The Near-Impossibility of Swing Voting (movie spoiler alert)

Last night I attended a preview of the new film Swing Vote, which is being released tomorrow. It revolves around one man, Bud Johnson (Kevin Costner), who through a series of odd events winds up getting to re-cast a botched ballot in a tied presidential election in the state whose electoral votes will tip the election to either candidate, New Mexico.

Such is the scenario often put forth by non-voters — given its extreme unlikelihood, the chances that your vote will make any difference in an election’s outcome are essentially nil. However, I doubt a discussion about the rationality of voting is what inspired the makers of Swing Vote.

The film moves toward a warm and fuzzy bipartisan ending that is intended to drive home the importance of voting — and becoming duly informed to do so — as a “civic duty.” Yet the movie’s premise is so outlandish that instead of a civics lesson, it rather reinforces the view of voting as irrational, an expenditure of effort toward no discernible effect (under normal circumstances, at least) — or, in other words, that there is no Bud Johnson.