Do we really want 100% of eligible people to vote? Would it statistically matter?

We often hear about the relatively low voter turnout in the US. The presidential election is usually higher than most, but even then only about 50% of the registered voters cast their vote. If someone doesn’t like the winner, they often point to the low turnout with the assumption that their candidate would have won if more people came out to vote. But is that really the case? If more voters had voted, they would not have just voted for the candidate who ended up losing. They would also cast votes for the candidate who won. In some cases it could flip the results, but I would assume in most cases the winner wouldn’t change.

In addition, do we really want 100% of the people voting? I would expect the people who make an effort to vote are more likely to understand the issues, are involved with the political process, and make a thoughtful choice when casting their vote. If we try to get the non-voters to vote, will they be making thoughtful choices or will they be more emotional and random? Many excuses for not voting–to busy, didn’t have documents, didn’t know the candidates, etc.–have many easy workarounds. People can early vote, read many summaries of the candidates and issues, ensure their paperwork is in order, etc.

I’m all for getting more people involved in the political process, but it seems like it would be counterproductive to make voting easier and to encourage people to vote just for the sake of voting.

pauses to stop laughing

IMO, the people who vote today are those who are **motivated **to vote. Yes, certainly, some of them are thoughtful, involved, educated voters.

But, as recent elections have shown us, a large number of them have simply been riled up by particular candidates, advertising, PACs, etc., on particular hot-button issues that are important to them (or, which the candidates and ads and PACs have convinced them are important to them). They very likely aren’t the educated, thoughtful voters you think are voting today.

Other than randomly assigning people who are required to vote, it’s about the only way to make sure that there aren’t biases one direction or another in who is left out.

That first idea has been proposed, however. You can get a pretty large degree of certainty with only a few people, the same way they do in surveys. People see the surveys as getting things wrong, but the reason they get things wrong is because they try to model who will actually vote, and the idiosyncrasies of the actual voting system. Plus since responding isn’t required, those who don’t like to respond don’t get represented, but may go ahead and vote later.

Still, it’s hardwired into our system that voting is how we have a voice, so I can’t see restricting the vote to random people to be effective. And we are really big on freedom, which includes the freedom to not vote. It would be hard to change any of this.

So all we can do it make it easier and easier to vote, to make sure those who don’t really just don’t care. And to try and ensure an informed populace. But without being able to forbid deceptive practices, since we see lying as “freedom of speech” rather than “false advertising.”

IMHO 100% of eligible people are voting. Unfortunately, abstention is not counted (and consequently can’t “win” an election). Why not count abstention? If any candidate running does not get a greater percentage of votes than the percentage of eligible registered non-voters, then you hold the election again with a fresh set of candidates.

Yes, it’s silly…OR IS IT?

Who holds the office in the meantime?

It’s probably a Very Bad Thing to give individuals in power even more incentives to suppress the vote.

I’d prefer a “none of the above” option. And if “none of the above” gets higher % then either of the candidates - that is, if “none of the above” wins - then the election is repeated with none of the candidates allowed to run in it again.

Richard Pryor takes power if “none of the above” wins.

Only about 58.1% of voters turned out in the 2016 election, so as far as the titular question goes, could a 100% turnout have mattered, statistically? Well, yes, obviously. It’s sort of like asking if the vote might be different if one person votes versus two people voting.

While the people who didn’t vote aren’t a monolithic whole, it’s fair to say that they’re a different set of people from the ones who did make their way to the voting booths. It’s reasonable to assume that they might vote significantly differently from those who did vote.

But as to whether it’s better for more people to vote? I’d expect the result to be an increase in stupid, populist leaders (in the US). If we were to enact such a system, I’d want to move to a parliamentary system instead of a Presidential.

Who holds the office in the meantime?

Whatever the provisions are in that particular locality. Maybe the governor appoints a temporary senator/rep. In case of President, the outgoing President holds on for the next few months. If he was the incumbent running, he automatically cannot run in the new election.

This is an excellent way to get a President for Life.

If the incumbent and whichever challenger has the backing of the other major party can’t either get enough people to care, what makes you think the next two are going to do any better?

You think those people who couldn’t be arsed to vote for the President are going to vote in a later election? Even the people who care enough to vote might start having second thoughts about standing line for a few hours after, say, the fifth election with a null result.

If that is how the voters vote, sure.

I think you missed something. Those who vote “none of the above” also would stand in line for a few hours.

So, now we’re forcing every citizen to participate in a wasteful election process every few weeks (months?)? Do you think that will cure the cycle of apathy and distrust of government?

What if they don’t want to? Do we fine them? And if they don’t pay the fines, eventually imprison them?

How many people who passively don’t want to vote is the societally optimal number to keep locked up in cages for the betterment of the democratic process?

Where did I say anyone would be forced to vote?

I for one don’t want everyone to vote, unless everyone cares enough to learn what they are voting for. I am quite satisfied with the level of voter turnout we have, which actually exceeds by a healthy margin the number of people who know anything at all about politics or government.

Do you have any figures to back up those claims?

Here’s an article from Foreign Policy, written just after last November’s election. While the title is “Trump Won Because Voters Are Ignorant, Literally,” the author notes that both major parties are guilty of encouraging people to be low-information voters.

A few quotes from the article:

You responded to this quote

Which is clearly talking about people who don’t vote as “voting” “None of the above”, so I assumed we were still in that vein, and when you mentioned that people voting “none of the above” would have to wait in line, I thought you were talking about mandatory voting. But I see that I misunderstood. Sorry.

Ok, so what your proposing is a ballot that has candidates listed, but also has a built-in “Current Holder of Office, but only for a little while, and also other candidates can’t run again” option.

You’re not worried that it becomes even harder for people to win subsequent elections and that this will almost certainly at some point result in someone holding the office for their entire lifetime? I sure am.

No, I am proposing the “none of the above” option. How it will be handled when “none of the above” wins will depend on the elective position and the relevant applicable laws of the locality.

Not at all. “None of the above” will win rarely. But when it does, the other candidates will definitely not deserve to hold the office.

And really, “entire lifetime” of elections every few months and “none of the above” winning EVERY time? I don’t think so.

That’s sort of a cop-out. Someone is going to hold office. So voting “none of the above” will in actuality elect someone (possibly for a shorter term). And who that is is the crux of whether this system is workable. You suggested the current President above, so I’m running with that.

You might be right that None of the Above will rarely win. On a first election, anyway. But you’re vastly underestimating the positive feedback this system has. Each successive election makes it harder for someone other than the incumbent (none of the above) to win. It takes name recognition and a 50-state organization and so on to run a presidential campaign. And each successive election is going to have people with less name recognition, less time, less money, etc. trying to run. And they have to try to do it in a few months instead of the ~2 years that people run on the first time.

I mean, we just had an election with two very unpopular presidential candidates, and a fairly popular incumbent on the way out. It seems pretty likely that under this system, Obama (none of the above) takes the first vote. Then we’re on to probably Cruz v Sanders (assuming the two major parties just go with their second-place finishers)? Maybe Bernie wins, maybe he doesn’t. I can see a lot of people thinking they’d rather have Obama stay in office another few months than a Religious Conservative or a Socialist. That seems like the last reasonable shot at dethroning Obama for quite a while.

A few years past what was supposed to be the end of Obama’s presidency, we’re now fielding tenth-stringers from each party who have local or maybe regional appeal and recognition at best. Obama’s faithful supporters are happy to trudge out to the polls every few months. Everyone else gets increasingly alienated and discouraged. Are we really going to throw our support behind a State Senator from Nebraska? He’s gonna lose just like the last 20 did…