Thursday, August 7, 2008


I was doing some thinking about voting. During presidential election years we generally have 50% - 60% turnouts. Some people don't like this, and wish it were closer to 100%. I don't think it's a problem though. A lot of studies have been done and most find that the voting population and the non voting population are similar, in other words even if 100% voted the winner would generally be the same. Really if you think about it, even 1% of the total population is considered great for statistical sampling, over half is almost guaranteed to be an accurate sample.

There are a few ways to increase turnout. Australia has mandatory voting, and has the highest turnouts in the world (>95%). However, I think freedom not to vote is important. Not only that but whenever you force someone to do something, you get a poor job (remember this for whenever you become a manager, forced weekend inventories = unreliable counts that need to be redone).

Another idea, which I found interesting is a million dollar lottery awarded to one voter at random. Arizona considered this about 2 years ago, and while I can find a lot of stuff about it dated from then, I can't find anything that would indicate if it actually passed or not.

While I was driving to Wendy's just now, I was thinking about this, and guessed that as intelligence or education increased likelihood to vote would increase too. Now this may seem fairly obvious, especially now that I know it's true. One thing I did think is that more intelligent people may become frustrated with the system. It was rather hard to find any good results. Almost everything I found had to do with comparing how smart people are to which party they vote for (most of which took the form obvious propaganda for whichever party the writer liked). However, I ended up finding a perfect answer in Wikipedia. It was from some book about India, and it actually shows some interesting things about India (voting peeks in the middle income and education), but for America it's quite clear that both high income and high education equate to being more likely to vote. It's probably worth noting that while there may be more higher educated people voting as a percentage of their group, there are a higher absolute number of less educated people in general, and voting.

Education Effect On 1988 USA Election
38% No High School
43% Some High School
57% High School Graduate
66% Some College
79% College Grad
84% Post-Graduate

I was surprised at how strong the correlation between higher education and voting was. However, it is always important to distinguish between correlation and causation. Higher education may cause likelihood to vote, but then again maybe the people who tend to be predisposed to pursue higher education may also be predisposed to vote. That being said I still believe that higher education increases likelihood to vote, and if not makes those who do vote better voters.

I think this is generally good. Less educated people are more likely not to vote, and they are more likely to vote for arbitrary reasons if they do. I've said this before (and you disagree with me), but probably the best return of an investment we can get as a country is to pay for education. A better educated populace is more likely to vote, and more likely to vote based on solid reasons if they do. It's easier to fool more ignorant people into voting for you, which is why we'll never see any real move to provide more education.

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