How to boost voting turnout and improve the quality of local government

by on August 19, 2014 at 3:54 am in Economics, Education, Political Science | Permalink

I did not know this idea was under consideration:

Los Angeles city leaders are considering a lottery system to reward citizens for casting a ballot in local elections, in a measure to combat low voter turnout that officials and outside observers say could be a first for any U.S. municipality.

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted 3-0 on Thursday to recommend that members of the City Council move forward with the lottery idea, either by putting it before voters as a local initiative or by adopting it on their own, said commission president Nathan Hochman.

The commission discussed a number of possible ways for the lottery to work, including the use of $100,000 to be split into four prizes of $25,000, or 100 pots of $1,000 for lucky voters who win the drawing, Hochman said.

The story is here, hat tip goes to long-time MR correspondent Daniel Lippman, who now is working for Politico.

File under The Polity that is California.

1 Adrian Ratnapala August 19, 2014 at 4:37 am

Just pick the officials by lot. The people who get in will be easily corruptible, but this will be an improvement wherever the status quo is “already corrupt”.

2 Andrew M August 19, 2014 at 6:03 am

Yep. It works for jury service.

3 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:10 pm

I think we do want elected representatives.

But selecting 10-20% or who knows maybe even 50% by lot. That would be cool.

Say … all people who vote also get put into the poll for being elected by lot, but are free to refuse if they don’t want it?

4 name August 20, 2014 at 3:47 pm

The trouble with that is that the people who want it are the most corruptible.

5 Nathan W August 20, 2014 at 7:48 pm

How does that differ from the present situation?

It’s not like we pay public officials a lot of money after accounting for all the grief we give them.

6 Luis Pedro Coelho August 19, 2014 at 5:17 am

Is this expected to work because people who buy lotteries tend to be better voters?

They should not choose the officials by lot, but a small number of voters. Give a vote to 10,000 randomly selected people. A different group every time.

7 Kyle August 19, 2014 at 6:52 am

I like this idea because it increases the returns for gathering information and being thoughtful, but one issue I have with it is that it makes it much, much easier to buy electors. Perhaps there’s enough civic obligation around it to keep people in line, but once it goes bad it could go really bad.

8 Luis Pedro Coelho August 19, 2014 at 8:29 am

I think making vote buying illegal (but not vote selling) plus ensuring secret ballot would go a long way towards ameliorating this concern.

9 prior_approval August 19, 2014 at 8:54 am

You do see the problem with ‘secret ballot’ and vote selling, right? And if not, I have a wonderful investment opportunity to offer.

10 Granite26 August 19, 2014 at 9:34 am

Maybe if there was some way of keeping the list relatively secret until after the election?

I like the idea, because it certainly feels less rationally ignorant with only a few k voters.

11 efp August 19, 2014 at 11:12 am

Or: require people to apply to vote. Applicants must pass a basics civics exam, otherwise chosen by lot for each electoral race. Chosen voters then must attend candidate interviews and assemblies for debate, with a secret approval-voting ballot at the end.

12 Jamie_NYC August 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

A literacy test! And I see your post already has the word ‘race’ in it… : -)

13 b August 19, 2014 at 8:23 pm

no representation without taxation and no female votes at all

14 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

No, no and no.

The counterargument goes back almost 2500 years.

The people who are ruled (hopefully these days led, not ruled) are most intimately aware of the impact of elite decisions on their lives.

This led Aristotle to argue that the middle class should have influence over their politial context.

And thus, I disagree with any system which would exclude people from voting on the basis of, well, anything. If you are human, and you show up, you should be able to vote. Even the various ID requirements which disproportionately impact poor and vulnerable populations stink to high heaven.

15 The Anti-Gnostic August 19, 2014 at 3:34 pm

That’s a silly, thoughtless position. It’s ridiculous to believe that the opinion of anybody who can fog a mirror and lives on transfer payments should count the same as a middle-class homeowner’s.

16 Pink Unicorn August 20, 2014 at 2:45 am

As silly as to believe that opinion of uneducated redneck should count the same as opinion of SV entrepreneur or college professor.

17 The Anti-Gnostic August 20, 2014 at 8:01 am

So you agree with me, thanks. And while we’re slinging pejoratives around, the uneducated redneck can generally be counted on to understand that you have to produce before you can consume and that government only transfers or consumes existing wealth, rather than the cargo cult-economics espoused by SV “entrepeneurs” and tenured state employees.

18 Pink Unicorn August 20, 2014 at 11:22 am

“uneducated redneck can generally be counted on to understand”

Any proof or you just conveniently took this out of thin air?

19 The Anti-Gnostic August 20, 2014 at 12:51 pm

I personally know and speak with a number of uneducated rednecks, including several of my cousins. You will just have to take my word for it.

I’m encountering more and more of this sneering dismissal of lower class whites by their upper class countrymen. Is there any other group out there whose upper classes hate their lower class ethnic kin more?

20 Pink Unicorn August 20, 2014 at 1:44 pm

I won’t take your word for it.

21 Nathan W August 20, 2014 at 7:57 pm

Sounds to me like you’re advocating for “some people don’t deserve the right to vote”.

Is it not enough that, due to lack of money and education, they can hardly pull any of the strings that can be pulled, that you have to go so far as to suggest that they should not get a vote?

Voter suppression tactics are despicable. It seems to me like you’re mind has been massaged to the point where you promote arguments which lend credibility to the notion that some people deserve ONE vote more so than other people should get ONE vote.

There should be a mandatory vote, like they do in Australia, where many are racist in practice, but at least will readily acknowledge the principle of equality between humans, for example, including the notion that every single citizen absolutely deserves at least a vote.

22 The Anti-Gnostic August 21, 2014 at 11:43 am

every single citizen absolutely deserves at least a vote.

You’re proof that democracy is a religion.

NO qualifications on this at all? Repeat felons, children, Down’s syndrome, traitors, every citizen?

23 John August 19, 2014 at 12:01 pm

It’s not expected to work in the sense I think you are using the term “to work”. The policy is simply a confusion about the desired political process at best. At worst, it’s an intentional strategy to increase the apparent legitimacy of the policies of the local authorities by claiming more support that truely excsts.

24 Adrian Ratnapala August 19, 2014 at 12:29 pm

I suspect it might produce a slightly better voting pool than otherwise. Some of the voters drawn in by the lottery will follow simple algorithms like “vote for the incumbent unless something really bad has happened this turn”. That rule will work better than a coin toss, and I expect political junkies and other keen partisans are only about as good as the coin.

25 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 5:30 pm

“vote for the incumbent unless something really bad has happened this turn”.

That was at one time the explicitly stated editorial line of the New York Times, back when it was more generically establishmentarian and not a smug haut bourgeois parody of sectarian politics.

26 8 August 19, 2014 at 5:22 am

Outcomes would be better if they paid people NOT to vote. If you go to the polling station and choose NOT to vote, you get $20. Or lotto tickets. Experiment to see what is the lowest cost way to remove as many short-term thinking voters from the voting pool as possible. I’d go so far as to trim welfare and other spending and really boost the pot, complete with advertising like with the lotto. “The Los Angeles Non-Voter Payout Has Reached: $100! All Non-voters are also eligible for a grand prize of $1 million!” Make sure everyone knows to NOT VOTE come Election Day.

27 NPW August 19, 2014 at 7:16 am

I hadn’t thought of this. The idea of paying people not to vote seems to be the inverse of having people pay to vote, but with the same outcome.

28 TMC August 19, 2014 at 10:55 am

Not the same outcome at all. Paying people not to vote eliminates many low information voters, paying to vote adds them.

29 NPW August 19, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Why would charging people twenty dollars to vote add more low information voters than paying people twenty dollars not to vote? I’m not seeing why that would be true.

30 Ricardo August 19, 2014 at 10:58 am

I would pay $20 for the right to vote for this proposition.

31 We live in interesting times August 19, 2014 at 11:45 am

I wasn’t aware a pack of cigs is $20. Wouldn’t a bottle of booze be cheaper?

32 John August 19, 2014 at 12:11 pm

The only real problem here is that the voters are not voring on specific policies but a representative with generalized positions — and not even required to honor/held accountable to their campaign claims for numerous reasons.

There’s little reason to think the the ore educated or those with more direct information on any given policy or even philosophical stance produce better outcomes both from the election or in govenrment actions. After all, the existing bias is for the more educated to vote over those will less educaiton. The policy advisors are all very educated and typically credentialed experts in their subject area and we still get the outcomes we do.

33 XVO August 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

Plus the only choices we have are between a giant douche and a turd sandwich.

34 Scott H. August 19, 2014 at 1:12 pm

I love this idea, but how could you prove that you didn’t vote?

35 Scott H. August 19, 2014 at 1:17 pm

If you could prove you didn’t vote then we wouldn’t even need the government to make this a reality. A private citizens group could get the job done.

36 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Every cross your mind that you would be eliminating people who sorely need $20, say, to buy some groceries, as opposed to short term thinkers?

Easy to turn down $20 when you earn six figures. Not when you’re weighing options being dahl baht with and without butter.

37 NPW August 19, 2014 at 2:55 pm

The presumption is that the group people who sorely need $20 to buy groceries intersects significantly with the group of people who are also low information voters.

It should also be noted that that voting bloc that falls under the category of being unable to have $20 to vote is not a demographic targeted during elections today when the votes are free.

It should also be noted that that voting block that falls under the catergory of being unable to have $20 to vote is not a demographic targeted during elections today when the votes are free.

38 nobody August 19, 2014 at 4:51 pm

Let’s be real, the policy was never meant to “improve quality of elections” — it’s to get the ignorant poor to turn out for the Dems

39 Nathan W August 20, 2014 at 7:59 pm

How do you get ignorant Republicans to turn out?

Get Fox News to infer he’s a Muslim? Any better ideas?

40 Pink Unicorn August 20, 2014 at 2:54 am

I think that better idea would be to let people vote only if they can write a short essay explaining why creationism is wrong. That would be a great idea to eliminate low information voters.

41 Alexei Sadeski August 19, 2014 at 5:24 am

Better idea: Only let people vote if they’ve gambled at least, say, $500 in previous year at local Indian casinos.

The gambling “Club Cards” can be used to track voter eligibility.

42 John Smith August 19, 2014 at 7:58 am

Two votes for the people that spend at least $500/year at Indian casinos AND have have proof of attendance for Gamblers Anonymous.

43 ThomasH August 19, 2014 at 5:58 am

Or for people who have contributed to a campaign/participated in get out the vote campaigns..

44 anonymous August 19, 2014 at 6:20 am

IIRC, some European government (Ireland? Sweden?) had a lottery in connection with individuals buying government bonds.

45 mucgoo August 19, 2014 at 7:15 am

UK premium bonds. Desirable due to their tax exemption.

46 ummm August 19, 2014 at 7:07 am

California: the land of super high taxes

47 j August 19, 2014 at 10:04 am

Except the property taxes are quite low…

48 Jay August 19, 2014 at 12:16 pm

Oh well case closed then.

49 Ad Nauseum August 19, 2014 at 5:13 pm

And property values quite high.

50 speaker August 19, 2014 at 7:16 pm

Nope. They aren’t low, they are a little under average, about 33rd out of 50.

It has one of the highest sales tax and incomes taxes in the country though.

51 Rich Berger August 19, 2014 at 7:28 am

Who knew that there is a shortage of low-information voters?

52 Andrew' August 19, 2014 at 8:31 am

Lots of infromed voters don’t vote, so maybe being informed isn’t what motivates informed motivators to vote. The more informed I get the less I vote.

53 John August 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

To me this suggests we should start counting the non-voters in the election results — and if the majority doesn’t vote the implication is we don’t need any active changes so no representation is required — the bureaucrats can keep the maching running per current rules.

The original strucutre assumed a limited government (not that it really ever acted that way) but the one thing it didn’t consider was that we don’t need to keep making new rules and laws so often should find ourselves in a position where we don’t need legislators in office.

Unfortunately that’s what we get. And we all know the old saying about idle hands.

54 Anon August 19, 2014 at 7:43 am

A way to get poor black people who love to gamble what little they have on power ball to vote. This will surely increase the quality of local government.

55 anon2 August 19, 2014 at 8:51 am

We should require that people show they deserve a vote. Like owning land or stock, or maybe by showing they can read or write English. If voters had to pay a fee to vote, we’d have a better informed electorate.

56 T. Shaw August 19, 2014 at 9:40 am


57 Mark Thorson August 19, 2014 at 10:58 am

First, take away the vote from fat people. Next, pass laws to heavily tax the types of food fat people eat.

58 John August 19, 2014 at 12:20 pm

Absolutely. After all a free society should be ruled by some elite, right?

59 Kevin C. August 19, 2014 at 1:02 pm

Every society, free or otherwise, is ruled by some elite (c.f Robert Michels, Vilfredo Pareto, Gaetano Mosca, Elmer E. Schattschneider, Gilens and Page, etc.). The only question is which elite.

60 Mark Thorson August 19, 2014 at 2:24 pm

People who make bad choices like being fat or smoking obviously should not be allowed to hold office nor vote for those that do. Restricting voting to people who make good choices won’t guarantee good government, but it will increase the odds.

61 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:41 pm

Yeah, that would be progress.

Why don’t we just revoke the constitution and return to monarchy as a mode of government?

62 Benny Lava August 19, 2014 at 8:01 am

Or they could make sure elections fall on national elections days every other November. And make that day a holiday. And make sure the lines at the polls were short. Or this. You know, whatever.

63 We live in interesting times August 19, 2014 at 11:47 am


64 Milo Minderbinder August 19, 2014 at 12:05 pm
65 SockPuppet August 19, 2014 at 8:09 am

Better Idea: Exclude from voting anyone who collects a wage/stipend from the government: elected politicians, bureaucrats, police, welfare recipients, farmers receiving subsidies, etc.

66 msgkings August 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Social Security? Medicare?

67 Urso August 19, 2014 at 12:21 pm

How about a weighted voting system that takes into effect expected life expectancy of the voter. For instance, a 78 year old suicidal obese chain smoker may not have to worry about the long term effects of whatever policy he’s voting for, while a healthy 21 year female will. So she should have more say.

Obviously, this is a terrible idea for any number of reasons, but it would make for an interesting dissertation.

68 XVO August 19, 2014 at 12:18 pm

give the vote only to net taxpayers. But you’d have to change the way people are taxed so it was always identifiable. This would be good on 2 counts.

69 XVO August 19, 2014 at 12:24 pm

Even better make the value of your vote dependent on how much money you net pay the government 1vote*(net tax payment in dollars/1000). So as long as you keep paying people through the government your group gets to control the government. Arguably, this is what we have now, it would just be more transparent and less arbitrary.

What could possibly go wrong?

70 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:42 pm

How about we exclude from the vote anyone who thinks we should exclude anyone from the vote?

71 XVO August 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm

So you?

72 msgkings August 20, 2014 at 12:08 pm


73 byomtov August 19, 2014 at 6:42 pm

Employees of companies that do business with the government? Members of the military? Real estate developers who might want a zoning variance? Students and employees of any university that gets government funding?

74 DanC August 19, 2014 at 8:41 am

Voting is already a lottery. People vote hoping that their candidate will reward them with some government largess.

Why do we want more voters who’s only motivation is personal enrichment?

Does society benefit from high turnouts at the polls? Or does it mainly help politicians with high name recognition, mostly incumbents?

If you increase the total votes does the marginal voter change? Which group will be the deciding group?

75 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm

Formal studies of voting behaviour often start with this assumption, but at the end of the day I think that quite a lot of people also have values, and this may also influence their vote.

76 S August 19, 2014 at 8:50 am

While handing out free lotto tickets may not be the most efficient patronage system, its probably one of the cheapest.

77 Dan Weber August 19, 2014 at 8:55 am

It’s claimed that this improves the quality of local government. What is the basis for saying that?

78 Granite26 August 19, 2014 at 9:31 am
79 Careless August 19, 2014 at 10:26 am

I don’t think that works when you’re actively seeking out the least informed members of the crowd to add to the input.

80 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:47 pm

What do you consider as “least informed”?

The people who will not vote for eternally lower corporate taxes until the government has to start closing roads and bridges?

Some people pay a lot of taxes. Others would like to earn enough money to make that complaint.

81 Urso August 19, 2014 at 3:03 pm

As we all know, rich people never cross bridges.

82 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 3:10 pm

What do you consider as “least informed”?

Wm. Buckley was interview (by The Progressive, IIRC) ca. 1982 and asked if he still favored disfranchisement of 30% of the adult population. Why yes he did, he said. Q: “Which 30%?” A: “The 30% which has never heard of the United Nations”.

83 Granite26 August 19, 2014 at 3:42 pm

Yeah… I hear ya.

If angels could administer informed voter tests for us and all that, though.

Turnout is, what… 40%? The portion of the population for whom an hour at the polls is easier than coming up with a dollar for a lottery ticket is what… the bottom 10%?

84 Jonathan August 19, 2014 at 8:58 am

Old news around the world
I interviewed a new PhD a couple of years ago who did her job market paper on a voter lottery in, IIRC, Brazil.

85 Jonathan August 19, 2014 at 9:02 am

Also: url=

86 Careless August 19, 2014 at 10:27 am

Not even the first time this has been discussed here

87 Tony August 19, 2014 at 8:59 am

What’s to stop people who know nothing and wouldn’t have voted anyway from going in, ticking a random box and getting their lottery ticket.
What a ridiculously stupid idea.

If the voting that already happens has any sort of overall expert or informed quality to it, that could immediately get diluted away completely by a crazy amount of random box ticking.
Insane stuff…

88 Mark Thorson August 19, 2014 at 11:02 am

If this passes, I’ll move to LA, change my name to Mr. Lucky Ticket, and run in their elections.

89 rpenm August 19, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Need to work on your probability theory there. Random votes cannot “dilute” the outcome. They will simply have no net effect.

90 Tony August 19, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Right. In theory there’s no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.

Election for 2018:
Candidate X gets 100 000 votes from informed voters.
Candidate Y gets 90 000 votes from informed voters.
Usually, candidate X wins and most people go home knowing the best, smartest, most deserving person won and then they eat apple pie and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Add 100 000 extra random uninformed voters to the mix and they could easily give Candidate Y the win by unintentionally going 60k to 40k in his favor.
In that case, the ‘wrong’ guy gets elected. The same thing could happen in 2022 but in the reverse order and X gets elected even though Y is the best candidate.

Over the long-term there is no net effect in the numbers, but the ‘correct’ informed outcome that the election should’ve had has been diluted away by the random voting.
And so you end up with 2 consecutive elections in which the wrong people got elected.

Dilute the ‘correct’ informed outcome is what I said. It’s easier if you just read what I wrote instead of what you wanted to see. Believe me when I say that that is a far better way of doing these things.

91 ladderff August 19, 2014 at 9:18 am

Nice job so far everyone; now let’s bring this home to its natural, unavoidable conclusion…

92 Richard A. August 19, 2014 at 10:34 am

This would bring out the low information voters. The quality of the politicians these voters would vote for would be low.

93 Mr. Lucky Ticket August 19, 2014 at 11:11 am

Whoa, there! You don’t know that! They might make very good choices.

94 XVO August 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm


95 Brian Donohue August 19, 2014 at 12:43 pm

I find your policy prescriptions oddly compelling.

96 Mr. Lucky Ticket August 19, 2014 at 4:07 pm

My constituents want many more and much larger prizes. I’m merely carrying out their will. The other voters can get the stuff they want, just as long as my voters get what we want.

97 Area Man August 19, 2014 at 10:48 am

Much better idea: make Election Day a state/federal holiday.

98 DKF August 19, 2014 at 11:30 am

A simpler, more coherent idea–simply require that state/local elections be coincident with national elections.
The amount of mischief that can be accomplished by a small and determined minority operating through a local-only election day taking place on a weekday in an odd-numbered year is quite significant, particularly through referendums, bond approvals, etc. Remove that, and you’re likely to improve local governance substantially.

99 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 12:15 pm

No. The federal elections would just upstage the local elections. Also, there are different issues in one than in the other and the ant-heap of candidates would fry people’s circuits.

100 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:51 pm


101 JC August 19, 2014 at 11:37 am

That’s Nudge.

102 John August 19, 2014 at 11:58 am

What a misguided policy!

Voter turn-out in and of itself is meaninless. What’s important is a political process that ensures representatives are pursuing policies that enjoy the support of a majority of the peope they represent — within the bounds of the government’s powers. This type of gimick is little different than simply paying everyone to vote which is only slightly more ethical than allowing the various candidates pay for votes.

103 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:54 pm

Low voter turnout is generally interpreted to mean that the population is so dissatisfied with all the options that they don’t even turn out to vote.

Low voter turnout is a big deal, although at the municipal level often it’s because people are not aware of how the outcomes will affect them, which is also a big deal, because so much of public services are administered at the municipal level.

Unless maybe in some cases in means that they are satisfied with everything and that’s why they don’t bother to vote. But since when did anyone ever claim that excessive satisfaction with government was a cause of low voter turnout?

104 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Low voter turnout is generally interpreted to mean that the population is so dissatisfied with all the options that they don’t even turn out to vote.

Or they cannot see that it makes a difference one way or another. Switzerland has a history of low-voter turnout.

105 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 12:13 pm

Your problem with voter turnout has several sources.

1. Lack of clarity about the responsibilities for various public functions. This is compounded by the manipulation of local governments through special-purpose grants by higher levels and through the officious judiciary. You need to strip courts of their autonomy to intervene in the policy-making process and replace special purpose grants with general revenue sharing meant to provide a revenue riser for impecunious communities on which to stand.

2. Too many elected offices with haphazardly overlapping terms. You need to reduce the number of elected officials and assemble a coherent and consistent electoral calendar.

3. Electoral practices which inhibit competition. Impose mandatory rotation in office (no more than eight years in twelve in a given office), mandatory retirement (at age 76), a high age bar for running (32 to 39 depending on the office), use of ordinal balloting in lieu of first past the post (single-transferrable-vote in multi-member constituencies, alternate vote for executive and judicial positions and for single-member constituencies). End strict equipopulousness as a standard in favor of a practice manual for drawing districts which inhibits systematic and abiding variation in representation but has regular rules for drawing districts.

4. In addition to court stripping, end executive vetoes and dispense with bicameralism.

106 rpenm August 19, 2014 at 4:45 pm


107 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:05 pm

Mandatory vote plus a “none of the above” option.

When seeing that 20, 30 or 40% will show up just to express how much the options suck, I think you will find many politicians getting far more interested in how to attract the votes of disaffected or otherwise disenfranchised voters.

108 NPW August 19, 2014 at 2:59 pm

Not unless “none of the above” can actually be elected. Otherwise we have the same system that we have today.

109 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 3:04 pm

You can append a NOTA option to ordinal balloting in single-member constituencies, most especially useful when only one corporal candidate qualifies for the ballot. If the NOTA option emerges victorious on the final tallies, the election is voided and a special election is held five months hence, with all the losing candidates debarred.

The utility of ordinal balloting generally is that it can be used in Louisiana style ‘jungle primaries’ and also removes a portion of the resistance to 3d party candidates and to 3d and 4th and 5th candidates in primaries as the votes of the trailing candidates are on subsequent rounds of tallying redistributed to other candidates farther down on the voter’s rank-order.

110 Tony August 19, 2014 at 1:36 pm

Voting needs to go to the internet or via text message. Done securely, obviously.
Put all your videos, materials and so on up on the pages for all the candidates and voters can check in, see who they think has policies that will help them and vote via phone, iPad or whatever.

I think this happened in India already for some issue in Modi’s party before the election.
Also, people could be more granular that way and policies would have the chance of being far more targeted with better results.

The internet is full of this type of thing anyway, why not extend it to voting?

111 Nathan W August 19, 2014 at 1:56 pm

We will need to be completely assured that the online votes cannot be effectively used to create political hitlists for those who vote for the “wrong” parties.

But I hope we will figure this one out soon so that online voting can also be an option.

112 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 3:06 pm

Voting needs to go to the internet or via text message.

Arrgh! I would refer you to an article by a computer science professor published about eight years ago in an academic journal of political science. It would completely undermine public confidence in tallies. He advocated a return to paper ballots.

113 Tony August 19, 2014 at 5:55 pm

Because public confidence is something that governments these days have so much of anyway (you did walk into that one). But, that sounds exactly like something an academic would say so no surprises there.

Frankly, I don’t care since I don’t vote myself but I can tell you that if you want people to interact in that way then you need to go to them and simplify it.
Amazon has secure one-click ordering, Bitcoin has its encryption, what I’m saying is if you want voting to be a thing in the future then you need to meet younger folks on their terms and those are them.

If that means less confidence in results over the short or even long term then maybe that’s a price worth paying if it means the eventual outcomes are better because their is more data getting to the end point.

What I’m saying is I don’t know and that professor definitely doesn’t, but it doesn’t take a degree to figure out that young people use phones and such and will gladly give an opinion on anything and that would include public policy if they were given the chance.
So unless these guys take a municipality and start doing some real-world research somewhere with this type of thing then voter turnout will continue to drop because it’s so ridiculously obvious that it’s not a customer-friendly process.

I don’t have the solutions though there are plenty of clever people who could come up with some, but c’mon this isn’t rocket science here.

PS. Pittsburgh or somewhere dropped rape counts by double digits or something because IBM using big data realized that pay phones were often connected with those crimes and so by moving the phones inside buildings the rapes dropped off considerably.
It’s common sense and so is taking voting to the people. If that requires some innovative thinking about encryption, privacy and so on then so be it but to say that it’s a non-starter because of one paper shows a complete lack of appreciation for an overwhelming force of history that will change group decision-making whether you or I like it or not.
The only real question is how many times we bang our heads against the wall before coming up with obvious and at the same time sensible solutions given the various trade-offs that need to be made.

114 Art Deco August 19, 2014 at 8:01 pm

Frankly, I don’t care since I don’t vote myself but I can tell you that if you want people to interact in that way then you need to go to them and simplify it.

Paper ballots are pretty simple.


Frankly, I don’t care since I don’t vote myself

Then you go on to run your mouth for several hundred words.

115 Tony August 20, 2014 at 3:59 am

Right, so I can’t have an opinion on it then. Thanks for clearing that up. Any other things I can’t talk about, or should I just run everything by you first.
Anyway, it seems like you’re just arguing for the sake of it so whatever.

All I’m saying is that that is the way things are moving. Obviously. Like horses to automobiles. Or fixed line phones to cell phones. We probably wouldn’t be having this discussion online if that wasn’t the case.
Paper ballots (with the form, waiting, etc) aren’t easy in relative terms. Sending my email from my couch is easier. Ordering from Amazon is easier. That is what it will be compared to by those who don’t vote.

But yeah, folks can keep voting up on that pedestal and keep it outdated or they can get with the 21st century and put it all at the touch of a button with some clever encryption or something included.
I’m just telling you how these things are clearly moving, if you like living with your head in the sand then go ahead.
No skin off my nose…

116 Albigensian August 19, 2014 at 2:36 pm

A basic problem in using money as an incentive (or disincentive) to vote is the difference in marginal utility of a fixed sum of money. Which is to say, $100. (or even the chance to win a lottery) has far greater value to someone who makes $20,000./year than to someone with an income of $200,000./year.

And for those who mostly subsist on some form of government welfare, the utility of cash may be zero (or even negative), depending on its effect on their benefits. (Although if you truly want to turn elections into auctions of not-yet-stolen goods, you might make voting a requirement to receive benefits).

So, if we’re going to have a disincentive to vote, how about ten hours of public service? The cash value of ten hours is far higher to the high-earner, but its personal value should be about the same.

Or, we could reserve the vote for those who volunteer for military service, as in Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. Although I think you’d need a constitutional amendment for that.

Or we could admit that’s there’s just too much room for mischief once incentives (other than those which follow naturally) are used to encourage or discourage voting.

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118 Shane M August 19, 2014 at 6:11 pm

This will increase voter turnout. Seems many don’t want that, for better or worse. Based on the behavioral studies I’d expect fewer larger prizes would create more turnout than many smaller prizes.

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120 Jay August 19, 2014 at 10:14 pm

Anyone who thinks we need more people voting is innumerate and needs to be introduced to voting game theory. In a purely rational world everyone would wake up on election day and run a random number generator for integers from 1 to 1,000 for national elections (or 1 to 100 for local elections). If you get an even prime number you go vote.

Since we don’t live in a world of rational actors we need to induce such action. We could do this by randomly selecting a 3 digit number (including the possibility of leading zero’s i.e. 052). If you social security number ends in these numbers you get to vote this year. The innumerate people would consider this policy racist, as they have the faith-based belief that certain races are more likely to be too stupid to know their own social security number.

121 msgkings August 20, 2014 at 12:07 pm

Is there such thing as an ‘even prime number’? Besides 2?

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