Improving Voter Turnout by Adding a Second Day of Voting


1 - Ignoring costs.
2 - Ignoring logistical considerations.

As I ponder the most recent election, and various other elections, I wonder how many people don’t vote because they think their vote won’t matter. In the case of the most recent election, I wonder how many Clinton voters didn’t vote because they thought Hillary was going to win no matter what (as the polls and various analytics stated).

To be clear, this isn’t about Trump/Clinton and I hope we can keep it from being about Trump/Clinton. Rather I propose this as a method to improve voter turnout, although as indicated above the genesis was in wondering about the effect of the polls on voter turnout.

To resolve this issue, I propose to have a second voting day N days after the initial voting day. In this fashion, voters who have seen the initial result and are unhappy can then express their dissatisfaction by voting. The obvious problem with this is that strategically it is better to save your vote for the 2nd voting day so that you can react to what the opposition does. To resolve that, the votes on the 2nd voting day would be weighted by a factor W.

For the purposes of the discussion, and let’s try not to get too hung up on N and W, lets say N = 7 and W = 0.5.

Any thoughts?

Does the admonition to ignore logistical considerations extend to the logistics of conveying the comparatively complex scheme to the country’s populace and securing the requisite approval?

In other words, is this purely a game theory question?

Thanks for the question Bricker.

Nope, so I will clarify, my assumptions are related to the conduct of the 2nd voting day itself.

1 - Ignoring costs. Clearly having a second day of voting has some monetary cost associated with it.
2 - Logistical considerations. Similar to costs, there is a logistical burden to executing a voting day.

I admit the scheme is a little complex due, I think, to the weighting factor and so I think question is a valid one. And to be honest, I’m not quite sure how to get around it.

I’m fairly certain the basic concept could be understood:

“Didn’t vote? Still want to express your view? Vote on Day 2!”

But yeah the weighting is tricky to explain.

The way people complain that the Electoral College is “too complicated” to understand, I doubt this would improve voter turnout, it stands a good chance of driving even more people away from voting with claims of “it’s all rigged anyway”.

In my view, the complexity of the weighting and the uncertainty of the effects doom this program in any real-world implementation; neither party would be certain of how the new scheme would work and thus neither would support it.

That said, as a matter of game theory it’s an interesting question: what is the optimal reserve strategy? You’ve imagined a 14 to one weighting (7:0.5) for first day vs second day votes, so at first blush I’m inclined to think the swing effect is small.

If we assume that that there is no same-day registration, I think this weighting still means that only tiny margins’ results are changed. But if completely disaffected voters can step in and register after the first vote and before the second, that could mean a much bigger effect – one that might indeed change more than just razor-thin margins.

So can we nail that question down: in your scheme, must any voter who votes at all be registered before the first election date?

Is there any location in the US that doesn’t already have early voting? This goes way beyond what you’re asking. I literally don’t understand your question.

I can certainly understand the complaint of it being complicated, but the intent is not to capture the “it’s all rigged anyway” crowd. I’m not sure how you can capture somebody who is at the level of disillusionment with the electoral process.

I’m reminded of a former colleague who developed a system for identifying at-risk students. She felt it was flawed because:

1 - A student could intentionally game the system to make themselves appear to be not at-risk when they were.
2 - A student who didn’t care they weren’t at-risk would not be identified.

I told her that sure these are limitations, but neither of these types of students are likely to accept your help even if you could identify them.

So similarly, I don’t know how to reach the “it’s all rigged” crowd. My intent it to capture those people who think their vote doesn’t count by essentially reveal the result and saying “Are you ok with this? Because you have a chance to change this outcome before it is finalized.”

The primary difference is that with this proposal the results are revealed.

Vote Day 1 happens.
Votes are tallied. Results revealed.
The implicit question is asked to the remaining electorate “This is the result if you say nothing. Are you ok with this? Now that you know what the result will be, do you wish to vote?”
Vote Day 2 happens.
Final result confirmed.

I have no principled objection to any idea like yours.

I will merely point out that, here in Texas,we’ve had early voting for years. I haven’t gone to a poll on Election Day in forever, because it’s so easy to vote at a supermarket for weeks before then.

Here in Texas, it’s EASY to vote. VERY easy. NOBODY can truthfully claim “I didn’t have time to vote.” So, has turnout soared? Nope.

I’m fine with making voting easy and convenient. But don’t kid yourself. People who care will always vote, no matter how hard it is. And people who don’t care won’t vote even if they could do so online for the entire month of November.

No, the ratio is 2:1 (or 1:0.5). The seven is the number of days later that the second vote will occur. I’m assuming one week. It can’t be so long as to make it to impractical, and it can’t be so short than it is difficult to get accurate results released from Vote Day 1. Also, this allows for some short period of reflection.

Well, my preference would be that a person can register after Vote Day 1 because my preference is that the maximum amount of people vote. But I recognize that this my be logistically difficult and even though I’m willing to ignore logistics of conducting a vote, I do want to be realistic.

Is it realistic to expect that a person could be successfully registered in the intervening week? I honestly don’t know. For most states the cutoff appears to be about 1-2 weeks before the election, so I’ll argue that for a reduced set of people one week for allowing registration is not unreasonable, which means maybe the time frame to Vote Day 2 (N in the OP) should be 10-14 days.

So it is your argument that you americans are uniquely lazy among the developed nations? Objectively your numbers are much worse.
I suppose the registration to vote may be the difference.

I agree with to some degree, but research has shown there is an effect on voter turnout based on the expectation to alter the results [1]. I believe that my proposal would influence voters by changing that internal calculation. Maybe my proposal would only effect races with a very close initial result. But that’s a good thing as it is those races in particular which can use the most clarification by having a higher proportion of voters express themselves.

[1] Geys, B. (2006). Explaining voter turnout: A review of aggregate-level research. Electoral studies, 25(4), 637-663.

New York State.

OK, at 2:1 the second vote is a game changer.

I can’t predict the results under this rule. There is a large contingent of eligible adults who have never registered – would this motivate them?

Under this scheme the United States might well see +90% voter participation.

The OP proposal privileges participation of those who oppose the original result, at the expense of a diminished-weight vote. * “One Unhappy Man, Half A Vote.”* It somehow fails to catch me, y’know.
Magiver: Early voting however does not do what the OP proposal contemplates, which is to provide a second-chance shot where the first choice is already known. Early voting shares with regular polling-day voting the characteristic that, notionally, the secret ballot means the persons standing next to each other in line are not influenced by looking over and seeing for whom each other voted.

Y’know, many people in the world already enjoy a mechanism that does provide for a second chance vote if the first popular vote results are unsatisfactory to a majority: runoffs. Which have the added element of fairness in that those who voted in the first round are allowed to *defend *their initial plurality by voting again. See the French Presidential Election of 2002 for an example of an “OMG no, not THAT” type do-over.

A runoff method, though, may not fix much in a US presidential election, because the Electoral College is based on 51 separate, unbundled popular elections, in a majority of which there was a majority win. So you’d only have the runoff in the cases of the “battlegrounds” and you’d end up with the “real” contest being the runoff just as now the “real” contest is in one dozen states.

Again, that already happens. We know the results of early voting. At some point you have to have an end date, then it’s done.

Isn’t there an agreement in the media to withhold election results until the polls are closed? I assume this would hold through a two-day vote as well. If we had a two-day vote, the media wouldn’t report the Tuesday results until after the polls closed on Wednesday. So this would mitigate any motivation potential voters would feel to reverse the direction of Tuesday’s vote on Wednesday.

My understanding, and correct me if I’m wrong, but runoff voting systems are typically intended where there is a large pool of choices in the first round, which is then reduced to the X number with the highest result. E.g. starting with 16 choices and then reduce it to the top 3 or 4 and re-vote. Thus, those people who voted for their first choice which has insufficient mass popularity may then take their pick from the most popular options. I don’t see a runoff working in a 2 party system. If you did a full re-vote with only 2 options, there would be little point in voting the first time out. It would almost certainly not count as you would still have the same 2 choices. I guess technically in the USA this time around there were 4 so on the second vote it would be reduced to the 2 main choices, thus forcing the 3rd party supporters to pick one of the main choices (while still allowing them to vote their support for the 3rd party on the first time around).


In which state were the official results of the early voting released BEFORE Nov 8th? Not the total number of early voters, but the actual votes they gave: how many votes for Clinton, how many votes for Trump, and how many for each of candidates in each of the down-ballot races. AFAIK nowhere in the US does this.

That’s what the OP is proposing: Vote just like now, publicly release the official totals, then let anyone else who has not yet voted do so over the next week or so.

Right now elections are scored like boxing: nobody knows the score until after the final bell. The OP wants to make it a teeny bit more like ordinary sporting events where the result is partly known as the game is still being played.
I’d be interested to take the OP’s idea farther; all the way to the (il?-)logical conclusion. …

In my proposal every locale which allows early or absentee voting, those ballots will be counted and the running tally made public every single day. For months in advance if they offer voting that far in advance. During the final election day in Nov the totals would be updated hourly with an indication of whether they’re all caught up or have a backlog of uncounted votes.

In my proposal there’s no need for any weighting system. It’s still one person one vote.