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[Computational Complexity] Compulsory Voting with Careful Consideration of Ch...

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  • Lance
    Guest Post by Amir Michail It s hard to understand why people vote. If we put aside social pressure (e.g., what your friends and family think) and sense of
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 22, 2008
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      Guest Post by Amir Michail

      It's hard to understand why people vote. If we put aside social pressure (e.g., what your friends and family think) and sense of duty, a rational person should be embarrassed at having wasted any time at all on voting—in the same way that a rational person would be embarrassed at having bought a lottery ticket.

      To address this problem, one might consider a compulsory voting system where it takes the same effort to vote as to cast a "no vote". It's compulsory in the sense that if you do nothing, then you will be subject to a significant fine.

      But even such a system is not enough as people could simply vote randomly. In fact, a rational person should vote randomly since admitting to having voted otherwise would be embarrassing given the insignificant probability of making a difference.

      So how do we require people not only to vote (possibly casting a "no vote") but also think carefully about their choice?

      Two ideas:

      1. Compulsory Voting in Blocks

        To vote for X you would need to write the names of at least k other people whom you know are voting for X (this applies also for a "no vote"). This would encourage more people to have discussions with their friends/family and think more carefully about their choice. However, one could argue that rational people would select a candidate randomly in blocks (since again for small k, the probability of making a difference is insignificant).

      2. Compulsory Voting with Consequences

        Voters would be personally responsible for their choice. In particular, an objective measure would be used several years later to see whether their choice was a good one and they would be penalized/awarded financially correspondingly. This is sort of like a prediction market for politics with real money.

      While (2) might seem more promising than (1), at least with respect to rational people, there's the issue of the choice of objective measure.

      Do you have better ideas to require people not only to vote but to also take their vote seriously?

      Posted By Lance to Computational Complexity at 2/22/2008 08:21:00 AM

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