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Options Have Value, or Why Voting is Rational

March 9th, 2014 · No Comments · Uncategorized

For as long as I have been studying economics, economists have been proclaiming the act of voting is irrational. The conventional wisdom is that since the odds of your vote making a difference are essentially zero, it makes no sense to do it.

But since people DO vote, many explanations have been proffered for for why this is the case. Notions such as avoiding stigma and Kant’s categorical imperative are put forth.

I have discovered what I believe is a powerful incentive to vote, yet one that I have not yet seen offered up elsewhere.

A few years back, a budding politician I knew had been rapidly and effectively eliminated from his campaign for office thanks to opposition research that revealed he had not voted in over 20 years. Given this perceived apathy and lack of involvement, he was immediately forced out of the electoral landscape.

From this I learned that if you don’t vote you effectively lose your right to pursue public office.

Given that, I’ve recently asked a few people the following related questions:

1) How much would you pay for a perfectly intelligent agent to vote for you automatically in a way that would reflect your preferences? No filling out a ballot again ever, yet your vote would be recorded effortlessly.

2) How much would you need to be paid to waive your right to ever run for public office?

So far, in every instance the amount claimed for option one is less than the amount for option 2.


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