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A rootin' tootin' separate thread about voting, collective action problems and game theory

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    ElJeffeElJeffe Not actually a mod. Roaming the streets, waving his gun around.Moderator, ClubPA mod
    Not every vote will matter, but any vote could matter.

    Participatory democracy only works if people participate.

    Otherwise you get American democracy.

    Agreed, but people participating and person x participating are different things.
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Your one single vote probably isn't going to change much. You're still an asshole if you don't vote, because you're contributing to the problem.

    Throwing that one paper wrapper on the ground probably isn't going to singlehandedly wreck the environment. You're still an asshole if you litter, because you're contributing to the problem.

    Watering your lawn once at midday in the middle of a drought isn't going to immediately use up all available water. You're still an asshole blah blah blah are we seeing a pattern yet?

    The difference is the one wrapper can actually impact someone negatively if they come across it. The person watering their lawn actually reduces the amount of water that is available. Both are small impacts but they can occur. By contrast, if someone doesn't vote no one else is harmed. Their votes still count the same either way. The harm would only be if they fail to get the outcome they wanted because of the non-voter, but that is the single vote situation again, which is extremely unlikely in a large numbers game like voting in the U.S.

    One wrapper probably won't impact anything, but it can. You may think, "well, it's a little paper wrapper, and probably nobody will see it, and probably no animals will choke on it." It is still a behavior that, in isolation, has a nonzero chance of causing measurable harm and, in aggregate, will definitely cause harm. Littering is still asshole behavior, especially since not littering usually requires minimal effort.

    And everything above applies to voting.

    It is true that one person not voting probably will not have a measurable effect. There are all kinds of asshole behaviors that, in isolation, probably won't cause any tangible harm. I don't see why that excuses asshole behavior.

    If you're thirty miles away from the nearest polling booth and you can't afford to miss work and have no transportation, no, I'm not going to hold it against you if you don't vote. And if you accidentally drop a wrapper down a fifty foot ravine, I probably won't hold it against you if you don't scale a goddamn cliff to fetch it.

    But in general? Cast a fucking vote, lardass. (Note: this is a general comment, not directed at you personally.)

    I submitted an entry to Lego Ideas, and if 10,000 people support me, it'll be turned into an actual Lego set!If you'd like to see and support my submission, follow this link.
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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    Etiowsa wrote: »
    milski wrote: »
    Etiowsa wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    But my voting doesn't hurt my candidate, because regardless of what I do (and not others) they'll win or lose. If I don't vote they lose by a hundred thousand votes, and if I do vote they just lose by 99,999 votes.

    It isn't simply you, since you're not the only person not voting. If there are a large amount of people who support your candidate decide not to vote your candidate will lose.

    But unless it is exactly 1 vote between winning and losing, what person x does won't change it. This is the entire point.

    But you have no way of knowing how the vote will turn out until after it happens. You can try and hide behind predictions but until the vote is done yours could be the one that decides the outcome.

    Which is where odds start to come in, if you go full game-theory with this.

    If your state is polling 75% red +- 2%, the chance of your vote mattering is so low that you'd derive almost no utility from voting even if your preferred outcome literally made you world emperor.

    The thing is, applying 'rational self interest' to the election process means nobody votes after a poll has been taken, because apparently the outcome is cemented before anyone even enters the booth. Or are people suddenly omniscient and can determine with no outside information the exact point a vote goes in their favor and requires no action on their part?

    I am not arguing that people are omniscient. I am arguing that there is good enough information out there that a person can have a pretty reasonable estimate on the odds their vote affects the election, and the utility of voting is a simple function of those odds and how much they benefit from a given outcome. Straw polling, or just knowing if your state is a swing state or not, is enough to give a reasonable estimate (e.g. if you are voting in Florida, you might have nontrivial odds. If you're voting in New York, you have better odds of shuffling a deck into new-deck-order).

    I ate an engineer
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    Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    I fully understand this. But even when you accept that if everyone free rides everyone loses, you are still better off free riding because the winning state requires more people than just you to achieve. If 1,000 people need to vote x and you know many people who want x will choose not to vote, it still doesn't make sense for you to vote. If no one is going to vote anyway, your vote can't achieve the desired outcome on its own. If enough people vote to achieve the outcome, it happens without you. It is still only in the extremely unlikely deciding vote scenario that it makes sense to vote.

    You're not better off when your candidate loses. If you want them to win you have to vote, and others do too, or the candidate you don't want to win will get elected. If no one was going to vote anyway there'd be no winner, and that doesn't happen in elections there are always voters who vote and winners who get into office. Your vote doesn't have to be the deciding vote to impact an election being one of the random votes that give them a larger portion of the vote increases their chances of winning and make it easier for the deciding votes to matter. Free riders lose when their candidate they support loses, by not voting this increases the chances of that happening. The politician with the largest voting pool wins.

    We are going in circles here. Can we both agree that the following statement is true:

    As a normative matter, people should vote. However, any specific individual is unlikely to change the outcome of an election by voting or not voting, so while it is good for people to vote, if that individual does not vote, the outcome of the election is unlikely to be changed.

    That's ignoring how big a problem non-voting is. Individuals who don't vote don't hurt elections, groups of individuals who don't vote impact elections (You'd be in their number not an isolated individual) and if the supporters on one side have the bigger percentage of non voters they'll lose. You're not a lone non-voter you're one among millions. Those amount of votes effects outcomes with elections. This isn't about Space voting as an individual, it's about all the non-voters in your state and the country.

    That is a different statement than I made and a different topic than this thread is about though. Do you agree with the statement I set forth?

    Individually you'd be right, except you're not the only non-voter in your state or the country. Focusing on the individual voter is missing the point of how groups of individuals doing that have on elections. That's where the results matter, if this was just one or two people you'd be right - it's not. Individual non-voters are no longer individuals when they're in the thousands or millions. They're acting as a group and their absence negatively effects the candidates they support.
    As a normative matter, people should vote. However, any specific individual is unlikely to change the outcome of an election by voting or not voting, so while it is good for people to vote, if that individual does not vote, the outcome of the election is unlikely to be changed.

    The irony here is if all those individual non-voters voted they'd change the election's results as a group.

    Harry Dresden on
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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    Aistan wrote: »
    If you're only looking at one person and saying whether that one person votes or doesn't vote doesn't matter then yes this is accurate.

    It's also completely useless information, because an election isn't about one voter. You have to look at all the voters, and as you look at more and more of them whether those people voted or not starts to matter more and more.

    I guess I just don't understand the point of the thought exercise when it has no real world applications. There should be no reason for anyone to not vote.

    Collective action problems are real. Taxes, and in a broader sense, government itself exists entirely because somebody just needs to man up and solve collective action problems like "how do we get everybody to chip in for this road?"

    Both people in this thread are correct in that everybody being a defector is bad, but individual defecting is almost meaningless except to the individual. The issue is almost always better framed as "how do we limit the number of defectors/free riders," not moralizing over whether anybody should free ride or not.

    I ate an engineer
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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Like other people have said, if I really wanted to action an issue I legitimately cared about I'd just throw money at it with the time and effort it would take me to vote. I think people above a certain income bracket have this option.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
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    DivideByZeroDivideByZero Social Justice Blackguard Registered User regular
    Aistan wrote: »
    If you're only looking at one person and saying whether that one person votes or doesn't vote doesn't matter then yes this is accurate.

    It's also completely useless information, because an election isn't about one voter. You have to look at all the voters, and as you look at more and more of them whether those people voted or not starts to matter more and more.

    I guess I just don't understand the point of the thought exercise when it has no real world applications. There should be no reason for anyone to not vote.

    The real world application is "Serves as an intellectual sounding excuse for anybody too lazy to go flip a lever once a year."

    First they came for the Muslims, and we said NOT TODAY, MOTHERFUCKERS
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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    Anyway, there are several ways to decrease the number of free riders with a collective action problem.
    1. Increase the utility of not-defecting.
    2. Increase the costs of defecting.
    3. Decrease the costs of not-defecting.
    4. Decrease the utility of defecting.

    In the case of voting, this could be something like:
    1. Offer payment for voting.
    2. Jail people for not voting.
    3. Allow for voting via secure apps or government sponsored mail-in ballots.
    4. Make voting day a national holiday (so that defecting no longer gives you an extra hour/shift at work; this also hits on point 3).

    Not all of these are reasonable suggestions, but option number 3 would definitely help to increase voter turnout. Option number 2 could work (e.g. Australia), but only in combination with a very strong option 3 to make voting convenient for everybody, including those without reliable transport. You could also attempt to work on point #1 by making voting seem like a moral good, or promoting the social aspect of voting, but that at least seems less effective on people acting in rational self interest or people who are mostly apathetic.

    I ate an engineer
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    GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    A lot of people complain they don't want to vote for either the Democrat or the Republican, because their preferred candidate didn't make it out of the primaries. I feel that this reasoning is naive.

    You vote in the primary to get your preferred issues/candidates put forward.

    You vote in the general to elect the least bad option, because a non-vote is indistinguishable from a vote to default on the economy and plunge us back into a Mad Max style feudalistic society.

    The primary is when you play offense; the general election is when you play defense.
    Julius wrote: »
    Why is it so important that YOUR vote is the ONE VOTE that matters?

    From a position of rational self interest I should only ever do things that are beneficial to me.

    If my vote doesn't matter and voting requires a non-zero amount of effort, then there is no benefit to voting to me.

    I'd argue that in elections, unlike sports, running up the score has a tangible benefit. The percentage a candidate wins by can shift people's perspective on issues. So every single vote definitely has a non-zero value.

    But the differences between 250,000,000 and 250,000,001 is so close to zero as to be effectively zero.

    But still not zero. Which is the point. Every votes matters and has influence on society and future policy and elections. That you don't think it matters very much is has no bearing on the fact that it still matters.

    If the party/politician reacts the same to n or n+1, then the effect is nothing though. I find it highly doubtful that anyone would be influenced by n+1 differently from n where n is sufficiently large enough.

    But they don't. In the same way that the water table does move when one of Californias 53 million people waters their lawn. You're confusing a small effect for no effect.

    Re: random selection

    Does not solve the problem. The value of a vote still approaches zero because the probability that that margin has an effect approaches zero. Indeed even more so if we consider repeated games where policy is expected to react to voting.

    Fptp is just fine for voting. Parties react and organize around the voting in ways that neutralize the single game downsides.
    FPTP isn't fine and the parties organise in ways to make sense of the rules but that doesn't mean the organisation is optimal compared to all possible organisations. And in the case of the U.S. there have been two spoiled elections - Perot and Nader - in recent decades which is the very definition of electoral failure.

    The random selection does solve the problem of any votes beyond the decider not mattering. It is true that it still suffers from diminishing returns as the number of people voting increases, so it solves most of the issues then.

    No. Random selection does not solve that problem because the problem does not exist in the first place. Parties align towards the median vote(r) and so any vote moves the median vote(r) and so every vote matters. The degree to which it matters depends on the number of voters in precisely the same manner as the random selection does.

    Plus if you're going to argue that spoiled elections are intrinsically systemic failure then random selection will have more failures! Indeed a 60/40 split will fail 40% of the time! Sure it "tends" to the condorcet winner but so does fptp with selection.

    wbBv3fj.png
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    Apothe0sisApothe0sis Have you ever questioned the nature of your reality? Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    A lot of people complain they don't want to vote for either the Democrat or the Republican, because their preferred candidate didn't make it out of the primaries. I feel that this reasoning is naive.

    You vote in the primary to get your preferred issues/candidates put forward.

    You vote in the general to elect the least bad option, because a non-vote is indistinguishable from a vote to default on the economy and plunge us back into a Mad Max style feudalistic society.

    The primary is when you play offense; the general election is when you play defense.
    Julius wrote: »
    Why is it so important that YOUR vote is the ONE VOTE that matters?

    From a position of rational self interest I should only ever do things that are beneficial to me.

    If my vote doesn't matter and voting requires a non-zero amount of effort, then there is no benefit to voting to me.

    I'd argue that in elections, unlike sports, running up the score has a tangible benefit. The percentage a candidate wins by can shift people's perspective on issues. So every single vote definitely has a non-zero value.

    But the differences between 250,000,000 and 250,000,001 is so close to zero as to be effectively zero.

    But still not zero. Which is the point. Every votes matters and has influence on society and future policy and elections. That you don't think it matters very much is has no bearing on the fact that it still matters.

    If the party/politician reacts the same to n or n+1, then the effect is nothing though. I find it highly doubtful that anyone would be influenced by n+1 differently from n where n is sufficiently large enough.

    But they don't. In the same way that the water table does move when one of Californias 53 million people waters their lawn. You're confusing a small effect for no effect.

    Re: random selection

    Does not solve the problem. The value of a vote still approaches zero because the probability that that margin has an effect approaches zero. Indeed even more so if we consider repeated games where policy is expected to react to voting.

    Fptp is just fine for voting. Parties react and organize around the voting in ways that neutralize the single game downsides.
    FPTP isn't fine and the parties organise in ways to make sense of the rules but that doesn't mean the organisation is optimal compared to all possible organisations. And in the case of the U.S. there have been two spoiled elections - Perot and Nader - in recent decades which is the very definition of electoral failure.

    The random selection does solve the problem of any votes beyond the decider not mattering. It is true that it still suffers from diminishing returns as the number of people voting increases, so it solves most of the issues then.

    No. Random selection does not solve that problem because the problem does not exist in the first place. Parties align towards the median vote(r) and so any vote moves the median vote(r) and so every vote matters. The degree to which it matters depends on the number of voters in precisely the same manner as the random selection does.

    Plus if you're going to argue that spoiled elections are intrinsically systemic failure then random selection will have more failures! Indeed a 60/40 split will fail 40% of the time! Sure it "tends" to the condorcet winner but so does fptp with selection.

    Two separate thoughts.

    The FPTP is broken regardless of whether Lottery is a good system or not (it's not).

    I brought it up only because it is weird but doesn't have any mixed incentives and doesn't fall victim to the specific issue that SKFM and the not-voting-is-a-ok side of the thread were referring to with the specific argument that "100 to 1 vs 101 to 1" are indistinguishable from the perspective of results.

    Apothe0sis on
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    ronya wrote: »
    skfm is your argument based on the canonical game-theoretic Downs paradox-of-voting, or are you arguing from similar but not quite identical principles

    I had not read that theory before but it seems much the same as my position.

    assuming you hold to the game-theoretic sense of 'rationality' (which iirc you do not, not exactly), then there are five relevant points that come to mind -

    - first, the Downs result is weakened significantly if you model voters as weighing the victory margin in their decisionmaking (atop the usual binary victory/loss majoritarian condition). Obviously, if voters care about the margin, then the individual choice to vote does not converge toward zero as n→∞. This is readily justified by observing that turnout often increases in elections forecasted to be close

    - second, the level of turnout is itself instrumentally regarded as legitimizing; a higher turnout improves the quality of a binary victory. It is for this reason that parties organize boycotts of election processes that they regard as illegitimate. so, even if a voter does only care about binary victory and their probability of casting a vote affecting the outcome converges toward zero, the victory is still more appealing with a higher turnout. This point is asymmetric (it implies that the real question is why voters who expect to lose by a wide margin bother at all).

    - third, the Downs result is subtly dependent on a particular kind of modelling of the probability of affecting the binary outcome. It's not really sensible to say that votes are identically fungible in lived experience. They're arguably more appropriately considered as sequential, and that flips the result: the sequential Downs paradox is really about a contest to be the last marginal voter. That is to say, if you were a Downs voter living in a society full of fellow game-theoretically-individually-rational strategic individuals, when you approach a voting booth "early" on Election Day (however defined), you know that the present tally is 50%. If it (or, let's say, the exit poll) were 50%-1, someone from the opposing party would vote. If you approach a voting booth "late" when other voters consider it "early", then it is wholly rational for you to vote; you will cast the decisive vote. Only if you are "late" when other voters are also "late" downs the Downs paradox begin to apply.

    By that intuition, a society full of Downs voters, but with varying and hidden individual degrees of patience for hanging around waiting for other people to sequentially vote, will readily generate votes. The least patient individuals will vote first, voting continues as a steady stream of impatient voters compels patient voters to neutralize their vote. Then, as voters become more homogenous and the "rush for the exits" takes hold, the conventional Downs intuition holds and people give up.

    Now obviously this is a fragile result that finely depends on how one formalizes the intuition. But do observe that in real life, certain countries permit universal postal ballots, like the UK. You can mail a ballot via free prepaid post and save your day. And yet the majority of voters turn out instead on Election Day, and of course a large fraction of people don't vote at all.

    - fourth, you can capture point #3 in a different way, where voters have varying and hidden individual assessments of the current tally, and so a steady stream of optimistic voters compels pessimistic voters to join the vote. This is arguably also realistic. The intuition here is that sequentiality inverts the collective action problem from persuading anybody to vote at all to persuading anybody to abstain at all, so poking holes easily collapses the result toward voting.

    - fifth, the Downs result is dependent on the strategic interaction being non-cooperative. That is, individuals cannot form into groups that collectively bind each other into agreements to vote.

    But how would such a group operate in the absence of legal mandate? Easy: it could springboard off social forces, like ostracism or shared symbols or fear of accusations of hypocrisy, to herd voters together and appoint de facto enforcers of voting intentions. For instance, people could yell at you if you say things like "I'm not going to vote" or "I did not vote".

    Now if it is possible to collectively commit to vote, then in general it is rational for Downsian party stalwarts to form such collective commitments (see the intuition outlined in #3 and #4). Does this happen in real life? For Exhibit A, I submit a list of all the people yelling at @spacekungfuman. The prosecution rests, your honor.

    But suppose this enforcement is imperfect. You can decide not to vote, then claim to vote nonetheless. Obviously, then, the rational thing to do in the face of such collective enforcement is to lie. Now, polls in the UK generally suggest that 10% or fewer of respondents will say that they do not intend to vote. Of course, actual turnout is only about 60%. What does this suggest?

    aRkpc.gif
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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Not every vote will matter, but any vote could matter.

    Participatory democracy only works if people participate.

    Otherwise you get American democracy.

    Agreed, but people participating and person x participating are different things.
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    Your one single vote probably isn't going to change much. You're still an asshole if you don't vote, because you're contributing to the problem.

    Throwing that one paper wrapper on the ground probably isn't going to singlehandedly wreck the environment. You're still an asshole if you litter, because you're contributing to the problem.

    Watering your lawn once at midday in the middle of a drought isn't going to immediately use up all available water. You're still an asshole blah blah blah are we seeing a pattern yet?

    The difference is the one wrapper can actually impact someone negatively if they come across it. The person watering their lawn actually reduces the amount of water that is available. Both are small impacts but they can occur. By contrast, if someone doesn't vote no one else is harmed. Their votes still count the same either way. The harm would only be if they fail to get the outcome they wanted because of the non-voter, but that is the single vote situation again, which is extremely unlikely in a large numbers game like voting in the U.S.

    One wrapper probably won't impact anything, but it can. You may think, "well, it's a little paper wrapper, and probably nobody will see it, and probably no animals will choke on it." It is still a behavior that, in isolation, has a nonzero chance of causing measurable harm and, in aggregate, will definitely cause harm. Littering is still asshole behavior, especially since not littering usually requires minimal effort.

    And everything above applies to voting.

    It is true that one person not voting probably will not have a measurable effect. There are all kinds of asshole behaviors that, in isolation, probably won't cause any tangible harm. I don't see why that excuses asshole behavior.

    If you're thirty miles away from the nearest polling booth and you can't afford to miss work and have no transportation, no, I'm not going to hold it against you if you don't vote. And if you accidentally drop a wrapper down a fifty foot ravine, I probably won't hold it against you if you don't scale a goddamn cliff to fetch it.

    But in general? Cast a fucking vote, lardass. (Note: this is a general comment, not directed at you personally.)

    The trick is defining what the non-zero risk of harm is (in the voting example it is so small as to be effectively zero for all US federal elections). I agree that everyone defecting in the aggregate is harmful. That is true by definition. But it is also true that whether one person defects or not in a situation like voting simply does not impact whether the harm of the mass defection comes to pass.

    Voting can be very inconvenient in many parts of the U.S. If your alternatives are waiting on line for hours to vote or staying home doing something productive or enjoyable with those few hours, I don't think it is unreasonable to make the latter choice, the probabilities being what they are.

    I think that letting everyone vote online or by absentee ballot are very good examples of ways to lower the cost of voting.

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    redx wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    You can do all of those things and still vote. And since every vote does matter, unless your cure for cancer is literally stopped by you personally casting a ballot it is safe to say you can vote without any detriment.

    In fact if you have time to argue over this on the internet you have time to vote.

    He's doing something better.

    He is convincing a large group of people, who he largely disagrees with, not to vote, when his vote really is pretty pointless he's from NY.


    1 vote, it doesn't really matter much. Certainly not as much as convincing a hundred or a thousand or a hundred thousand people their vote doesn't matter.

    fortunately, literally no one is agreeing with him. Because he's acting as a goose would if geese voted (or didn't vote as the case may be)

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    FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD interior crocodile alligator ⇔ ǝɹʇɐǝɥʇ ǝᴉʌoɯ ʇǝloɹʌǝɥɔ ɐ ǝʌᴉɹp ᴉRegistered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    There is virtually no scenario in which it is less rational to vote than it is not to vote.

    What if there are significant barriers to voting? Like in lots of places in the US?

    Let me rephrase: when looking at election outcomes, there is virtually no scenario in which it is less rational to vote than to abstain.

    Obviously there are scenarios in which the personal cost of voting is too high for an individual to bear.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.

    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    milski wrote: »
    The only time not voting would make sense is if you know the outcome ahead of time.

    This is probably the case for the majority of Americans, though I'm not entirely certain what the swing states look like at present.

    all 50 of them if no one gets off their asses

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    Squidget0Squidget0 Registered User regular
    Part of the problem is that voting gets tied up with all of the other political things that political people do, most of which actually does have a zero impact. Watching the debates has a zero impact. Paying attention to the latest scandal has a zero impact. Getting conspicuously angry at the latest dumb thing some congressman said has a zero impact. Worse, the universal obsession with politics incites people to make convincing (but utterly wrong) arguments that signaling the right position on those issues is the one true test of a decent human being. Since voting is very similar to all other pointless political signaling and still has an almost zero impact, it's very easy to lump all those arguments together and decide that all of them are basically bullshit.

    But perhaps a better question to ask is, why are we privileging this particular category of improving the world? Giving to a good charity saves people from dying of horrible diseases at the rate of about 1 life saved per $3340. The Obama and Romney campaigns combined spent about $1.7 billion over the course of the 2012 election cycle, which amounts to about 500,000 lives saved by the charity metric. If these campaign funds had all been given to charity instead we might have fewer voters or smaller campaigns, but it's not immediately clear that we would be any worse off.

    Similarly, on an individual level, the gas money that you spend getting to the voting booth would almost certainly have a greater positive effect on the world if it was donated to charity instead, simply because charity is so much more effective than most any political actions a person can reasonably take. The question of "Am I a bad person for not voting/doing more politics" is strictly superseded by "Am I a bad person for not engaging in other more useful forms of improving the world, especially charity? Also, however much sin I have for not doing all of that, should I add an additional sin about 1% as large for not voting or doing lots of politics?"

    I can say that for me, realizing that most of the good I could do in the world was not related to which things I liked or which media I consumed or who I voted for, but the activities I did that were actually optimized to do good was really really liberating. If, after all of that, you still want to care about politics and follow political news and vote, feel free. Voting is probably one of the better low-cost low-reward political actions you can take. Just don't feel the need to do all the political signaling if it isn't making your life better. Read the candidate's websites on election day, and you'll probably roughly as accurate in your policy preferences as any given political news junkie.

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    Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    Squidget0 wrote: »
    Part of the problem is that voting gets tied up with all of the other political things that political people do, most of which actually does have a zero impact. Watching the debates has a zero impact. Paying attention to the latest scandal has a zero impact. Getting conspicuously angry at the latest dumb thing some congressman said has a zero impact. Worse, the universal obsession with politics incites people to make convincing (but utterly wrong) arguments that signaling the right position on those issues is the one true test of a decent human being. Since voting is very similar to all other pointless political signaling and still has an almost zero impact, it's very easy to lump all those arguments together and decide that all of them are basically bullshit.

    Debates and being angry at what politicians do effects voting. Debates don't shape politics they're sole purpose is to convince as many people to vote for them as possible when voting starts. When the voting is finished and the winner gets into office that's when things get politically effected, which can occur on the local, state, national and international scale. Scandals can impact politics, they destroyed the political careers of John Edwards, Todd Akin, Anthony Weiner, Richard Nixon. Bill Clinton got in serious trouble with his scandals with Monica Lewinsky, he wasn't impeached but he was in hot water over it. Ironically this helped his image, rather then weaken him.

    The problem is that the country hasn't got an obsession with politics, if it did we'd be in better shape since people would be more inclined to care about voting.

    Political signalling is important to politics since the nation's political future hangs on what it does. Who gets elected determines what laws get put into place, what nominees get elected as judges, who runs what agency and the supreme court itself. They very much care about the consequences about gay marriage and Citizens United became law, and that is politics. Which wouldn't be possible without politicians getting elected. Someone has to make those calls, and if your guy isn't the one doing that your rivals will.
    But perhaps a better question to ask is, why are we privileging this particular category of improving the world? Giving to a good charity saves people from dying of horrible diseases at the rate of about 1 life saved per $3340. The Obama and Romney campaigns combined spent about $1.7 billion over the course of the 2012 election cycle, which amounts to about 500,000 lives saved by the charity metric. If these campaign funds had all been given to charity instead we might have fewer voters or smaller campaigns, but it's not immediately clear that we would be any worse off.

    Giving to charity didn't help gay marriage become legal or, on the Republican side, create the conditions for Citizens United to pass with the Supreme Court. It doesn't shape America's foreign policy, what wars we engage in or how or determine if America is liked or loathed in the world. Charity donations didn't stop unions from getting crushed in Wisconsin, Scott Walker did and he did that by getting elected. Giving to charity isn't going to fix the South indirectly cutting off access to abortion clinics, and impacting how sex education and science education is taught in schools.
    Similarly, on an individual level, the gas money that you spend getting to the voting booth would almost certainly have a greater positive effect on the world if it was donated to charity instead, simply because charity is so much more effective than most any political actions a person can reasonably take. The question of "Am I a bad person for not voting/doing more politics" is strictly superseded by "Am I a bad person for not engaging in other more useful forms of improving the world, especially charity? Also, however much sin I have for not doing all of that, should I add an additional sin about 1% as large for not voting or doing lots of politics?"

    Except that isn't occurring on the individual level it's occurring at levels with hundreds and more non-votes. You're not alone, you're in another group whose absence is impacting who gets elected. You will be effected on the individual level over something political based on who gets elected and which causes are enacted. You don't have to personally be effected for policies to help or harm you, either physically or because you dislike the laws being made. Especially if you're a government employee.
    I can say that for me, realizing that most of the good I could do in the world was not related to which things I liked or which media I consumed or who I voted for, but the activities I did that were actually optimized to do good was really really liberating. If, after all of that, you still want to care about politics and follow political news and vote, feel free. Voting is probably one of the better low-cost low-reward political actions you can take. Just don't feel the need to do all the political signaling if it isn't making your life better. Read the candidate's websites on election day, and you'll probably roughly as accurate in your policy preferences as any given political news junkie.

    That determines on what you feel is good. If you felt Obama was the right choice as president, you did good getting him elected and this goes for Scott Walker or George W. Bush or whoever. It can be bad if the opposition you loathe gets elected and implements their policies and they'll do it. Voters can feel liberated voting for politicians they want to win, and they made that happen as a group. How you know which candidate you are supporting is due to what media you consume, which will determine how you feel about who won the election when they win.

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    NbspNbsp she laughs, like God her mind's like a diamondRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015
    I've been reading this thread and it's kind of absurd. Of course every vote matters, it's a very small effect, but it certainly is not zero.

    What's really fucked up is that some people's votes matter more than others based on where they live. It's more important to get the vote out in swing states than solid states, even campaign spending reflects this.

    Nbsp on
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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    skfm is your argument based on the canonical game-theoretic Downs paradox-of-voting, or are you arguing from similar but not quite identical principles

    I had not read that theory before but it seems much the same as my position.

    assuming you hold to the game-theoretic sense of 'rationality' (which iirc you do not, not exactly), then there are five relevant points that come to mind -

    - first, the Downs result is weakened significantly if you model voters as weighing the victory margin in their decisionmaking (atop the usual binary victory/loss majoritarian condition). Obviously, if voters care about the margin, then the individual choice to vote does not converge toward zero as n→∞. This is readily justified by observing that turnout often increases in elections forecasted to be close

    - second, the level of turnout is itself instrumentally regarded as legitimizing; a higher turnout improves the quality of a binary victory. It is for this reason that parties organize boycotts of election processes that they regard as illegitimate. so, even if a voter does only care about binary victory and their probability of casting a vote affecting the outcome converges toward zero, the victory is still more appealing with a higher turnout. This point is asymmetric (it implies that the real question is why voters who expect to lose by a wide margin bother at all).

    - third, the Downs result is subtly dependent on a particular kind of modelling of the probability of affecting the binary outcome. It's not really sensible to say that votes are identically fungible in lived experience. They're arguably more appropriately considered as sequential, and that flips the result: the sequential Downs paradox is really about a contest to be the last marginal voter. That is to say, if you were a Downs voter living in a society full of fellow game-theoretically-individually-rational strategic individuals, when you approach a voting booth "early" on Election Day (however defined), you know that the present tally is 50%. If it (or, let's say, the exit poll) were 50%-1, someone from the opposing party would vote. If you approach a voting booth "late" when other voters consider it "early", then it is wholly rational for you to vote; you will cast the decisive vote. Only if you are "late" when other voters are also "late" downs the Downs paradox begin to apply.

    By that intuition, a society full of Downs voters, but with varying and hidden individual degrees of patience for hanging around waiting for other people to sequentially vote, will readily generate votes. The least patient individuals will vote first, voting continues as a steady stream of impatient voters compels patient voters to neutralize their vote. Then, as voters become more homogenous and the "rush for the exits" takes hold, the conventional Downs intuition holds and people give up.

    Now obviously this is a fragile result that finely depends on how one formalizes the intuition. But do observe that in real life, certain countries permit universal postal ballots, like the UK. You can mail a ballot via free prepaid post and save your day. And yet the majority of voters turn out instead on Election Day, and of course a large fraction of people don't vote at all.

    - fourth, you can capture point #3 in a different way, where voters have varying and hidden individual assessments of the current tally, and so a steady stream of optimistic voters compels pessimistic voters to join the vote. This is arguably also realistic. The intuition here is that sequentiality inverts the collective action problem from persuading anybody to vote at all to persuading anybody to abstain at all, so poking holes easily collapses the result toward voting.

    - fifth, the Downs result is dependent on the strategic interaction being non-cooperative. That is, individuals cannot form into groups that collectively bind each other into agreements to vote.

    But how would such a group operate in the absence of legal mandate? Easy: it could springboard off social forces, like ostracism or shared symbols or fear of accusations of hypocrisy, to herd voters together and appoint de facto enforcers of voting intentions. For instance, people could yell at you if you say things like "I'm not going to vote" or "I did not vote".

    Now if it is possible to collectively commit to vote, then in general it is rational for Downsian party stalwarts to form such collective commitments (see the intuition outlined in #3 and #4). Does this happen in real life? For Exhibit A, I submit a list of all the people yelling at @spacekungfuman. The prosecution rests, your honor.

    But suppose this enforcement is imperfect. You can decide not to vote, then claim to vote nonetheless. Obviously, then, the rational thing to do in the face of such collective enforcement is to lie. Now, polls in the UK generally suggest that 10% or fewer of respondents will say that they do not intend to vote. Of course, actual turnout is only about 60%. What does this suggest?

    I wrote out one response, but then I realized that this is correct if everyone acts rationally. My position relies on the assumption that many people will vote despite it being against their rational self interest, so really, I am assuming a pool of irrational actors and a smaller pool (maybe 1) of rational actors. I think this is probably more reflective of reality than an assumption that everyone is rational.

    As we have discussed before, I agree that the winning outcome is to lie and say you voted.

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    DarkPrimusDarkPrimus Registered User regular
    As we have discussed before, I agree that the winning outcome is to lie and say you voted.

    It's like this entire thread hasn't occurred.

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    XaquinXaquin Right behind you!Registered User regular
    At this point, I'm reasonably certain we're being trolled. Everyone has argued with evidence and good faith only to be met with 'nuh uh'

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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    I had only one hangup and that was answered before the thread even began

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    I want to underscore that rationality in a strategic sense is not a system of aesthetic values which someone can fail to hold. This, at heart, feels to me to be the core of your objection

    "they are doing something against their rational self-interest" is an extremely ambitious assertion; the default assumption is that people are rational and it is up to the observer to guess their motivations

    aRkpc.gif
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    NbspNbsp she laughs, like God her mind's like a diamondRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015
    Xaquin wrote: »
    At this point, I'm reasonably certain we're being trolled. Everyone has argued with evidence and good faith only to be met with 'nuh uh'

    An opinion on the internet doesn't matter. Just a useful lie to keep people motivated and make page views.

    Nbsp on
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    AistanAistan Tiny Bat Registered User regular
    edited July 2015
    milski wrote: »
    Aistan wrote: »
    If you're only looking at one person and saying whether that one person votes or doesn't vote doesn't matter then yes this is accurate.

    It's also completely useless information, because an election isn't about one voter. You have to look at all the voters, and as you look at more and more of them whether those people voted or not starts to matter more and more.

    I guess I just don't understand the point of the thought exercise when it has no real world applications. There should be no reason for anyone to not vote.

    Collective action problems are real. Taxes, and in a broader sense, government itself exists entirely because somebody just needs to man up and solve collective action problems like "how do we get everybody to chip in for this road?"

    Both people in this thread are correct in that everybody being a defector is bad, but individual defecting is almost meaningless except to the individual. The issue is almost always better framed as "how do we limit the number of defectors/free riders," not moralizing over whether anybody should free ride or not.

    Oh absolutely. Figuring out why people don't vote is incredibly useful, as is taking that information and working to reduce instances of non-voting. Since more people voting is unambiguously a collective good, the government should work to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to exercise their right to vote. Mail-in voting everywhere comes immediately to mind as an easy start, as does a voting week instead of a voting day.

    What isn't helpful is saying that one person's vote doesn't matter so it doesn't matter if a person votes, and ending it there. I can't see that statement and not follow it to its logical conclusion of no one anywhere voting for anything ever. The entire argument is an instance of not seeing the forest for the trees.

    Aistan on
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    OmnibusOmnibus Registered User regular
    It's also not just "pick one guy for the Big Chair and you're done", either. Ballots aren't only for President of the United States, they're also for Governor, Senator, Congress, Statehouse, County Commissioner, City Council, and so on, each with a decent amount of power and an increasing amount of chances your vote is the One That Matters. Politics can get very local, and a narrowly-elected county commissioner can absolutely fuck up the locality if you don't help stop them.

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    AstaerethAstaereth In the belly of the beastRegistered User regular
    A vote is noticed even if it doesn't decide an election. Sure, as any person voting for President my vote is 1 in tens of millions in my state; but politicians utilize demographics with more granularity now than ever--a much smaller shift in, say, single mom Latino middle class women voters will get noticed and may affect the way candidates address that community and its needs.

    People think they're one voter in 350 million, but campaigning politicians think it's worth talking to rooms of only a few hundred people. (Didn't Rand Paul have an event this year with only two people in attendance?) Surely any individual can take their voice as having at least that much intrinsic value.

    ACsTqqK.jpg
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    PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Astaereth wrote: »
    A vote is noticed even if it doesn't decide an election. Sure, as any person voting for President my vote is 1 in tens of millions in my state; but politicians utilize demographics with more granularity now than ever--a much smaller shift in, say, single mom Latino middle class women voters will get noticed and may affect the way candidates address that community and its needs.

    People think they're one voter in 350 million, but campaigning politicians think it's worth talking to rooms of only a few hundred people. (Didn't Rand Paul have an event this year with only two people in attendance?) Surely any individual can take their voice as having at least that much intrinsic value.

    Doesn't that strategy mostly pay off due to word of mouth

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
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    Morat242Morat242 Registered User regular
    Omnibus wrote: »
    It's also not just "pick one guy for the Big Chair and you're done", either. Ballots aren't only for President of the United States, they're also for Governor, Senator, Congress, Statehouse, County Commissioner, City Council, and so on, each with a decent amount of power and an increasing amount of chances your vote is the One That Matters. Politics can get very local, and a narrowly-elected county commissioner can absolutely fuck up the locality if you don't help stop them.

    And those lower offices act as farm teams for the big ones. That's how you get candidates you want, you run swarms of them through all the cheap offices you can find. You find out which of them are going places, you build their experience and contact network, and you give them a resume of actual accomplishments to run on for bigger offices later. Way too many Americans seem to think that we're actually electing Prime Minister of the United States and think that once that's settled, they're done.

    I would also note that county party committees are elected, too, and they choose the state party committees, which (along with major politicians of that party) choose the national committees. So if you are unhappy with how far left or right or whatever your party is, those boring committees are actually pretty important collectively.

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    GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Apothe0sis wrote: »
    Goumindong wrote: »
    Quid wrote: »
    A lot of people complain they don't want to vote for either the Democrat or the Republican, because their preferred candidate didn't make it out of the primaries. I feel that this reasoning is naive.

    You vote in the primary to get your preferred issues/candidates put forward.

    You vote in the general to elect the least bad option, because a non-vote is indistinguishable from a vote to default on the economy and plunge us back into a Mad Max style feudalistic society.

    The primary is when you play offense; the general election is when you play defense.
    Julius wrote: »
    Why is it so important that YOUR vote is the ONE VOTE that matters?

    From a position of rational self interest I should only ever do things that are beneficial to me.

    If my vote doesn't matter and voting requires a non-zero amount of effort, then there is no benefit to voting to me.

    I'd argue that in elections, unlike sports, running up the score has a tangible benefit. The percentage a candidate wins by can shift people's perspective on issues. So every single vote definitely has a non-zero value.

    But the differences between 250,000,000 and 250,000,001 is so close to zero as to be effectively zero.

    But still not zero. Which is the point. Every votes matters and has influence on society and future policy and elections. That you don't think it matters very much is has no bearing on the fact that it still matters.

    If the party/politician reacts the same to n or n+1, then the effect is nothing though. I find it highly doubtful that anyone would be influenced by n+1 differently from n where n is sufficiently large enough.

    But they don't. In the same way that the water table does move when one of Californias 53 million people waters their lawn. You're confusing a small effect for no effect.

    Re: random selection

    Does not solve the problem. The value of a vote still approaches zero because the probability that that margin has an effect approaches zero. Indeed even more so if we consider repeated games where policy is expected to react to voting.

    Fptp is just fine for voting. Parties react and organize around the voting in ways that neutralize the single game downsides.
    FPTP isn't fine and the parties organise in ways to make sense of the rules but that doesn't mean the organisation is optimal compared to all possible organisations. And in the case of the U.S. there have been two spoiled elections - Perot and Nader - in recent decades which is the very definition of electoral failure.

    The random selection does solve the problem of any votes beyond the decider not mattering. It is true that it still suffers from diminishing returns as the number of people voting increases, so it solves most of the issues then.

    No. Random selection does not solve that problem because the problem does not exist in the first place. Parties align towards the median vote(r) and so any vote moves the median vote(r) and so every vote matters. The degree to which it matters depends on the number of voters in precisely the same manner as the random selection does.

    Plus if you're going to argue that spoiled elections are intrinsically systemic failure then random selection will have more failures! Indeed a 60/40 split will fail 40% of the time! Sure it "tends" to the condorcet winner but so does fptp with selection.

    Two separate thoughts.

    The FPTP is broken regardless of whether Lottery is a good system or not (it's not).

    I brought it up only because it is weird but doesn't have any mixed incentives and doesn't fall victim to the specific issue that SKFM and the not-voting-is-a-ok side of the thread were referring to with the specific argument that "100 to 1 vs 101 to 1" are indistinguishable from the perspective of results.

    Fptp is broken only if we live in a world where elections are not regular and for which primary elections do not exist. For primaries it produces a condorcet winner pretty regularly (given that one exists and that everyone votes in fptp primaries) with the main restriction on that being that people don't vote in the primaries which is a problem with any system.

    wbBv3fj.png
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    Lord_AsmodeusLord_Asmodeus goeticSobriquet: Here is your magical cryptic riddle-tumour: I AM A TIME MACHINERegistered User regular
    I'm sure everyone has seen this video a thousand times but I feel like it's always nice to post it for anyone who hasn't seen it

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s7tWHJfhiyo

    As for primaries, they can help getting a more preferable candidate that most people agree with most, but it might just be the candidate they think stands a chance in the general election, and of course it doesn't take into account the fact that people might prefer candidates farther one way or the other on the political spectrum than they're getting, and if a primary candidate that aligns closely with their own views isn't in the running, they're shit out of luck.

    Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if Labor had not first existed. Labor is superior to capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. - Lincoln
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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    At this point, I'm reasonably certain we're being trolled. Everyone has argued with evidence and good faith only to be met with 'nuh uh'

    I hope that isn't directed at me. I have responded in good faith to every position asserted here. If anything, I think that people who have thrown out platitudes like "civic duty, every vote counts" without responding to the large numbers problem are the closest to bad faith.

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    JuliusJulius Captain of Serenity on my shipRegistered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Julius wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    There is virtually no scenario in which it is less rational to vote than it is not to vote.

    What if there are significant barriers to voting? Like in lots of places in the US?

    Let me rephrase: when looking at election outcomes, there is virtually no scenario in which it is less rational to vote than to abstain.

    Obviously there are scenarios in which the personal cost of voting is too high for an individual to bear.

    Sure but the point is that there are almost always personal costs outweighing the utility of voting. If we ignore the costs then obviously it is always rational to vote, but the argument hinges on the utility always being outweighed by the costs.

    Usual responses to the paradox of voting ignore the utility of the vote itself, because there is no real doubt over whether it's utility is trivial.

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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    ronya wrote: »
    I want to underscore that rationality in a strategic sense is not a system of aesthetic values which someone can fail to hold. This, at heart, feels to me to be the core of your objection

    "they are doing something against their rational self-interest" is an extremely ambitious assertion; the default assumption is that people are rational and it is up to the observer to guess their motivations

    I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that, like anything else, voting has a cost and a benefit. I think the benefit of voting is systematically exaggerated (this is the "useful lie" I have referenced in the thread). Most of the benefit of voting is a public, but not a private, good, and the cost benefit analysis is really private costs vs public benefits. Hence the lie.

    I am not contending that people knowingly make irrational choices. My contention is that people act based on incorrect knowledge about the benefits of voting.

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    ronyaronya Arrrrrf. the ivory tower's basementRegistered User regular
    edited July 2015
    ronya wrote: »
    I want to underscore that rationality in a strategic sense is not a system of aesthetic values which someone can fail to hold. This, at heart, feels to me to be the core of your objection

    "they are doing something against their rational self-interest" is an extremely ambitious assertion; the default assumption is that people are rational and it is up to the observer to guess their motivations

    I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that, like anything else, voting has a cost and a benefit. I think the benefit of voting is systematically exaggerated (this is the "useful lie" I have referenced in the thread). Most of the benefit of voting is a public, but not a private, good, and the cost benefit analysis is really private costs vs public benefits. Hence the lie.

    I am not contending that people knowingly make irrational choices. My contention is that people act based on incorrect knowledge about the benefits of voting.

    yes, I know of the public good analysis of voting turnout. hence ten paragraphs assuming a broadly rational individual who maximizes private gain based on largely correct knowledge!

    if individuals were rational + incorrect knowledge, you would think that (given the importance of the vote outcome) they would put forth more effort to inquire on that knowledge. but they do not. hence.

    meta-rationality (ie useful lies) or expressive voting are also other ways to attack the problem. meta-rationality squares well with the palpable impact of party mobilization. expressive voting squares well with the fact that the weather influences turnout so much. there's an explosive variety of ways to model the problem; I don't know what attracts you to aesthetic, uh, incorrectness.

    ronya on
    aRkpc.gif
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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    ronya wrote: »
    ronya wrote: »
    I want to underscore that rationality in a strategic sense is not a system of aesthetic values which someone can fail to hold. This, at heart, feels to me to be the core of your objection

    "they are doing something against their rational self-interest" is an extremely ambitious assertion; the default assumption is that people are rational and it is up to the observer to guess their motivations

    I wouldn't put it that way. I would say that, like anything else, voting has a cost and a benefit. I think the benefit of voting is systematically exaggerated (this is the "useful lie" I have referenced in the thread). Most of the benefit of voting is a public, but not a private, good, and the cost benefit analysis is really private costs vs public benefits. Hence the lie.

    I am not contending that people knowingly make irrational choices. My contention is that people act based on incorrect knowledge about the benefits of voting.

    yes, I know of the public good analysis of voting turnout. hence ten paragraphs assuming a broadly rational individual who maximizes private gain based on largely correct knowledge!

    if individuals were rational + incorrect knowledge, you would think that (given the importance of the vote outcome) they would put forth more effort to inquire on that knowledge. but they do not. hence.

    meta-rationality (ie useful lies) or expressive voting are also other ways to attack the problem. meta-rationality squares well with the palpable impact of party mobilization. expressive voting squares well with the fact that the weather influences turnout so much. there's an explosive variety of ways to model the problem; I don't know what attracts you to aesthetic, uh, incorrectness.

    Could you explain what you mean by aesthetic incorrectness?

    To be clear, I agree with your critique of my position where everyone is engaging in a cost benefit analysis based on correct information. I just don't think that is the state of play in the real world, and the degree to which people evaluate whether or not to vote based on incorrect information and the large number of voters involved influences the calculus for a rational, properly informed individual IMO.

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    Ebola ColaEbola Cola Registered User regular
    Do you like maths? Because here is Riker and Ordeshook's "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," in pdf form. I admit I'm summarizing this almost entirely from memory, with some skimming, so caveat emptor... But the short version is: it is rational to vote if you vote, and rational to not vote if you don't vote. Everybody wins!

    The longer version is: the authors "Calculus" has two important variables: R and D. We'll start with R: R = (BP) - C, where B is the differential benefit received from the success of a preferred candidate, P is the probability that the voter in question will cause that victory and C is simply the cost of the act of voting.

    If R > 0, it's rational to vote. If R < 0, it's rational to not vote.

    Normally, as eg. Downs, both B and C are assumed to be positive (such that B adds to the equation and C subtracts). Riker and Ordeshook challenge this assumption, and also add D, which is a positive effect independent on the voter's contribution to the outcome of the election. The authors include a non-exhaustive list of things in D:
    1. The satisfaction from compliance with the ethic of voting
    2. The satisfaction from affirming allegiance to the political system
    3. The satisfaction from affirming a partisan preference
    4. The satisfaction of deciding, going to the polls, etc. (ie. the authors suppose that some people simply enjoy voting, and don't see it as having an action cost)
    5. The satisfaction of affirming one's efficacy in the political system (that is: democracy, theorized as the some whargleblargle about the will of the people, makes voting a situation where a person may assume it's the only way that they have an effect on the system)

    So now we come to R = PB - C + D. For most citizens (both voters and non-voters), it's assumed that C > D ≥ 0, so the problem is calculating P and B (to the extent that if PB > C-D, voting is rational). Skipping ahead to the point, P and B can both vary (as below), whereas one voter might have the same opinions about D and C over multiple elections, rendering them constant, and C and D are negatively correlated (insofar as the higher you value the "ethic of voting," affirming system allegiance, asserting partisan affiliation, etc. the lower your valuation of C is going to be).

    The more a voter cares about a candidate's success, the higher B is; the closer they believe the election will be, the higher P is. In actuality, of course, P might be very small objectively (the "no one vote shifts an election" stance), but voting behavior here is based on perception of P, which is influenced by campaign propaganda, past election trends, etc. So for example if you live in a district where the party you don't favor at first wins elections quite handily, but the gap slowly narrows, each successive election gives you a higher P because you might begin the think that the tide is turning in your favor. Or if one candidates SuperPAC constantly runs ads about how close/historic/etc the election will be, P may also be artificially increased.

    Of course, "Calculus" is getting on in years; the paper was published at the beginning of 1968, not so long after the VRA (and in an era when not all ballots in the US were secret), and long before the dreaded Citizens United (and the subsequent gutting of the VRA). Voting ID requirements change C, for example, but the subjective evaluation of the "stakes" of an election may significantly alter B based on how much a voter dislikes the opposition or cares about a particular issue, instead of positive partisan affiliation. Propaganda is now, in a sense, unlimited, so P and B may also become significantly distorted by the Citizens ruling and its fallout. And it may also be the case that the general assumption of C > D ≥ 0 only works if the normative process around voting/participation/etc remain constant, which may not be the case after decades of social and political change.

    Some may also disregard nearly every variable above, simply because they believe that participation in the political process is really important (so D > C, and R = C + D, so R is always > 0), or they may believe the cost of voting is so low that if R = C + D, R > 0, even if D is very small, disregarding PB, so voting is rational in either case. And the inverse may be true for non-voters who have high values for P, B and D: for them, C may still be so high that C > PB + D, so R is < 0, and voting is irrational.

    And some people simply aren't eligible to vote, no matter how much care (B) or how much they think their vote matters (P) or how much they value voting, etc. (D). For them, it's always obviously rational to not vote.

    There are other ways to knock Downs out of the voting question, without Riker and Ordeshook. Not every theory of rationality is created equal, after all; "thin" rationality (an action is rational if the actor believes it to be instrumental in achieving a goal) undermines Downs' paradox without much of a second glance. Or if you subscribe to the rational voter theory advanced in some political economics (voters will punish or reward sitting politicians based on a subjective and possibly myopic analysis of their economic situation), then the above doesn't really matter, either.

    Downs can also hit Nash (democratic elections can be seen as a Nash equilibrium, characterized by total or near-total uncertainty about outcomes, so the "tie breaking" behavior in Downs' paradox no longer matters) and, to a much lesser extent, Black: insofar as voting may not be a one dimensional plane, the (subjective) perceived benefit of voting (and voting for partisan affiliation) (B + D) may be significantly distorted if an individual finds a candidate that they agree with on a large enough number of different issues.

    Or in short: it's rational to vote if you vote, and rational to not vote if you don't vote.

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    GoumindongGoumindong Registered User regular
    @Apothe0sis

    In fact I am going to go a bit further. If a condorcet winner exists then fptp in its current iteration in the US produces the condorcet winner given that people pay attention to primaries.

    The logic is simple. The primary system produces a series of head to head competitions culminating in one head to head fptp at the end of the run. Given that in any four player tournament every player except the winner will have lost at least one head to head then the overall winner must be a condorcet winner if one exists. The structure extends to an infinite number of players, so long as head to head polling and head to head end running occur.

    This makes such a system inherently better than most any parliamentary ranked preference type system.

    wbBv3fj.png
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    Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    Xaquin wrote: »
    At this point, I'm reasonably certain we're being trolled. Everyone has argued with evidence and good faith only to be met with 'nuh uh'

    I hope that isn't directed at me. I have responded in good faith to every position asserted here. If anything, I think that people who have thrown out platitudes like "civic duty, every vote counts" without responding to the large numbers problem are the closest to bad faith.

    These are true. As a patriotic American it'd be in your duty to vote. As I've said before voting is a right people have died over, that isn't a subject I bring up lightly, it is our history. That's how important voting is. Without voting people don't get a say in how government runs.

    Your large numbers problem is irrelevant. Look on the macro-scale, that's where it matters. If it was just you noting voting that's be on the micro-scale which wouldn't harm elections, and you ignore that it's not you who does this. Your position isn't for yourself, it's advocating for a large group of people who don't vote. Non-voters with numbers that'd reshape elected if they bothered participating or don't you think voters in the thousands or millions effect outcomes in elections?

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    spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Ebola Cola wrote: »
    Do you like maths? Because here is Riker and Ordeshook's "A Theory of the Calculus of Voting," in pdf form. I admit I'm summarizing this almost entirely from memory, with some skimming, so caveat emptor... But the short version is: it is rational to vote if you vote, and rational to not vote if you don't vote. Everybody wins!

    The longer version is: the authors "Calculus" has two important variables: R and D. We'll start with R: R = (BP) - C, where B is the differential benefit received from the success of a preferred candidate, P is the probability that the voter in question will cause that victory and C is simply the cost of the act of voting.

    If R > 0, it's rational to vote. If R < 0, it's rational to not vote.

    Normally, as eg. Downs, both B and C are assumed to be positive (such that B adds to the equation and C subtracts). Riker and Ordeshook challenge this assumption, and also add D, which is a positive effect independent on the voter's contribution to the outcome of the election. The authors include a non-exhaustive list of things in D:
    1. The satisfaction from compliance with the ethic of voting
    2. The satisfaction from affirming allegiance to the political system
    3. The satisfaction from affirming a partisan preference
    4. The satisfaction of deciding, going to the polls, etc. (ie. the authors suppose that some people simply enjoy voting, and don't see it as having an action cost)
    5. The satisfaction of affirming one's efficacy in the political system (that is: democracy, theorized as the some whargleblargle about the will of the people, makes voting a situation where a person may assume it's the only way that they have an effect on the system)

    So now we come to R = PB - C + D. For most citizens (both voters and non-voters), it's assumed that C > D ≥ 0, so the problem is calculating P and B (to the extent that if PB > C-D, voting is rational). Skipping ahead to the point, P and B can both vary (as below), whereas one voter might have the same opinions about D and C over multiple elections, rendering them constant, and C and D are negatively correlated (insofar as the higher you value the "ethic of voting," affirming system allegiance, asserting partisan affiliation, etc. the lower your valuation of C is going to be).

    The more a voter cares about a candidate's success, the higher B is; the closer they believe the election will be, the higher P is. In actuality, of course, P might be very small objectively (the "no one vote shifts an election" stance), but voting behavior here is based on perception of P, which is influenced by campaign propaganda, past election trends, etc. So for example if you live in a district where the party you don't favor at first wins elections quite handily, but the gap slowly narrows, each successive election gives you a higher P because you might begin the think that the tide is turning in your favor. Or if one candidates SuperPAC constantly runs ads about how close/historic/etc the election will be, P may also be artificially increased.

    Of course, "Calculus" is getting on in years; the paper was published at the beginning of 1968, not so long after the VRA (and in an era when not all ballots in the US were secret), and long before the dreaded Citizens United (and the subsequent gutting of the VRA). Voting ID requirements change C, for example, but the subjective evaluation of the "stakes" of an election may significantly alter B based on how much a voter dislikes the opposition or cares about a particular issue, instead of positive partisan affiliation. Propaganda is now, in a sense, unlimited, so P and B may also become significantly distorted by the Citizens ruling and its fallout. And it may also be the case that the general assumption of C > D ≥ 0 only works if the normative process around voting/participation/etc remain constant, which may not be the case after decades of social and political change.

    Some may also disregard nearly every variable above, simply because they believe that participation in the political process is really important (so D > C, and R = C + D, so R is always > 0), or they may believe the cost of voting is so low that if R = C + D, R > 0, even if D is very small, disregarding PB, so voting is rational in either case. And the inverse may be true for non-voters who have high values for P, B and D: for them, C may still be so high that C > PB + D, so R is < 0, and voting is irrational.

    And some people simply aren't eligible to vote, no matter how much care (B) or how much they think their vote matters (P) or how much they value voting, etc. (D). For them, it's always obviously rational to not vote.

    There are other ways to knock Downs out of the voting question, without Riker and Ordeshook. Not every theory of rationality is created equal, after all; "thin" rationality (an action is rational if the actor believes it to be instrumental in achieving a goal) undermines Downs' paradox without much of a second glance. Or if you subscribe to the rational voter theory advanced in some political economics (voters will punish or reward sitting politicians based on a subjective and possibly myopic analysis of their economic situation), then the above doesn't really matter, either.

    Downs can also hit Nash (democratic elections can be seen as a Nash equilibrium, characterized by total or near-total uncertainty about outcomes, so the "tie breaking" behavior in Downs' paradox no longer matters) and, to a much lesser extent, Black: insofar as voting may not be a one dimensional plane, the (subjective) perceived benefit of voting (and voting for partisan affiliation) (B + D) may be significantly distorted if an individual finds a candidate that they agree with on a large enough number of different issues.

    Or in short: it's rational to vote if you vote, and rational to not vote if you don't vote.

    So this was a really great post. Truly illuminating! I would characterize my position in these terms as "P is effectively 0 and D being > 0 is based on false information so if C is > 0 voting does not make sense". This aligns very well with my actual views, as I see online voting or vote by mail as changing the outcome, and the only thing either does is practically zero out C.

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    milskimilski Poyo! Registered User regular
    Again, people have died for a huge number of practical and philosophical points, and that does not make them inherently right.

    This is irrelevant to the rest of the argument but I truly loathe that point.

    I ate an engineer
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