Saturday, February 4, 2012


Close elections maximize the leverage voters have to get their singular issues addressed. That can be useful, but a 51-49% kind of result tastes of division. Division tastes bitter.

I wonder why we bother counting votes at all. If forecasts show a conclusive result, they can be used to call the winner without voting. If forecasts are very tight we should toss a coin. It is cheaper and less prone to manipulation than vote counting. A close call means we are ready to live with either outcome.

With elections decided by statistical sampling, the sampled population has a higher chance of influencing the result. High schoolers study every day in case they are called up the next day. People would likewise care to be informed about the candidates in case they are sampled.

Granted, with my scheme individual votes are not counted. But who cares about counting every vote when a single vote cannot make a difference. Take California, before the polls close the elections are generally settled by the Eastern states results, so no vote here counts. But even in perfectly synchronized elections what are the chances that my lone vote decides the outcome?

The odds of a single vote deciding an election are lower than the odds of dying in a traffic accident on the way to vote. And yes, accidents seem to be higher on Election Days according to Mark Brady. He also tackles the myth that one should vote else one cannot complain.

"Don't Blame Me, I'm From Massachusetts" Nixon era bumper stickers morph into "Don't Blame Me, I did Not Vote" but the idea remains, you can only complain if you did not vote for a deficient leader.

Personally I wish for 70-30% outcomes so we have a sense of direction and common purpose, yet without falling into the ridiculous 99% results common in some places. Places I wouldn't like to live. Places where the ruler can say he is the 99%.