Yesterday in the Philosophy club, several people voiced the opinion that early polls were anti-democratic. The argument goes something like this:
If you believe that the candidate you are going to vote for will lose, you are less likely to go vote for your preferred candidate. Polls let people know that their candidate is likely to lose. Therefore, polls make it less likely for you to go vote for your preferred candidate.
This was separated into two separate arguments, first simply polls, and second calling the election (even when right) early, so that people in CA find their votes irrelevant, since the issue is already decided.
If this is right, then in suppressing the vote, polls function anti-democratically.
It must be granted that turnout is lower when you know your candidate will lose. How much lower is very debatable, but excitement about voting leads to higher turnout, and close elections and knowing your going to win lead to excitement, and hence higher turnout. That is why campaigns try to make people excited about voting, flags waving, bands playing, balloons flying, etc.. So let us grant the argument.
The error is in the beginning. People are told they should vote "to make a difference" "so their voice will be heard." This is simply an anti-democratic view. The only time your really make a difference is when your vote is the deciding vote. The will to make a difference is therefore an anti-democratic will, the will to be the one making the decision. The will to be heard is similar, but also misses the basic point in a modern democracy: your voice will never be heard as an individual. You are 1 of 300,000,000 in the country. Your voice as an individual is the squeak of a mouse at a Rolling Stones concert. If you vote to make your voice heard, do not vote, it will never happen. It is the view that your vote must effect something, that your vote must make difference which is the anti-democratic spirit, and suppresses the vote more than anything else. With that view, your vote really does not matter, so why vote?
Now if your voice is part of a choir, a large choir, and the choir is only large when each individual sings her part, then your voice is heard, but not as an individual voice. We hear the choir, not the individual. That is the role of a vote in a modern democracy. And hence polls, or previous outcome, or it already having been decided is irrelevant. Whether the choir you join is the winner or the opposition, you are being heard. And if you have that in mind, the arguments above are beside the point. You vote win or lose, and as you vote, you take your place among the 300,000,000. When you vote, you become a citizen, a part of the body of the United States of America. Isn't that good enough? No, isn't that better than anything else? If you are not content to be one of 300,000,000, then you are not content to be a citizen of this country. It is that simple. And then what would you be content with? Your vote making the difference, your vote deciding, you being the decider... you being the dictator, which will never happen.
So the choice is yours. Do not choose to vote because your candidate will win or lose. Either choose to vote and be an active citizen of this country as it is, or choose not to vote and be a bystander with empty dreams of unachievable anti-democratic power.