Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Democratic Lottery

vote on who wins the lottery
  (+2, -5)
(+2, -5)
  [vote for,

My idea is a social experiment involving the lottery. It works like your standard state lottery. Tickets cost between $2 and $10. At the end of a certain period, a number is drawn, and the matching ticket wins a few million dollars.

Here's where it's a little bit different. Every ticket buys you a vote, as well as eligibility to win the final prize. There is no draw. Instead, all the votes are counted up, and the person with the most votes wins the prize.

Campaigning is allowed. Corporations can participate in the campaign, but a corporation can't be awarded the prize. It has to be a flesh and blood human being.

This will do a couple of things. It will serve as an experiment about elections where the stakes are clear-cut: only money is at stake. So it serves as a kind of control for studies about how elections work. This will also serve as a testing ground for voting machines and related technology, as well as a test ground for anti-cheating mechanisms.

Bootbuckles, Sep 09 2010


       Lottery escalation - with rich gamblers ready to try and grab %50+1 of the voting power...
Jinbish, Sep 09 2010

       So, I pay 5$ to buy a vote, knowing that my 5$ will go to someone else who has the charisma and financial resources to campaign and secure the most votes?   

       What I'm missing here is why I would do this.
MaxwellBuchanan, Sep 09 2010

       //What I'm missing here is why I would do this.// Logic? Logic!? You think the decision's based on LOGIC? If the purchase of lottery tickets were the act of a rational agent, would anyone buy even ordinary lottery tickets?
mouseposture, Sep 09 2010

       I think it would be interesting from a game theory perspective. Let's say there is a garaunteed jackpot of 1 million dollars. What would be a rational/optimal number of people to syndicate together and nominate a particular individual? If you got together 900,000 people (assuming $1 per entry) you would be pretty certain of winning (and making a 10% net profit), but then there is a possibility that another syndicate with 900,001 people would 'gazump' you (and you'd lose the lot).
xaviergisz, Sep 10 2010

       [xaviergisz] Thinking about this, I've about convinced myself that the question is only interesting if one individual can buy into more than one syndicate -- in which case it seems so complicated I wonder if there's a closed-form solution at all. A Monte Carlo simulation might be fun, though.
mouseposture, Sep 10 2010

       There are lots of interesting possibilities in this game, e.g. individuals lying to the syndicate organiser about who they will vote for, lottery espionage etc (although these are difficult to model).   

       If I were to play this game, I would crush the opposition by buying slightly more (or perhaps less) than $1 million worth of tickets in the first game (and maybe a few games after that). Then once the opposition was completely demoralised, I'd start buying less and less tickets; $900,000 then $800,000 etc. . At some point I would lose, but hopefully I would come out ahead overall.
xaviergisz, Sep 10 2010

       In essence, isn't this exactly how ordinary shares work? Loads of schmucks buy into a company and receive a small dividend in return for their vote, meanwhile the chief executive and the board members walk away with the big prizes.
DrBob, Sep 10 2010

       DrBob has it right. But if you called share-holders "schmucks," that might be bad for business.
ldischler, Sep 10 2010

       // buys you a vote //   

       Doesn't parliament already work like this ?   

       It's often said that "British MPs are the best that money can buy".   

       Widely known to exist, at so many levels.
8th of 7, Sep 10 2010

       What would the ballot paper look like?
pocmloc, Sep 10 2010


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