In view of the wide variety of elections in recent years, the matter of not voting has become a hot-button issue. This could resurface as a major topic in the 2019 general election, which is expected to have the lowest turnout in years. What’s the point of voting if you don’t want to?
Abstaining might be seen by some as a sign of indifference or laziness while others consider it a legitimate form of voting.
What does it mean to abstain from something?
In general, there are multiple ways to abstain. Non-attendance at the polling location is the most obvious way to cast an uncast vote, although a defective ballot paper can also be used to do so. It is possible to refrain from voting on some ballots.
It’s possible that voting when you don’t know who or what you’re voting for is even more irresponsible. From this vantage point, it may appear wiser to abstain from voting altogether than to cast a ballot at random without knowing the implications.
Abstinence, on the other hand, can be difficult to comprehend.
By not voting, you’re showing your allegiance to the majority.
The abstention of an opposition voter may have the effect of supporting the majority vote if the majority wants to vote for something.
As an example, out of 20 persons, 10 of them want to vote for party A and 10 of them want to vote for party B. However, after hearing their leader’s recent address, you were disappointed in the policy goals of party B and decided not to vote for them. Because of this, you have decided to abstain.
Instead of a tie vote, which may lead to an additional election or the formation of an alliance, party A will prevail.
By not voting, you’re undermining the will of the people.
The minority position may be supported if a particular threshold majority is required.
The Orange Party, for example, needs at least 75% of the vote to secure a majority and win the election. 5 of the 8 voters want to cast their ballots for the Orange Party, while 2 want to cast their ballots for its primary competitor, the Pink Party.
This means that the outcome of the election will be decided by your vote. If you vote for the Orange Party, they will gain a 75 percent majority because you will be the party’s sixth voter. A re-election or a coalition may be possible if you vote for the Pink Party, as neither party will have the majority.
For those who are unconvinced about voting for the Pink Party, you can still undermine the Orange Party by not casting a ballot.
It has no effect if you don’t vote.
Changing the previous example is all it takes to demonstrate this point.
Suppose that the Orange party has six supporters. Now that the Orange Party has secured the necessary 75 percent of the vote, it will win regardless of how you vote or if you abstain.
You can use abstention as a method of protest to express that neither party is acceptable in your eyes. However, in this instance, not casting a ballot will have no effect on the final result of the election.
What are the ramifications of abstaining?
As you can see from the examples given above, elections are much more complicated in reality. A small percentage of voters can have a significant impact on an election’s outcome, although it is not unheard of.
For example, the 2010 coalition between the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives was formed as a result of a general election in which none of the three major parties was able to secure a majority. There’s little doubt that those who didn’t vote played a role in this decision.
Abstention, on the other hand, tends to strengthen the will of the majority. The abstainer effectively forfeits the limited influence they have on election results.
In the end, abstaining from something is more important from a moral standpoint than it is from a practical standpoint. Because abstaining does not count as a vote, it has no bearing on the outcome of a given election.
You’d be at the mercy of other voters if you didn’t vote, but you could also use it to express disapproval or protest.