Voting is like playing the lottery

Posted: September 8, 2012 by alephnaughty in Politics
Suppose a number of candidates face off in a plurality-rule election. Excepting your vote, let the spread between the top two candidates’ vote totals be greater than one. Whichever way you vote (or don’t vote), then, the very same candidate will win the election.
Unless the would-be winner’s margin of victory is one or less, your vote cannot influence the election’s outcome. The probability of such a narrow spread is approximately zero.
Voting is not a very effective way of influencing election outcomes under most circumstances. It merely provides the possibility of influencing election outcomes. Similarly, buying a lottery ticket is not a very effective way of striking it rich under most circumstances. It merely provides the possibility of striking it rich.
Is the explanation of why people vote similar to the explanation of why people play the lottery? Are these the same people?
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Comments
  1. Coolgirl710 says:

    I’d say it’s more like a flash mob… you show up in hopes that enough other people will too. Voting in hopes that it will be a tie and you will get to be the one to break it and change history sounds a tad bit egotistical, no?

  2. alephnaughty says:

    It’s not about egotism. The point is that the outcome of the election is exactly the same whether you vote or not, and regardless of how you vote. Your choices are: (1) don’t vote; (2) vote for candidate A; (3) vote for candidate B; etc. I’m saying that no matter which you choose, the outcome is going to be exactly the same. So why bother?

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