Voting Advice

I won't advise you on whether or not to vote.  Libertarians are split pretty evenly between "Don't vote, you are just giving authoritarianism your blessing", "Vote Libertarian because it is a useful protest and message", and "Vote for the major party candidate who has a hope of getting elected who is least bad."  I will leave parsing all that to you.

However, if you do vote, I have one bit of advice I always give on propositions:  Your default vote for any proposition (as it should be for legislators) should be "no".  If its purpose is unclear, if you are not sure of the full implications, if you don't know how it is funded, if you haven't thought about unintended consequences, if you haven't heard the pitch from both the 'yes' and 'no' camps -- then vote no.  Also beware that many Propositions that seem outwardly liberty-enhancing are actually Trojan Horses meant to be the opposite.   Vote yes only if you have thought through all this and you are comfortable the new law would have a net positive benefit.

Also, via Maggies Farm, I think this is a good image for election day:




  1. craftman:

    I actually followed this advice for the election here in Colorado. There is a proposition regarding expanding gambling at horsetracks. The opposition is basically playing protectionist, claiming that the new revenue will be offset from the loss of revenue from Blackhawk and Central City. But the proposition is so poorly worded that while it appears to increase liberty - at the margin - it basically allows 2-3 individual business owners to benefit. So the default answer has to be no. I don't want to condone sloppy language.

    This is also another reason why I love it when people use the term "do-nothing Congress" as a pejorative term. If Congress is in session for an entire year and doesn't enact any new laws...we all win.

  2. Nash:

    I vote no on almost all voter initiated changes, even ones whose goals I support, because they are usually written from a narrow perspective without regard to practical considerations. In the same election, Colorado voted to freeze revenues and to increase spending on education by 3% per year.

  3. sb7:

    "But where are the clowns?
    Quick, send in the clowns.
    Don't bother, they're here."

  4. ErikEssig:

    Good advice generally, but here in NY one must be careful, particularly with regard to the few local propositions. Some are worded such that a NO vote is actually a YES vote for something worse than the status quo. Caveat emptor.

  5. Thane_Eichenauer:

    Send in the jugglers... eh, the Juggaloes... maybe we should just stick with send in the penguins...?!?

  6. Not Sure:

    If a business did something like this, government regulators would be all over them. Since it's the government doing it, it's okay for them to be as misleading as they like.

  7. jon49:

    Another reason not to vote. The issues are complex enough that even if you think it is good legislation it might not be. There are a couple of issues that are pretty straight forward. Vote no on giving the legislatures a raise (they always say they deserve more because of all the work. I would definitely say give them a raise if they did less work, like no work would be ideal). And if you are going to vote for people might as well vote for Barry Hess, 'cause we want to vote for the guy that is going to win, right?

  8. Hattori Hanzo:

    Voted in support of 487 (Phoenix) and 303 (Arizona).

  9. mahtso:

    In short, 487 may be the exception to the idea that you need to be sure there are no negative consequences to a yes vote. The issue there is that Phoenix's pension system is not sustainable and yes on 487 should help correct that by making new employees enter a different system. Will the new system have negatives? Almost certainly yes, but in light of the current system, the risk (in my opinion) is worth it.

  10. huadpe:

    I voted no on 4 of the 5 propositions on my ballot in NY, including no on an absurd bond proposal for computers for schools. Computers in the classroom are ineffective, and financing rapidly depreciating assets through a bond issue is insane. The only one I voted yes on was the amendment to the state constitution to no longer require a printed copy of each bill to be delivered to each assemblyperson and senator's desk.

  11. Larry Sheldon:

    I absolutely agree that if you do not like anybody, you should not vote for anybody.


    But I do think that you would be well advised to do what you do what you can to ensure that the people that DO vote, vote for the person likely to do the least amount of damage.

  12. TruthisaPeskyThing:

    If the majority of Libertarian votes would have gone to Republicans, the Republicans would have gained another Senator and a few more House Representatives. I do identify more with the Libertarian philosophy than Republican, but conservatives are shooting themselves in the foot -- and damaging the country -- by sending more Democrats to Washington. In issues of personal liberty and individual freedom, many decisions are going to be made by judges in the next few years. The more Democrats in Washington, the more active that judges will be in curbing our freedom.

  13. mahtso:

    This view seems to be premised on a binary system where it's a simple yes or no for each candidate, which it is not. The last presidential election serves the point: many people did not vote because Mr. Romney was not conservative enough (especially with regard to abortion) and these non-votes were enough to allow the President to win.

  14. Arrian:

    An example of this: North Dakota measure 6 was "...create a presumption that each parent is a fit parent and entitled to be awarded equal parental rights and responsibilities by a court unless there is clear and convincing evidence to the contrary; the measure would also provide a definition of equal parenting time."

    This sounds very positive insofar as divorce proceedings and adoptions go. But it was on the ballot at the same time as measure 1, which was basically a "life begins at conception." So, while I agree with the first order implications of measure 6, I couldn't vote for it because I couldn't be sure it was a back door to a paternal veto for abortions or something else like that.

    (Measure 7 was an easy "Yes" vote: "...It would repeal the requirement that an applicant for a permit to operate a pharmacy must be a licensed pharmacist, a business entity controlled by licensed pharmacists, a hospital pharmacy, or a postgraduate medical residency program." Unfortunately it failed, so I still can't get my prescriptions filled by CVS or Walgreens. The anti-7 campaign never actually explained how increasing competition would raise drug costs, but that seemed to be their primary claim.)

  15. mahtso:

    Here is (to me) a better example than my first one: in 2016, the blogger will get a chance to vote for Joe Arpaio or 2 or 3 others that will be on the ballot. Given the blogger's expressed feelings about Sheriff Arpaio, would it make sense for him to not vote unless he "likes" one of the others? That is to say, if he (or any voter) feels so strongly against an incumbent, doesn't it make sense to vote that person out of office? (As the saying goes, at times failure to act, is itself an act.)

    As an aside, will it make sense for a libertarian to vote libertarian in that election, rather than voting democrat to try an get the Sheriff out of office?