Getting Out The Vote

The election period for the Council of Stellar Management is nearing its end. At 2359 on the 18th of April, UTC time, they close. The elections opened on the 4th of April. At the risk of stating the obvious, when political scientists look at voting patterns, we find that those that vote early are the highly motivated voters. They tend to be the ones that follow the issues, at least the ones they care about, and make their voting choices right around when the candidates are finalized. Some of these voters make their decision before, identifying with a party and would vote the party line barring an unpalatable candidate. For the Americans in the readership today, this is why Romney lost. In EVE, these voters tend to be members of nullsec blocs, wormhole pilots as a whole, and, last election, the faction warfare pilots. As the election gets closer, the undecideds are low information, low motivation voters. This translates to a vast majority of EVE players. High security dwellers and solo low security pirates, for example, are less likely to vote in an election.

In traditional politics, especially in single member districts, there is a significant get-out-the-vote effort. They focus a majority of their efforts on election day, because those that have not voted in early voting are more likely to agree to vote for the candidate that hands them a flyer and offers to drive them to the polling place. The get-out-the-vote effort is not really present in EVE, not by candidates, at least. For one thing, the ground game - the team of volunteers who contact voters and encourage them to vote - just doesn't exist for most candidates who are not in a major block. Mike Azariah, for example, does not have several dozen volunteers that are going to help corral voters. (If he does, they are doing a miserable job, as none of my alts have received so much as an in-game mail.) Again, this is an artifact of the voting system in America. The single member district model forces the formation of two dominant parties that can lead to some very close races, especially in larger districts.

The CSM elections are not single member district election, but rather elected at large using a plurality voting method, sometimes called first past the post. In other words, the candidates with the most votes are elected. They don’t have to get a majority of the votes cast--to date none have. Not even the venerable Mittani got a majority of votes. The large field--this year there are thirty-one candidates competing for fourteen seats--also is an impediment to low information, low motivation voters. They simply will not spend the time sorting through the candidates to come up with even a handful to put on the ballot, much less a full slate of fourteen.

Another reason why low information, low motivation voters bother less with the at large CSM election, including this one with the new voting system, is, outside of block candidates, no feeling of constituency. In America, when someone has a problem they need their congressman to assist with, it is very easy to identify the congressman they should go to. With the at-large election, it is less clear. With the single transferable vote system, this problem is even more exacerbated. No voter outside of a block has a reasonable expectation of constituency services. This is actually a huge part of politics in America. Both constituency services and ‘bringing home the bacon’ are the bread and butter of any politician above the local level.

So, odds are, if someone hasn’t voted by now, they are not likely to, for a variety of reasons. They are all actually rather valid reasons and systemic in nature. There is however, one very, very good reason to vote: the mandate. In traditional politics, especially in a single member district, in the event of a clear cut victory, political scientists will declare the winner has a mandate. This usually happens for national elections, like the presidency. It’s a way of saying that the victor has the clear support of the voters to enact their agenda. A good example would be Ronaldus Maximus Reagan, who won by a landslide in 1980 and again in 1984. A similar mandate was given to Franklin Roosevelt in 1932. Notice during both of these presidencies huge changes occurred in public policy.

A mandate for the CSM is a slightly different animal. The CSM doesn’t make policy, unlike in traditional politics where elections do determine policy. They represent the interests of the players to the developers of the game, CCP. The Mittani’s winning of over ten thousand votes in CSM 7 was not so much a message to other CSM members as to CCP. If he was trying to ‘bully’ the CSM, it would have made more sense to elect as many Goonswarm/CFC candidates as possible. His election, with such overwhelming numbers, was a message to CCP. With that level of support behind him, CCP ignored him at their peril. Of course, he made a joke in front of the wrong crowd and a television camera, and everyone knows the rest.

There is no doubt that CCP looks at the demographics of the votes cast very carefully. They know the percentage of EVE players that cast votes, the ages, gender, how long each voter has been playing. A low turnout diminishes the CSM’s ability to represent the players. There may be a time this year where the CSM has to say to someone at CCP: “Excuse me, but I can buy a gallon of actual paint for less than what you want for a decal on my ship.” If that time comes, it would be best for the CSM to have the weight of the playerbase behind them.

So, as an appeal to anyone that has not voted, and doesn’t feel the need to put forth the effort, just put a few names into your ballot. It doesn’t matter which ones, you can pick at random. Just let it be known that you are invested in this game. Show that it matters. The CSM election is your way of shooting the Jita statue every year.

On hiatus. On Twitter @AlizabethVea