is your prerogative) is not the same thing as abstaining. As has already been pointed out, you can abstain by turning up and writing something along those lines on your ballot paper. If you don’t turn up you get counted as a “don’t care / can’t be bothered”.

    voting is by no means mandatory.

    Obviously. Whereas the use of an initial capital at the start of a sentence is mandatory, and your failure to use them implies that you revel in your ignorance.

    i will not need to fight for my right to abstain as it is also something for which folks have shed blood.

    Of course you have the right to abstain, but you have not abstained. As I have already said, you won’t be counted as an abstention by not turning up. Or were you not aware that abstentions and no-shows are counted separately?

  106. Nigel Depledge

    LEAPHTY (105) said:

    In some places in the United States it is actually illegal to influence someone else’s vote.

    What the hell are you gibbering about?

    What do you think all those TV ads, billboards, flyers and speeches are intended to achieve, if not to influence people’s vote?

  107. MaDeR

    There ARE illegal ways to influence voting. Like, for example “I will pay tou if you vote for X” or “If you will not vote for Y, I will break your legs”.

  108. LEAPHTY

    @ Nigel Depledge – revel in my ignorance? No, bonehead, it was intentional to leave out the capitalization as it had been brought up in an earlier comment, or were you ignorant of that? My method of abstention was not accidental, I just have more important priorities than being apathetically redundant.
    Someone DID instruct me to vote. That makes it an “INSTRUCTION.”
    I don’t care to be counted or to be not counted, actually. No one has any authority over how
    or to what degree I choose to abstain. You evidently think you can make blanket declarations about how other folks must comply with your set of standards. Well, y’all can go right on ahead and declare for all you’re worth from the mountaintop and still not amount to a hill of beans. No one needs to adhere to your standards, they do not apply to anyone but yourself. You obviously enjoy being a critic. Knock yourself out.
    Gibbering? I know what the billboards are for. Duh. Go back and read my comment three or four more times and you may catch on that I stated ‘in some places’ there are laws against voter influence. ’tis so, McGee.
    Now… go ahead and blither.

    Oh yeah, @Matt B… Isn’t it plain frustrating when the simplest jest still just seem to soar over some folks’ heads? Misconstrue seems to be the order of the day here. Goodness, I’m glad I don’t take any of this garbage seriously.

    Peace. Kirk out.

  109. LEAPHTY

    @ Peter Davey, I think you may be referring to the Smothers Brothers bit about who runs the country. The poor folk can’t afford many changes of clothing and are therefore thought of as the “less-ons,’ while the folks with the money can afford more clothing so they are the… ready for it?… the Morons.

  110. LEAPHTY

    ab·stain
       [ab-steyn] Show IPA
    verb (used without object)
    1.
    to hold oneself back voluntarily, especially from something regarded as improper or unhealthy (usually followed by from ): to abstain from eating meat.
    2.
    to refrain from casting one’s vote: a referendum in which two delegates abstained.

    It says nothing about having to register, Nigel. It also says nothing about showing up to the poll, Nigel. Neither does it mention any necessity for action to abstain.

  111. LEAPHTY

    @ CafeenMan– WWIII started 11/4/79

  112. Nigel Depledge

    Leaphty (109) said:

    @ Nigel Depledge – revel in my ignorance? No, bonehead, it was intentional to leave out the capitalization as it had been brought up in an earlier comment, or were you ignorant of that?

    The earlier comment was about your use of all caps.

    Your subsequent comment made ungrammatical use of no caps. The difference between intentional and ignorant failure to use initial caps is undetectable in the text. The nature of your comments made me assume the latter, for there was no reason to assume the former.

    My method of abstention was not accidental, I just have more important priorities than being apathetically redundant.

    It doesn’t matter why you don’t vote. If you don’t vote, you get counted as a no-show, not an abstention.

    If you wish to show your disapproval of all candidates – as seems to be the case – the only way to have this acknowledged is to abstain by marking your ballot paper appropriately.

    Someone DID instruct me to vote. That makes it an “INSTRUCTION.”

    No-one instructed you to vote. Let me quote Phil’s own words here:

    The BA said:

    Listen. I want you to vote.

    . . .

    You need to vote.

    Phil states his own wish (“I want you to vote”) and he states what he perceives as a need in all people eligible to vote (“You need to vote”).

    In my – and, I think most people’s – understanding of English, this is certainly an exhortation, but it is not, strictly, an instruction. For it to be an instruction, Phil would have had to use an imperative (e.g. “Go out and vote”), but this he did not do.

    I don’t care to be counted or to be not counted, actually. No one has any authority over how
    or to what degree I choose to abstain. You evidently think you can make blanket declarations about how other folks must comply with your set of standards.

    It has nothing to do with my standards, it has to do with what your refusal to go and vote means, and to whom it means that.

    You have chosen – for reasons that you have not made clear – that you express your disapproval of all the candidates by not showing up to vote. This you term abstention.

    What you seem to have failed to recognise is that it doesn’t matter how you view it. As an individual, you can only ever influence the system and the candidates by either voting or turning up as an abstention. No-shows get counted as “don’t care / can’t be bothered”, or words to that effect.

    There is an option for abstention that is open to all voters, which is to mark the ballot paper in some appropriate way. This would get your vote counted as an abstention. But, for the 2012 presidential election, you have been counted among the millions of voters who could not be bothered to exercise their right to vote. this is far more likely to be interpreted by election officials as apathy than as disapproval of the available candidates.

    And this relates to a core point about any form of communication – it doesn’t matter what message you think you are sending, it only matters what message the recipient thinks they are receiving.

    (I guess that, if you were to organise a mass boycott of the polls, then you would at least invalidate that particular election, but how would this change the candidates who stand?)

    Well, y’all can go right on ahead and declare for all you’re worth from the mountaintop and still not amount to a hill of beans. No one needs to adhere to your standards, they do not apply to anyone but yourself.

    As already stated, it has nothing to do with standards, mine or others.

    By the same token, you can declare your failure to turn up to be an abstention for all you are worth, and it means nothing. The message you have sent to the electoral system is that you don’t care enough to prise your backside off your sofa, not that you disapprove of the candidates.

    You obviously enjoy being a critic. Knock yourself out.

    If you wish to view it that way, then, sure, whatever.

    A different way of interpreting my criticism is that I am simply pointing out that your stated position holds no water. It does not stand up to even mild scrutiny, and you have obviously not thought adequately about the existence of a disconnect between what you claim and what your actions indicate.

    You have an opportunity to learn something, should you care to do so.

    Gibbering? I know what the billboards are for. Duh. Go back and read my comment three or four more times and you may catch on that I stated ‘in some places’ there are laws against voter influence. ’tis so, McGee.

    I don’t doubt this, but the point I made – which you missed entirely – is that there are legal forms of influence available nationwide. Obviously, there are laws against bribery or coercion to obtain votes for one particular side, but this is not what you said. You used the word “influence” without any qualifying adjectives (such as “undue”, for instance), and influence is exactly what all the adverts and so on are there to achieve.

    Now… go ahead and blither.

    I don’t need to, You have done more than enough for the whole thread.

    Misconstrue seems to be the order of the day here.

    If people are misconstruing what you are saying, maybe what you are saying isn’t what you mean?

    Goodness, I’m glad I don’t take any of this garbage seriously.

    So, your ancestors fought, bled and – in many cases – died to bestow upon you a right that you don’t take seriously. Geez. Self-centred much?

  113. Nigel Depledge

    Leaphty (111) said:

    It says nothing about having to register, Nigel. It also says nothing about showing up to the poll, Nigel. Neither does it mention any necessity for action to abstain.

    So what?

    This does not change the fact that no-shows are counted separately from abstentions in western elections.

    You still seem to be ignoring the message that you are sending to electoral officials and to the candidates themselves. If you actively abstain, you are sending a message of disapproval. If you simply stay home, you are sending the message that you don’t care enough to stir yourself.

  114. LEAPHTY

    No, Genghis Dunce, I’m just claiming that I don’t care to cast a vote for someone who has not earned it and that no one has any business deciding that My actions need to be any other than they are. I have better things on which to waste my time, like mock arguments on the wundernet.Who cares how an abstention is counted? You brought that up, I just said that, yes, they were counted after a fashion. Your goofy arguments are with yourself. I have more important duties to attend to than trying to live up to some bigmouth nutjob’s made-up expectations which are the fruit of his own self-indulgent fantasies that he wants to claim apply to all. Nope, ’tain’t so, McGee.

  115. LEAPHTY

    Something you’ll never admit is that ya gots no point, Nige.

  116. LEAPHTY

    I don’t own a sofa. Did ya MISS (<— capitalization) the 'basically homeless' reference, Nige? Pay attention. I'm working every day.

  117. LEAPHTY

    Those ancestors that fought, bled, died did so that I would have freedom to exercise choice, not be coerced or cajoled into voting for someone who has not earned that vote.

  118. LEAPHTY

    I meant I said and I said what I meant. Someone’s ability to twist it or misunderstand it may just darn well be beyond my control, eh? The original point had something to do with someone’s desire for me to cast a vote, did it not? Wasn’t that the point? Other claims to having “made” a point were simple rebuttals. Multisyllabication does not a point make. All I’m saying is that nobody gots da right to criticize others for their decision to vote one way or the other or not at all and that to not vote is to abstain. This ring-around-the-rosie is nothing more than someone’s inability to admit that another opinion holds just as much water without spilling so much as a drop on others.

    Again, peace out.
    sigh

  119. LEAPHTY

    Watch your balance there, Nige, lest you slip and fall off your latter.

  120. LEAPHTY

    Your semantics are drizzling all over the place.

  121. LEAPHTY

    ” If you simply stay home, you are sending the message that you don’t care enough to stir yourself.” — Now you’re catching on, Nige. My little chads’worth won’t be noticed by the beancounters, that’s right. It will be part of the total and I ask no more as I do not believe it’s worth my effort to meander to the polls. Maybe worth your effort but not mine.

  122. LEAPHTY

    has anyone seen a spare what? evidently there’s one missing.

  123. LEAPHTY

    Hey Nige… Do you walk to school or carry your lunch?

  124. Nigel Depledge

    LEaphty (116) said:

    No, Genghis Dunce, I’m just claiming that I don’t care to cast a vote for someone who has not earned it and that no one has any business deciding that

    Heh. Genghis Dunce.

    I was not suggesting, nor implying, that you had to cast a vote for any candidate. If you re-read what I posted you might eventually be able to work that out.

    What I am saying is that your stated reason for not showing up to vote doesn’t matter. If you don’t show up, you get counted as a “don’t care / can’t be bothered”. You have called what you did abstaining, and, sure, it fits the definition in your dictionary, but that means precisely squat when it comes to how votes and abstentions are counted.

    My actions need to be any other than they are.

    Again, I was not suggesting otherwise. What I did point out was that, as a no-show, you won’t be counted as an abstention and thus your disapproval of all candidates will not have been recorded as such.

    I have better things on which to waste my time,

    So, you don’t, in fact, care enough to have your disapproval recorded as an abstention.

    . . . .Who cares how an abstention is counted?

    Anyone who is trying to get votes, and anyone who cares about the state of the nation, for starters.

    An abstention is a protest against the options available. SImply failing to show up is mere apathy or laziness.

    You brought that up, I just said that, yes, they were counted after a fashion.

    Nope, you called what you were doing abstention, and you claimed that it was because none of the candidates represented your viewpoint. If you had shown up to have your abstention recorded, this would be all fine and dandy. However, since you did not show up, your disapproval of the available choices was not recorded as such. You will have been recorded as a no-show, which – irrespective of dictionary definitions – is always interpreted as “don’t care / can’t be bothered”.

    Your goofy arguments are with yourself.

    So how come you are attempting to answer them?

    I have more important duties to attend to than trying to live up to some bigmouth nutjob’s made-up expectations which are the fruit of his own self-indulgent fantasies that he wants to claim apply to all.

    My expectations are anything but made up. They are simply based on the fact that, if you don’t show up to vote, your vote is not counted as an abstention, you are recorded simply as a no-show. You’re the one who claimed that you did not vote as a protest against the paucity of choice (my paraphrase, obviously). I (and at least one other commenter) was simply pointing out that your protest will be ignored because of the way you did it.

    IOW, if you think failing to show up is ever going to achieve anything, you are deluding yourself.

  125. Nigel Depledge

    Leapthy (117) said:

    Something you’ll never admit is that ya gots no point, Nige

    Well, true, because I do have a point.

    If you can’t be bothered to go and record an abstention or vote, then don’t ever try to fool anyone into thinking it is as some kind of protest against the system, because no-one with any power to alter the system cares. The only way you can make them care is by recording a vote or an abstention.

  126. Nigel Depledge

    Leaphty (119) said:

    Those ancestors that fought, bled, died did so that I would have freedom to exercise choice, not be coerced or cajoled into voting for someone who has not earned that vote.

    Agreed. Did you have a new point to make?

    I never said you had to go and vote : I have said – repeatedly – that if you want to record an abstention you have to go to the polling station to do so.

  127. Nigel Depledge

    Leaphty (120) said:

    All I’m saying is that nobody gots da right to criticize others for their decision to vote one way or the other or not at all and that to not vote is to abstain.

    Yes, this is all you said, and it is still wrong, for the reasons given above.

    Repeating yourself does not make the statement any less wrong than it was the first time.

  128. Nigel Depledge

    @ Leaphty (121, 122, 123, 124 & 125) -
    What, do you think being patronising makes your argument valid?

  129. realta fuar

    Anybody who was undecided this LATE in the race should have their right to vote removed, permanently. and no, there was ZERO evidence there were a lot of undecided voters at the time this was written; you’d think a “skeptic” would you know, sorta look at the evidence? Nah, “skeptics” are smarter than everyone else, so they don’t need no stinkin’ evidence!

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