Under their current political system, the American chattel have a “civic duty” to voice their opinion about who they want as a representative. Every 4 years potential presidents spend billions on campaigns to excite the plebeians to “get out and vote!” to “make their voice heard!”. That money would certainly have more impact if spent on the actual causes that Team Red and Team Blue claim to care about. Rather than offer direct assistance, both parties choose instead to promulgate the most basic falsehood of possible: that your vote counts in the national election for president. Nothing excites people more than sports that matter least.
Let’s count the ways that the system ensures your vote does not count.
First, gerrymandered districts ensure predictable voting outcomes. Politicians regularly carve up their constituency in ways designed to support the current power balance, usually to protect the incumbent. From the national perspective, these districts make predictable state outcomes, whether Red or Blue.
Second, either others outnumber your vote when you hold the minority opinion or you vote with the tide. “In either case, your vote does not decide the outcome. In all of American history, a single vote has never determined the outcome of a presidential election”[Reason, 2012].
Third, the Electoral College can ignore the popular vote. “There is no national election for president, only separate state elections. For a candidate to become president, he or she must win enough state elections to garner a majority of electoral votes.”[Walbert, 2004]. Electoral delegates have no obligation to vote the same way as the popular vote of the state they represent, but they usually remain faithful.
Fourth, in the event that a state doesn’t have a clear position, the Supreme Court might decide. In 2000, the state of Florida did not have a clear preference, even after multiple recounts. When hearing the lawsuit over whether the recounts should continue, the Supreme Court accepted the de-facto power to decide the outcome of the election.
Fifth, Congress can decide. According to the rules of the Electoral College, “If no candidate wins a majority of the electoral votes or if the top two candidates are tied, the House of Representatives selects a president from among the five candidates with the most votes.”[Walbert, 2004]. According to this rule, Libertarian Gary Johnson has a chance in 2016 if he can win his home state of New Mexico [Wilson, 2016].
Now I’ve given reasons why your vote doesn’t count, let me address why it does matter.
South Africa endured many years of violence under the Apartheid regime. Many people and countries worldwide boycotted Apartheid, but the US government insisted on supporting the Apartheid regime, saying that while the US abhorred Apartheid, the regime was the legitimate government of South Africa. Then the Apartheid regime held another election. No more than 7% of South Africans voted. Suddenly everything changed. No longer could the US or anyone else say that the Apartheid regime had the consent of the governed. That was when the regime began to make concessions. Suddenly the ANC, formerly considered to be a terrorist group trying to overthrow a legitimate government, became freedom fighters against an illegitimate government. It made all the difference in the world, something that decades more of violence could never have done.
In Cuba, when Fidel Castro’s small, ragged, tired band were in the mountains, the dictator Batista held an election (at the suggestion of the US, by the way). Only 10% of the population voted. Realizing that he had lost the support of 90% of the country, Batista fled. Castro then, knowing that he had the support of 90% of the country, proceeded to bring about a true revolution.
In Haiti, when the US and US-sponsored regimes removed the most popular party from the ballot, in many places only 3% voted. The US had to intervene militarily, kidnap Aristide, and withhold aid after the earthquake to continue to control Haiti, but nobody familiar with the situation thought that the US-backed Haitian government had the consent of the governed or was legitimate.
You’ve Got to Stop Voting by Mark E. Smith
Whether your candidate has a chance or not, your participation in the vote directly demonstrates your “consent to be governed”. The politicians have a system of elaborate and arcane rules, which they deliberately devised to disenfranchise your voice. The political class cares far more about you checking a box than they do about which box you check.
“Boycotting elections alone will not oust the oligarchy, but it is the only proven non-violent way to delegitimize a government.”[Smith, 2012].