Selecting those who will govern by casting ballots

Voting is a method for a group, such as, a meeting or an electorate to make a collective decision or express an opinion, usually following discussions, debates or election campaigns. Democracies elect holders of high office by voting. Residents of a place represented by an elected official are called "constituents", and those constituents who cast a ballot for their chosen candidate are called "voters". There are different systems for collecting votes.

Free For All


Along Pennsylvania Avenue, by Murray Rothbard, Faith and Freedom, Oct 1954
Reflecting on the approaching election and the lack of "pleasant" choices, discusses United States politics drift toward socialism since 1933 and the steady subversion of the "right wing" of the Republican Party that began in 1940
"In his daily life, a man usually faces pleasant decisions. Shall he go for a drive, or listen to a concert? Shall he spend his money on a new stove or a TV set? In any case, he knows that he will get something he likes; he is choosing the greater of two or more goods. But in politics, the voter is always confronted with that dreary old litany: the lesser of two evils. Hardly an inspiring choice to make! He is always faced with a great moral dilemma: shall he vote for a candidate who advocates an admitted evil, and endorse all the evil acts which this politician will commit?"
Related Topics: Republican Party, Socialism
A Magic Day, by Charley Reese, 21 Oct 2006
"Before a foreigner can become an American citizen, he has to pass a test about the country's history and its form of government. We should require passing that same test before anyone is issued a voter-registration card. Any native-born American who can't pass a test routinely passed by people from foreign countries doesn't deserve to be allowed the privilege of voting."
Analysis of an Electronic Voting System [PDF], by Tadayoshi Kohno, Aviel D. Rubin, Adam Stubblefield, Dan Wallach, 23 Jul 2003
A Vote Note, by Paul Hein, 20 Jul 2004
"... after the general election, the loser for the Presidency ... pledges that he, too, will work with the man whose election, he had charged only a day before, would bring about the end of civilization. Wouldn't logic dictate that the loser express his horror at the appalling choice made by the voters, and pledge his undying opposition to the winner?"
Begrudging Another Battle of Ballot-Boxing, by Kenneth R. Gregg, 23 Nov 2006
Explains how those seeking power through politics are led to compromise, even if they are members of a group espousing principles over expediency, and urges others not to ballot-box but instead vote in the marketplace and the social realm
"Ballot-boxing is a process whereby one gives consent to being governed by another. Voting is the most common form of legitimization. It fulfills the purpose of political legitimization because one has tacitly and publicly accepted the principle that those who play the game must accept the outcome, no matter whether you are on the winning or losing side."
Bureaucracy and the Civil Service in the United States, by Murray Rothbard, The Journal of Libertarian Studies, 1995
Historical account of the evolution of the United States Civil Service and attempts to reform it, from its beginnings through the early 20th century
"... in elections, the voter is not presented with a specific program to consider: he must choose between a package deal of a legislator or chief executive for X number of years ... since there is no direct policy test, we arrive at the commonly deplored failure of the modern democratic process to discuss issues or policy ..."
Cast a Giant Ballot: Roger MacBride Made the Libertarian Party the Most Important Third Party in America, by Clifford F. Thies, The Freeman, Oct 1997
Memorial and biographical essay, discussing MacBride's influence on the early Libertarian Party as well as his involvement in the Little House saga
"By "breaking up" the election of the members of the Electoral College, it would be more probable that occasions would arise when no ticket gained the majority needed for election. Presently, the predominance of the general ticket system almost guarantees a majority in the Electoral College to the ticket gaining a plurality of the popular vote, e.g., both of Bill Clinton's elections ... MacBride entertained the specific possibility that the district method would reinvigorate the original idea of the Electoral College, so that the electors would be "influenced but not governed" by the popular vote."
Democracy Versus Freedom, by Jarret Wollstein, Future of Freedom, Jan 2006
Compares the definitions of democracy, collectivism and individualism, explaining why democracy and regular elections do not guarantee freedom, substantive rights nor peace, and that democracy is not a precondition for individual liberty
"Many countries ... have regular elections, yet systematically oppress their own people. ... North Korea ... and communist China ... Like the old Soviet Union, they have regular elections, elected legislatures, and even some choice of candidates. However, its all a fraud. Voting is mandatory. ... Many countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America also now have multi-party democracies but little freedom. Vote fraud is massive ... What of Western democracies? Things are better, but far from free of corruption, fraud, and manipulation of voters. Even in the United States, more and more people report their votes are not being counted."
Do Elections Guarantee Freedom?, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Nov 2007
Discusses whether democratic elections achieve the purported objective of "will of the people" controlling the government
"Elections are sometimes portrayed as practically giving people automatic 'remote control' on the government. Elections kindly provide a chance for people to pre-program the government for the following years. ... With current elections, people are permitted to choose whose pawns they will be. Voting is becoming more like a medieval act of fealty with voters bowing down their heads and promising obedience to whoever is proclaimed the winner. What if being permitted to choose a master once every four years is the primary 'freedom' left? Are citizens merely choosing whose vassal they will be?"
Don't Get Out the Vote, by Sheldon Richman, 14 Feb 2014
Examines the writings of Michael Huemer and Bryan Caplan on whether get-out-the-vote campaigns are in any way beneficial
"... a mass democratic system encourages voter irresponsibility. Because the consequence of any single vote is negligible, individuals have an incentive to vote on some basis other than an understanding of current issues ... Urging voters to do their homework is a waste of time, Huemer writes, because most will find that task prohibitively expensive and, anyway, the question 'Who is the best candidate' may have no answer."
Do You Consider Yourself a Libertarian?, by Lew Rockwell, Kenny Johnsson, 25 May 2007
Interview by Kenny Johnsson for "The Liberal Post" blog; topic include libertarianism, statism, war, elections, taxes, anarchism and the U.S. Constitution
"Johnsson: Who would you support in the 2008 elections?
Rockwell:I would like to see elections for public office abolished, and that is particularly true for the presidency. ... I'm cheering on Ron Paul because he is exposing the nature of the whole system. ...
Johnsson: Would you vote for a libertarian in any election?
Rockwell: I don't vote. Why play along? Your vote doesn't count, unless the election is decided by one vote, and you have far more chance of being killed on the way to the polls than that happening. Besides, the vote is the sign and symbol of the democratic state. I abstain."
Election 2014: The Good News and Bad, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Nov 2014
Sobering comments on elections, governments, democracy and why voting is of so little consequence to the individual voter
"Every public figure, including supposedly hardboiled news people, urges us to vote. 'Every vote counts,' they say. Balderdash. ... Think about the elections you voted in. Not one would have turned out differently had you done something else that day. Since no one vote is decisive, most people have no incentive to invest time and money acquiring the knowledge necessary to act responsibly on election day. ... How many voters study economics so they can competently judge what candidates promise to do? And how many study moral philosophy to better decide whether existing and promised policies are moral or immoral?"
Related Topics: Corporatism, Government
Evidence of a Stolen Election, by Paul Craig Roberts, 19 Jan 2006
Discusses Mark Crispin Miller's Fooled Again (2005) and the evidence about electronic voting machines supposedly used to "steal" the 2004 presidential election
"The non-partisan US Government Accountability Office (GAO) in response to congressional request investigated a number of complaints regarding the electronic voting machines. ... Some voting machines did not encrypt cast ballots or system audit logs, and it was possible to alter both without being detected. It was possible to alter the machines so that a ballot cast for one candidate would be recorded for another. ... The electronic voting machines leave virtually no paper trail and their use involves private potentially partisan corporations tabulating the votes with proprietary software that is not transparent."
Government Failure, by Sheldon Richman, 5 Oct 2007
Examines the validity of the concept of "market failures" as an argument for government intervention, reviewing arguments made by David Friedman against such meddling
"Representative democracy, he says, has a perverse incentive — a free-rider problem — right at its core: the voting system. 'In order to figure out both what a politician is doing and whether he should be doing it, the voter must spend substantial amounts of time and effort studying the issues and the politician's voting behavior. ... He himself collects only a tiny fraction of any benefit. Seen from the other side, he is bearing a large cost for a trivial gain — an increase of perhaps one chance in a million in the probability that the right politician will get elected.'"
Henry David Thoreau and "Civil Disobedience," Part 3, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, May 2005
Further examination of themes in "Civil Disobedience", including unjust laws, politicians and reformers, voting, when to resist the state and the influence on Gandhi
"To men who prefer a safe strategy, voting becomes a substitute for action and politics becomes a sort of game, ... only with a slight moral tinge. To Thoreau, anyone willing to leave moral decisions to the will of the majority is not really concerned that right should prevail. ... Moreover, Thoreau considers voting to be a poor vehicle for reform because voting follows real change; it does not precede or cause it. 'When the majority shall at length vote for the abolition of slavery,' he writes, 'it will be because they are indifferent to slavery, or because there is but little slavery left to be abolished by their vote.'"
Honesty among Thieves, by Michael Tennant, 30 Jul 2008
Discusses the case of a Minnesota college student who was prosecuted for offering his vote for sale on eBay (for a $10 minimum), and comparing that to the "gigantic" monetary and benefits promises made by both candidates Obama and McCain
"The state of Minnesota is prosecuting a 19-year-old college student, Max P. Sanders, for the crime of having offered his vote in this years presidential election to the highest bidder on eBay. He is being charged with this heinous crime ... under an 1893 law that criminalizes the buying and selling of votes ... Given these gigantic promises of free money, then, is there any doubt that the overwhelming majority of votes will be cast for the candidate who vows to give the voter or someone the voter likes, such as farmers, teachers, or defense contractors more of his neighbor's property than the other?"
Related Topics: H. L. Mencken, Barack Obama
In Praise of the Libertarian Party, by Harry Browne, 4 Jun 2004
Discusses the obstacles faced by the Libertarian Party due to the inherently two-party system, as well as the benefits of the LP presidential campaign
"The Republicans and Democrats have imposed the two-party system ... with five major types of laws. ... Campaign finance limits ... Reporting requirements ... Campaign subsidies ... The debates ... Ballot-access hurdles: The two old parties have placed enormous hurdles in the way of third-party candidates wanting to be on state ballots. In 2000, we raised $2.6 million. Of that $250,000 ... was consumed just trying to get on the ballot in Pennsylvania and Arizona alone. ... And because there’s so little media coverage, most people in turn consider a vote for a third-party candidate to be largely a wasted vote."
John Bright: Voice of Victorian Liberalism, by Nicholas Elliott, The Freeman, Aug 1988
Biographical essay, discussing in detail many of Bright's activities, in and out of Parliament, such as the repeal of the Corn Laws, opposition to the Crimean War, his view on colonial India and the United States, Parliamentary reform and Ireland
"Before 1867, only 16 per cent of British adult males had the right to vote. In the 1860s, Bright led a vigorous campaign for full manhood suffrage, secret ballots, and equal representation for industrial cities like Birmingham and Manchester. He rested his case upon two principles. First, since working people must pay taxes and bear the impact of legislation, they should also have a voice in government. Second, he expressed faith in the decision-making ability of ordinary people. ... Benjamin Disraeli presided over the 1867 Reform Act, which enfranchised two million additional men, and cleared the way for later reforms."
Laugh About It, Shout About It: To spoil or not to spoil in '04?, by Julian Sanchez, Reason, 1 Jun 2004
Discusses voting by libertarian-leaning individuals in the 2004 presidential election where LP candidate Badnarik was seen as a possible "spoiler" for the re-election of George W. Bush
"All voting is both principled and strategic ... There's a familiar collective action problem that arises from a purely strategic view of voting: Since the chance of an individual vote affecting the outcome of a national election is infinitesimal, then (insofar as affecting the outcome is the point of voting), a rational person doing a purely individualistic cost-benefit analysis will just stay home ... A purely principled vote would be a write-in for the individual you'd like to see take the White House in the best of all possible worlds, a description unlikely to fit any party's candidate."
Related Topic: Libertarian Party
Lessons learned: Libertarian reflects on his campaign and offers advice, by Richard Timberlake, Libertarian Party News, Jan 1994
Describes the background to Timberlake's campaign for city-county commissioner against a Democrat incumbent, his campaign activities, analysis of results and suggestions for other LP candidates and the Party itself
"A Georgia voter may vote a straight party ticket by pulling two levers, one for the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and one for all the other party candidates for office. The voter can thereby 'vote' without needing to think or know anything about individual candidates or issues. Local journalists claim that this system contributes to 'feel-good democracy' by making voting easier and quicker thereby encouraging a greater total vote. In fact, it aggravates voter irresponsibility, discourages challenges to entrenched incumbents, and solidifies dominant party hegemony."
Related Topics: Libertarian Party, Taxation
Lysander & Limited Government, by Fred Miller, Reason, May 1976
Argues that Spooner, although critical of the government instituted by the U.S. Constitution, was in favor of a legitimate, limited government, i.e., one that is voluntarily financed
"Since all voting is by secret ballot, an individual cannot identify those other individuals who selected as their representatives the legislators and the executive whom he is supposed to obey. Therefore, he can have no agreement with them. ... Since those who vote for higher taxes, repressive laws, and welfare-warfare benefits never identify themselves, they are nothing but 'a secret band of robbers and murderers.' Spooner's objection to majority-rule democracy by the secret ballot is fundamentally a moral one."
Lysander Spooner on the National Debt, by Sheldon Richman, 27 Sep 2013
Column examining the context of raising the national debt limit by considering what Spooner wrote in "The Constitution of No Authority"
"... Spooner handily disposes of the claim that voting or paying taxes implies consent. Since we are subjected to the government's impositions whether or not we vote — opting out is forbidden — any given individual may have cast a vote purely in self-defense, for the perceived lesser of two evils. ... when Spooner says the members of Congress only 'pretended to represent' Americans at large, he is referring to his earlier point that because the ballot is secret, we really don't know whom these alleged representatives actually represent, that is, whose agents they really are."
Related Topics: Lysander Spooner, Taxation
Lysander Spooner, Part 2, by Wendy McElroy, Future of Freedom, Nov 2005
Lengthy biographical and bibliographical essay; from 1852 to Spooner's death, examining An Essay on the Trial by Jury, the No Treason essays and his subsequent influence
"Spooner now explains why voting cannot collectively bind "the people" or even a particular individual to the Constitution. A rough listing of the points in his argument is as follows:
  • The act of voting can bind only those who vote.
  • Most people do not vote in any given election; many people never vote. Therefore, they have not consented.
  • To be binding, a vote must be "perfectly voluntary" yet a "very large number" vote in self-defense.
  • ... many vote only to prevent their money from being used against them.
  • A secret vote provides no legal evidence by which to bind any particular voter to the Constitution.
"Meet the New Boss. Same as the Old Boss", by Sheldon Richman, 11 Jan 2008
Examines politics, including themes such as "hope" and "change" of the 2008 campaigns, and explains why politicians cannot be expected to lead the way to liberty
"Note the dominant themes in the current campaign: hope, change, experience, straight talk. ... These terms ... are not meant to inform. They are meant to seduce. Unfortunately, most voters are waiting to be seduced — by a sound bite, a smile, a possible tear in the eye. ... As Bryan Caplan explains, since the consequences of the individual's vote are negligible, voters have every incentive to select candidates according to their own pre-rational prejudices, most of which run contrary to economic wisdom and libertarian principles. They vote for the man or woman who makes them feel good."
Related Topics: Health Care, Politics, Songs
Mexico's Advanced Auction on Stolen Goods, by Christopher Westley, Mises Daily, 10 Jul 2006
"Squeaky clean elections, if they ever take place, are unlikely to change the eventual results of corrupt ones. Perhaps this has always been the case, although it surely didn't matter in previous decades ... when executive powers were more restrained, making the president irrelevant to the average person."
Related Topics: Free Trade, Mexico
Misguided Democracy, by George Leef, Future of Freedom, Mar 2006
Review of Attention Deficit Democracy (2006) by James Bovard
"What if "throwing the rascals out" means only replacing them with other rascals? ... Attention deficit democracy is aggravated by the fact that most political elections are noncompetitive, owing to careful gerrymandering of districts. In the U.S. House, only about 30 out of 435 districts are truly competitive. The politicians have picked the voters they want, rather than the other way around. Bovard argues that we ought to regard elec tions as "reverse slave auctions" wherein the largely clueless mass of people get to select which gang of politicians will control their lives."
Oral arguments set in e-voting machine lawsuit, Libertarian Party News, Oct 2003
Ricardo in Parliament, by Edwin Cannan, The Economic Journal , 1894
Account of Ricardo's final years, as a Member of Parliament for the borough of Portarlington, discussing his actions and speeches on matters of general and economic policy
"The suffrage, he said, ought to be extended ... He inquired, 'Of what use was it that the power of choosing its representatives should be given to the people, unless the free exercise of that right were also secured to them?' The only way to give them this free exercise was to introduce the ballot 'Unless the system of ballot were resorted to, it would be in vain to attempt any reform at all of Parliament.' The 'wisdom of our ancestors' argument he brushed away with scorn. 'He thought the present generation possessed not only as much wisdom as any of those which had preceded it, but a great deal more."
Sy Leon, R.I.P., by Butler Shaffer, 11 Sep 2007
Recollections of the life of Seymour (Sy) Leon, Rampart College and the libertarian movement of the 1950s/1960s
"He formed an organization, 'The League of Non-Voters,' to critique the voting process as an illusion by which we are led to believe that we are controlling the political system. ... Through the League, he actively promoted the inclusion of 'none of the above' as an alternative to listed candidates for every office. While his ideas have led a few states to include such an option as a non-binding statement ... Sy had a far more powerful thought in mind. If 'none of the above' received the majority of votes for any office, that position would remain unfilled until a candidate more suitable to the electorate could be found."
The battle to make America wet again, by Nicholas A. Snow, 8 Mar 2017
Recounts how the 18th Amendment and National Prohibition Act were repealed, particularly through the efforts of the Women's Organization for National Prohibition Reform (WONPR)
"First, voters have little incentive to educate themselves about government policies. This 'rational ignorance' occurs because, for most people, the cost of being well informed greatly exceeds the benefits. ... Second, the errors made by ignorant voters are not random and therefore don't simply cancel each other out. Instead, voters' beliefs are skewed by systematic cognitive and ideological biases. And making matters worse, the cost of indulging such biases is often extremely low, with the result that even simple, easily verifiable facts often fail to persuade the voting public."
The Case For a Libertarian Political Party, by David Nolan, The Individualist, Aug 1971
A few months before founding the Libertarian Party, Nolan presents his rationale for establishing a new political party, after discussing four other libertarian activist strategies and admitting that "political approaches are inherently coercive"
"Thus, upon analysis, we can see ... our present two-party system ... drastically limits the range of choices open to the voter ... A truly libertarian party would draw support both from ... 'leftist' groups ... and from 'rightist' groups ... This would increase the political impact of the libertarian 'movement', as 'leftist' and 'rightist' libertarians now usually wind up voting so as to cancel each other (when they vote at all). Furthermore, libertarian votes now get lumped in with 'liberal' and 'conservative' votes, whereas the votes received by a libertarian party would not be hidden in this manner."
The Crazy Arithmetic of Voting, by Sheldon Richman, 8 Feb 2008
Reviews the "Voting Versus the Market" chapter of Bruno Leoni's Freedom and the Law
"I like Wheaties more than Cheerios. So I go to the store and buy Wheaties. Except for the rare occasion went the store has run out, I will bring home Wheaties. ... If I vote for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton, I have to wait to see if I am in the majority before I know if I get what I want. If 50 percent plus one voted as I did, great -- I get my choice. But what if 50 percent plus one vote for Sen. Clinton? I'm out in the cold."
Related Topic: Democracy
The Cruel Joke of Sacralizing Voting, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Feb 2014
Comments on an MSNBC TV spot implying that voting is the only way to express oneself that really counts
"Of all the ways to express oneself, voting is the way that counts least! Candidates typically hold a grab bag of vaguely stated positions (implied promises, actually), often contradictory, that they may not really believe or ever attempt to keep. ... If your voting can't determine the outcome of an election, attempting to determine it is a poor reason to vote. Plus, it takes time and money ... that could have gone to something that would have actually made a difference."
The Ethics of Voting: Part I [PDF], by George H. Smith, The Voluntaryist, Oct 1982
Examines libertarian and anarchist theory to provide a critique of electoral voting, i.e., voting for government officials
"I shall accept vicarious liability as a given within libertarian theory and proceed from this foundation. ... Given this fact, it follows that voters, in some cases at least, are deemed accountable by libertarians for the results of their votes (e.g., legislators who vote for victimless crime laws)."
Related Topics: The State, Voluntaryism
The Fraudulent Meaning of Elections, by James Bovard, Future of Freedom, Apr 2006
Examines the arguments raised in the debate between Democrats and Republicans in Congress over the certification of the 2005 Ohio Electoral College voters
"The 'debate' in Congress illustrated how elections are now about consecration, rather than representation. Elections have become something for rulers to shroud themselves in, rather than leashes used by the people. Politicians are obsessed with maintaining the imagined dignity of their class, not in resolving doubts about honest vote counting."
Related Topic: Republican Party
The Income Tax: Root of All Evil, by Frank Chodorov, The Income Tax: Root Of All Evil, 1954
Excerpt from Chodorov's book with the same title; discusses the effects of the 16th amendment to the U.S. Constitution
"... a people whose wealth is siphoned into the coffers of its government is in no position to stand up to it; with its wealth goes its sovereignty, its sense of dignity. People still vote, of course, but their judgment in the ballot booth is unduly influenced by handouts from their government, whether these be in the form of 'relief,' parity prices, or orders for battleships. Though it is not exactly an over-the-counter transaction, the citizen's conscience is bought. Nor are voters immune to the propaganda issued by the bureaucrats, in their own behalf, and paid for by the voters themselves ..."
The Myth of the Rational Voter, by Bryan Caplan, Cato Unbound, 6 Nov 2006
Posits that voters mistaken beliefs, in particular about economics, do not "cancel each other out" but instead they compound
"... if you know what a voter thinks is best for society, you can count on him to support it. Before we can infer that the policies that are best for society will actually prevail, however, we have to add the very assumption I am challenging: that the beliefs of the average voter are true. If his beliefs are false, his good intentions lead him to support policies that are less than optimal, and possibly just plain bad."
Related Topics: Democracy, Economists, Logic, Psychology
The Political Sterility of Jon Stewart, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Nov 2014
Highlights the dearth of poltical satire, as evidenced by Jon Stewart's backtracking on his answers about voting and earlier comment about Harry Truman
"That would have been satire. But it also would have struck too deep at America's civic religion, which holds that trudging faithfully to the polls every few years is the be-all and end-all of freedom. ... What I wouldn't give to see Americans react to Emma Goldman saying on television, 'If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.' No doubt she'd be burned at the stake."
Related Topic: Humor
The Rocky Road of American Taxation, by Charles Adams, Mises Daily, 15 Apr 2006
Adapted from the author's For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes on the Course of Civilization; examines tax resistance in colonial America up to the Jefferson presidency
"In 1787 no citizen could vote who was not a taxpayer; consequently, the delegates decided to have a legislative body of taxpayers' representatives where all taxation would originate. The requirement that all voters be taxpayers was not in the new constitution; it was a matter of custom ... The primary economic function of a legislature is to tax and raise money ... It follows that no one should have a voice in how the government's money is spent who is not a contributor. Conversely, if a taxpayer is not a voter, the process of 'consent' is undermined. Voters, therefore, must be taxpayers."
The Roots of Individualist Feminism in 19th-Century America, by Wendy McElroy
Introduction to Freedom, Feminism, and the State, a collection of 22 essays edited by McElroy
"As suffrage increased in popularity and attracted ideologically diverse women, Stanton and other leaders began to compromise subsidiary issues. Feminism employed blatantly white supremacist arguments to further suffrage, pointing out that white women would add to the white vote since they were more likely to vote than minority women. This argument was adapted to counter the fear of enfranchising immigrant women. Feminists suggested that millions of native American women were more likely to vote than foreigners, thus softening the impact of foreign morals exemplified by Catholicism."
The Triumph of Falsehood, by Steve Chapman, 8 Dec 2016
Discusses the proliferation of falsehoods in the news and social media during and after the 2016 U.S. presidential election and why the "fake news" sources tap into voters biases
"It's no accident that so many Americans choose to be uninformed or misinformed. Educating yourself about candidates and their platforms by getting reliable information has little payoff. Your vote, wise or foolish, rarely makes a difference in the policies that affect you. Being wrong about candidates generally costs you nothing, unlike being deluded about more practical matters. If you think you can fly, you will get a painful lesson when you leap off your roof. But if you believe that Barack Obama is a Muslim—as more than half of Republican primary voters did—you suffer no injury from indulging that fantasy."
Related Topic: John Milton
The Voting Ritual, by Butler Shaffer, 24 Oct 2006
Reflects on the U.S. Election Day in 2006 as the 42nd anniversary of Shaffer's "non-participiation in the voting process"
"The media priesthood has already begun ...: if there is something wrong ... we need to go to the polls to fix the problem. One of the media stalwarts has his own solution: 'go to the polls and vote out every incumbent.' Don't dare consider ... that there may be something fundamentally dysfunctional about the system itself. ... Rather than dutifully going to the polls to select from a narrow list of options provided you by political interests ... you might want to inquire into who is providing the cast of characters – and writing the script – for a performance you are expected not only to attend, but to cheer."
Related Topics: Ron Paul, Politics
UpdVote Harder: The Barack Obama Story, by Kevin Carson, 19 Aug 2013
Examines the results of progressives voting in 2008 for "the most anti-war, anti-police state Democrat in decades": Barack Obama
"In short, progressives voted harder in 2008 than they had in decades, electing a man who promised to radically scale back the total warfare and surveillance state and rein in corporate power. And the man they elected went 180 degrees opposite every last expectation. Worse, some of Obama’s most diehard "progressive" supporters ... are the most strident defenders of his betrayals. Do you really think voting even harder next time is the solution? No. All of this just shows what a monumental waste of effort and resources it is trying to capture the state."
Voting Is No Sin: Voting no more legitimizes the state than scratching legitimizes an itch, by R. W. Bradford, Liberty, Nov 1996
Bill Bradford's response to Wendy McElroy's "Why I Would Not Vote Against Hitler" essay (Liberty, May 1996)
"The problem with this argument is that it accepts as true a key proposition of the modern statist: that voting confers legitimacy on the state. ... Like all governments, the modern democratic state rests on the support of its subjects. It seeks this (and asserts its legitimacy) by holding elections. ... But elections are not the only means states have used to assert legitimacy. In medieval Europe, states asserted a legitimacy that came from the Christian religion, and demonstrated that legitimacy by sharing power with the organized church. Democratic elections played no part in the process."
We Aren't Children, by Sheldon Richman, Nov 2001
Discusses the freedom implications of three recent alcohol regulations in the state of Arkansas
"Voting does not sanctify tyranny. And speaking of voting, if we grownup Americans are so incompetent when it comes to making decisions about alcohol, why does anyone expect us to vote for the best people to hold political office? Either we are adults capable of regulating our lives or we are children. Make up your minds."
Related Topics: Arkansas, Prohibition
We the Sheep, by Joseph Sobran, The Reactionary Utopian, 7 Mar 2006
Comments on the U.S. (mostly) two-party system with a made-up example featuring the Prohibition and the Vegetarian parties, and then mixes in comments about the film Brokeback Mountain
"Maybe you voted Republican because you hated the way the Democrats always inch in the general direction of socialism. The joke’s on you! ... In a democracy, the creditors are called 'citizens' and the really gullible ones are called 'voters.' ... It's bad enough being a 'citizen,' so I decided some time ago not to compound my troubles by being a 'voter' too. This enabled me to see the world with an exhilarating clarity. Suddenly all the politicians bidding for my vote became comical little butts, like the figures in a Bruegel painting. At least I didn't feel I was their butt anymore. Their slave, maybe, but no longer their butt."
Related Topic: Democracy
What's Wrong with Public Schools?, by Sheldon Richman, Separating School & State, 25 Mar 2005
Excerpt from chapter 2 of Separating School & State: How to Liberate Americas Families (1994)
"Electing a school board official has little in common with picking a shoe store. ... No one citizen can decide who serves on the board. If a citizen approves of a particular candidate, he must persuade over 50 percent of his fellow citizens to vote for the same person. His one vote means very little. The margin of victory in most elections is far larger than one vote. The chances of any one person casting the deciding vote are smaller than the risk of being killed in an auto accident ... Besides that, the average voter has no strong incentive to exert the effort to acquire the knowledge needed to cast an informed vote."
Why I Do Not Vote, by Butler Shaffer, 14 Nov 2000
After recollecting his early involvement in the Goldwater movement, Shaffer explains why advocates of liberty and social order should refrain from political participation and voting
"Is there a case to be made for voting? Indeed there is, if one believes that social order is a quality that can be instilled, by violence and other coercive means, by political authorities. .... When we vote ... we are declaring ... our support for the process of some people ruling others by coercive means. Our motivations for such participation – even if they be openly expressed as a desire to bring state power to an end – do not mitigate the fact that our energies are being employed on behalf of the destructive principle that liberty and social order can best be fostered through the coercive machinery of the state."
Related Topics: Barry Goldwater, Politics
Why Limited Representative Government Fails, by Michael S. Rozeff, 17 Apr 2008
Presents a four-element theory of why limited representative government fails
"... those whom we elect have a bias toward using and expanding government, while we have a tendency to accept the government we grow up with ... Voting plays a part in this acceptance. By voting, we can maintain the fiction that we are in control over the government. We can imagine that government is limited. We can view the voting cum government as a species of self-government, rather than the imitation that it is."
Why this libertarian is voting to re-elect George W. Bush, by J. Neil Schulman, 21 Oct 2004
Explains his rationale for casting a vote for Bush in the 2004 presidential election
"I realize that most libertarians vote for president ... as an act of symbolic protest ... When I believed in symbolic protests I refrained from voting entirely, investing my energy in efforts such as the 1976 Vote for Nobody campaign. ... When I became a voter I gave up casting my ballot symbolically in any race in which I believed my ballot stood any chance whatsoever in effecting a preferable outcome. Purists have told me for years that "the lesser of two evils is still evil." I have learned to counter that argument with one taught to me by libertarian author Brad Linaweaver: "the lesser of two evils is less evil.""
Will the Democrats Become Part of the Problem?, by Paul Craig Roberts, 10 Nov 2006
Discusses the outcome of the 2006 U.S. mid-term elections and offers recommendations primarily for congressional Democrats
"Schneider reports that voters did not even know the name of the Democrats for whom they voted. Voters said: 'I am going to vote Democrat, because I don't like Bush, I don't like the war. I want to make a statement.' I believe that voters recognized that the peril of one-party rule is that political accountability exists nowhere except at the ballot box. With the Republican-built and -programmed electronic voting machines, even accountability at the ballot box was disappearing. Americans realized that they had made a serious mistake giving power to one party, and they rectified it."

Cartoons and Comic Strips

And Now For the Only Vote that Counts, by Tom Toles, The Washington Post, 16 Aug 2004
As the alien ship passes earth on its quadrennial voyage ..., by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 17 May 2015
Burt's Early Voting Opt-out System, by Wiley Miller, Non Sequitur, 5 May 2015
Electronic Election, by Mark Fiore, 7 Jul 2004
Faith will be playing a bigger role in this year's election, by Tom Toles, The Washington Post, 20 Oct 2004
Here's a story about McCain and Hillary reaching out to "Values Voters"!, by Chuck Asay, 19 May 2006
NewI'm running for re-election and here is my promise to you, by Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, 17 Sep 2020
NewI'm running for re-election and I'd like your vote, by Stephan Pastis, Pearls Before Swine, 16 Sep 2020
In the beginning, people picked candidates by where they stood on the issues, by Ted Rall, 21 Jan 2008
In the future, the people will complain all year about a corrupt congress, mired in stagnation ..., by Parker and Hart, The Wizard of Id, 3 Nov 2014
Voter fraud, by Tom Thaves (Thaves), Frank and Ernest, 10 Aug 2016
We won a contract to write software for voting machines, by Scott Adams, Dilbert, 1 May 2016


Attention Deficit Democracy, by James Bovard, 10 Jan 2006
Partial contents: Ignorance and the Mirage of Informed Consent - Fearmongering and the Battered Citizen Syndrome - Messianic Democracy - Lying and Legitimacy - Elections as Reverse Slave Auctions - Trusting Government at Any Cost - Democracy vs. Liberty
"Americans are supposed to sit back, confident that voting cures all political evils – as if the process for selecting rulers vaccinated the political system from harm. People are told that as long as they can cast a ballot, they will be safe. In a democracy, people are led to believe that they can easily apply the brakes to government, no matter how unstoppable it becomes."
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Democracy
The Calculus of Consent: Logical Foundations of Constitutional Democracy, by James M. Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, 1962
Partial contents: The Individualistic Postulate - Politics and the Economic Nexus - Individual Rationality in Social Choice - A Generalized Economic Theory of Constitutions - The Rule of Unanimity - Majority Rule, Game Theory, and Pareto Optimality
Related Topic: Democracy


Diebold Accidentally Leaks Results Of 2008 Election Early, 2008

George Carlin Doesn't vote, by George Carlin
A classic Carlin tirade
How To Pretend You Give A Shit About The Election, Today Now!, 2008

Message to the Voting Cattle, by Larken Rose
A most powerful message, based on the novel The Iron Web, read by the author
What Does It Mean To Be Libertarian?, by Steve Davies, 10 Aug 2011
Discusses the subject question, including what policy positions can be considered libertarian and others where there may differences of opinion among libertarians
"There are two responses you can make to the accusation that libertarianism is a politically irrelevant creed which condemns you to a complete lack of influence in politics. The first is the one that economists make, which is that as a single voter you're already completely irrelevant to the political process. The chance that your vote is actually going to have any effect on the process, will be decisive in any way, is minimal. You've probably got a greater chance of winning the lottery. And, therefore, you should simply be what you believe and vote what you believe as well."
Related Topic: Libertarianism

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Voting" as of 14 Nov 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.