Why people don’t vote

This New York magazine piece is one of the best articles I’ve read all year.  Here is the account of Laura, age 21 from Florida:

In high school, I didn’t even know our vice-president’s name was Joe Biden. All my high-school classmates were Republicans. They were very vocal about it, especially during the whole Romney-and-Obama election. I realized I didn’t believe everything they were saying. Then I Googled “Republican versus Democrat,” and I like kinda both, kinda not. That’s why I’m an Independent. It wasn’t till the Trump-versus-Hillary election that I realized how important it is to vote. Maybe it had to do with, like, society and all. Everyone I was following was like, “Go out to vote.” I was in college in Massachusetts. I decided that I wasn’t gonna go through that long process for an out-of-state student to register to vote. I had a hectic schedule. I just didn’t have the time and energy. Also I didn’t know how my parents would feel about that whole thing, ’cause my brother does not vote either. So it wasn’t asked if they could help us out with the registration and mailing all the forms to us. My mom is a Republican, my dad is a Democrat, and I did not learn that until the 2016 election, after begging them to tell me at least what their party was.

I realized that I should’ve voted afterward. Ever since that election, I started turning on not just CNN but also Fox News on the iPhone news app. I plan to vote in 2020. I have a goal set to know more about politics by that time.

Here is Anna, age 21 from New York City:

I’m trying to register in my hometown of Austin, Texas. It’s such a tedious process to even get registered in Texas, let alone vote as an absentee. There’s no notification service about the status of my voter registration. There’s a small, outdated website where you can enter your information and check. When I was at the post office to register, this poor girl, clearly also a college student like me, didn’t know what “postmarked” meant and had no idea how to send an important document by mail. Most people my age have zero need to go to the post office and may have never stepped into one before. Honestly, if someone had the forms printed for me and was willing to deal with the post office, I’d be much more inclined to vote.

Strongly recommended, there is much more at the link.  It’s Tim, age 27 from Texas, who has the best and smartest substantive answer.


I think there is a lot to be said for compulsory voting, though of course as an Australian I'm probably biased in favour of it.

Compulsory voting would be a disaster in the U.S. - mainly because currently, a party unable to muster anything but local majorities would find itself wiped out at the national level.

Which just might explain why a party in such a position is so interested in something that actually does not actually exist currently in anything but isolated incidents in the U.S., determined to use its fantasy of voter fraud to suppress as many voters as possible.

Compulsory voting in Australia also requires a photo ID. Which as we all know is racist ;)

You don't need ID to vote in Australia.

Somehow I suspect the process of getting a photo ID is relatively painless and inexpensive. Do you have to take the day off of work and drive 30 miles and wait in line to be told you need the original hand written birth certificate from the basement files of the hospital you were born at before you can proceed to line #2?

People who don't care enough to voluntarily register and vote really shouldn't vote. Why? Who would they vote for? Would they simply vote for their favorite movie stars choice or based on the last negative ad they saw on TV. You need to be involved and informed to vote otherwise you just end up diluting the votes of the involved and informed. I would be in favor of compulsory involvement in the process but not compulsory voting.

'People who don't care enough to voluntarily register and vote really shouldn't vote.'

Strike two when talking about Australia and their voting system - no one needs to 'voluntarily' register, as all citizens are expected to vote.

I think his point is, anyone who doesn't have a strong enough opinion to jump through a hoop or two is probably going to add noise, not signal if forced to vote anyway.

Also that's a silly assertion. YOu don't need a photo ID to enforce mandatory voting. Filing income tax is mandatory in the US yet mysteriously that never required a photo ID.

Last tax season, the IRS stopped 787,000 confirmed identity theft returns, totaling more than $4 billion. For the same nine-month period in 2015, the IRS stopped 1.2 million confirmed identity theft returns, totaling about $7.2 billion. There were many other widely reported wins. But what did not get reported was how much money scammers stole. Given the IRS’s estimate that 2016 would see a loss of $21 billion via fraud, one wonders.


Despite poor operational security at the IRS, Boonton's point still stands. I always found it ironic I have to register to vote, but no registration is necessary to get automatic withholdings from my paycheck.

The IRS problem is that they are staffed by too many stereotypical government workers, and too few white or black hat hackers. Why would anybody with half a brain send money to a purported tax payer without verifying that the right person receives it, check address associated with bank account etc?

How exactly would photo ID tax returns work? Instead of using software or even printing and mailing your return you would have to physically bring it by hand to an IRS office where a clerk will check your name against your photo ID.

Makes a lot of sense, I'm sure that system would work great.

My point was about voting, not about tax returns.

I'm not seeing your point about voting. I see your point that people scam the IRS to steal refunds. I suppose if the gov't offered some massive incentive for voting, say $1000, then you would expect people to try to steal votes just as some try to steal refunds. I would agree before we try something like that we consider the potential of voter fraud carefully.

Right now, though, there is no monetary incentive to steal votes nor is there much political incentive. The two places where stealing votes could conceivably provide some return would be areas where races are very close (where a few votes matter) or where one party dominates. The problem is return to risk. Where races are close, there's scrutiny by both sides raising the risks of getting caught. Where races aren't close you are either accomplishing nothing (adding more Hillary votes in NYC) or you'd need to steal votes in such massive quantities you'd almost certainly be caught (try to imagine the mechanics of turning CA into a Trump state via stealing votes). The only area where stealing votes may make sense is close local elections where the winning margins are very small and the scrutiny is less intense. Unfortunately even there I'm skeptical. local politics often can be the most bitter types of politics and the expertise to steal really only applies to the district itself.

My point was there's a trade-off between ease of use and fraud. Sure, we don't take many steps to verify the identity of people filing income tax returns, and while that doesn't affect the vast majority of us, there is some level of fraud and theft involving refundable credits that results. Likewise, you can let people register and vote on the same day and whatnot and not ask them for ID, and that's likely to raise the risk of fraud.

Well actually the verification steps with refunds happen after the fact. Since the IRS will not issue you a refund in the form of a bag of cash, any refunds you steal you have to move through the banking system on some level which both adds points where you can be detected after the fact and adds to the number of laws you must break to pull off your scam.

If same day registration was an easy route to voter fraud, where is it? Certainly there are at least a few local elections where a few dozen fake votes matter.

Is there a big problem with people illegally trying to send extra money to the IRS?

There's a big problem with the IRS taking more money than it's owed, and then sending the excess back to whoever files a return in your name first

ah. Thanks.

Worse than that, early on, the fake filer probably added 10 dependents, and made many statistically unlikely choices that boosted the refund way beyond actual refund.

Why would that be worse? A theif stealing my return is bad, but taking extra from the irs is just thieving from thieves, and good on them for the entrepreneurship.

Taxes are not theft. Grow up.

So, after checking, it turns out that voting in Australia does not require photo ID, though an Australian would probably know better as of 2018. It does seem as if some Australian states have considered such measures (though it is not quite clear whether those laws have been put into place in a compulsory voting context).

This is what wikipedia says - 'In Australia, where voting is compulsory for all adult citizens, no form of ID is required to cast a ballot at an election; instead, voters are asked three questions before being issued a ballot, so that they can be checked off the electoral roll: (1) what is your full name; (2) where do you live; and (3) have you voted before in this election? On election day, voters can vote at any polling place in their state of residence, and at selected polling places in other states.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voter_Identification_laws#Australia

Nice to see, at least according to wikipedia, that Australia is not being racist. I'm sure you are relieved too.

Though one could be concerned about all the mass voter fraud undoubtedly being committed due to the Australians taking such a simple approach to recording a citizen's vote after just asking a couple of questions, right?

This is correct. No photo ID is required to vote in Australia.

Clockwork Prior, I don't understand -- isn't it the Dem who have the huge majority in a few ultra-populous locales (cities) while it's the Reps who warn of voter-fraud?

I would think mandatory voting would good for a celebrity like Trump.
How long has Australia had mandatory voting?
Did it change politics significantly? How?

Compulsory voting was introduced for Federal elections in 1918. States either had it already or soon followed. The first major effect was participation rates increased.

Presumably it makes politics less extreme as there is no need to lie to convince people to vote. You only have to lie to convince people the other party is worse than your own.


Presumably it makes politics less extreme as there is no need to lie to convince people to vote. You only have to lie to convince people the other party is worse than your own.

That makes sense and should be a counter balance against having possibly having more ignorant people vote. It does seem like Australian policy is among the more sensible in the world.
Maybe it also counter balances old people voting for their Government pensions. And maybe that is why Austrailia's government part of the pension system sensibly IMO pays the same amount out to low lifetime earners as to high lifetime earners.

Do you have any evidence that "more ignorant" people typically don't vote now? I would submit the current occupant of the white house is strong evidence that plenty of ignorants vote just fine as is. Not voting is a sign of low engagement, not low intelligence, and I suspected it's U shaped in relation (both tail low and tail high).

I certainly see compulsory voting as a plus. Several things I think the US should adopt from Australia are:

1. Compulsory voting.
2. Preference voting. We still have 2 major parties here but smaller parties can win seats and form coalition governments and influence policy.
3. Independent redistricting. This should not be a political process.
4. Vote on weekends. Also, what's with the waiting? I get annoyed if I have to wait more than 5 minutes to vote but I hear about Americans having to wait for hours.

If you are going to make people come to polling booths then I also suggest pencil and paper voting. That's all we use here. We mark our ballots, we put them in a box, we know the people who are hired at election time to count them. It's all clear and open.

My position is that compulsory voting is bad, because it forces people who don't care and are uninformed to participate, lowering the quality of the inputs.

However, it's possible that an alternative position is correct: compulsory voting drives an increase in political participation and awareness, raising the quality of the result.

It would drive an increase in stupid political participation and fuzzy awareness, lowering the quality of the result: Venezuela.

Your error is assuming 'caring' and 'being informed' go together hand in hand. Our recent mail pipe-bomber suspect, for example, seems to care a great deal yet is almost certainly filled to the brim with gross misinformation and lies.

Caring sometimes makes you stupider and less informed.

Being informed sometimes makes you stupider and less informed.
In today's political environment, I kind of think forcing the uninformed masses to randomly flip a coin might produce better results than the choices we get now, where everything is driven by the two tribes need to destroy eachother.

+1 also special interests like old people who want medicare and SS left untouched are more motivated to vote than working people further away from getting SS and Medicare.

That's an interesting argument you have there for leadership by people uninformed about how the government works.

+1 to dan. If anything, it ought to be tougher to vote.

How does that make any sense? Yes, let's make it hard to exercise our democratic freedoms.....

Indeed, what is gained by making it tougher to vote? Are we under some delusion that running an obstacle course of forms and deadlines magically filters for only the wise? Would you apply that logic to welfare benefits?

Recent nutcases are a reason we should respect the desire to abstain from politics. Even the sane people are going a little bit crazy and the crazy are going over the edge.

On average, being informed, in the sense of more political knowledge, makes people perform better. Perhaps there are some people who "care" or hyper-informed but crazy, but in general it makes more sense to respond on the general trend (being informed). So far so good.

Where you have hazard is:

a) People who self select to be more informed are less representative of the public at large, and know less about their interests - this is the problem where selecting for a sufficient level of knowledge about some bureaucracy ends up selecting only for a pool of bureaucrats who have no interest in limiting bureaucracy and so on. If you select for knowledge of business, you end up with Republicans only, if you select for knowledge of the professions, Democrats, and so on. "Informed voters" and impartiality are at cross purposes (the "Skin In The Game" people think this is a good; I'm not so sure of this).

b) Informed people tend to be more motivated by political partisanship. Partisans are less capable of making judgments about competence of counter-partisans, and are more conformist in their political imagination ("I agree with every single Libertarian policy position!", etc).

(Following Haidt, I'd also guess socially left wing partisans who exemplify the "WEIRD" demographic also tend to have some specific problems with restricted moral bases that make it hard for them to perform empathy, even for most groups for which they have more sympathy. They just can't understand sentiments that would sanction suffering, injustice and inequality in the cause of the moral good of maintaining the group, and maintaining dignity and purity, pretty integral parts of general human moral reasoning. They generally misunderstand these as conformity, sadism or dominance behaviors.).

Note that the "Only informed voters are voters who benefit from the system" becomes more intense the more complex and resistant to simplification a particular state or inter-state organ becomes. E.g. the European Union, which no one understands and which is largely legally incomprehensible in its body of law, capable of generating little enthusiasm on the behalf of interested outsiders, and where the most informed parties tend to be almost to a man therefore bureaucrats with an invested interest in its continuation.

Wouldn't a lower cost approach be to assume all eligible voters have a default vote of No Change Needed for all candidates and referendum options on a ballet. Then they have an incentive actually vote if they want change -- that is they see that we have a political problem to solve.

As so stated that does perhaps create a stronger incumbent bias in the system -- but perhaps that is already due as much to the voting behavior as it is other factors. My personal preference would be to include a requirement that any winning candidate have a true majority of support -- meaning that all those "free riders" not voting would be taking their preferred candidate out of office. The "No Change Needed" interpretation would be broader than merely no change in candidate but mean that we don't need new laws and other political tweaking of the system so can leave the day to to operations as is and the machine (the bureaucrats) just keeps doing what is done today.

I think that would provided a more accurate image of the underlying voter preferences than a force vote would produce.

These kids are smarter than the average MR cuck like me.

LOL, look the Troll is desperate for attention. Here's a cookie, enjoy.

....why do you give it to him?

"Donald Trump is so stupid. It drove me up a wall — he knew way less about the government than I do." Tim from Austin

They have some real smart cookies out there in Texas. At such a young age too.

I particularly liked this one:

"Look at Ted Cruz, who’s spent his last two years being made fun of by Donald Trump, and then we see Trump saying Cruz is the right guy in Texas to go against Beto O’Rourke. It’s just so much political theater, and it really just turned me off entirely."

BTW, God of Thunder, I love you. Can I be your Goddess tonight?

XOXO, Joël

The Cruz point just shows how young they are. It was only a couple of years ago, after all, that Obama appointed Clinton to high office shortly after her primary campaign made racist attacks against him. Indeed, lots of Clinton's eventual voters purported to forget about her racist attacks upon Obama too.

Those old racist attacks feel pretty quaint these days don't they?

I mean, Trump's new ad? I'm old enough to remember the Willie Horton ad. It wasn't like that. It's superficially established a rational argument, that it was naivete to let killers out on day passes. And it was. It was only subconsciously, visually, racist below that message.

Today? Oh my God the new ad is just killers and then a declaration that Democrats love them. No connecting logic whatsoever.

No connecting logic? Democrats want to let anyone into the country and Democrats want to protect them from being deported once they're here, even if they commit crimes. Doesn't CA release violent criminals just so they can avoid being deported?

"Democrats want to let anyone into the country"

That is completely insane.

You may stay home if you'd like to. Please, in fact.

Well it's about as insane as saying Republicans are racists for trying to stop illegal immigration.

Yes, yes it is. Thank you for that other example of things I and most normal people never say.

Sure anonymous, no one on the Left ever makes that accusation ....{rolls eyes}

You really should not be deciding your political views by "I found a guy." You can always find a guy.

You should decide your vote by what actual candidates (or office holders) are proposing.

"House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said racism is part of why some Republicans’ have blocked Democrats’ efforts to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill."


Yep, I found a "guy".

Bait and switch. It is much more likely that racism is blocking a new immigration bill than that "Republicans are racists for trying to stop illegal immigration."


George W Bush has spoken out against “disturbing” rhetoric being used in the national immigration debate triggered by Donald Trump.

The former Republican president said the ongoing debate “undermines the goodness that is America”, and fails to “recognise the valuable contributions that immigrants make to our society”.

No, moron; Obama deported more people than Bush. It's LIBERTARIANS who want open boarders. Sheesh, we jut can't get credit for any of oir ideas I guess.

"Doesn't CA release violent criminals just so they can avoid being deported?"

This one is false too, but I decided to look it up. SB 54 did pass, and while I don't especially love it, it isn't that bad. It does transfer violent offenders to ICE, it just stops "extra" holds after time served etc.

Here it is from the local conservative paper:



I honestly don't know on those. It certainly isn't a California wide initiative, but some of the more "sanctuary" cities may take things too far.

But I know too from cop friends that a lot of sh*t happens, and sometimes they let a guy go before important papers catch up with him. My friend speaking of the OC Jail "I can't believe they OR'd that guy." OR being Own Recognizance.

Interesting that zero mention is made of Oregon, Washington, or Colorado where not voting is much less related to a system designed to make voting difficult.

Of course, one would expect a libertarian to point out just how flawed the current American two party system is, but then, you just don't actually find libertarians writing columns in any major media property in the U.S., as all those outlets are thoroughly invested in the two party narrative.

I live and vote in Washington. Our 100% mail balloting would have defeated some of the children quoted in the article. They don’t have stamps, don’t know what to do in the post office, have never marked anything on paper — OK I made that last one up.

Vote with your feet, if you can

I have. Also it's true that absentee balloting has become harder over the years. It's also true that a problem with state and local taxes is, for absentee landlords like my 1% family, the "no taxation without representation" rule. You cannot vote in local elections, where the pols determine your local real estate tax rate, unless you are a resident, and often the people who rent don't care if local property taxes are raised. This is a problem in NYC as well. Unfair! The rich should get richer.

If the housing market is competitive, like it is in my city Gainesville FL, the renter pays the property tax. The tax incidence falls on the renter not the owner. The problem is that the renters are generally completely unaware of that.

A few towns (e.g. Rehoboth Beach DE) do allow non resident property owners to vote in local elections

Virtually none of the people in the article sounded like they'd be an improvement on the median voter.

Managed to get your medical marijuana card, but can't succeed in registering to vote because filling out the form or finding some stamps is just way too difficult? Come on, is that really the level of unmotivated voter who is going to improve the electorate with their insights on the issues and candidates?

"I’m trying to register in my hometown of Austin, Texas. It’s such a tedious process to even get registered in Texas, let alone vote as an absentee. There’s no notification service about the status of my voter registration. There’s a small, outdated website where you can enter your information and check. When I was at the post office to register, this poor girl, clearly also a college student like me, didn’t know what “postmarked” meant and had no idea how to send an important document by mail. Most people my age have zero need to go to the post office and may have never stepped into one before. Honestly, if someone had the forms printed for me and was willing to deal with the post office, I’d be much more inclined to vote."

Yes we're really missing out here. An entitled generation.

Yep. After reading that I am relieved she will not be voting.

No kidding. She complains that the registration website is.... "small."

Uh huh. Thanks for the Dem propaganda dreck, Tyler. "Registration is too hard" is a longtime rallying cry for the left, as a kneejerk response to any attempt to fight vote fraud.

As if you didn't know that.

How to overcome such invincible stupidity? Makes me think about writing a book, "The millennial's guide to overcoming idiocy".

Some of these, unfortunately, are beyond hope.

I feel like every generation has probably had that level of stupidity. It's just become trendy to highlight it in a positive fashion.

Anything at this point is an improvement over 2016's voters.

Thanks for the link. Voter registration seems insane from a German point of view. On the other hand, people that work outside their home country within the EU face similar issues, and that might be the more useful comparison (?) ...

'Voter registration seems insane from a German point of view.'

That is likely because Germans have no appreciation for the centuries long American tradition of voter suppression. The equally long tradition of gerrymandering is not a German concept either. It is not exactly a form of voter suppression, though its goal is roughly the same - to ensure the most favorable outcome possible for those engaging in the practice.

So, I'm reading Werner Jaeger's book on Aristotle's development, and I'm once again struck by the nastiness of German academics toward other academics, which you can already see in Fichte. Why are they like that? Do they not take nasty remarks directed at them very seriously, so that it's all kind of a fun game?

I've only read Paideia, but I don't remember nastiness. Can you give examples?

Yes, I appreciate the politics behind voter suppression and gerrymandering. My intended meaning was: "It seems insane that U.S. voters/ courts/ politicians allow this to happen!"

PS. In Germany, we had lively discussions about "asymmetric (de)mobilization" used by Angela Merkel. Quite harmless in comparison, I guess. (And I guess you could say it backfired spectacularly...)

Conversely, Mathis, Germany's notion that multiple generations of resident descendants of legal immigrants, born in Germany, can't vote there sounds insane to an American.

I agree that citizenship should be easier to acquire. Unfortunately, of all things, this seems to be the bit about Germany that Trump really likes...

Some voter restriction might have good back just before Hitler came to power.

Yeah, here you register where your primary residence is (the government needs to know, so it can allocate taxes appropriately).
If there is an election they just send election notifications to each resident. Then on voting day you take the notification and your goverment ID (which are compulsory by all EU members and everyone has) walk to the voting booth printed on it and vote. Voting booth is open all sunday, no queues, takes 30min tops including the walk there and you can also alternatively vote by mailing. How hard can it be?

Germans living abroad (i.e., no longer registered as a resident in Germany) have to register in the "Wählerverzeichnis" (voter registry) before each election. Then they get an absentee ballot in the mail.

My point is that this is comparable to the U.S. system. It requires a conscious decision to vote, a bit of research, and there are deadlines that can be missed.

Well, that is a tiny fraction of citizens...

My point was that having a national registry of residency ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resident_registration ) makes voting pretty easy. And it also helps in other areas (taxes or DMV notices etc.).
The US doesn't have one (see link).

Fully agree on the benefits of having a general-purpose registry. Let me just add two things:
- 3.4 million Germans live abroad according to this estimate (https://www.deutsche-im-ausland.org/nc/news/news-details/34-millionen-deutsche-leben-im-ausland.html), which corresponds to 4.1 percent of the current population. Couldn't find data on the % of voting-age population...

- "Germans living abroad who try to vote in German elections" might offer a better analogy to "someone from Texas trying to vote in NYC" instead of just looking at Germans voting in Germany.

This is quite a bit harder than in the US. You are required to register at your local government office. You have to acquire a specific photo ID for voting. You have to list a permanent address to vote. All these three requirements go WAY beyond any US requirement.

Another aspect of US elections that I find many Germans don't quite grasp is the amount of decisions on the ballot in an US election. Germans vote for parliament with two votes (which confuses some). My ballot includes a total of 45 decisions next week. Everything from House, Senate, State Senate, County Sheriff, Judges, Public Library Initiative etc. That's why there are so many queues in the US, because it can take 10 minutes just to mark all the boxes even if you have done your research beforehand. If you read the four pages of the ballot, voting in the booth can easily take 30 minutes or more per person.

This is pretty much identical to how it is in the US, with the exception that some parts of the US don't require government ID for some reason I don't understand

I used to live in Germany until age 27 and now am a voter and US citizen. Voting in Germany requires a mandatory registration at the local municipal office. It is required by law that every person in Germany register at the local office. You need to do so within a certain time period of moving. You are also required to obtain and carry government issued ID at all times.

Then your voting registration is based automatically on this process. But I'd have issues with saying this is easier than it is in many states in the US. In my opinion, that's wrong and not even close. I have done both.

Yes, overall registration requirements just to live a normal life are more burdensome than in the US.

In my opinion, this is a low price to pay for easy and non-discriminatory access to voting. (Which, as you pointed out, is automatically derived from the basic registration process.)

Both US parties would disagree with your statement. Republicans would strongly object to any requirements for citizens to register with government officials after moving. Democrats are fighting any specific photo ID requirement for voting. Democrats are also strongly contesting that a system like the one in Germany is non-discriminatory. They argue that any photo ID requirement and requirement of registering with a permanent address discriminates against the poor and against minorities.

I used to not vote so I see where these people are coming from, but now I think the main arguments for not voting are bunk.

The “voting won’t make a difference argument” is flawed if you take into account other people. The chance that your vote will matter is microscopic but not zero. For example, control of the Virginia state house (with implications for gerrymandering) was decided by one vote this year. Let’s say your odds of making a difference are 1 in a billion—less than Powerball odds. But a the US government can easily have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the world. Trump’s signature trade war alone caused the IMF to downgrade global growth estimates by 0.2%, or more than $100 billion. So if you have a 1 in a billion chance of making at least a $100 billion impact on the world, then the expected value of your vote is $100, almost certainly greater than the value of the 5 minutes it takes you to go vote.

The “if we don’t vote for a party they’ll get better” argument is also totally contradicted by history. After Nader cost the Democrats the 2000 election, they didn’t move to the left. After Gary Johnson had the best libertarian showing ever in 2016, meaning Trump would’ve won the popular vote and Clinton would’ve won the electoral vote with Johnson’s votes, both parties became *less* libertarian. Nor did Nader create a durable Green Party or Johnson a durable Libertarian Party. Also, it is interesting that you rarely hear Republican-lesning voters making this argument for non-voting or voting third party. As a libertarian, I really want to believe this evidence is true, but after two decades of following politics I have to conclude that it isn’t. If you are allowed to vote in the US, you should vote for the lesser evil.

"Let’s say your odds of making a difference are 1 in a billion"

You're really selling it here.

You gotta go with the "What if Everyone Acted Like That" approach. Nothing anyone does ever makes a difference on its own, so it's impossible to justify doing this or that solely on the basis of that one action's awesome or shitty consequences.

“But a the US government can easily have a multi-trillion dollar impact on the world. Trump’s signature trade war alone caused the IMF to downgrade global growth estimates by 0.2%, or more than $100 billion. So if you have a 1 in a billion chance of making at least a $100 billion impact on the world, then the expected value of your vote is $100, almost certainly greater than the value of the 5 minutes it takes you to go vote.“

You’re failing to consider that if you vote the wrong way, the expected value of your vote is negative. Most (or all?) people should be at least someone uncertain if they’re voting for the right candidate.

"Most (or all?) people should be at least someone uncertain if they’re voting for the right candidate."

Nah, with ~40 million other voters you can be pretty sure your vote isn't the worst.

It’s not whether your vote is the worst, it’s whether it’s better or worse than the median.

If I had 1 of 4 votes confidential votes on how to invest some amount of wealth and the other voters were Warren Buffet, Peter Lynch, and my dog, I’m not the worst voter but I should still abstain.

But if the other voters were Warren Buffet, Mike Tyson, and my dog, I should probably vote.

Part of my answer was that anyone reading my response is here at MR.

And certainly anyone worried about medians passes my test.

But the people interviewed for the article don’t necessarily pass the test and shouldn’t necessarily vote. At the very least, the expected value to society of them voting is likely much lower than the $100 you calculated

*Zaua calculated

I am not $100 guy.

It is just yesterday's billion headaches versus 'killing one guy' all over again.

When we vote we suffer the billion headaches so that we can save .. depending on the year perhaps more than one life.

This one is reasonable:

"I love that literally everyone is promoting actually registering to vote, but it’s never how to vote or the steps to voting or what you do next after you’ve registered to vote. After that, it kind of just drops off and you’re left in the dark, like, I don’t know what to do next, you know?"

The first step in learning is acknowledging you don't know, not bad.

For all the experts deriding the young, you're taking you're expertise to the grave. The only thing you can do is sharing it before it's gone with your pride.

The thing that strikes me most about this is the sense of helplessness, or perhaps lack of agency, that these folks demonstrate. Or maybe its just a standard excuse - "its too hard" - really reflecting lack of interest.

Odd that how to register and vote is not taught in schools.

"Honestly, if someone had the forms printed for me and was willing to deal with the post office, I’d be much more inclined to vote."

I wonder if Afghans have such incredible hardships with their registration process.

Simpler there -- just dodge the bullets and avoid the bombs.

It would be easy to ignore what these young people say about voting. But it would be a mistake. Sure, they may seem ignorant of basic civics, but their ignorance didn't just happen, it was learned. All of the comments reflect a misguided expectation, an expectation that voting for a particular candidate will produce the results they expect from that candidate. Our government doesn't work that way. It's intentional: the Founders created a government that would not respond to the whims of the public. What these young people seem to prefer is a parliamentary system, the party obtaining the majority of votes in an election assuming control over the government, to adopt the policies they promote. What we have is the opposite: the party obtaining a minority of the votes in an election assuming control over the government. And worse, many of those who vote for the minority party do so not on account of policies promoted by the minority party but on emotional appeals (e.g., nationalism). Voters are simply confused. And young voters are disillusioned.

As for Tim, I suppose Cowen liked his comments because Tim says voting is "signaling", a favorite theme at this blog. Tim: "The motivation isn’t about the actual value my vote has; it’s more like a theoretical signaling value. If that’s the case, I would rather signal that Democrats should have more progressive candidates, rather than assuming that everyone on the left will automatically vote for the candidates they run." Or stated another way, it's not whether the candidate wins or loses, but whether he sends the right "signals". Sounds like a disciple of Robin Hanson.

rayward, come out into the real world sometime. The German government has a minority of the seats in the Bundestag. The French President, elected last year with a large majority, has approval ratings far below Trump and cannot govern. The British government has been struggling to subvert the expressed will of the people ever since Brexit. As for who's appealing to emotion, that's just embarrassing on your part. "Trump is Hitler and wants to kill us all" is not a sober policy prescription." Neither is "there are gang rape parties all over affluent suburban Washington," by the way.

Tim is a a classic millennial. Aware of the hypocrisy and can see the limitations of the whole thing, but then this:

"I have ADHD, and it makes it hard for me to do certain tasks where the payoff is far off in the future or abstract. I don’t find it intrinsically motivational. The amount of work logically isn’t that much: Fill out a form, mail it, go to a specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it. That’s kind of a problem with social attitudes around, you know, “It’s your civic duty to vote.” I once told a co-worker I didn’t vote, and she said, “That’s really irresponsible,” in this judgmental voice. You can’t build a policy around calling people irresponsible. You need to make people enthusiastic and engaged."

Blames his lack of interest on an innate condition that he makes no effort to grapple with, then insists that the rules that everybody else abides by be changed to accommodate him, and then passive-aggressively chafes when someone suggests it isn't society's job to meet his specific emotional needs.

He's also wrong about the efficacy of his co-workers' tactics. Shaming people is how we reduced smoking. And how educators got an entire generation to be 'progressive'.

Nationalism is a policy. It implies hard policy turns across arenas. Immigration and trade are just 2 fronts on which nationalism and its implied policies are cart & horse, hand & glove, current & magnetic field. If it didn't truck with policy you wold not mention it.

Laura makes one bad decision after another. First she votes in the 2016 election (presumably for Hillary or Trump) because of society and all, then she starts watching Fox and CNN.

In addition to that foolishness, she uses an iPhone.

The wisdom of crowds concept implies better decisions would be made with more voters. This means we would be better off either with mandatory voting or a lot of incentives to vote and removing silly and pointless voting roadblocks.

The typical response to this is it is better to have fewer voters who 'care' more. History has gradually moved away from this idea (for example, originally only allowing property owning men to vote) and towards enlarging the franchise.

Problems I think with the 'few but elite voters' idea:
1. It's easy to confuse 'caring' with special interest.

2. 'Better informed' voters is questionable. A smaller voter base doesn't mean better informed voters but easier for any one interest to invest the resources to deceive a critical mass of the voting base

A larger voting base is more likely to get things right. The right tends to reject this because their current strategy is to play on small bases and keeping the base from enlarging. In the short term they are probably right. The messaging the right uses probably would cost them more elections if the voting turnout was much higher. However that is a pretty dumb reason. If turnout was much higher messaging strategies would simply shift. Has Australia, with mandatory voting, never elected a right wing gov't ever?

Reading the article and the comments attached to it show how little wisdom there is in some crowds.

1) The expansion of the franchise has tended to go along with either domestic or international strife. That is, in the case of the former it has happened in response to the threat of revolution, co-opting potential revolutionaries into the system: https://scholar.harvard.edu/jrobinson/files/jr_west.pdf

In the latter case, it has gone hand in hand with the expansion of the draft or mass mobilization, which may amount to the same thing.

B) The purpose of democratic systems is not to produce “correct” or even “better” answers. These are impossibilities, because contra the “wisdom of crowds”/Condorcet approach, the multiplicity of *interests* means that the best answer for one might be the worst for another. See “Two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” The purpose (which is reflected in one non-voter’s view) is acquiescence to and buy-in for the system. As such, using your vote is not crucial to the system, so long as you aren’t so deeply disaffected as to go into revolt.

C) “Better informed” is synonymous with “special interest”, in the sense that your interests and mine are not likely to be 100% congruent. And what is the problem there? We aren’t voting to find a “correct” answer; if your interests and mine diverge enough, there may be no solution that makes both of us happy. We vote as an ersatz trial of strength, counting heads while allowing for discussion in the meantime.

I'm always puzzled by the libertarian criticism of the "wisdom of the crowd" wrt voting.

If it is absurd to entrust the governance of our state to the ignorant and foolish, isn't it also absurd to entrust our national economy to those very same ignorant and foolish consumers?

"Entrust our national economy" presupposes a centrally planned system that libertarians reject. I'm not a libertarian. But the whole idea of free market economics is that you rely on bottom-up localized systems of voluntary exchange as opposed to top-down centralized planning.

Markets have feedback mechanisms ("skin in the game") like making and losing money that supposedly lead to "efficient" outcomes. Voting doesn't really have anything like that. If anything the "equilibrium" is special interests at the expense of the public.

The 'wisdom of the crowd' says no such thing, because the crowd that tends to have 'wisdom' is self-selected and voluntary.

If I open-source a software problem, I may be relying on the wisdom of the crowd, but that crowd is going to be generally self-selecting, as I am unlikely tomget contributions from dress-makers or lawyers. If you made participation in my crowd sourcing mandatory for all, do you honestly believe the results would be better?

The wisdom of the crowd is not improved by simply making the crowd bigger.

Universal suffrage does not mean government will act for the common good. Nor does even full-fledged monarchy mean that government will act against the common good. Aristotle uses the term "democracy" in a negative sense to refer to majority rule in service of factional interests rather than the common good. The good version of majority rule he refers to as "polity." And he uses the word "aristocracy" in a positive sense to refer to rule by the few for the common good with "oligarchy" being the negative version. Aristotle's take rings truer to me than your assumption that majority rule is inherently conducive to better government.

Wisdom of crowds is a statistical phenomenon. IF the error function is symmetrical and has mean zero, then the average of many estimates will converge to the real value whereas an individual estimate will have wide variation. But consider the legal system. It is almost certainly true that 12 people off the street will have better judgment than 1 person off the street. But it's not at all clear that juries have superior judgment over a single judge with experience and legal training. By your logic ("a larger voting base is more likely to get things right"), the more people on the jury the better, even if they haven't bothered to review the evidence. I suppose you'd endorse mass online polls for criminal trials.

The judgement of 12 random people is likely to be good (and actually better because jurors are filtered by both prosecution and defense against the most blatant of biases). Yes it's a 'statistical phenomenon' but one wisely utilized by our gov't.

Two factors are at play here.

One, the option for trial by jury is a check on judges. At least from the defense's side you can bypass somewhat a problematic judge by opting for the jury.

Two, it is a check on gov't overall. The judge is an agent of the state but the jury is not. While the jury is instructed to apply the law, ultimately the jury cannot be controlled by the state except for extreme cases of corruption (i.e. a juror selling their vote). Hence you're getting a check on the whole system.

It's a bit more complicated than just trying to achieve 'zero errors'. For example, not only do we want to get as few errors as possible in verdicts, we also want a check on the system. For example, a really unjust law may see juries refuse to convict people who are clearly guilty. Technically that would count as an 'error' if all we care about is knowing whether those found guilty really broke the law and vice versa, but it's also a check.

Universal suffrage does not guarantee a gov't acting for the common good but it does seem to offer an obvious check against unjust and bad laws. If nothing else it diffuses ultimate power. By definition anything less than universal suffrage means the population of voters is a subset of the entire population and is less costly to control, bribe, manipulate etc.

Also: To get the error canceling effect, you need independent estimates. With mass media propaganda, the independence assumption doesn't hold.

Many people who are registered don't vote. So difficulty in registration might not be the problem, on the margin.
Registering to vote in Texas was so easy I don't remember doing it. I voted this week. I showed my driver's license, got the code to activate the machine, and voted. The whole process took about 15 minutes, including travel time.
There is no nobility here from the parties. One wants more people to vote because it thinks it will help them win. The other wants fewer people to vote because it thinks that will help them win.

In all but the smallest societies only a small minority has any real knowledge of the fitness of candidates for public office. Of course, in those very small societies no elections are needed because everyone knows who the most suitable leaders are and follow their advice rather than obey their commands. Elections are the bogus solution to the problem of governmental entities that are too large for the normal citizen to form an opinion. A reliance on the fourth estate for information on candidates makes them a de facto part of government. And they become angry when their recommendations are rejected.

In truth the fitness of candidates is a bit of a red herring. Most of the time what we think of as an unfit candidate is really an undeserving candidate. Consider child predator Roy Moore. Most people think such a man should not be on the Senate floor, but reality is if the election had turned the other way he probably would have been 'fit'. He would have been able to understand the Senate rules, used the proper procedures to vote, and even if he has no real brilliance he would have used his party to tell him how to vote on most issues.

The question is which ideology should be in the gov't and there is no problem with scale there. I can with almost perfect reliability tell you who is running in any particular state who would be likely to, say, do everything possible to get abortion banned, or provide a path to citizenship for dreamers, or so on. For example, 'unfitness' in the context of Roy Moore would be he suddenly becoming pro-choice because a pretty girl flirted with him in the elevator. That would not have likely happened even though Alabama is a state with plenty of people and almost all pro-life inclined voters have no personal knowledge of Moore.

he would have used his party to tell him how to vote

Political parties are institutions made up of individuals. Why not just a vote for a particular party, since that's what's generally the case anyway? Political parties didn't emerge as purveyors of ideology but came about instead as dispensers of electoral spoils, jobs for party members, purchase of votes through positions in the bureaucracy.

Presently the newly-elected are unable to flush their opponents out of the civil service system so ideology must be used to differentiate one candidate from another and the ideology must identify with one party or another of the only two realistically available in order to secure funding.

Yea I guess you could vote just for a political party but then how does the political party itself decide what to support? Also support is strategic but not tactical. What does it mean for a party to support regime change in Iraq or to support Brexit? In reality many of these things are conditional support. Brexit, provided it doesn't ruin the economy. Regime change in Iraq, provided it isn't botched and thousands die for a chaotic mess.

"Presently the newly-elected are unable to flush their opponents out of the civil service system so ideology must be used to differentiate one candidate "

Why should they be allowed too? Should we have the Saudi system where you go to the DMV to get a copy of your license and you get killed because you made an enemy of whoever got elected last week?

"It was such a *small* website." Let's not over-analyze here. The magazine set out to make registration (especially in Texas) sound terribly difficult but discovered that it's not particularly hard, so it's left with a piece about how clownish some voters are.

The left always makes a big hoopla about young people not voting at the levels of older people I don't have a problem with it. I prefer people with some skin in the game decide elections.

+1 You get registered the first time you file with the IRS

TMC bingo! Can we add registering for the draft? Not sure but in many states didn't getting a driver's license also register to vote?

I prefer people with some skin in the game decide elections.

so you would restrict voting to those receiving welfare or gov't contracts?

Tyler, thank you for yet-more evidence that the voting age should be 25.

Are there any people under 25 who can cast an intelligent vote? Sure, but they are outnumbered. Probably 10:1 once you get down into the teens.

Age 25 is probably about where it breaks even.

I suspect a better system would be that persons past the age of 17 who have paid a certain minimum in FICA over the calendar year ending 15 April will receive a suffrage billet which allows them to vote during the succeeding year if they're registered. Then at age 25, a citizen can vote without qualification provided he's registered and not incarcerated, on probation, on parole, under an order of guardianship, or under an order of civil commitment. You'd set the minimum FICA contribution to what an Army private would ordinary pay. It should also be the case that college dormitories and the like are not valid voting addresses, and that people living in such housing would be compelled to apply for an absentee ballot back home, using their dorm as a mailing address.

How about fractional votes where the voting power of a citizen is proportional to what he provides his country an community in net taxes?

So old retired people who pay little in tax but consume Medicare, no vote for you.

Here's an interview of Kwame Anthony Appiah, author of The Lies That Bind: Rethinking Identity: https://www.vox.com/identities/2018/11/1/17980384/identity-politics-kwame-anthony-appiah In some ways these comments by young people on why they don't vote may reflect an absence of identity rather than ignorance of basic civics. At least that's the optimistic interpretation.

Tim wrote, "I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety." I have no empathy, sympathy, or understanding for that sort of behavior. Grow up, kid. It's a hard world out there.

I live in austin. It was effortless to register to vote. Getting my car registration was much more difficult and confusing.

This site maps out registered voters of Texas by home address, with their first names, their ages, and whether they have or have not voted: https://mapthe.vote/index.jsp

Tim: "Okay, I'll grow up. Thanks for the advice, Dave; it was very helpful."
Tim: "I know it's a hard world out there, Dave; that's exactly why I'm so anxious."

About mailing stuff?

Tyler's admiration for Tim is funny. And I'm pretty sure a good joke. It's good in the sense that Tim is in some ways dialed into the realities of voting in our system, and in some way limited by his own idiosyncrasies.

I didn't read them all it, but what seems lacking was good parents who established good patterns of behavior. Mine spread out the newspapers on the Sunday before voting and cross-checked their ideas with the recommendations have the Los Angeles Times (usually to Liberal) and the San Gabriel Tribune (now defunct but more conservative). I still do an abbreviated version of that.

The other real problem is the gerrymandering, and if you ask me we need to go full algorithmic on redistricting. It's possible, and we now know how to do open source development and public review to eliminate secret subroutines.

Yup ignorance and apathy just like when I was young. Maybe it is good that young people don't vote, now if we could only get the over 55 people to not vote maybe we can reform SS and Medicare.

I don't vote. It's bad for you.

I do, but in one of those overstaffed Republican regions where there is never a line.

Would I be tough enough to wait 5 hours?

It is not something I have really ever had to find out.

"I do, but in one of those overstaffed Republican regions where there is never a line."

Voting staff are usually volunteers.

Technically I was talking about concurrent voting capacity.

I don't think it's all that hard to register in Texas. Perhaps internet shopping has made her think this. It's true it isn't quite as easy as buying a vintage "Leggo My Eggo" or Ocean Pacific T-shirt on ebay, but most of these kids will have presented themselves at the DPS office to deal with driver's license stuff, and you can register at that moment. You'll then be registered all your life, merely needing to update an address occasionally.

This year the profs at Big State U apparently decided to treat the kids like high schoolers and take the process in hand, though: they invited voter registrars - no doubt the energized lady Beto supporters - into their classes to talk about how important it is to vote, massage that so-easily-cultivated narcissism, and register them then and there. Some kids mentioned they would receive class credit for voting. The turnout has been extraordinary. It will be interesting to see how it randomly affects the municipal races in which the kids have zero interest or any knowledge, and no partisan crutch to tell them who the Democrats are [all of them, essentially, but they only thought they were going to choose between parties; not to rag on them too much, as an inordinate number of their elders at the ethnic grocery store last spring expected to vote a straight ticket - in the primary]. (My sense is the kids think they have to vote in every race, ordinance, bond initiative - as they're staying in the booth quite awhile and the few kids who've come up to ask questions - "Can you define ordinance for me?" - in the middle of casting their ballot have been relieved to learn they do not have to.)

Now that I've encountered thousands of them close up: the students are mostly poised, mostly preppy (all ethnicities - there's a particular southern State U look, branded gear, ballcaps, but with understated jewelry for the girls, that even though I never adopted it myself I was oddly pleased to see had persisted, despite wholesale demographic change); nail polish is big with girls and a few boys; they're mostly ready with an answer when my co-worker asks them what they are going to be/do. The Asian and Indian kids hang together a lot and seem like they are having a ball. I think they may have even broken into the Greek system, which if you know the South, is impressive. Half or more of the black kids are second-generation Nigerian, and seem wholly assimilated. The first couple days I came home with some alarm and told my husband that the boys are all gay now, or else weakly heterosexual; but I guess those were the most Beto-excited, eager earliest voters, because a more representative sample of boys followed in this second (!) week of early voting. The LGBTQ identity politics stuff seems to provide a community less for straight-ahead homosexual boys than for those with a theatrical bent and gift for costuming, very overweight girls ("Intersectional is Feminist!"), short-haired lesbians, and the cross-dressing boys who are somewhat thwarted by the fact that the girls they aspire to supplant mostly dress casually in tee shirts and shorts.

Hopefully this is not one of those campuses with a problem with stress and suicide. There are scooters to ride and tasty frozen coffee concoctions in every hand. They all have the latest devices. They seem happy and compliant, and actually seem to be truly studying in easy concord in this library that is one of the polling places. I am glad to have seen it, though it has given me a small pang to realize that even amid all this rainbow of people, and openness, and professions of "love not hate" on clothing and so on, I would nonetheless still be the same self-conscious outsider I was, if I were there now. (I had managed to imagine otherwise in the intervening decades.) The misfits are not to be recognized by their creative approach to dress or the pack they run with.

Does Texas really have a straight-ticket button on their voting machine?

I find that shocking. Hearing California you at least have to do the work of going through the form and finding those candidates.

(Trivia: I think we have the same machine as the one suspected of changing votes in Texas, but ours is retrofitted with a hard copy tape for audit trail.

The last step in voting is to review the tape and check okay.)

Really? Yes, Texas has straight ticket voting. I think if they tried to eliminate it (which I don't suppose the politically-engaged partisans of either side would wish in any case) lawyers would make short work of challenging on the grounds that not having straight ticket would disenfranchise or discourage voting, by making it more difficult for the intellectually-challenged.

My favorite voter so far was this Indian kid, obviously unusual in that he had paid attention in recent years and knew this had been (briefly) an issue: the photo ID business. He stepped up, hands nonchalantly thrust into pockets. "Photo ID?" I chirped at him, and for some reason he waits a couple beats too long to reach for it. I look at him expectantly and then we both started laughing. "Oh, you thought I was going to take a stand? No, no." Me: "Yeah, I was like, bring it, kid!"

I liked him. I like people who understand which things are silly. Those people never seem to run for office, do they?

By the by, in the immediate wake of the photo ID law, you'd get some cranky Boomers refusing to produce the ID you knew was in their wallet, and then they'd make the election judge walk them through the cumbersome provisional voting process or whatever, which more or less guaranteed their votes to be moot, or at least absent from those suspenseful totals on election night.

But you never hear that anymore. Everyone figured out scanning the license - driver's or state resident - was so much easier than having the super-slow old lady pollworker laboriously type in your name, while fifty people in line curse your Polish forefathers; or else running home to scare up the voter card to forestall that.

Plus the list of alternatives is long and easily provided. No one gets turned away, unless they admit they are registered to vote in another county.

But yes, this ridiculous, expensive old-school voting process must surely die soon.

But yes, this ridiculous, expensive old-school voting process must surely die soon.

Disagree. Inapt use of technology and efforts to make voting convenient have damaged ballot security. Also, too many offices are elected and the electoral calendar isn't sorted properly, so ballots are stupidly busy.

Whether it should or no I am not competent to say, only that it seems like such a relic, mostly because the wedding of dated technology (the booths, the ballot code generator) with copious amounts of paper nonetheless, and the yearly addition of "helpful" newer but lame technology (the "mi-fi" and the "tablets" - Kid, to me: "Uhm who manufactured these ... tablets?" Me: "I dunno, prison labor maybe") that they always change their minds about how or whether to use; and ever more ridiculous layers of process - and more labels!, which label paper for some reason the county people make a daily visitation to dole out one or two rolls at a time - and lots of opportunity for human error - not serious, really, but tedious - both at the poll and back at the county ... well, it just seems like these kids will be among the last to do it this way.

Online voting is asking for trouble. Paperless voting is also asking for trouble.

Would you be ok with only changing voting days from Tuesday to the weekend?

That's a perfectly sensible idea and has been for a century. Of course, our useless legislators never get around to it and enact contrivances which generate other problems.

As someone is reasonably politically engaged and almost always finds the time and energy to vote, I still think it's a huge chore. Mostly because of the elections that aren't so well publicized. Races like Ag commissioner, city council, school board, state supreme court, etc. Chasing down all that information is a huge pain in the butt. And sometimes it's even tough to know which races I need to chase down information for.

Colorado has a great system.
Easy to register online. Easy to change registration online.
Vote by mail (which also means you drop your ballot into a big steel box at the park).

I think a lot of people don't vote because deep down they suspect that Washington simply doesn't reflect their wishes at all, but rather the wishes of the wealthy and of big corporations.

It certainly looks that way to me.

I sure hope Tyler was joking about Tim in TX .

" I hate mailing stuff; it gives me anxiety."

The amount of work logically isn’t that much: Fill out a form, mail it, go to a specific place on a specific day. But those kind of tasks can be hard for me to do if I’m not enthusiastic about it."

Lucky the system doesn't require one to think, he'd way out of his league.

Agreed, the kid seems brainless. And clownish. Did he really tell a reporter about his psych diagnoses? I guess he did.

Telling peopke about your psychiatric illnesses seems to be a thing these days. My guess is because people are desperate to claim their place on the ladder of disadvantage, because in today's crazy world the more damaged or disadvantaged you are the more respect and authorithy you get to claim.

The core electorate is about 37% of the adult citizen population. They vote in general elections every year, with few exceptions. There's a peripheral electorate that's about 20% of the adult citizen population who vote now and again, mostly when presidential elections roll around. People not voting is not a problem. Most of them know little and care less about public affairs. Some of those who do (including faculty members) are pretty impervious to empirical data when it contradicts something in which they have an emotional investment (see, for example, partisans of Christine Blasey). Electoral systems tell you what people will put up with, and that's commonly a great deal so long as their water supply isn't poisoned, their property taxes aren't increased, their Social Security and Medicare benefits aren't cut, and local authorities don't make a dog's breakfast of it in the aftermath of an ice storm or blizzard.

FYI, I live in Austin TX and registered to vote not long ago. It could hardly have been easier.

> It’s such a tedious process to even get registered in Texas, let alone vote as an absentee.

I moved to Austin 6 months ago, as did my girlfriend. When we went to get Texas state drivers licenses, we were automatically registered to vote (well, she was; I'm not a US citizen). Consequently, I am _extremely_ skeptical of someone who's going to tell me that it's difficult to register to vote in Austin

TLDR: Twenty-somethings have trouble voting because a lot of them live out-of-state and they don't know how to request absentee ballots or use the mail system.

I'm not seeing the problem.

To increase turnout how about one lucky voter in each state wins $1 million dollars.

While you'd have to adjust for state populations (would work much better in WY than CA), this is actually not the worst idea ever. That is if the goal is simply more voters. The quality of voters is another story.

Just out of curiosity, it's now pretty clear nationwide voter fraud in the US more or less doesn't exist. But does voting fraud exist anywhere? How about shareholder ballots and elections?

By 'exist' I mean exist on a pragmatic scale to actually turn races in a directed fashion. I don't mean a woman who votes her dead husband's absentee ballot received in the mail a week before he died or a guy who votes 'for his brother' but good old fashioned ballot stuffing meant to change results of races either on the local or national scale.

Isn't it pretty well known that JFK got some 'help' in Chicago?

Anything that doesn't round off to a century old?

The complaint about Texas is that it's too hard to get an ID, which supposedly disenfranchises minority voters. I'm not sure what it says about entire races of people that they find it too hard to get an ID (they somehow manage to get jobs, open bank accounts, and collect social security), but that's the argument.

But the Russians!!!

anna is dead wrong. there is a notification system in texas. i get text updates all the time for voting/voting registration. can check my registration online, and there are scores of people out on campus, etc. assisting with registration. these people are lazy and incurious.

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