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Aaron and Trevor debate Jim Harper and Michael F. Cannon on the merits of voting on this special Election Day bonus episode of Free Thoughts.

Hosts
Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor
Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies
Guests

Jason Kuznicki is the editor of Cato Books and of Cato Unbound, the Cato Institute’s online journal of debate. His first book, Technology and the End of Authority: What Is Government For? (Palgrave, 2017) surveys western political theory from a libertarian perspective. Kuznicki was an assistant editor of the Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. He also contributed a chapter to libertarianism.org’s Visions of Liberty. He earned a PhD in history from Johns Hopkins University in 2005, where his work was offered both a Fulbright Fellowship and a Chateaubriand Prize.

As director of information policy studies at the Cato Institute, Jim Harper works to adapt law and policy to the unique problems of the information age, in areas such as privacy, telecommunications, intellectual property, and security. He holds a J.D. from UC Hastings College of Law.

Michael F. Cannon is the Cato Institute’s director of health policy studies. Previously, he served as a domestic policy analyst for the U.S. Senate Republican Policy Committee, where he advised the Senate leadership on health, education, labor, welfare, and the Second Amendment. He holds a bachelor’s degree in American government (B.A.) from the University of Virginia, and master’s degrees in economics (M.A.) and law & economics (J.M.) from George Mason University.

The bleak prospect of living in a country governed by one of the major‐​party presidential candidates seems to bolster arguments against voting. Declining to participate in this year’s deeply unsatisfactory election may signal a preference for “none of the above” while denying personal sanction to the many wrongs and injustices governments mete out in our names. Not voting is a time‐​saver, too.

But non‐​participation in the vote may be an unwise option. Voting doesn’t just elect a candidate: it may signal to a variety of important audiences what direction the electorate would like the country to take. Perhaps voting is the best option available, even if other candidates and other systems of government would provide more liberty and prosperity. Failing to vote may waste personal power.

Is the best choice to vote one’s conscience, vote strategically, or not vote at all?