Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Votes are worth something

So, contra the argument that voting is meaningless, it's pretty easy to tell that an individual vote is worth something. And that's because corrupt candidates are willing to pay for them: electoral fraud is very rare these days, but vote buying is one of the most common kinds. The market price of a vote is something like $10-20 ( WaPo). "Everything is worth what its purchaser will pay for it". Twenty bucks is like a typical individual campaign donation, or a couple hours of work. It's not the influence of Sheldon Adelson, but it's not nothing.

For comparison, just over 125 million Americans voted in 2008, which at $20/vote would be $2.5 billion, which sounds about right to me. There was about $2.6 billion spent on political advertising in 2008 all told (NYT)—near on half a billion dollars directly by the Obama and McCain campaigns.

TL/DR: if individual votes didn't matter, nobody would ever pay cash money to get them.