I always have to chuckle when I hear people complain about low turnout for some election. As if the results would be more meaningful if everyone participated. But would they?
Aside from the fact that virtually all politicians are pathological liars, and never actually do anything they promise, would the outcome really be different if more people voted?
The argument for democracy is that elections reflect “the will of the people”. If such a thing as “the will of the people” exists and an election is a way to determine it, does it really matter if the turnout is closer to 100% or closer to 5%? Elections are really nothing more than unscientific opinion polls. Unscientific because the voters were not chosen at random, but represent only a select group of people that traveled to the polling place and cast a vote. This is about as scientific as an Internet poll.
Opinion polls, where a small sample size is polled, can be determined to be accurate within certain percent based on statistical calculations. Sampling is a valid way to measure things in many fields and should be just as valid when measuring “the will of the people.”
Maybe elections results should be reported to be accurate within + or – some % of the will of the people (WOP). When turnout is low we just say “voters chose X by 5% plus or minus 3% WOP.”
I can safely say that the results of any election you might have participated in, or planned to in the future, would not be any different if you had stayed home. Next time there is an election, write down who you would vote for/against and then stay home. The next day look at the results, they can usually be found online, and see if adding one vote to your guy’s tally would have made a difference. You have a better chance of being run over by a car on your way to of from the polling place than making a difference in any election.