26 Sep 2016

My “Get in the Vote” Campaign

Voting 20 Comments

Scott Alexander linked to this very clever proposal by Scott Aaronson: In order to stop Trump, people in “safe” states coordinate with Johnson or Stein supporters in swing states. The people in safe states vote for the appropriate 3rd party candidate (so that nationally Johnson or Stein gets the same number of votes, which is what their supporters care about), while the J/S supporters in the swing states for Clinton, where it really matters in the main race.

Whether you detest Clinton more than Trump, it’s undeniably a clever idea. (Apparently it’s legal, too–“which is nice.”)

But as I said on Facebook: Now just up the ante: I propose that Clinton and Trump voters in the same state find each other, agree NOT to vote, and use that time instead to pick up litter.

20 Responses to “My “Get in the Vote” Campaign”

  1. Keshav Srinivasan says:

    It should be noted that there is already a website that does what Scott Aaronson wants: makeminecount.org It pairs up Hillary supporters safe states with third party supporters in swing states so they can swap their votes. I encourage anyone who wants to stop Trump to use it.

    There is also a website called Balanced Rebellion which pairs up Democrat and Republicans so that they can both vote for Gary Johnson.

    But as far as I know there’s no website implementing Bob’s idea, but it seems like a good idea. Even for those of us who disagree with economists’ contention that voting is irrational, it’s still true that the benefit of your vote are canceled out by the opposite vote that would be cast by the person you’re paired with. So it makes sense for both of you to agree to stay home.

    • Silas Barta says:

      The difference between BalancedRebellion vs make-mine-count/NaderTrader is that the traders in BR are very much opposite views, while the two options in the latter are closer to indifference.

      So with the Democrat/Republican pairing up they’re much more incentive for one site to defect and vote for who they want anyway, where as for MMC/NT, by construction, they’re doing it in cases where, even en masse, they don’t change the result.

  2. Silas Barta says:

    I’m not sure it counts as clever anymore, since it’s the same as “NaderTrader” 16 years ago, and Aaronson’s post was noting how the courts have finally given explicit clearance to these kinds of systems…

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Bob: “Mises came up with a very clever argument against socialism…”

      Silas: “It stopped being clever in 1953.”

      • Silas Barta says:

        Imagine that you posted a link and said, “Scott Alexander came up with a clever system for allocating resources. Basically, everyone who produced a unit of that resource could offer it for ‘purchase’. Anyone who wanted a unit could submit a ‘bid’…”

        I would be like, “Bob_Murphy [because of autocomplete], that’s not clever, that’s just a regular market.”

        • Bob Murphy says:


          But what if I posted a link that said, “Scott Alexander linked to this clever proposal by Jim Market…” and it was Jim talking about his idea of Market that he had invented?

  3. Tel says:

    Whether you detest Clinton more than Trump, it’s undeniably a clever idea. (Apparently it’s legal, too–“which is nice.”)

    Legal but not enforceable, given that your companion may simply vote Trump and either not tell you, or just shrug and say “too bad”.

    But as I said on Facebook: Now just up the ante: I propose that Clinton and Trump voters in the same state find each other, agree NOT to vote, and use that time instead to pick up litter.

    Interesting suggestion, still can’t think of a way to make it enforceable, but perhaps if the two parties pick up litter all day TOGETHER it could work. Would require some system to prevent early voting, maybe they camp together for a few weeks… hmmmm.

  4. Dexter Morgan says:

    Or you could just vote for Dexter Morgan. The only man with a code.

  5. Yancey Ward says:

    I am always deeply amused by these ideas. As contracts without any means of verification, they are certainly worthless.

    • Keshav Srinivasan says:

      Well, as they say the world runs on trust. A lot of people consider keeping your word to be important, so even without enforcement mechanisms these sorts of websites aren’t worthless.

    • Bob Murphy says:

      Couldn’t you take a photo with your phone and (kinda sorta) prove after the fact that you did it?

      • Silas Barta says:

        Pretty sure that taking any picture that’s usable as proof of vote is illegal for exactly the reason that it would allow selling of votes or coercion.

      • Yancey Ward says:

        Kinda sorta proof isn’t proof. In any case, it still doesn’t work, Bob for a perfectly logical reason- there are two people involved and one has to go first, and there are no enforcement options.

        • Tel says:

          Isn’t that the whole point of why voluntary agreements do work though?

          Most people will do what they say even without enforcement, and the small number that don’t do it usually get identified by the others and excluded from further interaction. That’s how about 90% of society operates.

          Sure, law enforcement do find themselves with many jobs to do, but they sure don’t enforce anywhere close to ALL the actions of all the people. Yes, there is crime out there, and a good fraction of that crime comes down to fundamental disagreement on moral direction (e.g. the entire War on Drugs is driven not by people who know they are doing the wrong thing but do it anyway, it is driven by people who genuinely feel it is their right to take drugs if they want to).

          • ax123man says:

            But aren’t most voluntarily agreements ex post verifiable? Anyway, couldn’t someone else start another site where you colluded to undermine something like NadarTrader? And you’d have no way to verify that either. So the whole thing unravels….

            • Tel says:

              Certainly being verifiable helps, because at least some percentage of people will surely attempt to cheat. However a lot of systems do work where most people don’t cheat.

              For example something like supermarket security… yes people do occasionally get caught stealing but bag checks are rare and the supermarkets already write off a lot of goods due to damage, spoilage and theft (some of the theft happens to be employees). However, by far the majority choose not to steal because they feel bad about the idea of taking something they didn’t pay for. They very likely could steal a bit here and there and get away with it, but they actually find the supermarket overall to be a convenience to them so they want the system to work.

              When it comes to elections (by my estimate) people get a lot more ruthless. Given that none of the candidates are exactly paradigms of virtue, and IMHO some of the candidates (Hillary in particular) are decidedly evil (possibly disastrous if she seriously wants to continue deliberately antagonizing Russia), There is not such a clear direction in terms of “doing the right thing”.

              Perhaps non-voting is the “right thing to do”, but if you think there’s even a small chance you could prevent a disaster then you might fail but at least you can say, “I did what I could to prevent that.” Maybe the train wreck is inevitable, I guess that’s unknowable.

  6. Harold says:

    Pairing works in the UK Parliament.
    “Pairing is an arrangement between two MPs of opposing parties to not vote in a particular division. This enables an MP to be absent without affecting the result of the vote as they effectively cancel each other out. Pairing is an informal arrangement which is not recognised by the House of Commons but must be registered with the Whips. Pairing is not allowed in divisions of great political importance.”

    Of course, with only 650 members, defectors are in instantly recognised.

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