Thursday, November 27, 2008

"My vote won't make a difference"

Entirely true and entirely false. The truth of this statement is purely down to statistics, and the failure of this statement is likewise also down to statistics.

Joe Smith makes the statement and decides not to vote. His vote is one in 15 million and quite obviously doesn't make a difference. His neighbour does the same - no sweat. The other neighbours also don't vote, and neither does the entire next street. In fact, the whole neighborhood doesn't vote, and neither does the rest of the city, or the province for that matter.

I hear you say: don't be ridiculous! Well, at the last elections, 40% of South Africa didn't vote, which I would guess is the population of two provinces combined. The ANC won about 66% of the vote, but would only have had 38% if the non-voters had voted against the ANC. What this indicates is that when you don't vote, you're actually voting FOR the ANC.

Ludicrous as it sounds, here is how this works. There are 10 votes available - 5 will vote ANC, 2 DA, 2 ACDP and 1 IFP. ANC would get 50% of the vote. One ACDP voter decides not to vote, so the ANC gets 5 of 9 now, which is 56% of the vote. By not voting because "his vote wouldn't make a difference", he has actually boosted the ANC from 50% to 56%, decisively acting in their favour.

Okay, so Joe Smith is one person. There happen to be several million Joe Smith's, and at this point we ask: how do we get that forty percent that Joe Smith makes up to now vote for a good party like the ACDP? I can think of no better answer than: one at a time, starting with Joe Smith ... and you?

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