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Is An Uninformed Vote Better Than No Vote?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the voter-responsibility dept.


ras_b asks: "I don't pay attention to politics at all, and so I will not be voting in today's elections. My family has been telling me that this is a mistake and I should vote anyway, partly because I have slightly conservative views which agrees with their political outlook. My reasoning is that since I am totally uninformed, I shouldn't vote. I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat, only to find out later I totally disagree with something a candidate stands for. So, here's my dilemma and my question: Is an uninformed vote better than no vote?" This issue is touched upon in a posting by Ezra Klein, of the The American Prospect, who disagrees, arguing against a similar assertion by Greg Mankiw, from a suppressed Fortune article. Greg says: "Sometimes...the most responsible thing a person can do on election day is stay at home ... If you really don't know enough to cast an intelligent vote, you should be eager to let your more informed neighbors make the decision." What do you think?

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Has no affect (1)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757699)

Assuming a uniform probability distribution on parties, they will cancel each other out.

Re:Has no affect (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757817)

...cancel each other out.

Like choosing between a Douche and a Turd []

You are assuming.. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757859)

..a uniform distribution of ignorance between parties - without specific commentary on who or how much, there is at least a statistical possibility that this is not the case..

Re:Has no affect (3, Informative)

OakDragon (885217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757873)

Something I read over lunch today was germane to this discussion. As I was ready to post the link, I read your comment first thing.

The link: n/the-myth-of-the-rational-voter/ []

Quote from the first paragraph:

There's an election tomorrow. Do voters know what they're doing? According to the typical economist -- and many political scientists -- the answer is "No, but it doesn't matter." How could it not matter? The main argument is that the public's errors cancel out.

Re:Has no affect (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757885)

Mod that up to +5. If enough people just "vote randomly" then the effect will, by the law of large numbers and/or the asymptotic equipartition property and/or (insert impressive mathematical/statistical result here), contribute uniformly to either side, thus cancelling out as the parent says. This also moves the vote closer to 50/50, but doesn't affect the victory margin.

Re:Has no affect (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758011)

You're assuming that they vote randomly. There could well be a bias to either party among the uninformed but voting anyway- we don't have enough data to tell.

Re:Has no affect (1)

Feminist-Mom (816033) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757945)

Right. Another way to think of it: a certain percentage of the population is blindfolded and pushes random buttons in the voting booth. Assuming they choose the buttons in a uniform way (e.g. don't tend to push the buttons all near the middle) they will have no affect.

But there could be other mathematical models of "uninfomed".

Re:Has no affect (1)

TrekkieGod (627867) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757963)

Assuming a uniform probability distribution on parties, they will cancel each other out.

Which is a really bad assumption. Most districts tend to prefer a party over another. If they're uninformed about the candidates, they're likely to vote to the party that favors their views, and might end up electing a candidate that strays from the party on that one issue the community finds really important.

Are you kidding? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16758001)

Uninformed voter is the very definition of most people that are running to vote Democrat.

Assume a perfectly spherical voter (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16758043)

Assuming a uniform probability distribution on parties

Why do you assume a uniform distribution? This could be skewed by any number of factors including the attractiveness of a party name, effective though uninformative marketing, misconceptions based on historic positions of the parties and the order of names on the ballot.

Let me answer your question with this statement... (4, Insightful)

justkarl (775856) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757707)

Informed-ness is in the eye of the beholder.

Re:Let me answer your question with this statement (2, Insightful)

Dr Caleb (121505) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758015)

"I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat, only to find out later I totally disagree with something a candidate stands for."

Odds are, you will never agree with any candidate's views 100% of the time, unless you are the candidate. Even then, you won't agree 100% of the time, judging from past politicians.

Re:Let me answer your question with this statement (1)

Neoprofin (871029) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758077)

If he doesn't know anything about the canidates other than their party and the position they're running for I would say he's probably uninformed enough to not want to vote. There are plent of people out there, myself included who realize that party isn't everything and would rather have a moderate from another party than an absolute extremist from our own. In most cases it shouldn't make much of a difference because the people who at least think they're informed will also vote and will probably decide the election, but living in a campus town I can tell you there are a couple canidates who I know will win based largely on college students who forgot to read the news for the past four weeks and are just voting straight-ticket Democrat and hoping for the best. The more intersting question is not wether it matters if he votes or is informed, but what the outcome would be if no one voted if they asked themselves whether they really know what canidates stands for and simply stayed home if they couldn't answer it.

Get Informed (5, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757727)

I realize that the seemingly correct thing to do is to stay at home. But all that does is ensure the tyranny of those with an agenda. This stuff isn't rocket science. There are not that many candidates to choose from, and you're chosing the lesser of two evils anyway.

Get Informed.
Get to the Ballot.
Get your vote counted.

Period, end of story.

Voting reduces the effect of the "base" (2)

benhocking (724439) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757889)

I agree completely. Your "uninformed" vote is certainly at least partially informed. You've absorbed some information whether you like it or not. A lot of that information is propaganda, no doubt, but hopefully the "average uninformed" voter will get some signal through that noise. However, when the turnout is only 30% (as I believe predictions are calling for), who wins depends a lot more on who energizes their base more than what the majority believes (thus reinforcing negative campaigning).


Re:Get Informed (2, Insightful)

Nos. (179609) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757923)

chosing the lesser of two evils
But should I? If I really don't support any of the candidates, should I vote?

I'm a Canadian, and almost always vote. In the instances where I can't decide, I have in the past, spoiled my ballot. I'm not lazy, and trying to avoid stopping in at the polling station. Quite the opposite, I tend to research the parties, candidates, etc. before making my decision. I've voted against the major parties by picking and independent, or green party candidate, spoiled my ballot, and picked the lesser of the evils. However, I'm uncomfortable supporting any candidate if I disagree with his or her platform.

Re:Get Informed (3, Insightful)

SimonShine (795915) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758027)

> Get Informed.
> Get to the Ballot.
> Get your vote counted.

I agree. There will be people who are not only less informed than you, but who also disagree strongly with you, who are idiots and who will vote. By not voting, you let their votes count more. Moral: You don't have to get that informed, just make your vote count a little.

On another note, I realise why choosing between just two candidates *is* hard. In Denmark, you can vote for the party which you identify as being in your vicinity on the politcal compas. That makes voting easier (and not too much less meaningful).

Yeah, you have at least several hours until close (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758053)

You have a few more hours to vote, you have time to research. Get off your lazy ass and do some research. Do a quick google and find the representatives for your district and decide who you want to vote for.

3rd Party (4, Interesting)

WickedLogic (314155) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757729)

If you don't care, and are not going to vote. Vote for more variety, if nothing else...

Agree (2, Interesting)

Zashi (992673) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757731)

I completely agree. An uniformed vote is far worse than no vote at all. The masses are easily swayed. Do you really want the people governing your nation to be picked via their ability to spread the most propaganda? Granted, that is more or less how things work now, but uninformed votes only worsen the situation.

Re:Agree (1)

Ender_Stonebender (60900) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757953)

AKAImBatman - who posted above - is right. The correct thing to do, in this situation, is to get informed. Even if you don't have time to get in informed on all the candidates/issues, get informed on one or two of them. Then go vote. There's no law saying that you have to vote in every race (or on every issue).

Re:Agree (1)

Squapper (787068) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757989)

Isn't blank votes an option in the US? Best way to say "i disagree with both sides, but i still want to serve democracy"

So dont vote (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757739)

If you feel you dont know how to vote, skip it. At least you are being honest, unlike the people that read a few bullet points, then vote based off of that.

People that blindly vote, that is far worse than not voting because it takes away accountability. The politician now knows those people will blindly vote for them, in contrast, the people that dont vote, dont count, but the people that do vote, are more likely to care that the person didnt live up to their expectations and vote his butt out next time around. The uninformed voter will just pick the guy that is on his side of the fence in political leanings.

Re:So dont vote (2, Informative)

loolgeek (717288) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758047)

Some countries allow to vote "blank", this means "I want to vote, I disagree with all your candidates/propositions". The "blank" votes are very important to measure, first the number of people willing to vote (blank + non-blank), and also it estimates the number of people who are not represented otherwise by the usual candidates/propositions. That's why I always say to people to vote "blank" if they think unsure or not informed enough. Maybe US should think about having "blank" vote available...

Interesting... (0, Offtopic)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757743)

Definitely brings up an interesting topic of debate. But lets get to what people really want to talk about... who's getting voted out on the next Survivor?

No. (1)

pair-a-noyd (594371) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757747)

How can one vote if one doesn't understand what one is voting for?
Suppose there was a vote held for to make it mandatory to grind all puppies and kittens into grease for face cream and everyone passed it out of ignorance?


Re:No. (1)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757915)

Well, hopefully the voter will know how to read.

Then hopefully the voter understands what the vote is for.

Finally the voter should understand the impact of the vote passing vs the vote not passing and choose accordingly.

In that case the answer is, "Yes."

Re:No. (1, Flamebait)

Tony (765) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757951)

Fuck, I'd vote for that in a red-hot kitten-grinding minute.

Moo (1)

Chacham (981) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757751)

Being none of us know you, nobody will express their opinions.

Get informed, or don't even ask. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757755)

"I don't pay attention to politics at all, and so I will not be voting in today's elections. My family has been telling me that this is a mistake and I should vote anyway, partly because I have slightly conservative views which agrees with their political outlook."

By all means, do what your family tells you to. You should do what they tell you until you move out of the basement.

There's plenty of time left (1)

aarku (151823) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757757)

Start reading, start googling, check out your local newspaper's website. You don't have to ponder for months. There are plenty of primary sources out there to make your decision with time to go out for ice cream all before the polls close. You don't... hate .... ice cream.... do you?

Only if you vote Republican (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757763)

If you're uninformed, vote Republican.
Then it'll be 100% in favor of the GOP, as informed voters already vote Republican. It's the pot-smoking dickweed hippies that do whatever MTV and NPR tell them to do that are dumb enough to vote for the treasonous surrender monkey Democrats.

Vote Republican, then get your own damn job.

Statistically speaking... (2, Interesting)

2nd Post! (213333) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757769)

There is no such thing as an uninformed vote. You cannot be TOTALLY ignorant. You will know something.

In aggregate then hopefully that information will come out.

If you don't vote at all then you are literally giving other people control over your life. Voting is not ONLY about candidates. You can vote on issues/questions/propositions that increase or decrease taxes or affect your life entirely.

So to recap: If you were totally, completely, entirely ignorant than your vote will be canceled out by all the other voters who are totally ignorant. On the other hand if you have even a smattering of knowledge, that vote will not be cancelled out because it will "align" with other voters who also have a smattering of knowledge.

At the very worst your vote will cancel out someone else who makes a "bad" vote.

Re:Statistically speaking... (5, Funny)

thrillseeker (518224) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757877)

You cannot be TOTALLY ignorant. You will know something.

You must be new here.

Voting.... (1)

nick13245 (681899) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757771)

If you don't know why the hell your voting, your like me, your choices are all equally terrible.

Re:Voting.... (1)

Qzukk (229616) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757899)

I knew why the hell I was voting, but my choices were all pretty darn terrible anyway.

This lesser of the evils thing needs to go. Time to organize a new party to replace the Republican party since they've gone off the deep end and the Libertarians have failed to organize to fill their conservative shoes.

Do what I do (1)

CowboyTodd (611194) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757775)

Do what I do, always vote for the taller candidate.

stability. (1)

Knos (30446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757785)

An uninformed vote is helpful in as much as it might reduce the
variance in opinions induced by ephemereal informations.

Re:stability. (1)

Knos (30446) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757857)

Also, the more people vote, the more work for politicians/representatives to actually cover the needs of their population. It's much easier for them to focus on small groups with special interests. So be sure to vote, just to show that you might come and sanction them afterwards.

Not voting is worse than voting (1)

WillAffleckUW (858324) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757787)

Even if you only select choices in a few races.

Get Educated. (1)

MrAnnoyanceToYou (654053) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757789)

It's your freakin' civic duty. I'd suggest starting by listening to the news on your way to / from work. If you work at home, just use news to wake yourself up. No matter how much I hate it, I wake up to Our Fearless Leader talking about his latest brilliant idea once or twice a week.

I suggest NPR, but then I'm an ultra-left liberal commie. Perhaps you can find more neutral radio somewhere else, like Air America.

Totally uninformed? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757793)

Republicans are your choice, then.

Read something (3, Insightful)

ispeters (621097) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757799)

This comes from a person who's too lazy to get off his butt and vote in an impending municipal election, so take it as you please.

I think not voting and voting while uninformed are both equally heinous. The solution to not voting is voting and the solution to voting while uninformed is to go read something--the newspaper, the internet, a candidate's brochure, whatever. It sounds to me like the problem isn't that you're uninformed, the problem is that you're lazy (like me). So, either get informed, or tell your family that you're too lazy to vote.


look at it this way (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757801)

Is An Uninformed Vote Better Than No Vote?

Is crapflooding better than a no post?

Surely you have a top-3 list of issues? (1)

djh101010 (656795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757807)

I mean, you must care about _something_. Social issues, crime & punishment issues, the right to casemod, _something_. It doesn't take that much work to find out what your guy specifically supports; if not, then which of the two (sorry, but let's be realistic) parties pisses you off less?

If you wait to vote until you find someone you agree with on everything, you'll never vote, and far as I'm concerned, you give up your ability to complain about what's going on. Do I agree with everyone I voted for today on every issue? Of course not, but ... I agree with them more than I agree with the other guy. So I'd say that (a) you can't truly be _uninformed_, (b) pick your top issues, and (c) go vote for that person or party which lines up best on your hot issues.

Re:Surely you have a top-3 list of issues? (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757919)

I mean, you must care about _something_. Social issues, crime & punishment issues, the right to casemod, _something_. It doesn't take that much work to find out what your guy specifically supports; if not, then which of the two (sorry, but let's be realistic) parties pisses you off less?

True, but that's an argument saying that you should be informed, not an argument that you should vote if you're not.

If you are asking this question you have failed... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757809)

If you are asking this question you have already failed. You live in a democracy. It is your responsibility as a citzen to GET informed before election day. If you don't, your "democracy" is a fiction.

I voted (1)

simontek2 (523795) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757811)

I thought I knew a lot of the stuff I was voting on today before I got there. But I soon realized I had no clue. I still voted. Since I am in GA. I voted most of the people in education out. (Georgia is one of the worst states when it comes to education). But I still voted. no idea if it will help. I found amusing its that a lot of people had no one running against them, and they were still on the balot. I was so tempted to write myself in as someone running.

No (4, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757819)

Of course not. An uninformed vote will be insignificantly different from a random vote, and I don't think anyone would encourage you to go to your polling place and flip a coin to determine each vote. In fact, I suspect that the very same people insisting you go vote would be appalled if you did that.

The people who argue that it's somehow your "duty" to go vote are also full of it. It may be possible - may - to make a case that it is the duty of each citizen to cast a reasoned vote. But it would be ridiculous to claim that it's the duty of every citizen to, again, go to the polling place and flip a coin.

Now, a caveat: I would argue that an uninformed vote is vastly superior to an misinformed vote. So I, personally, am happier hearing that people went and just voted according to whim than hearing that people went and voted straight ticket (I find the odds of each candidate at all levels of government for a given party just happening to line up with your opinions on each issue at each level of government to be quite low). After all, basically random votes should, ultimately, cancel each other out.

That being said, the comment that you should be happy to let your more-informed neighbors make the decisions really ought to be incentive to become informed, so you don't have to trust what Joe Bloggs thinks of who's in charge.

If I remember correctly (1)

Savatte (111615) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757825)

I don't really follow local or state politics as well, but I would say to vote, just in case P. Diddy decides to actually go through with his "Vote Or Die" pledge from a couple years ago.

Just pick people at random (1)

Kawolski (939414) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757827)

It's not like your choice makes any difference to a Diebold voting machine.

voting w/o being informed (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757829)

Here's my system - there are a few issues I'm informed on, many not. When I don't know anything about the candidates, I never vote for the incumbent, and when possible, I vote for a non Repubocrat - 3rd party, independant, etc.

I think the biggest problem... (1)

oOo Shiva oOo (582339) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757835)

...with the uninformed voter is that they're most likely to support the richest candidate.... or the one backed by donations from larger corporations. They have the money to put their name out there on signs, tv, newspapers, etc... I'm not what I'd consider and "uninformed voter" on most subjects, I do my homework before going to the polls... But there are always a few things I just don't know very much about, the smaller positions/issues, and I catch myself wanting to vote for the name I recognize. I know if I look for the name I recognize most, others are probably doing it too. A big problem with that is the candidate that has its name out there the most is often the worst candidate, making deals and giving in to big businesses for their support versus doing things "for the people"

Then _GET_ informed (1)

hesiod (111176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757837)

An uninformed populace is the death of Democracy. But if you aren't, I agree that you shouldn't vote. I just hope the uninformed voters are equal on all sides.

We have more than 2 choices you know... (5, Insightful)

carlivar (119811) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757841)

I don't want to vote Republican or Democrat

Then don't! Sigh... why is everyone so stuck on the 2-party system? No wonder people are uninterested and uninformed. We have so many choices with everything in life yet we limit ourselves to two political parties, both of which have more in common these days than not.

VOTE THIRD PARTY! For my third party of choice see my sig, but really please just vote for anyone but the Republicrats.

You'll always (1)

JohnnyGTO (102952) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757845)

find something to piss you off about the person you vote for. Lokk at Bush, conservatives were generally happy with him till he started up with the amnesty crap (I can say that after going through the two years of legal hoops need to come down out of the cold north)

The question is wrong for voting *itself* is bogus (1)

Toby The Economist (811138) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757847)

"All voting is a sort of gaming, like checkers or backgammon, with a slight moral tinge to it, a playing with right and wrong, with moral questions; and betting naturally accompanies it. The character of the voters is not staked. I cast my vote, perchance, as I think right; but I am not vitally concerned that that right should prevail. I am willing to leave it to the majority. Its obligation, therefore, never exceeds that of expediency. Even voting for the right is doing nothing for it. It is only expressing to men feebly your desire that it should prevail. A wise man will not leave the right to the mercy of chance, nor wish it to prevail through the power of the majority. There is but little virtue in the action of masses of men."

Thoreau, Civil Disobedience.

To quote Bill Hicks... (4, Insightful)

Channard (693317) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757849)

"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here.

'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding both puppets!' 'Shut up! Go back to bed, America. Your government is in control.'"

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757853)

I look forward to the many uninformed moderation points in this discussion.

Here's a solution... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757861)

You know, you don't have to fill out the whole damn ballot. If you're that tortured over this, go in, vote for an uncontested race where you like the candidate or write-in someone where you don't, read the referendums and initiatives and vote for anything that seems like an obviously good idea and against anything that doesn't.

And then thank the little old ladies for being such a crucial bit of democracy. Now you've accomplished pretty much exactly what I did by voting against Ted Kennedy and for wine this morning.

In the time you spent reading slashdot (3, Informative)

flaming-opus (8186) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757865)

you could have surfed over to your local newspaper's webpage and become reasonable informed.

It's not that hard to find out a cantidate's position on ten or fifteen topics. No matter who you elect, they will do something you don't like, but you can get a pretty good idea in fifteen minutes.

Hop to it.

Well... (1)

vDiver (62458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757867)

1 - You may not be as 'un-informed' as you think. You probably know more than many others that ARE voting.

2 - Get Informed! The American political process, at it's most ideal, requires the people to vote their conscience, with knowledge.

As long as you don't complain about the result (1)

moggie_xev (695282) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757871)

I suspect it is responsible not to vote, however but not informing yourself you have lost the right to complain about what ever your government does.

We could get in to the long discussion about the right to vote but read istress [] The moon is a harsh mistress for some options.

Don't vote ignorant (3, Insightful)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757879)

When people say that it is your civic duty to vote, they are only telling you a third of the story. It is your civic duty to lean about the issues, make up your own mind, and then, (and only then) vote. That is why our founding fathers set up our educational system. They knew that an ignorant electorate would not be able to make informed decisions. Otherwise, the public only votes on catch-phrases like "Iraqi quagmire" or "Soft on terrorism".

If you don't know, stay home.

Get Informed, Vote! (1)

kmcardle (24757) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757883)

Apathy is no excuse. Your local paper (or the corresponding website) will have a nice tidy summary of all the issues and the candidates. Take an hour or two and do some reading.

Our system may not be perfect, but it sure beats having no voice at all.

None of the Above (1)

LGagnon (762015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757887)

If you don't like any of the candidates available, you should still vote, but use the write-in box to vote for "none of the above." If "none of the above" got the majority of votes, they'd have to run the election again (possibly with new candidates). In our current political climate, where the one/two party/parties give us candidates who are exactly the same, I think this would help make them more aware that the voters often don't vote because they don't like any of their choices.

It only encourages them. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757893)

Don't vote, it only encourages the participants in a sick and twisted system.

I envision a day when no one will vote and corporations will be forced to assume responsibility for the people and can no longer hide behind puppet governments.

Not voting = Voting for the winner... (1)

Ariastis (797888) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757905)

...wich in itself isn't good. If you dont vote, you are actually giving ground for politically active persons/groups by either not providing opposition to their ideas, or by condoning their decision. The only losers in all that are middle/centered politicians who might have gotten your vote with their balanced ideas, while the more extremists ones get a huge amoung of votes from their respective factions because of their inflamatory speeches/politics/decisions. Personally, if I dont know who to vote for for some reason, I select the candidate which, according to the most recent polls, will finish 2nd, so as to diminish the majority, thus enabling debate on a fairer ground and enabling stronger opposition.

Related (4, Interesting)

UbuntuDupe (970646) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757917)

I'm surpised the Mankiw piece got linked without mentioning a someone similar piece by Prof. Bryan Caplan [] (who himself links [] the Mankiw piece) that summarizes his upcoming book, The Myth of the Rational Voter.

Long story short, he argues that because people don't personally bear the cost of holding ridiculous political beliefs, they relax their standards of intellectual rigor, similar to how they do with religious beliefs. They thus use voting to appeal to their "feel good" side rather than seriously analyze the issues (like the would with, e.g. their own finances), resulting in destructive policies all-around.

So he takes Mankiw one step further and says that it's not just ignorance that's a problem, but irrationality. If it were mere ignorance, the errors would cancel. But, Caplan, claims, they don't -- they skew the wrong way.

Stay at home (1)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757921)

THis isn't just because you're conservative. If you honestly are not informed about the people/issues, how can you make a good choice? YOu're basicly either making a coin flip, or voting purely on party. If you vote for a republican on party, you could be getting a neo-con, a libertarian, a right wing religious nut, or a fiscal conservative otherwise middle ground type. Basicly, you could be voting for anything. If you aren't willing to spend the time to research the candidates, do your country a favor and not vote.

You lazy sack of SHIT! (0, Troll)

Overzeetop (214511) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757927)

Part of being a citizen of the United States is the responsibility to inform yourself about the issues which govern the country. That means reading the ballot measures and reading at least the basic stances of the candidates on the issues. It's not that hard - most towns have a local paper with a pull-out section a couple days before the election with information on who's running. You posted to /., so I assume you're talented enough to use the internet to look up the candidates in the race if you should need more information.

Part of enjoying the status of being in a free state (and all you libertarians can put quotes around free) is taking the responsibility to vote.

Well, then again, you sound like a troll. *shrug*

some peoples' logic is impeccable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757941)

I and my left-wing bro in law were arguing about something political one day, I don't even remember what, but he uttered the amazing statement, "well, anything's better than nothing." Given the philosophical leanings of most readers here, or at least most posters, I think you're going to get mostly "yes" responses.

3rd Party voting - can't go wrong in USA (4, Interesting)

From A Far Away Land (930780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757947)

In America, where only two parties are given a chance at winning by the media [and thus they shape perception that way into reality], you really can't lose by voting for a 3rd party. If you aren't happy with the current system, staying home isn't getting changes put into place. But if you vote Green, or Libertarian, or Independent, you're sending a message that you don't trust mainstream politics. Imagine what would happen if 10% of the voters went for non-Democrat and non-Republican. Could politicians really believe that that many millions of Americans don't deserve to be represented in Congress or the Presidency?

They'd HAVE to change the system to a more fair electoral system.

A difficult decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757949)

So, here's my dilemma and my question: Is an uninformed vote better than no vote?

You should always participate in your nations government!

I have slightly conservative views..


j/k :)

I find it best to vote only for those candidates that you find truely inspiring or otherwise promising. If they fail to reach may I rarely vote for the othe guy 'just because.'

And who knows, maybe our government will look up one day and realize that all this non-participation is a symptom of their failings as leaders

(yeah right)

Moot point, so please vote (3, Insightful)

Mark McGann (570684) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757961)

The fact of the matter is realising you're uninformed is actually a sign of intelligence, so please vote. It only takes a few minuites to find the key candidates websites online and give them at least a brief viewing.

I'm sure there are people who are so ignorant they shouldn't vote, but the fact of the matter is those people don't know they're ignorant and hence won't choose not to vote because of it.

utterly stupid to stay home on election day (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16757965)

don't vote for the big guy. go throw the little guy a bone, the independant in your riding. every vote that any party gets, gives them money they can use towards campaigns in the next election. so give the independant some padding to his budget, all the while telling the big guys what you think of them, or, what you don't think of them.

not voting gives special interests more power (1)

surfsalot (15319) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757971)

Special interests vote... they turn out in droves. They turn our political discourse into the 3 ring circus that it is today... you're either a pinko commie liberal who wants to kill babies or a racist homophobe with "good wholesome family values" who wants all automatic weapons to be legal, chocolate covered, and free for kids. Not in reality, but in "TV land" thats what you are, because those are the people that show up to vote.

My advice (for what its worth): if you don't know who you want to vote for, take 30 seconds and look up who is not going to win, and vote for that person. It sends the appropriate message, "I'm want to vote, but you won't provide me with decent candidates to vote for, so I'm going to vote for the homeless transvestite [] because I at least know where he stands on g-strings."

I agree. (1)

chroot_james (833654) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757973)

If you have no idea what you're talking about, a closed mouth will gather less foot. Ideally, people should try to get and stay informed, but when election comes, if you didn't do your homework... don't ruin it for those of us that did.

Where do you vote? (2, Insightful)

bgspence (155914) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757975)

In any election I've been to, and I've been to lots, there has been many items to vote on. Often way too many.

You don't have to vote on them all. But it is your DUTY as a citizen to do a bit of homework and make your voice heard.

Remember, the vote is a poll. Your one vote is counted and helps determine the results of the poll. It makes NO difference if your vote swings an election. The importance of your participation is to ensure that the poll is valid. You can't poll the will of the people if the people are unwilling to make their opinions known.

Just too stupid (1)

Findeton (818988) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757977)

If he is stupid enough not to care about politics, then he can be stupid enough to vote while being uninformed. Instead of caring about what are you going to do when you are uninformed, you should go and inform yourself. As Ralph Nader said, "If you don't turn on Politics, Politics will turn on you".

Simple .. just vote against the incumbent (1)

GaelTadh (916987) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757985)

Politicians are like baby's diapers ... they need to be changed regularly.

Not stopping me (1)

iambarry (134796) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757987)

I didn't even read your whole ask Slashdot question. Its not stopping me from posting my uninformed point of view.

Please, go out and vote. But please, vote for the correct candidates. Don't vote for the other idiots.

Sounds Lazy... Go vote! (1)

moehoward (668736) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757991)

I'd have to say that it would probably take no more than 10-15 minutes of quick research to find out where the candidates stand on major issues that you would consider. Nobody considers ALL the issues. Everyone has a top 3-5 list. And, I would say that many liberals and some conservatives are one issue voters (sorry, just personal observation). It would only take a few minute to figure out the candidates that agree with you on your issues.

Take my case today. I had to vote for governor, one congressperson, and then a local referendum to increase some property tax. The other 10 races were uncontested. I just checked the Web sites, and learning about all issues I care about are basically one click away on each Web site promoting each candidate in those races. Simple. Writing this post to Slashdot took more time, as I'm sure would be the case in your election... So, now what's your excuse? Rain? Gas too expensive? Xbox?

Let me get this straight... (1)

femto113 (641226) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757993)

you don't have time or inclination to spend, say, one hour reading candidate platforms (every candidate has a website), newspaper endorsements (most provide succinct voting guides), or any of five thousand political blogs, or ask your family and friends who they are voting for and why, but you do have the time to ask Slashdot whether you should still vote? I really hope your ignorant ass winds renditioned to Guantanamo where you can spend your indefinite stay without charges wondering what's really worth your time to understand.

kind of hard to believe (1)

bobalu (1921) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757997)

I can understand not knowing a given politicians' views on any particular subject, but it seems to me it'd be a little difficult to not get a general idea of what's up if you read or see any news at all.

Even if you just take the most generalized claptrap about each party you'd have *some* idea of the difference.

You guys are crazy (1, Interesting)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 7 years ago | (#16757999)

As a citizen in a country with compulsory voting, I find even the suggestion that you wouldn't vote crazy. Voting is a responsibility just like jury duty - and you don't have to actually vote, you just have to be present on polling day. Now I know you're asking... Why should so called "uninformed" people vote?

In American you guys have the "NRA" the nutbar Christian organisations, the pro-choice lobby, the this lobby, the that lobby. All of these lobbies are able to claim "If you don't do this, you'll lose a million votes" and the politicians are effectively held by the balls to a policy that only the minority of people really give a shit about. Compulsory voting dilutes the power of these lobbies, and ensures that they can't make it SEEM like the public is against something that really, most people aren't.

Vote. Its the best thing you can do.

Oh and another thing, why the hell do you Americans hold elections on weekdays? Aren't most people at work? Normal people would hold an election on a Saturday...

I'd like to help but ... (1)

LaughingCoder (914424) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758005)

I don't have enough information to offer an intelligent answer.

Invalidate your ballot (1)

mpn22 (1017218) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758007)

assuming Diebold allows you to do this, just make your ballot invalid. On a paper ballot, check both candidates. You didn't like any candidate, but you might as well go out and stand in the rain with all the other people and feel what it's like to actually have a recognized opinion.

You make the call... (1)

shrapnull (780217) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758009)

Plenty of uninformed poeple vote, and plenty of informed people don't. Voting is a choice that no one can accurately call for you and your circumstance. My personal advice would be to "get a pair" and decide for yourself. Just don't be intimidated by any percieved (real or otherwise) difficulties in the voting process. You show up, wave a card, read the directions and follow them....or not.

Why not look at it this way (1)

finkployd (12902) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758019)

A government made up of one party cannot be anything but bad news. At a minimum, vote for the candidates that will oppose the majority party in the Whitehouse (or if voting for a president, vote for the president who will oppose congress).


Suck it up (1)

lexDysic (542023) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758021)

"I live far from grocery stores and public transportation, and never learned to drive. Should I get behind the wheel and risk killing people, or should I wait at home until someone chooses to feed me or I starve?"

Dude, learn to drive. Did you not realize there was going to be an election until today?

Write In a Candidate (1)

LowellPorter (466257) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758023)

Sometimes when I do not like the candidates or do not know much about them, I will write in someone I trust for the position. I know they will not be elected, but it will send a message if the available candidates are not getting votes. You DO NOT have to vote for who is on the ballot, just vote. I'm hoping the idea catches on because if people start seeing a bunch of these votes, mabye we will eventually get better candidates.

definitely not (1)

disturbedite (979015) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758029)

i have always felt that a person shouldn't vote unless they're informed. sure its our "right" but we have many different types of obligations (that i believe imo) we must follow. those obligations are pre-requisites to voting.

At least you get to complain... (1)

bedmison (534357) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758033)

My folks always told me that you should vote because if you don't you give up your right to complain. If you don't vote, and the guys in office do something you don't like, you shouldn't complain because you didn't do anything to keep them out. If you do vote, and they do something you don't like, you get to A) say you voted for the other guy or B) say this guy didn't do what he said he would, which was why you voted for him in the first place. Then you vote him out during the next election cycle. Or if you live in California, find an actor willing to run and don't wait for the next election cycle.

I live in Virginia, which was subject to one of the ugliest campaign cycles in memory. I almost didn't vote because I didn't think either one of the main Senate candidates deserved to be elected. But then I remembered how easy the electronic widgets make write-in voting...heh,heh.

Of course, without paper ballot audit trails, it doesn't matter, because the results of the election were determined before the voting machines left the factory...

It doesn't really matter..... (1)

budword (680846) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758039)

They vote their wallets too, the problem is figuring out what corporation is stuffing that particular politicians's wallet on that election cycle. Then figuring out which corporation most closely matches your own beliefs. Best of luck with that.

I have never... (1)

rysgaard (880967) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758045)

understood the people saying they don't care or "pay attention" as it is so nicely said. It's a lazy attitude towards your everyday life - no matter what country you live in.

laziness (3, Informative)

capoccia (312092) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758049)

it really doesn't take that long to find out the candidate's positions. the league of women voters does a good job of consolidating all the information i needed.

Vote anyway (1)

pr0nbot (313417) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758059)

Vote anyway, for a candidate who doesn't have a hope of winning. That way you'll be voting not for them per se (because they'll never get in), but you'll be voting for a broader political spectrum on the ballot.

Or give a foreigner like me your vote, and vote Green!

Everyone should vote... (1)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758069)

I was having a discussion with shuttle driver before heading into work this work that maybe voting should be mandatory as an requirement for being a citizen. The biggest problem is that too many people stay home instead of performing their public duty. A representative government is only as good as the people who take part in it.

Wait! Wait! I know this one! (1)

wandazulu (265281) | more than 7 years ago | (#16758075)

It's really simple. If you think that politics and all its repercussions will have absolutely, positively, *no* effect on you at all, don't bother. If even one tiny insignificant aspect touches your life, then it's your *duty*, regardless of country, to be informed and make sure that you're heard.

Only then will you be able to put the "Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos" bumper sticker on your car without guilt.
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