Tim Hjersted recently posted a fine article entitled “Anarchists Who Vote Versus Anarchists Who Don’t Vote: Is There Really Only One True Way?” over at www.filmsforaction.org. In this article he argues that it may be better for anarchists to look at voting as a tool in the activist toolbox, albeit, a very ineffective tool he admits. He then discusses the ratio of an activist’s time spent on activism vs. electoral politics and makes the point that it is better to be 50/50 compared to 0/0. Finally, he makes the point that notable anarchists like Noam Chomsky did indeed support voting.
You can read the article here.
As an anarchist, voting is repulsive to me. The very idea of giving the state recognition and ultimately legitimizing the political process seems to be in direct conflict with being an anarchist. If we did not take part in the voting, the wars, the police oppression, and so on, the state would lose the legitimacy that it requires to exist.
It is less important that voting is considered ineffective compared to the legitimacy of the state that your vote signals. I don’t care for the debate on whether it does some good or no good, because even the best option in this scenario is a minor band-aid on various issues.
Instead, I care much more that voting in government elections is an inherently authoritarian activity.
A pillar of anarchism is to eliminate unneeded hierarchies, and voting, instead, legitimizes this undesirable hierarchy. To vote is to give up your power and signal a master. This ‘master’ (master can be replaced by president, mayor, monarch, king, etc.) has now been giving recognition to proceed as he/she will. This individual will ultimately legislate across a platform of various subjects. It is quite foolish to expect this human being to be more competent than any other giving human being (especially the experts in the respective fields on the subject at hand) regarding the material. Through voting, you have imputed positive feedback towards this individual’s (really, the government’s) hierarchy over you.
Essentially, if it’s acceptable to vote, then it is acceptable for their candidates to hold power in a coercive government. If anarchists vote, then it is acceptable for them to encourage others to vote, and in this cycle, they become a part of the democratic party. This is clearly antithesis to anarchism.
For further reading on the Anarchist case against voting: Here.