Monthly Archives: March 2017

Do Voter ID Laws Actually Matter?

A longtime partisan cliché is that voter identification laws (such as those that require government-issued picture IDs to prevent fraud) are designed to support Republicans, because those citizens who are more likely to not have such IDs are also more likely to vote Democrat: minorities and the poor.

However, the above groups are less likely to vote at all, and it has also been attributed to the “costs of cognitive participation.”  This refers to the time and mental energy required to stay informed on current events, and to plan for and set aside the time and resources to cast a vote, which is obviously more involved for those who lack fixed home addresses, easy transportation, or a forgiving work schedule.  But on aggregate, demand for voting is more inelastic than Dems care to admit–people who  value voting  are more likely to accomplish it.

Get Out the Vote (GOTV) is, and should continue to be, the winning strategy for Democrats.  However, there is not any evidence that voter ID laws hurt turnout.

Another thought is that Voter ID laws are correlation without causation: states more likely to institute Voter ID laws are also likely to have low minority turnout because of other cultural or economic barriers, which may, or may not, have anything to do with public policies.

ModCon believes Dems should give up the battle against Voter ID laws because the potential gains of avoiding fraud are more than offset by the victimhood mentality that can turn off swing voters.  Even when Voter ID laws are politically motivated, they are not racially motivated.

Never Think Alone

According to a recent article by the authors Philip Fernbach and Steven Sloman, human knowledge is remarkable not for its individual capacity, as is commonly thought, but by the sophistication of its sharing.  We humans are at the top of the food chain because we grasp the importance of planning, division of labor, and organization creation.

“Most of what you ‘know’ — most of what anyone knows — about any topic is a placeholder for information stored elsewhere, in a long-forgotten textbook or in some expert’s head.”

There is an obvious evolutionary advantage to working together in this way and sharing in the world’s consciousness: it forces us to rely on each other for emotional and material support, and encourages growth and enhancement of the species.

In other words, our prime talents are of curation, collaboration, and association, rather than true memorization or understanding.  And the more something is understood by people in general, the more we think  we individually know.  One can see this extended to politics–we rely on others to help us put the truth together, with very little (or even no) firsthand experience with the matter at hand: poverty, abortion, corporate ethics, pollution, earned-income tax credits, food packaging.

So, always remember that your conversation partner’s irrationality is a pretty rational response to their lack of knowledge.

Univ of FL, Plaza de Americas