I voted in 2016. I voted this year, too. I plan to vote in every election from here forward. But I used to not vote, deliberately, despite many people trying to convince me that I should. The story of their failed pro-voting arguments, and the one successful argument that I came to on my own, says a lot about how we push voting in all the wrong ways, and how we should change.
Why I Didn’t Vote Before
The main reason I didn’t vote was because I didn’t want to be like the people I perceived as “political.” People who talked about politics seemed to always be angry, argumentative, and so defined by their beliefs that they weren’t capable of objectivity. By not voting, I thought I was keeping myself from a slippery slope toward clouded judgement and self-righteousness. I took pride in my position as a calm, centered person who couldn’t be accused of being brainwashed by one party or the other.
The other reason I didn’t vote was math, and this is a tough one. The reality is (hear me out) that it’s highly unlikely that my vote will ever make a difference in the outcome of any election — we’re talking Powerball-level odds. If you’re pro-voting, I know that this statement makes you bristle with counter arguments (believe me, I’ve heard them all, and I’ll address some below) but this is a reality that you need to acknowledge if you want to convince people to vote. It’s difficult to win over someone who’s convinced that their vote is statistically insignificant, because they are objectively correct.
Of course, these reasons were just mine, and may not apply to every non-voter. But I think they’re pretty common sentiments among people who have never voted. If you’re trying to get someone to the poles, these are the issues that you’re probably working against.
The Arguments That Didn’t Work
The pro-voting arguments I encountered never worked on me, and it’s clear to me now why: they tried to work against my reasons, rather than undermining them. Here are few examples: