Voting Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

Phillip Goetz demonstrates out that voting is both dangerous and irrational:

According to a recent study, on the day of a US presidential election there are, on average, an extra 24 auto-accident fatalities.  The study covered the past 32 years, not including this year.

The number of times that a single vote has affected the outcome of a US presidential election is, so far, zero.

[…]

So, the odds of your dying in a traffic accident on your way to vote would at first seem to be 24 * (1000/4) = 6000 times the odds of your vote changing the outcome of the election.  (Probably much higher. Those are the odds they would be if one person’s vote had swung the election once.)  The odds of your being disabled in a traffic accident on your way to vote would, similarly, seem to be 800*(1000/4) = 200,000 times higher than the odds of your vote swinging the election.

Of course, there are utilities to voting beyond the negligible chance you’ll alter the result.  A sense of civic responsibility, satisfaction from participation, catharsis, and so forth also factor in.

Further, there’s no reason to think that all of the additional 24 fatalities are people on their way to vote.  Rather, they’re owing to increased traffic and other systemic factors.  So, really, they’re in exchange for democracy itself, not 24 insignificant votes.

FILED UNDER: General
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Ask Al Franken’s lawyers if 24 votes is an insignificant number. Let me know what they say.
    (Chuckle)

  2. Bithead says:

    More seriously, the amount of citizens voting, is what? Usually less than 50%, isn’t it? If we don’t know of the people involved with those fatailities actually were involved in the voting process, how do we take voting as causal?

    All things being equal, less than half of those fatalities actually threw a lever, checked a box, or made chads.

  3. tom p says:

    According to a recent study, on the day of a US presidential election there are, on average, an extra 24 auto-accident fatalities. The study covered the past 32 years, not including this year.

    but this year they were all Obama volunteers.

  4. Triumph says:

    Voting Can Be Hazardous to Your Health

    The less people who vote, the better. Normally, when we have high levels of turnout, liberals win. If we can get more of the dingbat liberals to think that they will be hurt if they vote, we can have better results than we did this time around.

    Hussein’s people basically were able to steal the election by getting the dingbats registered and brought to the polls. If anything it is way too easy to vote in the US. We need to bring back the literacy tests and other mechanisms that activist judges implemented.

    Each time we made it easier to vote (Voting Rights Act, the 19th & 13th Amendments, etc…) the more liberal we got.