Vote! It Feels Good

Erica Holloway Erica Holloway 4 Comments


With Election Day two weeks away, I was intrigued by a North County Times article yesterday by Mark Walker on the changing campaign strategies used due to early and mail-in voting.

The article reads:

“Fully one-half of voters in San Diego County vote by mail while the number is near 40 percent in Riverside County.

The shift is reshaping how campaigns are waged.

“There was a time when campaigns would save their best shots for the very end when voters were paying attention, but you can no longer do that,” said San Diego political consultant Tom Shepard, whose firm specializes in managing local candidate and ballot issues. “The debate that would normally take place in the final 10 days now has to largely occur about four weeks out.” “

The conventional wisdom once held that conservatives largely voted by mail. But a strong shift began to take place across the nation encouraging folks to register as absentee because it’s more cost-effective to government and campaigns love that early bump on election night.

Years ago when I first started working at the County of San Diego, a few long-timers warned me when the Registrar of Voters had a discussion item that we’d be seeing “tin-foil hats.” Given their history, they were of course correct as folks with varying degrees of opinions on voting lined up to oppose all manners of vote counting.

Those who believe mail-in ballots or online voting are the way of the future clearly never listened to public testimony at a supervisors’ meeting. For some constituents, nothing short of two people sitting across from each other and reading out loud the ballot selections by hand would do.

Given today’s voting public of about 1.4 million in San Diego County (700,000 are absentee), something tells me no election would get certified.

But it’s a passionate topic. Voting means so much to people that they’re willing to fight and die for that fundamental human right.

I asked my Twitter followers their preferred voting method. Most responded that they loved the “ritual” of ballot voting. Even an absentee voter said she liked the convenience, but still missed the polling place experience.

One said it’s pride: “Women fought for my right to vote! I vote in person!” (@bmoreno)

I’ve voted in every election since I turned 18. But in my 15th year, I prefer absentee now and as a political operative – I know a large election doesn’t depend on my single vote especially in the Electoral College.

But studies have applied the “game theory,” which takes into account the ability of voters to interact. There’s a basic formula for determining whether someone will vote: PB + D > C

Probability (P) that one will one will affect an election outcome and the perceived Benefit (B) of person’s favored political party or candidate, plus Democracy (D) or civic duty equates to social or personal gratification a person gets from voting. Cost (C), time and effort involved in the act of voting. Unfortunately, P is nearly zero in most elections, and PB is not much higher – so D, our personal satisfaction, is the most important factor and must therefore outweigh C.

Apparently, we vote because it feels good.

Riker and Ordeshook, who developed “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting,” created the modern understanding of D.

They listed five major forms of gratification that people receive for voting:
1- Complying with the social obligation to vote;
2 – Affirming one’s allegiance to the political system;
3 – Affirming a partisan preference (also known as expressive voting, or voting for a candidate to express support, not to achieve any outcome);
4 – Affirming one’s importance to the political system; and
5 – For those who find politics interesting and entertaining, researching and making a decision. (Probably why I find absentee perfectly suitable).

Recently, several scholars have considered the possibility that B includes not only a personal interest in the outcome, but also a concern for the welfare of others in the society (or at least other members of one’s favorite group or party).

Under which categories do these responses fall:

@drolland: I’m a proud ballot-box man. The ritual. The shared experience.
@RachelLaing: Me too. I’m a polls voter all the way. For sentimental (corny?) reasons, I love the tradition.
@LiviaBorak: I’m with you guys. I like going and getting my little sticker. Makes me feel all citizeny.
@rockstarjen: I prefer absentee so I can vote when it’s most convenient for me. Yes. Though, I do miss going over to the poll with my husband. It is a nice little ritual.
@blockgreg: Ballot, for sure!

Whatever the reason or method, vote!

Follow me @erica_holloway.


Comments 4

  1. Political hacks love going to the polling place. Also, when I was running myself, I’d love to see if I could get the poll workers to admit they voted for me. 😉

  2. Post

    Did you find that tactic upped your vote count? Or was it the sandwich board at the corner of Jackson and Fletcher?

  3. The poll workers had always already voted. As for the “Burma Shave” signage held personally by me at Jackson and Fletcher, that was specifically to get your vote, Erica.

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