I haven’t voted within the statist political process for many years. As an anarchist, I choose not to legitimize the political process in that manner. As the popular bumper sticker declares, “Don’t vote! You only encourage them!”
Reading the words of 19th century American anarchist Lysander Spooner convinced me to make the final commitment not to vote within political processes. Within political systems voting is merely trading “bullets for ballots.” Both mechanisms use force and coercion for reasons other than self-defense. If the analogy is on target, then just as using bullets is an act of violence, so too is using the ballot an act of violence. Indeed, knowing that most political voting issues are actually legalized plunder schemes, whereby wealth and possessions are forcibly redistributed from one class of people to another, I would be hard pressed to refute that claim.
When registering to vote within an involuntary political society, an individual enslaves one’s self to be plundered. Political voting is an act whereby people believe they can impose their will upon other people, not through cooperation and persuasion but force and coercion. The act of participating in political voting is a belief that unprovoked violence against others is justified.
Political voting is mob rule, an act of abdicating self-responsibility and self-government to be ruled by others. Political voting is the illusionary act of empowering people to steal on behalf of others. Political voting is theft by proxy. Political voting is about power, not consensus. I can’t think of any way to describe such an association other than slavery.
Of course, voters do not directly commit violent acts, but they live by an illusion of empowering and legitimizing other people within the political system who do use violence to control people. The so-called various “law enforcement” people are the most prolific users of violence, including the many “alphabet soup” gangs. Remember too those same political actors use flawed and phony doctrines such as eminent domain and zoning to violently deprive people of lawful and rightful property. The simple threat of violence is actually an act of violence.
Registering to vote within an involuntary political society means an individual expects to plunder or be plundered. Those are the foundational rules of the political voting game. Only in true voluntary associations does voting possess meaning, such as in the local bridge club. With voluntary associations people always possess the option to vote with their feet and terminate their association. With involuntary political associations people cannot vote with their feet because jack booted thugs continue to steal under the color of law.
Registering to vote condones that process. Registering to vote indicates a willingness to be enslaved because in every vote the outcome is always the same — plunder under the color of law. The only thing unknown until the ballots are counted is who gets plundered.
Not that all voting is wrong. A case could be made for voting as an act of self-defense, or for voting for the rare legislative act that actually benefits all people rather than a privileged few. I suppose there might be rare occasions when a voting assembly is not acting to legally plunder. Furthermore, voting is legitimate when the results affect only those people who have provided explicit consent. Such votes are legitimate, say, within that local bridge club. However, such examples are rare in the political arena.
I don’t know the actual or estimated numbers, but most people do not vote. That number includes people who are “ineligible” to vote, people who are registered but do not vote, and people who are “eligible” but are not registered. That means the non-voters actually outnumber voters — by choosing “none of the above.” Of course, they have no “credence” or leverage within the illusionary political system, but that different perspective is a means of enlightening and teaching other people that not voting is a rational exercise of free wills. More importantly, such numbers show that many people — conscientiously or not — are declaring that statism has no relevance in their lives. Even more importantly, such numbers indicate how many people have chosen not to legitimize statism or the political process.
For me, however, not voting was insufficient. Being registered and not voting merely was a sign of apathy. I wanted to make an active statement that I no longer chose to willingly participate in the legal plunder scheme. Several years ago I wrote a letter and withdrew my consent on the voter registration card I had submitted. Just like that I was out. I had made an affirmative explicit statement that I chose not to legitimize the illusion of legalized theft under the color of law.
I withdrew the registration for other reasons too. Voter registration, even for those people who choose not to actively participate, nonetheless quietly provides implicit legitimacy to the political system. Being registered means quietly condoning the voting system. After all, nobody forces any individual to register. Thus, voluntary registration provides the tacit consent that John Locke carefully but erroneously tried to justify. My affirmative act to eliminate that registration means no longer can I be (rightfully) accused of inactively supporting the political system — at least not through that venue. Without that silly card, and by having affirmatively withdrawn the application, I cannot be accused of providing consent. Thus, confidently I can declare that any fiat statutory actions other people take against me are done without my consent.
Because I am not registered to vote within the political system, and therefore voluntarily do not vote, not one so-called “representative” can justly claim to represent me. Although many people wink at pretending to represent people who participate in secret ballots, the only certain fact is that I am not represented. So much for “social contract” theory.
Additionally, not being registered creates one less avenue through which statists can track or monitor me.
Common sense, as well as basic American history, teaches that not consenting to vote also means not consenting to be taxed. If only the modern political thieves would agree. Unfortunately, not being registered means I still face the threat of violence if I refuse to pay various bribes, but nobody can (rightfully) accuse me of providing implied consent to the various legal plunder schemes that are forced upon me through the ballot box. By not being registered I have standing to declare that those wealth redistribution schemes are indeed pure theft. By not being registered, no individual can claim that he or she “represents” me. If I was registered but merely chose not to vote, other people could refute my claims. However, I am not registered, and I possess a copy of a letter proving that I voluntarily and conscientiously chose to withdraw from the system.
Not being registered also means I don’t complain. Oh, I have standing to complain. In fact, I have that standing much more than any individual who participates in the process. After all, I have explicitly chosen not to participate yet I still suffer extortion. The individual who voluntarily participates fully expects either to plunder or be plundered. I can offer debate and articulate a defense against any forced and coerced political system, but I don’t complain. Why not? Because if I complain then adversaries will merely remind me that by not being registered I have “failed” to participate in the plunder game where I might have been able to change the outcome. Thus, by complaining I automatically set up myself for losing any discussion and never can win any argument. A fundamental rule that good negotiators learn is never make the first offer. First offers establish the initial boundaries and limits of negotiation. Likewise, complaining establishes first boundaries. Thus, by not being registered I have taught myself not to complain about political voting issues. Instead, I wait for a voter to complain and then I maintain control of the conversation because I did not make the first move.
Yet, there is a more important reason why I do not complain. If I complain then I admit to myself — and to the outside world — that I am in bondage. However, my positive effort to revoke my registration is an affirmative sign that I have chosen not to be in bondage. I have chosen to think and act independently of the masses. I might physically be a prisoner of the system, but I refuse to be a mental or emotional prisoner.
Although physically I am a prisoner of the political system, at least I can declare the bondage is not self-induced. Within obvious limits, I cannot stop other people from using violence against me. I can control only my actions and thoughts, not those of other people. Thus, I have nothing of which to be ashamed. Because I refuse to legitimize the political process, any violent action other people take against me — whether at the voting booth or otherwise within the political system — I know that I am innocent. My conscience is clear.
Often I have heard or read that, “One individual can make a difference. Your vote is important.” I agree. If every individual, one by one, stopped participating in the legal plunder voting ritual, the entire process would collapse and people could live quiet and peaceable lives.