tv Public Affairs Events CSPAN November 8, 2016 8:07am-10:08am EST
you might remember the media they messed up a lot in calling the 2000 election for gore and then for bush and then for neither, catalyzing this electoral crisis. so in the wake of that they put their heads together and changed a few things. the first one was that they formed the national election pool. they changed their name, hired a new pollster. they hired edison research, very well-respected and they pledged before congress that they would not call an election based on exit poll results before they had the fine, before the polls had closed. so that was major difference in beginning in 1980, the networks would call elections before the polls had closed. and then the last thing they did that was really interesting, instead of allowing exit poll
data to leak to newsrooms, to become available to reporters, to become available to anchors sitting at the desk, the pressure to report on that is huge, they actually chose to put it into quarantine. so the five big news outlet's, abc, nbc, cnn, cbs, ap, fox news, send analysts to a room with no phones, no computers, no tablets, where they look at election data all day long, analyze it, question it, poke it, prod it, make sure it is robust before reporting back to their individual outlets just before the polls close. >> as you point out in your piece this all begins at 6:00 in the morning east coast time on election day then continues throughout the day. so how does edison research determine where they send canvassers and what are they asking?
>> that is a great question. >> international foundation for electoral systems, and what we're going to do today, first i have a series of housekeeping assignments. you always get those with the big job. and then i will introduce our panel. our panel is determined to keep its remarks short so as to engage in many questions. about 9:25 we will end the question and answer i will come back with housekeeping announcements and start our departure for polling stations in virginia, maryland and the district of columbia. first of all, our interpretation channels. albanian is one. arabic two, french, four, indonesia shun five, portuguese six, spanish seven, english
eight, and burmese has their own interpretation team with them. everyone should have an interpretation device that needs one. you do not need to carry these devices on to the bus. the bus, each bus will have its own interpretation device and its own interpreters or colleagues from ifis staff who will be able to provide interpretation. you do not need to bring these on the bus. you do need to remember to leave the interpretation devices that you find on the bus, on the bus as you leave this afternoon. when we finish breakfast please wait for your bus number to be called. your bus number is on a white card that is in your
identification packet. you do need your identification packet with your bus number to get on to the bus. you're organized by name and by list and by the way, you need the credential because some of the county polling officials will want to see that you are credentialed as an official witness to the elections. participants can not change buses. we have done our best to put groups and people with similar language needs and from similar regions together. we understand there are some people who would like to travel with others but at this stage of the game you can't change your cards or your location. there was a survey about the conference in your packet.
we would appreciate if you fill out and return the survey. all of us in the elections administration management business no the fascination with metrics and evaluation. we are similarly fascinated so please fill out and return the survey. our session this morning is covered live by c-span2. c-span2 is a public cable network that covers government affairs and public proceedings here in washington, d.c. many countries taken the model of c-span to build their own public cable network so we're all live on c-span2. our buses will also have many journalists who will be with us. they are interested in watching our tour and gathering your reactions if you feel so inclined to talk to the journalists. we have the "washington post," national public radio, "foreign
policy" magazine, voice of america, associated press, the examiner, univision, channel 4 of argentina, channel -- art-tv of kurdistan. nikkei from japan and national radio of argentina and others. i will come back at the end of our program about 9:20 and repeat all of these housekeeping assignments but, one thing i will stress, you do need your credential to get on the bus. your bus assignment is on the white card in the credential. so, good morning, welcome to the celebration of american democracy. all the house keep something done. now we'll go to substance. [applause]
as we you all know over 40 million americans have already voted use absentee ballots, postal ballots, early voting, electronic voting, internet voting. the expectation there will be a 100 million americans in line today to cast their votes through machines and on paper. all of that will be known tonight. and we will elect the next president of the united states. 33 members of the u.s. senate, 435 members of the u.s. house of representatives, numerous governors and i think a majority of members of the state legislatures. and on behalf of all that energy and on behalf of ifis i would like to welcome you to our 13th u.s. election program. this program started under my distinguished predecessor, richard suderet in 1992 when the diplomatic community came to him
and said, we need somebody to talk to the local election officials so we diplomats can go around and witness american voting. and then in 1994 he had the bright idea of welcoming people from election commissions in parliaments where ifis had projects. and now by 2016, we have no room for diplomats. we have over 200 leaders from election management bodies around the world. we have over 100 members of parliament and legislatures, we have is over 30 judges, including two chief justices of their courts and we are particularly honored, and i'm going to get this trouble for this but i will at least highlight one former head of state, the former prime minister of the netherlands is joining us here today. [applause]
you have to be head of state to get a shoutout in this crowd, so congratulations. but, now we have election day and it is my great pleasure to introduce two long-time friends of ifis. the democratic process in the united states, the democratic process around the world and bill sweeney as our panelists. we are going to have a discussion about a great american tradition that these two gentlemen are now the leaders of, and that is the now tradition of presidential debates. we have the co-chairs of the u.s. commission on presidential debates. to my left, which is a surprise to both of us, frank fahrenkopf. frank as you know was chair of the republican party under president reagan and president bush.
he was the cofounder of the national endowment for democracy. he has been the cofounder of the commission on presidential debates. and the personal friends since i first met him when he was nevada republican chair in 1982, which is a long time ago. to my right, which is also a surprise to him and me is mike mccurry. mike mccurry is the democratic co-chair of the commission on presidential debates. he was president clinton's spokesman. he was secretary of state spokesman. he was the, involved in every presidential campaign i think from 1976, 76, all the way through. i have had the pleasure of first working with him and we have frankly been friends so long he worked, he was the spokesman for two distinguished u.s. senators
that i had privilege of working with, senator pete williams of new jersey and senator daniel patrick moynihan of new york and somewhere in our calendars we'll figure out where we first met but two great friends of all of us for many, many years who are going to give us the background and some insight into the presidential debates this year, where the commission started and hopefully where the commission is going. i know for many of you this commission has been a model for debates with organized by political parties, civil society in some cases by the election management commissions. so with that, let me turn it over to frank and then mike. at the end we will take questions. this is all live, and so, and all on the record. so, frank, take it away. >> thank you very much, bill, and good morning, everyone.
i want to welcome you to the united states on behalf of the commission on presidential debates. mike and i are going to try to be as brief as possible, give you a little background what we're looking at in the future in this changing world we live in because of these things. this is an iphone. and what the impact of social media has really done to how we go about running our elections. to say the least, we were tremendously pleased with the result of the three presidential and one vice-presidential debates in this cycle. i must start out by making it very clear with you that we nothing whatsoever to do with the primary debates. calling them debates in many ways is being very, very kind, when you have sometimes 16 or 17 people on the stage as republicans had, it is really not a debate. we only do the general election debates and when you count the people who watched on all the television networks in this country, including c-span which
is not included in what is called the nielsen ratings, and you count the people who streamed on their computers or ipads or iphones, well over 100 million people watched each of the three presidential debates. now that wasn't always the case. the history of debate by presidential candidates in this country goes back to 1960 really when richard nixon and john f. kennedy debated. it was the first televised debates and they were extremely successful. in the opinion of most experts very, very important in how the election came out. four years later, after the assassination of john f. kennedy, lyndon baines johnson was the president of the united states and he refused to debate barry goldwater, who was the republican nominee. four years later, and eight years later, richard nixon was back.
because of the traumatic experience that he had in the 1960 debates which was not good for him, he refused to debate. it wasn't until 1976, following president nixon's resignation when gerald ford became president of the united states and he pardoned richard nixon and was tremendously hurt in the polls, running against georgia governor, former georgia governor jimmy carter, that he agreed, president ford, to debate jimmy carter and they conducted debates. again the debates were very critical on how people voted. now four years later in 1980, it was extremely interesting time. at that point in time jimmy carter was president of the united states. there was a third party candidate. the debates in 1980 were run by an organization in this country called the league of women voters.
they had as part of their rules as to who they would invite to participate in the debates something called the 15% rule. now in order to be included in the debates you have to, of course, meet the constitutional requirements and the constitutional requirements of being a president of the united states, is you must be 35 years of age and you must be a natural-born citizen. that was put in the constitution by our early founding father who were always afraid some rich european would come over and troy to take over things and become president and. so you have to be natural born. so the league adopted same rule we use, the 15% rule, that is prior to the debate, at an average in the five leading polls, be at 15%. if you're at 15% you're invited to participate. if you're not, you don't participate. at that time a congressman i about the name of john anderson
of illinois was at 17%. he accepted the invitation to debate. governor ronald reagan of california accepted the invitation to debate. jimmy carter, the president of the united states, said hell no, i won't go. i will not debate if john anderson is on the stage. so the first debate which took place about 60 miles down the road from here in baltimore, was between ronald reagan and john anderson. by the type the next debate came around, anderson had fallen to 12%. he was not invited. jimmy carter accepted. we only had one debate that year between carter and reagan. now we never had any problems thereafter. when ronald reagan was president he had no problems with debating jimmy, bill clinton always loved to debate. so there was no real concern with people being involved in participating.
now, the commission didn't exist but following the 1984 election cycle when there was great controversy in the media particularly over the debates held by the league of women voters, two commissions were put together. one at the center for strategic and international studies which was at that time at georgetown university and the other was at john f. kennedy school at harvard and both commissions agreed on something, there should be a entity created for one purpose and one purpose only. to insure that general election debate are held every four years. i was the chairman of the republican national committee at that time, and paul kirk of massachusetts was the chairman of the democratic national committee and he and across party lines agreed to the commission. we have done every debate since 1988.
the final debate three weeks ago which was in las vegas, is the 30th debate our commission has run, counting vice-presidential. eight vice-presidential, 22 presidential debates. we had controversy going into the campaign because there were two other candidates who were on enough ballots to conceivably get to 270 electoral votes. i left that out. 35 years of age, you have to be on enough ballots in states to conceivably get 20 electoral votes. we have libertarian candidate and a green party candidate. the libertarians and greens mounted tremendous public relations attacks on the commission for us to not apply the 15% rule and just say everyone who runs and meet as certain standard whether they're on ballots or not ought to be included on the stage. our commission reviewed it in great detail and we held it at 15%.
as you know, i think mike can remind me, i think when we first applied the rule the libertarians were at eight i think, and i think the green party was at three or four. so they weren't even halfway where we were going. so we sat down as we always do, with the professional teams, put up by both campaigns. both campaigns have debate teams. people who are good with these things, with microphones and sound and lighting and so forth. they work with our team. as you know we went forward. we're very pleased with the result. maybe during the question and answer period we get into some of the uninterest can sis interesting to say the least. with three presidential and one vice-presidential. with that, as i indicated paul kirk was the original co-chairman with me when we started this. but when teddy kennedy died some years ago, paul kirk was named by the governor of massachusetts
to take ted kennedy's seat in the united states senate until such time as a special election could be held to replace senator kennedy. at that time paul had to step down. we were most fortunate to have mike mccurry, who had been a tremendous spokesman for president clinton in very difficult time for that presidency to step up to be my co-chairman. mike i turn it over to you. >> thanks, frank. to review a little bit of work that we do on the commission on presidential debates, we don't receive any funding from our federal government. we we are not a government related entity. it is a non-partisan, non-profit organization and our principle assignment is to really choose the dates and places where our debates are held. we designed the format to give the candidates some opportunity to present their ideas and their vision for the country and we
select moderators who actually step in to conduct the debate. so we have no responsibility for the content of these debates. that is up, for better or worse, to the candidates themselves and moderators that pose the questions. so that is our principle assignment. to review the history that frank just went through, i would say that the principle achievement that we've made over the time the commission has existed is to really institutionalize these debates as part of a political process here in the united states. there is nothing that requires candidates to debate. there is no law that stipulates they have to appear with each other, but i think now it is almost a given the american people expect these debates to happen t would be very difficult for a nominated candidate in our system now to avoid doing these debates even though that has happened in the past. now we almost see the candidate automatically agreeing to the formats, the dates, the design
of the debate that we put together. in fact four years ago president obama was the first incumbent president to actually willingly accept arrangements that we made through the commission without any fussing about it or any debates about the debates themselves. i think that's very, very important. now what role do these debates actually play in our process? we know that i about the time we conduct these debates in the fall of the general election season they're probably are not that many undecided voters. most voters have aligned with one candidate or another one way, or another. there are some undecideds. in this campaign because of its unusual aspects we probably have a higher degree of undecided voters than we've seen in some of our previous quadrennial election cycles but i think the other important thing these debates do and you saw that in the debates we had here, one, it
gives the candidates some chance to articulate what their governing agenda would be once they arrive in office. they're trying to build some support for the program they would initiate if they become the president-elect of the united states of america. that is very important. the second thing, and you saw a great deal of this in our debates, you get some sense of the temperment, the character, the personalities of the president. now we here in the united states, we obviously don't have a royalty but we do have this unusual character relationship and president we elect. unlike officeholders in our federal, state and local systems. the american people develop almost personal relationship with the person that becomes president. we know the president's personality style. we get to know the family, names of president's pets.
we do have kind of a personal equation that becomes important. these debates expose a lot of that. we saw the way in which donald trump and hillary clinton engaged with each other about personalities in the debates. it becomes part of a narrative from who the united states are for better or worse. looking at you, thinking about what you would take away from this, i can't say that this campaign we've had here in the united states of america this year in 2016 would hold up as a paragone of democratic virtue. it has been a ugly, nasty, in many ways polarizing debate. i think predominant feeling of most americans today they go to vote, thank god this thing is over finally. and that is unlike in many of
your systems where you have short campaign seasons, parliamentary systems, much different atmosphere. this campaign here in the united states has gone on well over two years and it has not produced the best we call democratic virtue. think most americans, i will end by saying, most americans probably expect something better to come as a result of this. they expect the new president, whoever he or she may be, to rally the country together, to try to establish some sense of common good. and then to really begin to build some consensus around how this country will move forward, facing the difficult issues that we face. one thing i forgot to mention and wanted to cover it too is, the work that we do in the commission depends on a collaboration that we have with the five major television networks here in the united states.
so all of them together go collectively what is called the network pool. the major networks, abc, cbs, nbc, cnn and fox, pool their resources in order to simultaneously broadcast the debates to the entire american public. that arrangement is probably going to change. bill mentioned we would maybe think about where do we go in the future. with the decline of the traditional mainstream media and the less influence that these major networks have, i think we'll probably see some reconfiguration of the way in which the american people engage with these debates going ahead in the future. obviously the rise of the internet, social media becomes, you know, very, very critical part of this. this recent series of debates produced the highest number of tweets and responses on facebook and other social media outlets in the history of our political
process here in the united states. over 83 million people tweeted or went online facebook to register blob -- blogs or opinions on the first debate. there was decline toward the end but 50 million people were somehow registering their own views as we wept through the third debate and i think in the future we'll see much more of that. there will be much more participatory events with a lot of people trying to express their own opinion. probably wanting to be engaged in shaping some of the questions the candidates themselves are asked. i think we will see, partly because of changes in technology, the changes in media, a need for us on the commission to think through how we present these debate, to the american public, because they will no longer be exclusively televised events. there will be something much
more interactive and much more engaging some of the technology that i think all of us in this room know are increasingly important in democratic systems. with that observation, bill, i turn it back to you. we look forward to having your questions. >> thank you, mike. thank you, frank. terrific first round presentations. [applause] what i would like to suggest we try to have two questions from the right and two questions from the center and two questions from the left. i would appreciate it if the questions could be questions, not statements. and i will exercise the right of being moderator to be rude and interrupt. for frank and mike the translation channel is channel eight. if there is delay, i will repeat the question for benefit of everyone in the audience. one housekeeping note that i
failed to mention and i, simply want to highlight it to make sure there was that no one was concerned, the bacon that was served was turkey bacon. there was no pork on the menu of the conference and we did not want anyone to be concerned about that issue. but, i should have mentioned that earlier before breakfast was served. i apologize. i had a series of housekeeping notes and i forgot that one. with that, people with microphones over here. can we get microphones because we are on television. if we don't have microphones -- please. my friend from uganda. right next to you. >> thank you very much. i wanted to thank the presenters.
i was wondering knowing that elections depend on the goodwill of the people, and the perception, do you think that the claim by one of the candidates that the elections were rigged, that the process was not fair, could have had electoral process, could have had the outcome of today's results? thank you very much. >> second question. pass the microphone. >> thank thank you. i am from indonesia. chairman of the united development party of indonesia. i have two questions. since there are four candidates, they are from libertarian and green party, if i'm not mistaken, joining in the election, and of course, it is inside -- [inaudible]. why the 15% rule still used in,
what should i call on the two candidates who join the debates? i mean people have their rights to know what the views of the other candidates, instead of concerning eight or two or 4% in the polls. that is my question because people have, have the right to know what the views of the other two candidates. secondly what is the ethics, kind of norms that are used by the commission of the presidential candidate to, what is allowed and not allowed to express in the, in the presidential debates? i think that's all. thank you. >> why don't we start off with the question. >> i'll start. >> frank start.
mike respond to the first question please. >> let me respond to the last gentleman first. there were over 1000 people who ran for president of the united states this year, okay? 1000, who registered with the federal election commission. so we have to draw a line somewhere, and as i have said, we debate every four years, we go back and look at the standards that are applied. and whether or not someone will be getting invitation. the 15% rule, same rule used by league of women voters back in 1980, is the rule we decided in this election cycle to stay with. we still think it was the correct one, when you really look to see what occurred. now we'll be looking at that rule again clearly between this time and the next presidential election. it is hard to believe there will be another one already, but actually, i think most of you are going to see the next
election of 2020 will start tomorrow. some candidates will be out there looking down the road. we'll be hearing some speeches probably tomorrow. with regard to what they say when they're answering questions, as mike indicated, we have no idea what the questions are going to be. open hely moderators know what they are going to ask. we have no way of controlling what the answers are going to be and which don't want to control them. we think the american people ought to see the candidate give the answer he or she wants and make a judgment on that. because as mike said we're not electing the best debater, okay? through this process we see someone in debate mode, whether they're standing at podiums or seated at tables, we want to see different formats to make a determination. one thing we know, the american people want to like their president. they may not always vote for who they think is the smartest
person but i think they are challenged in this election the best way to go but i think that is the best answer to that. >> let me talk about the ethics and standards of the commission. the commission is composed 16 people. frank and i are obviously the cochairs but we have a range of people from all walks of life, business, academics, corporate and people who served in political office. now of the 16, i would, i really only can identify the party affiliations of half the members of the commission. i can guess from number of them what their political leans are. people like father john jenkins the president of notre dame university or shirley tillman the former president of princeton university are by and large non-political actors. they are people with enormous stature in our system and obviously carry a great deal of weight but the reputation and
quality of the members of the commission themselves is part of what gives us the legitimacy that we have in our system. obviously i worked for bill clinton when he was president. i know mrs. clinton very well. and way back at beginning of her campaign i made a financial contribution to her campaign. the commission later talked about that and thought about that and said you know, we should not as a independent commission, non-partisan, not a creature of the two political parties because we are thoroughly non-parton is in the work that we do, maybe we should have a rule says for the period of our national election we won't contribute to the parties, the candidates or what we call here in america, the super-pacs, political action committees that support those candidates. so we did institute that rule. i think members of our commission thought that was an important ethical standard we
would have so nobody would question alliance of the commission when it came to designing the debates. which is then the answer to the first question. even though there have been some commentary during this political season about the process being rigged, i think we were credited with putting together very independent, very fair opportunities for the candidate to present their views. some people judged one the win, one the leadser, that is the way our commentary goes. we don't make the comments ourselves. our job is to design the format, present the opportunity and let candidates go with questions and answers and moderates -- moderators pose the questions and take the content they think is in the best interests of the american people. >> frank, would you like to add to that? >> i agree with everything that mike just said. there have been charges by individuals in this campaign
that the system is rigged. i will limit my remarks to the electoral process in the country. i do not believe that the electoral process, what is going on today, across this country, with americans going out 100 million, maybe casting their vote today, probably is already been 40% of the public who have already voted, i don't think that process, the voting process is rigged in any way. in some state there may be problems with people who shouldn't be voting who vote because they're not properly registered or, i remember some cases years ago dead people were voting but that is an aberration. the system, i think is a fair system and i don't consider the electoral process to be rigged in any way. >> okay. can we go to the center? i need two questions. >> [speaking spanish]
>> translator: grateful community we have systems between our countries and [inaudible] under your current model and with [inaudible] -- rigging the elections the national -- [inaudible] [speaking spanish] >> translator: -- because each of the states is an organization for elections -- [inaudible] you can change your vote.
if you are later on convinced, you can change your vote. [inaudible]. [speaking spanish] >> translator: this is very complicated. thank you. >> okay, thank you. other question here in the center? the chairman from india? >> i would like to compliment both of the speakers. i would like to mention one of
the important roles of these debates is connect people with the president, know the personality of the president. you mentioned that there is moderator who framed the question. has the commission part of connecting the president directly with the voters collect their questions? number one. number two, how do you moderate that the moderate has frayed the right expectations of the people of this country? thank you. >> let me, let me take the first crack at the last question. we experimented a little bit in this election with how could american public have more impact, more say in the kinds of questions that the moderators would pose. there was a group called the open debates coalition that did a great job of actually creating a online mechanism for people to
register their opinions on certain subjects and questions. two of our moderators actually injected some of that material into the question they asked. they referenced this process that went on. i suspect we see more of that kind of activity as we go forward because i think people want to feel that they are a part of the process of really defining what the debate is about. now our moderators. even though they have total control over what the questions that that get asked, they're very sensitive to public opinion they look carefully what americans are suggesting primary subjects they like to see debate. we have built into the system because the moderators are responsive to public opinion, we have built into that some assurance that the questions that get posed will be about subjects that people care about, as they go through the electoral process.
now it is not without some short coming. it is personally painful to me as someone who works a lot on issues related to hunger and poverty here in the united states, there was no question on that subject in any of the four debates. you could argue for all of us one of issues we have to think about carefully is the health of our planet. and global climate change and there was not a thorough discussion on that issue during the debates. we do not get entirely the substance in these debates that we would necessarily want. to the other question, the first question, you know, look, we are a republic. and the design of our constitutional system gives great leeway to our individual states and how elections are conducted. we're not going to federalize our election process.
we leave it up to secretaries of state to really administer and design the electoral process and it's a hodgepodge of 50 different steins, each according to the way in which that state conducts their ballots. there are different rules. there are a number of states today where individual voters can write in name of another candidate if they want to select one of those other candidates that didn't participate in our debates but there are some states that don't allow write-in ballots. we do have the mix, this blend, but i don't see us moving in the direction of a national body that would administer our flags flags -- national elections. as all america votes today, not just the presidency we're voting for. we have obviously candidates at all the different levels of government down to local, state, members of our congress, members of our u.s. senate who are being
elected today. so by design each jurisdiction has to have its own rules. >> let me just add to that. right after the berlin wall fell, with my work with an organization called the international republican institute which i started back in 1983, and the national endowment for democracy i traveled all over the world speaking to emerging democracies and the first thing that i tell them is do not try to emulate what we do in the united states of america. every country must develop a system that is acceptable to the people, which takes into effect the culture and mores of that society. ours has been around couple hundred years and works for us. there are rough spots here and there and works for us and accepted by our people. it is not perfect but pretty close to perfect. i think what you see today to get on buses going out to polling places, you will see almost every state there is a
person who you must go up to when you want to vote. and they will ask you your name. most states require some sort of identification. but at that same table will be be representative of the republican party and democratic party who have right to sit there. and they're checking off. every state is a little different as mike says. our system works for us. it shouldn't be emulated by anyone. >> let's go to the left for two questions. in the back. this can't be the shy side of the room. way over here. >> hi, thank you for taking my question. i'm from canada. as you know we recently had federal elections, a year ago at this time, i was wondering with all the travel you've done and election systems you observed is there anything you wanted you think you could incorporate the u.s. would improve the system you've seen abroad.
anything? one other question from this side, please. i'm having trouble, hands, over here, in front. >> i'm from sri lanka. you mentioned at each table, there are member of the representative of the republican party around representative of the democratic party, present. are you not making concrete the system of two parties? what about third party who has has some following in this country? >> mike? >> if they qualified in that state, they're on the ballot in that state, they have right to have someone there also, okay? with regard to the first question, i think if you asked americans today, what we could
gain looking at other countries the way they do things, 90% would say, please, make it shorter. please let's not have four years of this. let's make it shorter. unfortunately that is not going to happen. our constitution provides freedom of speech and people will start speaking. tomorrow will be the start of the next campaign of 2020. >> just to really emphasize what frank said, the ability of a political party representative to be present at the polls, to observe the voting is extended to any party that is on the ballot. i think in most states, correct, frank? so if you, we have for example, i vote nearby here in the state of maryland. we have on our ballot -- >> people's republic of maryland we call it in republican party. >> we have multiple candidates lizzed on the ballot.
not just four we described. we have other people qualified for ballot in maryland. representatives of green party or libertarian party would be entitled to have a poll watcher there. the two major political parties do this as part of mechanism for turned out the vote, what we call get-out-the-vote g-o-t-e. they go on the mechanism for turnout. back to the first question, we have, you know, not, not a very impressive rate of voting monk monk -- among people who are eligible to vote in this country. we get in the federal election, what, frank, 67 to 70%. >> you would hope, you would
hope. will be interesting this time. >> 55 or 60. >> 70 is a little high. >> at best, mr. sweeney says. so, you know, that's a pretty stunning statistic. that, you know, almost half of those who are eligible to be participating in this democratic process today choose not to. they're entitled to choose not to. they might be turned off. they might not want to participate but there are systems that have required voting. and there are sometimes part of me says i would really like for people to feel like it is part of their citizenship duty to participate in these elections. whether we legislate something like that as it is legislated in some of your countries i just don't know. probably not given our system and fierce independence many
people want to v we feel that is something we would incorporate. there are other systems, this is maybe true in canada that make it far easier to be registered to vote. it becomes almost automatic process. so states here in the united states, where if you apply for your driver's license you simultaneously can register to vote. there are ways which that happened. we have also had in this country a very sad history of discrimination, particularly people of minorities. we still have states in which the justice department supervises and monitors electoral participation because of history we had going back to jim crow laws that really prohibited participation by african-americans in particular. so, there are things that i think we could do to certainly improve our electoral process here in the united states. >> i would actually like to see
election day be made a holiday. so people wouldn't have to worry, how can i vote, how can i get there, that sort of thing. suddenly come to that conclusion that would be in the best interests of the public. >> or voting even on weekends. why do we pick second tuesday? >> weekends you're starting to interfere with golf. >> or football. >> i will ask the speakers to restrain themselves. one comment about observers, depending on the state law, you will also have ngo or non-parton ises such league of women voters or cause-oriented groups from the environment or other interests have registered observers in addition to representatives of the political parties and candidates on the ballot. so just as in many of our countries you can walk into a voting station there are more on search is and voters, that also
happens in this country, depending on the state law and depending on nature of the contest particularly in that community. >> bill, can i ask something mike and i both forgot to mention in our prepared remarks? that is the commission on presidential debates for the last 20 years have been working with countries all over the world, many countries represented in this room in helping train people to create the same sort of entities in your, in those countries so that there will be presidential debates or whatever the office might be called, before elections take place. in fact at the final debate in las vegas, we had 50 representatives from third five countries who have these sorts of commissions or creating commissions who are your guests and went through a three-day process of meetings in consultation and also attended the debate. >> i would add that is a very interactive process because when
we go out and assist, provide technical assistance in other countries designing an developing their own debates we get ideas an new things happening we should be aware about in design of our own debates. it is actually two-way, interactive process. >> i would simply second that. i know at least two groups in this audience have had meetings with professional staff and people part of that training process as part of their visit here to washington. we're going back to the far right. we have one question here and question at table hine him. so please here. >> translator: i would like to ask two questions. after twenty years of existence on today's date --. .
about use and abuse about the electoral process. >> i'll start with that second question and work my way to the other questions. we have a very complicated formula that is used in the united states when the incumbent president campaigns for office, in which the costs are a portion on the political side versus the official business side. so there is a reimbursement that comes when president obama has been campaigning the last several days, a portion of the cost of the use of air force one and the travel expenses for this camping trip will be a portion to the political side and will be paid usually by the democratic national committee, the democratic party will pick up the cost. but the president also usually does official business in the
course of travel, and there are people that are required to travel with the president for protection and for assistance and for communication purposes. and those are deemed to be official expenses and they get paid by all american taxpayers. by and large a pretty time-honored system that is worked through different political parties having the white house and the presidency, and it works and is administered by our federal elections commission. there's rarely much dispute about the way in which that happens. going back to the first questioner. i think there are some negative site. we, of course, stress the positive experience of having the two candidates of their to engage each other side-by-side and debate the future of the country. but having been on a candidate side, having helped prepare bill clinton for his debates in 1996,
sometimes there is too much attention to the theatrical aspect of these debates, to the short sound bite that will sound good on television and less on the substantive presentation of a program or ideas or a platform. i think we saw some of that during these debates your the number one recommendation that i'm here from people who watched the debates is they wished the microphone for the candidate who is not the candidate to turn to speak would be turned off so that they're not talking over each other all the time. sometimes the debates themselves were a little chaotic, when hillary clinton and donald trump decided that they want to argue with each other and it was not maybe as orderly as some people would have liked. so i think that's an area where, again come into the candidates debate. it's not our debates, and how they behaved during the debates
is something i think a lot of people in america had some concern about. the other, what problems have we encountered in the 20 years, we relied on the places that host these debates to do an awful lot of work and to raise an awful lot of money, frankly, to help host these debates. so each of the colleges or universities that we pick have to go out and do fundraising to equip the facility, to make the arrangements, to have the security necessary, to arrange transportation and prepare their facility for what is a huge global media event. and i think that becomes difficult. sometimes some of our host sites have had come experienced some difficulty in doing that. so that something that just happens to be our model. the commission of presidential debates doesn't raise all the money necessary to put on these debates. we leave it to the institutions
that we selected to host the debates to do a lot of that work. but i think that is probably in the realm of what's difficult or challenging but the work we do, that would probably be very high on the list. >> let me just add actually longer than 20 years, the commission has been in existence for 29 years. next year will be our 30th anniversary, and things have changed dramatically from when we first started. as you can imagine the campaigns and the parties were not always happy that there was a commission, an outside group coming in in the last months of the presidential campaign and saying he will show up on this night at this place, and you will debate your opponent. they don't like the interference of outside organizations, and so it was at the very beginning chairman kirk and i had with the
candidates and the parties, will be called debate over debates. it was always a question of where it was going to be come when it was going to be, who the moderators were going to be. but slowly we did two steps forward, one back for many, many years into we reached 2000. we reached a point where we picked the dates. we picked the locations. we picked the format, and we picked the moderators without any consultation with the candidates or the political parties. so we have reached a point of total independence, but there was certainly a difficult times in the early years, but thank god that's beyond us. >> before i go to the center, let me follow up with one question i know that has been puzzling people your as more and more americans are voting earlier, and perhaps with the introduction of technology we are going to see even more americans vote earlier either
electronically or on the internet or using other devices, how do you select the debate dates and would you select the debate dates so that the candidates can work their schedules but still have enough time to present their views to the american people and the debates have an impact on that voting decision? and then i will go to the center for the next two questions here. >> well, this cycle is very, very different for both the commission as well as the political parties. historic ally the campaigns, excuse me, the parties have held at their conventions in late august, early september. but because of the early voting factor we knew that four years ago, 40% of the people that voted the for election day. and that number is probably right about where we are right now. the parties moved of their conventions into july, moved them forward.
we also made a change. historically our debates have been in october. we moved the first debate into september but it's a factor that we really are wrestling with, with one of the things that early voting does provide is that challenge. it doesn't do a hell of a lot of good if you're holding the debates after most of the people voted. our function is an educational function. we are trying to help educate the american people as to who the candidates are and why, where they stand on important issues that should be taken into consideration in casting your ballot. so it's something we're going to have to deal with i think, and mike and i and other members of the commission for years from now because i think technology is going to maybe demand that we move those debates a lot more forward. >> our final debate, the third presidential debate, was on october 19. and i think it is true, if i have looked at the literature on
this correctly, that most early voting takes place in the two, two and half weeks before the election date. so there are some states in which you could vote earlier than that. certainly there are some states that allow for absentee ballots to be sent prior to that. but i think most of the quote-unquote early voting probably occurred after our final debate. i've had some people ask me, why was the final debate three weeks ago, three weeks before the election? because they wanted to see trump and clinton presumably debate again, sometimes as we're in the final days of this campaign. but one reason for that is that we, because of early voting and also because the campaigns themselves like to build off of the debates to then present their final arguments to the voters. so we thought october 19, you
know, was it reasonable time to allow the candidates then after the third debate to wrap up and make their final presentations to the voters as they saw fit. but that is something i think as frank indicated will have examined this schedule and think about the reality of the fact that so many millions of americans now are voting earlier than the election day itself your. >> i need to questions from the center. over here. spent thank you. i'm from indonesia. just one question. in the morning i just read in, on tv, cnn, justice department said -- sent to 12 states -- [inaudible] my question is what is the role of the justice department in the
>> asking bill, didn't quite catch the first question but i think the question was, the justice department deploy is people under federal law, civil rights law, to monitor voting patterns and activities in certain states that are covered under provisions of our civil rights act. and i think that they've done that. been deployed people to be on hand and be available if there are allegations of voter intimidation. there are very strict rules about not intimidating people who are exercising their franchise to vote, and that's taken very, very seriously, and there are justice department monitors and people in state law enforcement agencies who are available if there are any allegations that people are being prevented to exercise
their opportunity to vote. so that's taken very seriously, and they think the justice department has made clear that they're going to be engaged in that. on the second set of questions, i didn't quite catch the question about, i think the question was why has it taken so long for the united states to actually seriously consider a female candidate for president. i think that's a peculiarity of the rhythm of our own political cycle and the people who have been available to run. but curiously, the fact that we might in fact elect our first female president, they have received less attention in the public discussion about this campaign than one would have imagined. i think that if mrs. clinton is elected today, there will probably be much more attention going forward on the fact we have made that kind of history today. obviously we'll have to wait and see how that works.
on the question of the disclosure of funding, we have throughout our political system pretty high standards of disclosure at campaign contributions record a candidates and parties, that people who contribute to the commission on presidential debates, which has relatively small budget, because as i mentioned most of the cost of the debates themselves are borne by the colleges and universities that host the debates, but the money that would be raised in a to maintain our staff into some of the work that we do is disclosed in the forms that we file with the internal revenue service of the united states of america. it's a form called form 990 form. most of her contributions that are given are disclosed in that document.
>> frank -- these will be the two last questions. our friend from australia and the lady at the same table, please. >> thank you very much. i am from zimbabwe. my question is on issues relating to -- [inaudible] the public debates have made sure that america gets to know the president will be. from the debates there some kind of character assassination. how does the american system ensure that as the result of these, there is no vote buying afterwards? some have been assassinated through the public debate and goes back to the party to the big donors and gets money to try
and write the bill that has come through. thank you. >> good morning. i'm dennis from the australia and electoral commission. my question is this. if the 2020 election campaigning begins early as you predict, the use of electronic communication could be, predominate as a means of communication to the public, and particularly potential voters. we are told that free speech, there can be little doubt about that, to curb that or control it. but what regulation is there to curb and abuse of that right of free speech? if, for example, parties the groups that counsel be false or misleading information, which was disseminated to the voters, what can be done to prevent that at a national level?
>> frank is deferring, let the press secretary answer that. two very difficult questions, to me, to begin with. and they both go to the unique character of this 2016 presidential election here in the united states. it has not been as uplifting, inspirational occasion in the history of this country. it has been, frankly, one of the meanest and most bitter and most toxic presidential campaigns that i remember. and as bill was gracious enough to say, i've worked on campaigns going back to 1976, usually for the losing candidate by the way. >> thank god.
>> i don't know the answer to the questions that you both post. there has been enormous personal levels of insult, character assassination is what our questioner called it. and it has been among the things that has made this a dispiriting exercise for most americans. i think most americans would agree with the statement that we are happy that this campaign is coming to an end today, because it has not been a good example of what spirited debate looks like in a democracy. i hope and pray that your countries provide the world better examples than we have provided in this election of how people need to conduct themselves in a democracy. so the only hedge against the
kinds of false statements, mistruths, bad information, today there's an article in one of our local newspapers about fake news, news reports that appeared to be real but, in fact, are entirely fabricated. the answer to that for our system is our first amendment to the constitution, and a vigorous free press. the fact that we have the media that can expose lies and falsehoods and character assassination when it occurs, and bring that to the attention of the american people, is the bulwark that we have against things that we take our democracy in a bad direction. now, the relative strength and power of the media has been in decline in this country because of all the changes in media and in technology and the way which people access content here but i think if you talk to journalists and editors and publishers and
producers and executives of our media organizations, they understand the critical responsibility to have to be the watchdogs for the freedom that we have to conduct ourselves as a democracy. and there will be a lot of discussion in the aftermath of this election, in the role the media has played to try to call the candidates on statements that have been made that are not true. and there will probably be a very spirited debate about what types of things should happen the next presidential election to ensure that we don't have as depressing a campaign as the one that is ending today. >> let me end this by saying that whoever wins this election and becomes the next president of the united states, has a tremendous challenge and
opportunity before him or her, whoever wins it. this country is divided as i've never seen it divided, and i've been in politics as long as -- i've been through a lot of presidential campaigns and other campaigns. whoever wins this election has an obligation to try to bring this country back together again. i have tremendous confidence in the american people, tremendous confidence. and the overwhelming majority, in my view, overwhelming majority of republicans, democrats and independents will reach out and support whoever wins this election, trying to get the job done. there will be people who will yell and scream, but they always do, but i am convinced that if the next president uses this as an opportunity to reach across party lines, to stop the deadlock that has existed in the city in washington, d.c. for so
many years, work together, for example, as ronald reagan did with tip o'neill, the speaker of the house, and reaching across party lines to say this also secured a system back in the '80s it gets that sort of opportunity that is before the next president. i have confidence of the american people will rally and will give the president the opportunity to get something done. and i'm hopeful that will happen. thanks so much for you guys coming, and hope you have learned and enjoy your visit. >> please join me in a round of applause for two great american public servants from two great political parties who have devoted their lives to improving the quality of debate and democracy in this country. our country is built on a culture of political trust, the hard work that these two men and their colleagues have done in creating a tradition of the
commission on presidential debates has resulted in the opportunity for all americans to get to know their potential residents, the candidates for resident on a personal basis and make it personal judgment about who they wanted in their homes every day for the next four years on whatever type of media they were consuming. this contribution, and particularly the elegant and, israeli a great way for us now to transfer to the next stage of this conference and go and actually witnessed americans vote. but please join me in one last round of applause from mike mccurry and frank. [applause] >> so i found it fitting, by the way, that our last two questioners sort of reflect the
range we had from australia to zimbabwe, and along the way with all the geographies in between who are attending this conference ask the question. so i get to go back to housekeeping. number one, you need your credential to get on the bus. yes, thank you for waiting it out may. your bus this time is on the white card on the credential. your bus captains have a list of people so please no decide to be independent brokers and start changing your part. that will cause confusion. and we have over 25 buses going around the countryside. you do not need to take the interpretation headsets with you. there will be an interpretation headsets on the bus that you've been assigned to you. we have staff members as well who speak the language of the people who were on the bus. so all of that is fine. again, you do not need to take
this. the interpretation device you find on the bus romme please leave on the bus. they will be looking for them at the end. we have passed out a survey. please fill out the survey and return it to the registration desk. we will have media from a variety of countries from the united states to argentina, kurdistan to mexico, to voice of america, to national public radio. they are looking for opinions. please engage if you so choose. you are all professionals in this space. finally, the way we're going to do this is by bus number. so bus number one and bus number two are now going to proceed out the door. a colleague with an succeed me to do the directions for the following buses. please not everyone go running to the door. we will have enough logistical issues getting through to all of
our buses. the bus number one and bus number two, please proceed to the door to be escorted out to your buses your of us to stay in place. please have your registration before you walk out the door. one final round of applause. thank you both. [applause] [inaudible conversations] [inaudible conversations]
c-span.org or listen to live coverage using the free c-span radio app. >> as the nation elects a new president on tuesday, will america have its first foreign foreign-born first lady or would we have a former president as first gentleman. learn more about the influence of presidential spouses now available in paperback. first ladies gives readers impact of every first lady of american histories. first ladies is well regarded biography series and features interviews with historians.
each chapter offers brief biography of 45 presidential spouses and photos from their lives. first ladies in paperback, published by public affairs is now available at your favorite book seller and also an e-book. >> the clinton campaign filmed a mannequin challenge and tweeted it out this morning. hillary clinton, bill clinton, bon jovi and also john podesta.
that's pretty good. hillary clinton's running mate tim kaine said he wanted to be the first at his polling place, 99-year-old minerva beat him there. i need to to get used to be number two, he tweeted. he then tweeted out his ballot votes, straight democratic ticket. also a third of the senate is up for reelection, new hampshire, republican kelly ayotte tweeted pictures, just voted with my family, happy election day, new hampshire.
>> good evening, welcome to the cato institute, tonight we are debating the question should libertarian vote? sometimes said why there's something rather than nothing. for libertarians politics begin why is there some government rather than no government. for some of us politics also ends there tonight. tonight we are going to ask about a act within namely voting taking affirmative that, yes, libertarians should vote michael
and trevor burrus at the cato center for constitutional studies and cato fellow erin and i'm jason kuznicki and moderating the debate tonight. some ground rule because debates do that. first of all, nothing that you hear here is to be interpreted of an endorsement of a particular candidate or party or ballot measure. we do not take sides on those things. that's not what cato's mission is and so we are going to do our best to avoid that because that's not what we are trying to tell you. the format will be like this, first ten-minute opening station starting with the affirmative and ten 20 minutes of monitor questions where i will ask questions of the panelists in at
earn order and then ten minutes of questions from the audience and i will stress they must be questions and not speeches and following that we will have five-minute closing statements from each side. hopefully, we won't run too far off time but we will do the best we can. without further due, i suppose i should turn it over to our affirmative side. >> thank you, jason, thank you colleagues for participating, thanks all of you for observing this debate. thanks to the folks watching at home. i hope it's interesting and entertaining. maybe just one or the other.a le libertarian community argue against voting. some are here was. three cumulative reasons to vote, one is direct impact on outcome, your indirect influence on other political actors and
what i will call are social influence that michael cannon is tboik to discuss mostly. there's no way, almost no way your vote is going to affect the outcome. again, good people, they haven't thought all the way through. i want to assess briefly the cost and benefits of voting, we will go to the back of the envelope to do some really, really excellent calculation. tuz it take a thousand hours to figure out how to vote? not really because voting is very constrained and if you're a libertarian you probably already know enough about a lot of the issues. maybe it's one to two hours. maybe there's a line, maybe not. most models are that only you're
voting in a presidential and so that's the one that they calculate for. very interesting story by goldman silver one and 60 million and the real interesting study, one and 60 million not worth doing, i'm out of here but another study by a guy named scott alexander assesses the value of that chance of affecting a presidential outcome of $5,000. that's based on the $2 trillion that the bush administration expended in the war, for example. maybe $50 million, the trillion plus expenditure of obamacare. maybe that's worth $5,000. still, i think that's an overestimate. let's take it down by a factor
to $500. of course, that model of presidential vote is not the entirety of it. you have to vote in the senate, maybe the chance of affecting a senatorial race 1 and 3 million. 3 bucks value at that. the house race 1.15. your governor, maybe you can affect things such that's worth $10 to be the deciding vote for your governor. your mayor, whatever the case maybe, the dog catcher, maybe that's worth a buck. initiative campaigns in many states are pretty big deals, california has a nine billion dollar bond issue that being the deciding vote on could be quite valuable. so you're 1 in 1.3 million chance and tweet the numbers any way you want. let's say it's worth 5 bucks. you'll spend a little more time, say 35 minutes, your chance of affecting them are small but the value is quite high. i put 530 bucks here and let's
say it's more like 53. let's say it's a close call. that's direct influence. there's indirect influence. one of my favorite scholars on the question, myself -- [laughter] >> vote, and this comes from experience. michael and i worked on capitol hill so we have some experience. votes are a dazzling roman candle of information supplied to officials, staff, political parties, opinion leaders and can dates to name a few. these witnesses are incorporating information not just outcome but win-loss margins. they are watching margins even if it doesn't elect -- prevent the election of a candidate and incorporate that into action and assessments well beyond election day. we are talking about people who decide to run or decide not to run. we are talking about the parties that decide to get behind candidates or not and reporters who write different based on candidates or parties based on
all of this. we are talking about leaders and donors. i haven't quantified it like the -- like the direct influence, but there's also social influence and i will hand the microphone over to michael cannon to continue with that topic. >> well, thank you, jim. thank you, erin and trevor and jason and all of you. libertarians has defeated every threat on the planet and the only thing to discuss is whether libertarians should vote and if you're a libertarian us that does not care about making the world a better place and wants to complain and want to turn people off of libertarian ideas, if you want to confirm about libertarians basement dwellers that don't care not only about themselves but you should blog about how useless one vote is and insinuate the people who vote are sill ri, -- silly,
irrational. if you're the one that wants to make a better place, yeah, you should vote. jim has talked about the benefits of voting in terms of influence on financial cost perspective. it could be rationale for you to vote. are even greater than jim suggest. voting has value apart from its direct effect on totals for various candidates and referendum and a lot of people see voting as an act of caring. so here is a thought experiment. supposed an african-american mother approaches you with a campaign flyer and asks you to vote in the presidential election because she fears for her sons that if donald trump wins the policing nationwide, a significant share of african americans already believe that
libertarians are full of it and only care about preserving white privilege. if you tell her, i agree with you, but i don't vote. now, let me tell you why libertarians are your real friends. what do you think she's going to think? is her mind going to be open your idea after you told her or a latino and the federal government deporting her grandmother, if you give her the same answer, what is she going to believe that the lib ibs are her friends? would you believe it? if you don't vote, people will think you're selfish. it not only applies to you but every libertarian that listens to you, you might persuade to become a libertarian. erin and trevor have thousands of obedient followers on tweeter, one more. there we go.
thousands of obedient followers on twitter, if they broadcast that voting is a good idea, there are thousand of twitter followers will vote give or take. if they broadcast that smart people don't vote, obedient followers won't vote so the decision to make not voting your thing affects more than one vote. what if all libertarians made not voting their thing, what -- pj, charles murray, matt, kennedy, we've got gary johnson there, john s, the drew carry. if they decided, voting is irrational and not going to have an impact and they broadcast that message to their twitter followers a lot of them are going to be libertarians, we are going to depress the libertarian vote even more and what about --
what if ken did the same thing, what if matt who a lot of people, the creators of south park who people suspect are libertarians, we are libertarians or steven colbert, should they encouraging followers not to vote, pretty soon you're talking about significant number of votes not showing up in general elections, not showing up in primary election which is are more important or even in the polls of likely voters because pollsters screen for whether you voted or not or likely to vote in the next election and that's going skew how politicians and if you don't vote, libertarians don't vote, then their views won't show up in public opinion surveys of likely voters which are most influential surveys that politicians pay most attention to but they could show up if libertarians pay the cards
right. glen is not actually dead, he's a writer in hollywood now and wrote this just a week ago and glen writes that the whole question is a collective problem. libertarians would all be better off if they all voted because we would be able to pull political parties and policy outcomes in a more libertarian direction and the individual libertarian has a big incentive not to vote because if i don't vote, i get to spend time doing other things and you're right, it's not likely to affect the ultimate outcome. but if every libertarian follows that incentive and chooses not to vote, then we are all worse off. we don't move policy. everyone else that believe in liberty and equal dignity for some and not all adept to this problem the way humans usually do but creating a social norm that people should do the social beneficial thing.
this dilemma is a repeat game. the strategy not to affect but coordinate. there are principle reasons why not to vote and i vote that libertarians who oppose voting re-examine there. jim said we should close with shameless pandering, offered picture of newborn son. i have three kids, he told me his is cuter. [laughter] >> thank you. [applause] >> in fairness, the other side has some adorable kids too and i am going to allow them now ten minutes to make their case. >> well, thank you, thank you, jason. thank you for jim for coming with this event and michael for joining -- for letting me join on. ly start with basics jim went over already but i want your vote does not matter to be very
clear about this in most situations. these article he cited is still the gold standard, one and 60 million chance of deciding a presidential election. that's a general chance if you are in california and you're voting republican it can go up to 1 and a billion. in terms of expected value, this is a different question. you're one and a billion chance times the possibility that something is going to get passed and how you have to run the numbers, jason in his book ran the number and came up with 2.5 times 10, 2,450 third power for your vote to actually make a difference on expected value. of course, those are relatively close election ifs it's a run away victory in 1994 for reagan or 1936 for roosevelt it's different no. single vote has ever decided a presidential election. and despite jim's argument about margins and turnout. it's the same problem. you do not meaningly contribute to margin.
no politician said i won for .00017. if i would have won by .0018 i would have had a mandate. that has never happened once in human history. a 2001 paper they looked congressional and state elections since 1988 and 40,000 state elections of about a billion votes they found 7 that were decided by a single vote. there was one congressional election decided by a single vote and that was in 1910 race in buffalo about 41,000 votes cast, but upon recount, the single vote disappeared. which gets me to bush v gore, you might be thinking your single vote matters because of bush v. gore f a presidential comes down to 500 votes, it will be decided by courts and lawyers and not the actual voters. the facts are not reasonable being up for debate. you have not mattered in every
election you have voted in. it's a wonderful life, george bailey situation and i can take you back and look at the world at what happened in all election this is you didn't vote in and it would be the exact same world but you would have more time because you didn't vote. we should reframe the question. why should libertarians do unquestionably ineffective activity at least in so far as the outcomes are concern, you think about it that way, well, there's a lot of reasons why not to do ineffective activity. anything effective is a good reason why not to do ineffective activities. rain dances are ineffective, why don't you rain dance? because it's ineffective. why don't you vote, because it's ineffective. that seems weird. which is odd, you all know that your vote doesn't matter so it's weird that probably most of you on the other side from erin and i and we are the weirdoes in the room which is also weird, so what makes us weird? what matters is what michael pointed out, yes, your vote doesn't matter but voting in the
aggregate matters, that's a true statement that we are not going to be addressing today, voting on mass obviously matters. we are reframing the question slightly to ask whether or not it is wrong for a libertarian to abstain from voting and the answer to that question is no. i want to reiterate what trevor said, we are not making the case that libertarians should on stain from voting, we are not saying that it is wrong for libertarians to vote. if your vote is mathematically meaningless we don't care what you're doing with it. instead we reject the idea with choosing not to vote, choosing to abstain from an election is nothing to be ashamed of. we believe that there are reasonable arguments for abstaining. the argument between jim harper and me began when i wrote an essay laying out some of the morally troubling that people recognized. people responded do not vote.
that's what we are pushing back on. veg tar ains abstain from eating meet because they are morally troubling aspects to it and cut benefits and tastiness and perhaps health. they do this knowing full well that any individual's decision to not eat meat won't save the life of a single animal yet we don't take as evidence that they are behaving irrationally. what about jehova witnesses, do we condemn for not fulfilling their civic duty? are their principles strong e or better than ours? yes, your vote does not have an impact in the country and doesn't take much time or effort but that doesn't mean it's without cause. voting has deep symbolic meaning in our culture and that symbolic mean asking overplaid and wrong-headed.
trevor and i are weird as many of colleagues here at cato because we have a fundamentally different view of the state for most people in washington. we believe the state's authority has moral limits and that there's a private spear of choice that's not allow today penetrate. during nearly everything we vote on, very nearly everything the presidential candidates have said they would do falls outside the bounds of libertarian principle, voting is symbolicically signing onto what those people will do in your name. given the outcome would be profoundly unlibertarian, that's not something i'm willing to do like eating meat to vegitarian won't make government worse and allows me to maintain principles to live my sense of justice, which is important because i owe it to the world to make it better and i can do that in part by pushing back against the
history like incoherent view most americans have about the moral and cause of waitingness of voting. that makes me weird, i admit. >> it's not people have been talking about the dangerous of voting since the american founding, james madison was terrified of voters so he ordered filtered mechanisming. progressives were terrified of voters so they started creating administrative state to be isolated from politics. all while our government has growb to be powerful organization in the history of human kind controlling our daily lives to an almost unimaginable and unacceptable degree and making us hate each other in the process. why can't do it this while voting, of course? many things we vote are beyond legitimate
power of the government. can have real costs that people raise voting to the civic engagement which many do ignore other types of civic engagement. for many when president obama entered office, it was like a mesia, he would fix things the movement from the left mostly disappeared partly because of partnership but partly because obama was going to take care of it because voting is perceived to support the government. it can be very dangerous as we see in every people's republic of in the world. hitler versus stalin, don't vote. what if they held an election and nobody came? those who would vote for the lesser evaluate are only giving
an ability to say however many people vote that had the people chose me and to claim legitimacy. my vote doesn't matter -- your vote doesn't matter, my nonvote doesn't matter. let's agree that both are symbolic, you can vote for the candidate you enjoy and feel doing duty and i don't. i symbolically nonvote. it's important for me to stand up and say what's wrong with voting on the things that we do. if there's a national referendum on a national haircut and we started having a discussion about whether or not you're going to get the hippy or marine and people started coming out, make your voice heard, put up signs in your yard, don't you believe in democracy? someone has to stand up and say we do not vote about these things. loudly and without shame and honestly and will be the ones who do that. thank you. [applause] >> so thank you to both sides.
i will now be asking each side questions. i will alternate from one side to the other. i will, however, tolerate some cross-examination and some back and forth here because i think that's healthy and i trust that my colleagues hear me sufficiently to respect my authority. so first question, first question is to the negative side, i can imagine your argument making the opponents of libertarianism very happy, if you don't vote the median voter is that much less libertarian and the median voter always carries the election, what do you say to that? >> well, so if i personally do not vote, there is some sort of probably computer at nasa that can figure out how much the median voter actually change because it would be a small amount. i'm talking about myself. if all libertarians don't vote, michael is trying to convert it into a question about voting
mattering, voting on mass matters which we are resisting our point is that it's not wrong for libertarians to not vote and other ways of trying to do social change other than voting and changing people's minds about what voting can do in terms of how much it can change government is beneficial and can change the median voter too. >> i would also argue that the question about the median voter is rerelated to jim's arguments about adding -- giving a cost to how much our cost might benefit us or other people and they assume that the candidate they would be voting for stands some chance of winning. and if that -- if those arguments worked they would seem to push in the direction of being obligated as a libertarian not just to vote but to vote for someone, say one of the two major party candidates who can win as oppose to throwing your vote away as opposed to like
gary johnson or another independent candidate who stands no chance of whipping and that's your vote, no chance and influencing things in one direction or another. >> can i ask jim a question? >> if it's germane to the -- >> what do you think -- mike's argument that throwing your vote away is irrelevant because you're about looking good, jim, what do you think about throwing your vote away? vote effectively or just vote. >> you should vote your conscious. because of the signaling that it throws out in so many different directions. >> a vote for a third-party candidate is not a thrown away vote. if what you're trying to do is build support for that perspective over time, and the way you do that is by having more votes in that column this year than you did last year or the year before. >> one way you do that. >> and you can't just assume
that other people don't exist and we are only talking about trevor because trevor influences more people than just trevor. trevor has more than what you think and we can't assume that you're making all of the decisions in a vacuum and that other people don't exist, so a vote for a third-party candidate is only a thrown away vote if you think the only thing that matters is whether your vote will be the deciding vote on who gets to be president or who wins this election this year. >> i'm going to move on to the next question. this is for affirmative side. ci also imagine your argument making the opponents of libertarianism very, very happy because if all libertarian ains -- the decision would be perhaps to have more of a popular mandate, after all, you voted, this is a collective decision in which you have participated,
what do you say to that? >> i think the whole argument that voting symbolically, legitimizes or makes -- what the government does or makes us responsible for what the government does is nonsense. democracy is like two wolves and a sheep on what to have for lunch. the sheep schemes, i vote no. there's nothing -- you can vote for whoever you want, for whatever reason you want, what a vote is you are registering your opinion about how the -- your influence such as and you say i don't want to use power, if you want to send the message, you can do that. lisa: >> there's nothing legitimizing about that. it doesn't make you responsible
for what the leaders elected by all the other people do with that power. >> in brief, i want to -- before i get to my answer, i want to discuss some points of agreement among us, erin and trevor each said that they were weird and that's one point of agreement. [laughter] >> but i do think, but i do think that the example of the national haircut was a barb thrown in the direction of the bald guy. maybe some where on the government side says look at all the voting participation that there is, therefore the outcome is valid. but that is a minor and rarely used signal as compared to the margins of victory and loss in
the electoral races themselves because those are used by congressional staff, funders, future candidates and signals given off by margin of victory is much more powerful in many different instances than the ratifications of the democratic process. >> can i respond briefly? >> yeah. on the sheep it seems perfect reasonably, i vote no, you don't get to vote on this. this is not the kind of thing that we vote about. voting that people don't use coercive force seems more ballot initiatives where should we make x illegal yes or no or no, we should not make it illegal, but certainly doesn't seem to apply to candidates or anyone who has a reasonable chance of winning because they are -- they may
have some things that are libertarian but they are going to do lots of things that that are not. thirdly, for the social signaling perspective, my sense is that people take voting unseriously, so writing in mickey mouse or writing in a pretend candidate or writing in at least as offensive and off putting than abstaining from voting. >> is this all you require of me so that you don't think i'm a weirdo? >> leave ballot blank. is that better? >> do you have a yes or no and then maybe move on. >> i'm not sure what the yes or no -- >> is it okay to just go to the ballot box and cast the blank ballot to satisfy the
requirements? >> the benefits of signaling? >> the degree of signaling improves if you voted for one of the candidates as oppose mickey mouse, if you write a legitimate person and say this was my choice, you're telling the person that you're talking to this you're trying to bring to your side, i too care about our community, we are together on that, come my way on the substantive issues. >> if i can respond to a point that erin made, i don't think that it does -- i don't think that it only applies to ballot initiatives. when we are voting for candidates for office, we are selecting between different people and deciding who is going to get all of the preexisting powers that exist in the apparatus and this particular office and i don't think it gets legitimizing or that it -- that it validates the things that the candidate i didn't vote for did
and even the candidate that i did vote for does. if what i'm trying to do is i'm trying to cast a vote for the candidate that i think is going to do the least bad stuff with all of the awful powers government shouldn't have. >> do you say that to jehova witnesses? >> that they should vote for the least bad? depends on -- i think that nonlibertarians should not vote, depends on how libertarian. [laughter] >> i'm going to move on. i have a question for the negative side. why if you are unhappy that we are having this debate. we have been told that we risk making ourself look odius to the american public, your point to rain dances may be true that rain dances are ineffective at generating rain but rain dances serve additional function which is social cohesion.
in times of crisis and periodically even without crisis, communities perform rituals to bind themselves as a community. what do you say about to the ritual function of voting? >> some of those rituals are child sacrifice too. we can actually waive the ritual and morality of ritual. i think that voting pulls us apart in a very specific way. politics mace us worse as erin and i often say and it makes us worse because of the things that we are voting about. if you -- if a hillary supporter and a trump supporter live next door to each other, they can live next door to each other because they're not in a world of property rights because they are not trying to control each other's lives but as soon as you have them voting about what children are going to learn, evolution or creation or whether or not they're going to -- what kind of healthcare plan they are going to have, they start hating each other and i think that the hatred that exists in america's directly proportional to the
size of government. preparing for this debate i was looking for texts about principle nonvoteing. the ones i found were on christian texts. they were all jehova witnesses, writing about why they don't vote and common one is it makes me hate my fellow man and i do not follow jesus' commandment to love thy enemy when i'm involved in a political system trying to control each other's lives. i think we have the better argument. >> actually i think that argument that you just made argues against your position. and here is why. what divides is not the act of voting or the act that -- the fact that we have different preferences when we go into the ballot box about that hair cat or this haircut or creation versus evolution is the