Wacky Hermit offers her perspective on encouraging people to vote (without linking to my earlier post!) and likens democracy to the fair division problem (which is fascinating in its own right).

My view on the matter is colored by my experience with fair division, which was the topic of my Master's paper. In fair division, where a "cake" is divided up fairly among a bunch of players, the players are all assumed to have a "value system" (measure, for those technical math junkies out there) by which they determine the value of any given piece of cake. As part of the rules of fair division, players' value systems are not questioned or challenged. If a player says that piece of cake is 30% of the entire cake, that's what it is to that player, even if someone else thinks it's 20% and another thinks it's 50%. If you start requiring players to value a piece a certain way, it throws off the fairness of the algorithm.

Likewise I leave each voter's measure of the candidates to their own devices. If you want to base your vote for a candidate on which is alphabetically first, on how much he pays for his haircuts, on the aspects of Venus in conjunction with Jupiter, on the basis of numerological analysis of the book of Hosea or the fact that he came to your town before the election and the other guy didn't, that's your prerogative. I can think you're stupid for doing it (that's my right), but I can't take away your right. The law says that if you are a citizen, you have a right to vote. Period.

Except that laws don't create rights, they only recognize the rights that God (or nature, if you're a libertarian) gave us. And voting isn't a right. I've said it a million times: democracy can be a useful tool for protecting liberty, but democracy is not a requirement for liberty. Our society prevents all sorts of people from voting because we believe they would make poor decisions: children, the mentally impaired, felons, non-citizens, people in comas, and so forth. Wacky Hermit doesn't say whether or not she would support truly universal suffrage, but if voting is a right in the same way as are "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" then what alternative is there? (Except perhaps for felons.)



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