Sunday, August 31, 2014

The Lottery as a Voting Strategy?

Japanese crazy box with a hole in it to drop your ballot.
Drop in your ballot, get a fortune cookie!

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission have proposed a lottery to increase the incredibly low voter turnout for municipal elections in Los Angeles, California. It's hard to imagine that L.A. officials could really view the lack of voting turnout as a "crisis". From a strategic political view, this is anything but... politicians, even when not being completely cynical, only care about bringing out new voters who would support their cause.  I don't consider myself cynical in this regard either, as I can't see any benefit to bringing in people who are are destined to vote against you. That being said, I believe the following article describes the sort of strategy that I would consider to be a rather under-handed (translation: scummy) tactic to bring out the kinds of voters who would elect those in favor of....legalized online poker/gambling. Just think about it for a second: if a lottery with poor odds of winning a rather paltry sum of a proposed $100,000 prize is supposed to be enough motivation to get losers with no interest in the democratic process off their broke asses and out to the polls, wouldn't it make sense to plaster the poor neighborhoods with posters saying something to the tune of 

Stand up for your right to use your money the way you see fit. Online gaming for real money is a victim-less crime. Vote Rich Chance for Mayor on November 15th at the polls.

If you really want to see some eye-opening political strategy in practice, I strongly suggest reading the excellent book Gaming the Vote by William Poundstone.  If politics isn't your thing, check out one of his works that is sure to interest you, Fortune's Formula, which details the origins of blackjack card-counting, the Federal Wire Act, and the Kelly Criterion

No comments: