Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Why people should NOT vote

I'm pretty sure this post is going to get some responses. Especially from my in-laws who all feel quite strongly that everyone should vote. They are of course wrong. There are 2 kinds of people..those that should vote, and those that should not.

I really don't have a problem with voting. I think if people want to do it, they should. We shouldn't go and tell everyone they should vote. Like I said before, some people just shouldn't. I really think my biggest problem is how voting is handled.

Every one's vote is equal. That seems like a nice way of handling things. Everyone should have an equal voice to be heard. The reality of course is that's not true. Every one's voice should not be equal. I pay no attention to "the issues" or "the candidates" or if my "socks match". Why should my vote count the same as someone who actually pays attention to those things (especially the socks thing)? Simple, it shouldn't. And telling people to go out to vote, just to vote makes things worse. If more people vote, it makes your vote worth less. If those people are uninformed it makes your vote worth less by that much more.

Let's put it this way. You and 4 of your close personal friends want to go out to dinner. You want to go to restaurant A, and George wants to go to restaurant B. No one else cares but since this is my scenario you force them to vote because it's their duty as your friends (but it doesn't matter what they vote for) Kramer votes for A because it was the first one said. Elaine says she doesn't really care but if she had to choose it would be B. Newman, being difficult throws in Restaurant C.

So should Kramer's, Elaine's, and Newman's vote count as much as yours and George's? They don't even care where they eat! No, the best solution would be for you to tell George that you want to eat at restaurant A so much, that you'd be willing to buy him an appetizer. He says he wants to eat at restaurant B so much that he'd be willing to buy your entire meal.

George gets to eat at his restaurant, you get a free meal, and everyone is happy that everything is resolved.

The founding fathers tried as best they could to fix this with the Electoral College. Most people denounce the ol' college try as antiquated and obsolete. And to an extent it is. But it's better than simple majority rules (which as the above example shows is really quite silly). Their method was a "past the post" style. This essentially means they have to achieve a goal number before they can win.

I've put some thought into this and I think I've found a solution.

Vote Weighting

Vote Weighting relies on not only how much you know about trivial stuff such as issues and candidates and but also how much a vote means to you.

So here is how it would work. You have to pass a test on just knowing who is running and what people are talking about. Score less than a certain percentage (we'll leave that up to a vote in congress) and your vote is worth .5 (that's half of one vote). Pass the test and your vote is worth 1 (congratulations you're informed). This is beneficial in 2 ways. First, if people want to have a full they have to at least know what's going on (instead of going just to pull the party ticket). Second, it prevents people who don't know what's going on to have any impact on the race.

The second part is of course the fun part. This is where you get to determine how much you want your person to be elected. So you want person A to be elected so much that you'd be willing to build houses for people in New Orleans. (I would think that should count for at least 4 votes) Bill wants person B to be elected to much that he's willing to give $1 to everyone(that would be worth maybe 2 votes...after all $1 isn't all that much ) Newman wants Person B to be elected to badly that he's willing to kill himself (which really works out well because do we really want such a fanatic voting in more than one election? I didn't think so either)

There's lots of ways this can go. If your candidate wins, you have to do whatever you pledged. If you lose, you get to see all the great work being done by others (and maybe even get $1..or even finally get rid of Newman)

Me? I'm a .5 vote kind of guy.


  1. Anonymous7:22 AM

    i totally agree with you. i like the idea of vote weighting. i also think we should do away with political parties. that way people will have to vote for a candidate based on what they actually belive and not just the ideas they're associated with.

  2. I agree with Elise on this one. Boo, political parties!

    Babe, you know my opinion . . .

  3. Anonymous12:06 PM

    Carl, I like where you are going with this, but here are a couple of problems:

    The most educated and informed get the most vote. I'm sometimes pessimistic because I think most people most of the time will vote for things that help themselves. That means that the most educated and most informed will continue to reap more benefits, and those that are working two jobs to just get by and don't have a TV or have time to watch (think single moms and working poor who couldn't afford George Mason) will have much less voice. More widening of the social gap. I like the idea of knowing actually what you are voting for, but the test needs to allow for equal opportunity for all.

    The second part of the idea - buying votes - I have a little more of a problem with. Those with the most resources again have a vote disproportianate to their worth (at least, as all equal children before God; others may not think so). Also, who comes up with the rules and who enforces? - argghh! more beuracracy!

    Besides, doesn't it basically work out as vote weighing anyway? Everybody doesn't get the same vote weight - only those who actually took the time to vote, and they get one point. Others get zero.

    Gotta disagree with Elise. Sorry. Question: why would people associate with the ideas of a political party if they don't actually believe in them? It may not be a 100% match, but there should at least be a large overlap. That is how I know basically what that person stands for without having to have a 300 page biography on each candidate. If they don't like that, then run as an independent. And when several independent candidates say, "Hey, I agree with you on many of these ideas," whammo, we have a party anyway. Unavoidable.

    Carl, thanks for thinking large. My Thoughts,

  4. Hey John,
    I don't think we have any kind of weighting in place now (even though those who vote count as 1 and those who don't count as 0). I think it's unfair that my vote (a person who has no idea what is going on, nor really cares all that much) carries the same weight as someone like yourself who pays great attention to what is going on and cares very deeply.

    The idea is not that you are buying votes, but that you are showing how much you want a person to be elected. If the single mother who works 2 jobs to makes ends meet gives $100 she doesn't have to a homeless person her vote should mean more than Bill Gates giving $1 to every person in the US because it shows she wants it more. That $100 is way more valuable than the millions that Gates would give up.

    Money is a tough because there are little who have a lot and a lot who have little. It's better to choose something in which most everyone is fingers.

    (almost) everyone has 10 of them so that's relatively equal. It prevents inflation of votes because you can only do it, at most, 10 times. They mean a lot because you only have 10 and they do valuable tasks such as typing or picking your nose.

    I think what would be really interesting is what the candidates would vote in this instance. Person A is willing to give their right pinky finger and left hand while person B isn't willing to give up anything. That says a lot about candidate A(good or bad I'm not sure which)

  5. My husband was kidding about the fingers. It's his wacky econ background.

  6. Before any of you were born they used tests in various states to disqualify people from voting. It was a method of vote suppression. The problem isn't voting. It is the fact that many people don't bother to consider the issues. The issues are bread and butter on the table from many people.

    Politicians use issues like gun control and abortion like con artists use the slight of hand to keep people looking away from actual action.

    Everyone should have enough personal responsibility to at least read a newspaper now and again. As citizens of a democracy we must take responsibility for the actions of our government. If we don't, then there will come a time when an invading army will march us through the death camps to show us what we ignored. History will repeat itself if we refuse to educate ourselves on it and compare it to the present.

    I'm one of the in-laws.

  7. Two points:

    My problem is not that I don't pay attention to the races, it is when it comes to the ballots I can't understand the Layer Jargon!! (I know this doesn't apply to candidates, but it does apply to voting.

    Second, I completely agree with doing away with the 2-party system. You're beliefs don't have to largely fall on one side or the other. What does abortion have to do with gay marriages? NOTHING, and so-on and so-forth. So those that land in the middle are "independents" And have almost NO possibility of winning with out the support of a "party". I bet if we did away with the parties more previously considered "independents" will win.

  8. Anonymous9:13 AM

    John again:

    For all those who say there should not be parties because somehow people will just know what those candidates stand for, please post in this blog what you know about the issues of Gail Parker WITHOUT looking it all up.

    Here is the other solution: just never vote for anyone who runs in a party. That will give voice to the people who say there shouldn't be parties. Problem is, as you already know, teams of people have more influence and money than individuals. Annoying sometimes, but a reality nonetheless.

    Carl, I'll come back to your points later.

    Isn't this fun?! Thanks, Carl. Shayna, we miss you!

  9. Anonymous2:26 PM

    As much as we may dislike the existing parties, I don't think some sort of ban on political parties would improve things. First, the ban itself would be a significant restriction on political freedom. Second, it would push all the politcical lobbying and manipulation underground, which wouldn't necessarily be a good thing. Third, it would make it even more difficult to evaluate what a given candidate believes because without the parties, individuals wouldn't be able to raise enough $$ to get their message out, and voters wouldn't be able to assume they will follow party lines on most issues.

  10. Anonymous8:42 AM

    Carl, another way to think about what you are suggesting is: how should people have to earn the right to vote? You say, They should be educated about the people running. What if there are others who say that still isn't enough? I have read from a popular writer that maybe people have to earn the right to vote by serving in the military. That way, only people who have put their lives on the line for the country get to say what happens to it.

    Got a question along a different line, maybe it requires a different blog to answer: where do we draw the line as citizens of God's kingdom and citizens of America? Can you pledge your allegiance, and ultimately your life, to both at the same time? The answer will eventually trickle down to how you vote.