“Virginia has a lot of electronic voting and in general has an election system where it’s very hard to get recounts,” says Dill. “So I might worry about Virginia, depending on how close it is.” … It’s a lot easier to modify electronic records than to modify paper records which is why banking and a lot of other critical activities like that still rely on paper when there’s an ultimate disaster and electronic records are lost or corrupted. (
It seems likely that for younger people the computerized ballots actually DO present a more intuitive, interactive experience than the paper ballots. During such formalized transactions, fear of error is high and people will go out of their way to minimize potential for error, which, in this case, means using the system that you are most comfortable with.
Older folks have plenty of experience with the paper ballots and very little with electronic ballots (or at least: little with paper, even less with electronic). Younger people have the reverse position, and electronic ballots often give more structure to the process, with plenty of cues and instructions given without having to admit to being confused.
Combine this effect ( which might not apply to everyone) with people's tendency, when uncertain of themselves, to outsource their decisions to the crowd and you eventually get a whole bunch of young people standing in line for an electronic ballot.
A crude generalize hierarchy of factors affecting young people in the given situation: shame>time>security
(security is something that tends to have greatest influence on far-thought... in fact, the three factors I compared can be essentially read as a hierarchy of abstractness.. how much value is placed on one is inversely proportional to how "far" it is)
I think its the expectation that electronic will be fast and paper will be slow. That that expectation is incorrect does not mean a lot about bias.
I would like to know whether people still try to vote electronically when there's six people waiting in line to vote electronically and three people waiting to vote paper. Maybe they weren't sure of the layout of the place and went to where the line was, not realizing that they had the option to vote immediately.
"When one vote never decides any important election, what does voting "imply"?"
Fairly obviously that elections are not about the elected! The winner is not the point, otherwise no one would vote (a single vote can't effect the outcome). Picking the winner is not the point either - otherwise everyone would look at the last minute polls and vote for the likely winner. Does this happen even slightly? Even later polls, like exit polls, would swing the voting even further, in a sort of runaway process. This does not occur. We vote as consistently and predictably as our general behavior is consistent from day-to-day, year-to-year. Perhaps the only way that voting could be described as rational, with respect to the outcome of the election, is that a voter can add to a candidates 'mandate', by increasing the winning margin, or fractionally null a mandate by voting for a losing candidate - predictably so or not (so you can make your vote count even by voting for a minor candidate).
Voting is possibly or also about:
* Affirming our personal identities, to ourselves. Why care about signalling more than our self-identities?* Affirming the status of high-status individuals and institutions. We have as much faith in government these days as people did/do have in God, so why not see the polling station as a religious person sees their church?* The fear of losing democratic and other rights if we as individuals or as a society, fail to vote regularly or in sufficient numbers. We 'exercise' our right to vote. Taking this metaphor literally (and why not?) means that not exercising this right will cause it to atrophy. Voting keeps us politcally healthy, or at least democratic!* Avoiding a fine. Now how can anyone who is legally obliged to have their name ticked off the voting roll at a polling station claim to be voting to signal or outwardly express an identity? That might be a little disengenuous and while i hear arguments against compulsory voting, they never seem to mention that compulsory voting nulls the voters capacity for expression. Compelled voters can still enjoy their moment of anonymity, however.
"To explain voting your way, you also have to posit and explain an illusion of power in the casting of a ballot whose probability of effecting the outcome is effectively zero."
By 'power', i don't mean the capacity to effect an outcome, i mean it in terms of accessability. Power means the right to privacy, secrecy, confidentiality, anonymity, positive discrimination, creation and control of queues, prefered land, sacred sites, property, money creation mechanisms, legal institutions and supernatural beings. The emphasis is on getting over making. What these values (for values they are) lack in tangibility they make up for in terms of feeling. Power is about accessability, and therefore requires accessibility restrictions. Morality is about restricting the behavior and 'selfishness' of individuals. Therefore morality is about power. Voting secretly is a moment of power.
"Identity, like morality, serves, I think, the primary purpose of self-control (that is, avoiding ego depletion)."
Obviously self-control is extremely important but i would not consider it in morality terms. To me, self-control is about delayed-gratification. Morality is about permanent restrictions on behavior, access or supply (in the economics sense). Examples are; religious and/or social restrictions on contraception, stem cell research, drugs and alcohol, abortions, books, music and free expression (censorship), 'price-gouging', 'profiteering', scalping and free trade. Morality is always about restriction. A moralist is someone who sees a demand and a corresponding supply, and want to drive a wedge between, then exploit the results. Self-control i'm in favor of - morality, not so much.
"And while I see your point that there's a thrill in acting without supervision in an official matter, I wonder how free and unsupervised citizens feel in (speaking of the U.S.) a God-fearing country where people think the Lord sees all."
Which might explain why everyone knows how everyone votes, in the U.S. (as you claimed). Otherwise the non God-fearing public gets the anonymity advantage, and the God-fearers miss out. Consequently the culture is to void secrecy rights, thus avoiding the necessity of granting a compensatory right to a subset of the population, which would be much harder to achieve.
Want to know why people call it our "civic duty" to vote? Because voting has to be bestowed with moral virtue to hide what it is really about; giving the members of the electorate a moment of pure freedom and the power implied, in exchange for their participation and acceptance of the political system. [emphasis added]
When one vote never decides any important election, what does voting "imply"?
To explain voting your way, you also have to posit and explain an illusion of power in the casting of a ballot whose probability of effecting the outcome is effectively zero. But if you believe there's an illusion of power, then there's nothing more that needs to be explained: people then voting to exercise power to advance their interests.
What Robin says of product loyalty would be more apt applied to voting. People vote to express an identity. But one point you've convinced me of is that signaling isn't essential part of voting, hence not of identity expression, either. Identity, like morality, serves, I think, the primary purpose of self-control (that is, avoiding ego depletion). People practice and refine their personal identities in politics, which permits them to take a far perspective on personal standards--a far perspective being necessary to construct adequate principles of integrity. ( http://tinyurl.com/6mq74zp )
You're probably onto something that a lot in the voting ritual is connected with heightening the illusion of free will. ( http://tinyurl.com/3yluywf ) And while I see your point that there's a thrill in acting without supervision in an official matter, I wonder how free and unsupervised citizens feel in (speaking of the U.S.) a God-fearing country where people think the Lord sees all.
I voted on paper in NoVA. Why? Assuming the odds of electronic machines being calibrated/gauged against paper after the fact are anything greater than zero, I was doing a civic duty by increasing the unfragility/assessability of the system. Also, I figured most of the cool kids in NoVa were voting for the other guy, and not using paper, so paper voting could not hurt, but only help, the better candidate, which any rational person would also consider being beneficial for the unfragility of the system. (reason 1). Two, the poll workers looked pathetically eager to please and paper voting added a quick step to the process (i.e., added one more poll worker who felt, like Onegin's uncle after a funeral, that they had done a good day's work); after waiting 90 minutes, the extra 30 seconds actually could help a real person ( I was never a boy scout but doing one good deed a day seems like a good idea).(reason 2). Also, I might write a poem some day about the voting experience. Going to the paper ballot place seemed more poetic than the electronic boring 80s techonolgy spiel that I've done in the last four or five elections. (reason three) . Finally, I had struck up a sort of sub-friendship acquaintance with the very nice person in line behind me (who unfortunately gave off linguistic, fashion-choice, and demographic clues that their vote would be for the wrong person, but that is besides the point), and paper voting extended by a few seconds the time we spent together. This is one of the things human beings do without thinking about it (reason four). Also, I forgot, I am one of the 2 or 3 percent of people (20 or 30?, I'm not sure) who take active measures to overcome incipient bacteriaphobia, and I figured sitting down to vote in a chair that had been used by average people with average or worse hygiene all day long would be salutary for my continued fortitude in this regard. (reason five)
"Doing it at a voting booth would conflict with the ban on campaigning within the voting area."
Why does that ban exist? Is it so that we can pretend that voters are deciding due to "free will", and not external biases?
"Are you in the U.S? You are describing customs I can't recognize when you talk about people being coy about whom they're voting for. People put signs on their lawns. Everybody knows who everybody is voting for, and everybody is glad to tell everybody (except if they're in a small political minority in a given community). What accounts for our radically different impressions?"
I'm the guy that sits in the cubical next to you and never says hello. LoL. Actually, i live near Sydney. Yes, there do seem to be cultural differences here. I have never told anyone who i have voted for, much less put a sign on my lawn. Although, i might be unusual - i don't buy brands to signal an identity, either. You won't find me on Facebook, etc. Maybe Katja would know more about how the Oz/U.S. cultures compare in this regard?
"Then why does almost everyone announce his or her candidate."
I've never heard of or heard anyone doing this at a voting booth (and would this be considered wrong to do?) Some people might announce their candidate to their friends. In this case there is a status defining opportunity - "I'll break my voting anonymity to you to show i regard you as a friend and/or political ally".
Doing it at a voting booth would conflict with the ban on campaigning within the voting area.
Are you in the U.S? You are describing customs I can't recognize when you talk about people being coy about whom they're voting for. People put signs on their lawns. Everybody knows who everybody is voting for, and everybody is glad to tell everybody (except if they're in a small political minority in a given community). What accounts for our radically different impressions?
I've never heard of or heard anyone doing this at a voting booth (and would this be considered wrong to do?) Some people might announce their candidate to their friends. In this case there is a status defining opportunity - "I'll break my voting anonymity to you to show i regard you as a friend and/or political ally". This would not be possible without secret ballots, and if the majority of the public were really indifferent to the secrecy of voting, they would not mind if it were eliminated (which might make voting more accountable and elections less corruptable). Are you in favor of abolishing the secrecy?"Why don't people vote on other anonymous things, like OB posts?"
These do not have political outcomes, and an individual vote has a reasonable chance to "make a difference", unlike in elections. The anonymity motive is not required in these sort of cases."Why do so many Americans not vote?"
The anonymity motive is an incentive. It does not predict universal, deterministic behavior. Don't signalling explanations of voting have to answer the same question, and also why in countries where not voting incurs a fine (ex: Australia), voting levels are above 90% of the electorate, almost double that of the United States - voters desire to signal should make voting levels approximately the same in either case, no? I see signalling as a preference, and therefore appealling to some of us, not all, and probably not a majority. The desire for anonymity is more universal due to its power implications. It consequently can explain more and difficult to understand behavior than a mere preference."Why isn't "sockpuppeting" more widespread?"
More than what? Most online names and avatars are at least semi-anonymous anyway. Do you know who i am, offline?"Primitive bands were democratic but non-secret; secret ballot was a very late historical development."
Signalling explanations seem to me to be back-to-front, with respect to history. Secret ballots limit voter signalling, and the historical transition is from non-secret to secret voting. Why would this occur as population increases made individual votes more irrelevant, if many voters had a desire to use their vote to signal? Signalling explanations of voting should be predicting that the historical transition would be from secret to non-secret voting (or at least to start non-secret and stay that way). The opposite has occured. To me this indicates the secrecy of modern voting is essential to understanding the motivation of voters. I intepret this as being within an anonymity-seeking framework, and voting anonymity as being a right that compensates for the irrelevancy of individual votes.
I wonder what other rights we have been granted to make modern civilization acceptable to us?
Then why does almost everyone announce his or her candidate. Why don't people vote on other anonymous things, like OB posts? Why do so many Americans not vote? Why isn't "sockpuppeting" more widespread?
Primitive bands were democratic but non-secret; secret ballot was a very late historical development.
No one is as free as the invisible man.
Wouldn't your theory predict that people should seek to maintain the secrecy of their ballot? To the contrary, everyone announces their candidate.
Other opportunities exist to do things in secrecy, and people don't seem to take advantage. For instance, I've been struck by how few vote (anonymously) on OB for posts. (I personally experience the voting buttons as an onerous duty; I wish they were eliminated.)
It seems pretty bands were informally democratic, and "voting" would have been entirely public.Secret ballot voting is a very late development. So your explanation wouldn't explain voting generally.
The big news is that Robin votes. According to interfluidity, this is meta-rational.
Because we are never more free than when we vote.
We cast a vote. We vote anonymously. Questions concerning why people bother voting focus exclusively on the casting aspect. The anonymity is more crucial.
No one is as free as the invisible man. Voting gets you momentarily closer. So does driving your car. So does your ideology. Anything that seperates your actions from the social consequences of those actions to you is making you less visible, more anonymous.
Want to know why people call it our "civic duty" to vote? Because voting has to be bestowed with moral virtue to hide what it is really about; giving the members of the electorate a moment of pure freedom and the power implied, in exchange for their participation and acceptance of the political system.
Anonymous voting is a political trade. "Morality" explanations of voting are of the typical one-way-street variety, and make no sense if voters are to be considered as rational agents.
My polling place in VA had a substantial line (I waited 1.5 hours in the cold), and we were actively encouraged to use paper ballots because they were faster than electronic, and thus would allow the line to clear faster. My wife and I looked at each other, and we both decided no way, we're doing electronic. I have no good reason why I didn't want to do paper, other than, electronic was the default option, and I felt more comfortable with the default, normal option rather than opt for the exception. Also, I didn't really care that it meant other people would have to wait as I just had.
Isn't this just like the 401(k)s and other opt in/out disparities? If the employer says, you're doing 401(k) unless you opt out, you do the 401(k), but if he says, you're not doing 401(k) unless you opt in, you don't do the 401(k).
I'm not saying that it's a good idea, but I suspect that it is a motivation.
Lots of people do things for reasons that don't make sense.