Election Day Special, 2016

On this US Election Day, 2016, I will be flying from Israel, where I gave two talks at the Bank of Israel, to Brussels, where I am a keynote speaker at the annual ECMI conference to be held at the National Bank of Belgium. But I voted by mail before I left on my Fall 2016 tour of European central banks. I hope all of my readers who are US citizens have plans to vote. David Leohnardt in the November 1, 2016 New York Times wrote this:

Voting plans increase voter turnout. In an experiment by David Nickerson and Todd Rogers, involving tens of thousands of phone calls, some people received a vague encouragement to vote. They were no more likely to vote than people who received no call. Other people received calls asking questions about their logistical plans — and became significantly more likely to vote. The questions nudged them.

Second, tell other people about your plan, and ask about theirs. The power of peer pressure increases voter turnout. One aggressive experiment mailed people a sheet of paper with their own turnout history and their neighbors’. A more gentle experiment presented Facebook users with head shots of their friends who had posted an update about having voted. Both increased turnout, as have many other experiments.

You don’t need an intricate effort to influence people, though. Post your own voting plan to Facebook, and ask your friends to reply with theirs. Text or call relatives in swing states and ask about their voting plans. Do the same when you see friends.

And here is Adam Grant in the October 1, 2016 New York Times

If we want people to vote, we need to make it a larger part of their self-image. In a pair of experiments, psychologists reframed voting decisions by appealing to people’s identities. Instead of asking them to vote, they asked people to be a voter. That subtle linguistic change increased turnout in California elections by 17 percent, and in New Jersey by 14 percent.

The American electorate overall has a great deal of wisdom, but is not able to fully express that wisdom with our current voting system. On that, take a look at last week’s post “Dan Benjamin, Ori Heffetz and Miles Kimball–Repairing Democracy: We Can’t All Get What We Want, But Can We Avoid Getting What Most of Us *Really* Don’t Want?

October and even November surprises keep coming in for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One I found interesting was the details David Barstow, Mike McIntire, Patricia Cohen, Susanne Craig and Russ Buettner reported on Donald Trumps tax avoidance approach in the October 31, 2016 New York Times. Essentially, evidence indicates Donald Trump was taking a large deduction on his taxes for his investor’s losses from investing in his project. The way he did that was by overvaluing partnership equity in the failed projects and purporting to reimburse his investors for their losses by giving them overvalued partnership equity. What I wasn’t totally clear about is whether these investors succeeded in deducting from their own taxes the very same losses, using a lower value of that partnership equity received that was inconsistent with the value that Donald Trump used. That is, did Donald Trump take his investor’s loss deductions away from them, or did he and his investors both successfully claim the same losses?

Finally, let me mention that a key issue in this election is the principle of the equality of all human beings, an issue I discussed in “Us and Them” and this past Sunday in “John Locke on the Equality of Humans.”