Why on earth don’t we just reduce the cost of voting like woah?

Ok, there’s doubtless something civic and physical and all community/shared identity-promoting about the experience of marching up to a traditional booth, surrounded by one’s fellow citizens and all that rot. Though I rather doubt it holds a candle to the agora, or to all. the other stuff Athenian citizens did, qua citizens, when they weren’t in the agora (cf. Josh Ober’s second-to-latest book).

But really? 8-10 hour voting lines? I’ve been fortunate enough to spend most of my adult life in jurisdictions where one can vote by mail, and the one time I voted in person was in the rich white suburb of Alexandria, VA — and even that half an hour wait was irritating in the extreme. I can’t imagine voluntary voting if the line were more than two hours long, unless to vote against pure evil on a Stalin/Hitler scale.*

Voting by mail ought to be an option in every jurisdiction in the country. The slightly higher probability of voter fraud doesn’t even register against the massive disenfranchisement, or what Chris Edley aptly calls “a ‘time-tax’ on your right to vote.” A staggering one!

Ideally, internet voting would happen too. But that’s probably still a few years out. When the generation that grew up on the internet reaches adulthood, expect the demand to start spiking. In 2012, the youngest voters will have never been alive when there was no World Wide Web… how creepy is that? In 2016, the youngest voters will never have known a time when there was no Amazon.com.

Edit: I seem to have created a rationality/cost of voting series. Thus, previous posts in the series include:

Edit, part II: I just learned of MyFairElection, which, when one reports one’s own experience, will “produce a real-time map of voting conditions throughout the country. Officials, journalists, advocates, and ordinary citizens can use this map to pinpoint problems and fix them.” Looks like a great idea.


* I can’t think of anyone I’d stand in line that long to vote for. With the possible exception of Cyborg John Stuart Mill.

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