There's always grousing about the many people who don't bother to vote. But look at it the other way: An estimated 133 million Americans will cast ballots in Tuesday's election. Some will persevere despite long lines, pressing personal burdens or the devastation left by Superstorm Sandy. Why do they do it?
It's not because any one voter has much chance of deciding the super-tight contest between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney.
A one-vote win is rare even in local or state races, which attract smaller turnout. The largest numbers of voters — about 6 in 10 eligible adults — come out for presidential years. Yet the presidency's never turned on just one vote, not even in the 2000 recount that flummoxed Florida.
It's so improbable that some economists and psychologists debate whether voting is a rational act.
"There is no question that from a simplistic rational view it doesn't make sense to vote," said Kevin Lanning, a political psychologist at Florida Atlantic University. "Even in Florida I'm more likely to be killed in an auto accident going to the polls than I am to cast the deciding vote in the presidential election."
Image: In this still frame made from video, voters wait to vote in Dixville Notch, N.H., shortly before midnight Monday, Nov. 5, 2012, to be the first Election Day votes in the nation. After 43 seconds of voting, President Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney each had 5 votes in Dixville Notch.