Today is the day of the Chesapeake Primaries. Citizens of Virginia, Maryland, and DC get to vote for their parties’ presidential nominees. I live in Virginia. I don’t vote.
At some point I’ll write a longer essay justifying my refusal to vote in political elections, but here I’ll content myself to riff just a bit on non-voting. I’m prompted to so riff because, on the radio this morning, I heard a reporter proclaim "Let your voice be heard. Vote!"
My first reaction to this all-too-common claim is that no single vote is ever "heard" in any meaningful way. Whether your preferred candidate wins (or loses) by 10,462 votes rather than by 10,461 vote is irrelevant. How "heard" is your vote in such a case?
Indeed, my not-voting is surely heard at least as loudly and as relevantly as would be any vote that I cast. The lower the turnout in elections, the louder the message that the choices either stink or are too close to each other to matter. Why is this result not a message? Surely it is. Surely it speaks just as clearly and as loudly as does a vote for candidate Smith.
I have several reasons for not voting. Having my non-vote "voice" heard is just one of them.