Aaron Powell and Trevor Burrus debate Jim Harper and Michael Cannon on the merits of voting.

Aaron Ross Powell
Director and Editor

Aaron Ross Powell is Director and Editor of Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org, a project of the Cato Institute. Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org presents introductory material as well as new scholarship related to libertarian philosophy, theory, and history. He is also co‐​host of Libertarianism.org’s popular podcast, Free Thoughts. His writing has appeared in Liberty and The Cato Journal. He earned a JD from the University of Denver.

Trevor Burrus
Research Fellow, Constitutional Studies

Trevor Burrus is a research fellow at the Cato Institute’s Center for Constitutional Studies. His research interests include constitutional law, civil and criminal law, legal and political philosophy, and legal history. His work has appeared in the Vermont Law Review, the Syracuse Law Review, and the Jurist, as well as the Washington Times, Huffington Post, and the Daily Caller. He holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a JD from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law.

Jason Kuznicki has facilitated many of the Cato Institute’s international publishing and educational projects. He is editor of Cato Unbound, and his ongoing interests include censorship, church‐​state issues, and civil rights in the context of libertarian political theory. He was an Assistant Editor of Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Prior to working at the Cato Institute, he served as a Production Manager at the Congressional Research Service. Kuznicki earned a Ph.D. 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?