One of the most common grievances against elections is that it doesn’t matter if you vote because it won’t make a difference how the world is or significantly sway the outcome of an election.

What is an example of a political process in which votes do not get grouped into cohorts which land on one side or the other but every vote has a tangible, correlatable effect, in other words, some sort of continuous phenomenon where if one vote is 0.001% of the total number of votes, that vote directly carries over into the specifics of the outcome, that is, determines some value for 0.001% of the thing being voted on. I mean an election without the information loss of abstraction but a versatile, high-fidelity phenomenon which can handle embodying the precision of millions of votes; is one-to-one; one vote, one outcome; and therefore, since the outcome of your vote is fully deterministic, there would be no disincentive to do so, knowing that what you vote will be directly actualized as a direct consequence of whatever is being voted on. This could be thought of as “distributive” voting as opposed to “winner takes all” games / elections.

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    I think this is more of a spectrum than a category. Your vote has more effect in a proportional representation system than a winner-takes-all system, for instance. You might be interested in Liquid Democracy or Peter Emerson's Matrix Vote or Modified Borda Count, too.
    – endolith
    Feb 3 at 16:56

4 Answers 4


Australian public funding for political parties and individuals is tied to the number of first preference votes candidates receive. It is calculated as a fixed amount per vote making every vote count.

Public funding

The election funding amount is calculated as an amount per formal first preference vote for political parties or candidates who receive more than six per cent of the total number of formal first preference votes (this will be dropped to four per cent on 1 July 2022).

  • This says nothing of voting with ownership but staking for ownership (of "public funding for political parties and individuals"), unless "first preferential [outcome]" is different than plurality, perhaps the minimum truncated modicum of "6% [then] 4% [within the year]". Feb 2 at 21:29
  • @NickCarducciforCarfaceBank first preference outcome is a simple tabulation of first preference votes. Australia's PR system does not work on plurality. The funding doesn't map directly to parliamentary representation. It is distinct allowing every vote to count for something.
    – Jontia
    Feb 2 at 21:56
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    Excellent example without governance downside! Feb 2 at 23:16
  • The same is true in Germany and I would guess in various other European countries as well. Every vote in the German federal election gets the party around 1 Euro in public funding (provided the parties total number of votes is above some threshhold).
    – quarague
    Feb 3 at 11:01
  • Of course, the problem with the Australian system is that they don't also ban non-public funding of parties, so that vote alone isn't necessarily very meaningful still Feb 4 at 17:33

In general it's impossible to always get what you want (even to only 1/population %).

For example look at binary decisions. Should gay marriage be legal or not? Should war be declared? Should we land on the Moon? These are not problems that can be solved in a continuous way, that would allow to make all people a bit happy.

Anyway people would quickly see through this and vote tactically, i.e. I really want X but I know that likely I will get get only Y% of it, so I vote for a larger amount instead.

Just imagine an election vote for President for example. What if we all want to become president, will we get the job (or a tiny part of it)?

A better way to go about it is organizing majorities and finding compromises that make sense instead of trying to simply average everything.

Averaging may even lead to results disliked by anyone, say half of the people want to abolish cars and the other half wants to keep them, should we then maybe keep half cars with only two tyres?

Also the premise of this question is flawed. Voting of course makes a difference even if you are in a minority now. Often enough minorities and majorities exchange over time which wouldn't happen without voting. People cannot know for sure the outcome of a vote before they vote.


Shareholder, non-binary, and Stakeholder voting

A shareholder can vote on operations, but this can be dilutive to modicum pluralities, majority, or super majority.

Non-binary to ask once without even a general runoff elimination, much less shifting instant rankings.

Stakeholder voting can look after nonrespondents, too, with bestowing certain powers, like a default reconciliation, not to be confused with explicit approval voting (that) is still a ranking; (that is) not to the exclusion of non-binary rounds, (however), if they are at all different to Condorcet, the law of an a la carte supposition in contrast to a plurality, (the election) becomes binary with rankings’ eliminations and shifts.

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    I would disagree as a shareholder vote can be controlled by a few people or as few as one depending on the amount of shares they have. If a small group or induvial has a a controlling amount of shares it doesn't matter what the rest vote as that group will always win the vote.
    – Joe W
    Feb 2 at 20:37
  • @JoeW depends on the bylaws incorporated or notarized, of course. Feb 2 at 20:38
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    Every system for shareholder voting that I know if is that one share gets you one vote. Which means if a company has 100 shares and someone owns 51 of those shares their vote will always win. If the remaining 49 shares are owned one a piece by 49 people their vote will never matter and all 49 can vote against the 51 share person and they will never win.
    – Joe W
    Feb 2 at 20:53
  • For industry and state, non-binary, non-explicit approval pluralities are unitary by binary issues, which are always decisive with a smallest winning set as there are many choices and/or platforms. To maximize binary issue representation by sample modicum, make more choices and/or use approval voting for old ones. People are "strategic" to break the tie, unless something changes. Feb 2 at 21:02
  • That sounds like a lot of caveats that you need to add to your answer to explain that it isn't the typical shareholder voting that comes to mind when looking at your answer.
    – Joe W
    Feb 2 at 21:09

Frame shift: is this always desirable?

Let's say you want to build a road. It can connect to either a city 100km South or another city 100km North.

After tallying up all the votes, the balance is to build 25km North, to arrive nowhere. Does that make any sense?

One version of democracy is about everyone having a chance to choose a government - winners governs, losers wait tills next election, government is relatively free it its actions, within the given laws. Supreme Court and customs ensure limited powers by the government and the holding of the next election.

An example of that is the French government's rather unpopular decision to up retirement age to 64, from 62. Government is doing a bit as it pleases.

Another is for everyone to chip at a very granular level. Some versions of this are referendums. Or aggressively proportional representation.

They are a different approach, but not without their own drawbacks (self-serving taxes like California's Proposition 13, repeat elections like we see in Israel).

The above are very stark, oversimplified, outlines of the two approaches.

My take on this Q's proposal is that it would take the drawbacks of very granular decision making to a whole other level.

In a way, an election where everyone has a say in the government is like a parliament composed of each citizen of the country. Then parliament decisions are back to do "we do this or not?".

This is also why there is a general understanding that a government can't please all of the people all of the time.

it doesn’t matter if you vote

If you don't vote then you shouldn't complain about your government.

Finally, I would add that a variation "every person's views needs to be heard in government" (as opposed to during elections) viewpoint posited here is what earned British Columbia a third vote on PR in 13 years. After weeks and months of being lectured to that PR was only way to salvation from FPTP, the "backward curmudgeon voters" here rejected it resoundingly at 61%.

  • there isn't a proposal in the question
    – user253751
    Feb 2 at 20:58
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    how does that modify the objection however? I am saying sometimes you need a yes or no answer. Either are OK, but something in between doesn't make sense. In a way, an election where everyone has a say in the govt is like a parliament composed of each citizen of the country. Then parliament decisions are back to do "we do this or not". Feb 2 at 21:01
  • While I understand the philosophy of saying that if you don't vote don't complain that doesn't address the concern of a vote not mattering when the victory is decided by 10-20%+ of the vote and you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of votes if not millions. Sure it is great that you went out to vote but you can be left with the feeling that it doesn't matter.
    – Joe W
    Feb 2 at 21:53
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    This is just saying that for most political questions this would not be a useful feature for an election process. This is true, but not really what the question asks. At best it explain why this isn't very common.
    – quarague
    Feb 3 at 11:04

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