One of the most frustrating aspects of democracy is that there’s no requirement to do research before casting a vote. I could spend hours studying candidates’ positions, histories and promises only to have my vote cancelled out by someone who picked their guy by the signs on their neighbor’s lawn. Yet any solution to this would in itself be undemocratic; quizzing voters at the booths, giving weight to votes based on education or otherwise hindering uninformed voting would skew representation toward the educated middle class and away from those who need it most.
Our partner Debra Bethard-Caplick and I were talking about this at lunch the other day when an idea popped into my head for five seconds before I bit my tongue. “Voter turnout is at an all-time low, but the government is spending lots of money on ads to fix this. Why don’t they just choose their marketing channels based on who is likely to do research before voting?”Obviously I took this back as it would have the same skewed effects as my earlier examples. But it still led to a long discussion about the ethics of a publicly funded campaign for anything electoral. Continue Reading