As students prepare to cast their votes in today’s election, perhaps spending hours in line at their polling places, the question of whether or not to vote is at its most pressing.
The Texas Political Union held a parliamentary-style debate between government professor Brian Roberts and government associate professor Bethany Albertson on Monday night regarding whether or not to vote in this presidential election.
Arguing in favor of the debate’s resolution, “Don’t Vote Tomorrow,” Roberts said voting is both the most and least effective form of political participation.
“Voting in the presidential election is an utter and complete waste of time if your objective is swaying the outcome of the election,” Roberts said. “The probability that your one lonely, selfish vote will sway the outcome is vanishingly small, and you are empirically more likely to be hit by a car when going to and from the election booth.”
Roberts continued his argument to mention that when many individuals vote, they are essentially validating the institutions and choices presented to them and do not realize that in order to truly relay their disapproval of these choices, they need to abstain from voting.
“If you want to tell those bastards that you are not going to take it anymore,” Roberts said. “If you want to feel empowered and look at yourself in the mirror, if you want to restore our democracy, then for God’s sake, don’t vote.”
In opposition to the resolution, Albertson took the floor, affirming voting is not rational in the strict sense if the voter wants to sway the election, but since it is not costly for college students, it proves to be worthwhile in the election itself.
“It’s like buying a dollar lottery ticket,” Albertson said. “It’s not going to win you a billion dollars but it could. Buy that ticket, just do it, please, for us.”
Albertson countered Roberts’ argument by saying the health of the country depends on people voting.
“If we all didn’t vote, democracy would collapse,” Albertson said. “Our country regularly relies on people to behave in civically responsible ways. There are things as a country we need and voting is one of them.”
The floor was then opened to audience members so students could voice their views on the argument.
“You shouldn’t vote because voting is not relevant,” physics senior Paul Vonder Haar said. “If you care about these things, you should be getting other people to vote.”
Following closing statements from both sides, the 20 students in attendance voted 6-10 in opposition of not voting and four abstained.