American Culture

Poll: Students would sell their votes. And you?

You know all those campaigns to encourage the young folks to vote? Participate in the political process? Engage in democracy? You know, the “Rock the Vote” campaigns and such? Voter registration drives?

A poll of more than 3,000 students by a New York University journalism class may prompt one to ask: Why bother?

Although 90 percent of respondents said voting is “very important,” many attached as much economic as democratic value to the vote:

• Two-thirds would trade a vote for year’s tuition.
• Half would trade their vote permanently for $1 million.
• A fifth would trade their vote for an iPod Touch.


Their reasoning varied:

“At the moment, no candidate who truly represents my political beliefs has a chance of winning a presidential election.”

“It is very easy to convince myself that my vote is not essential. After all, I’m from New York, which will always be a Blue State.”

“I would be reversing history — a lot of people fought so that every citizen could be enfranchised.”

“Anyone who’d sell his lifelong right to vote should be deported.”

But … before we start beating up on the young’uns for their churlishly economic tendencies, shouldn’t we give the same poll to some of us presumably idealistic adults who purportedly cherish the right to vote as the foundation of democracy?

Me? I’m holding out for a year’s worth of mortgage payments. How about you?

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6 replies »

  1. I look at the current crop of likely candidates and I WISH somebody would offer me a million bucks for my vote. That way at least SOMEbody besides fat cats would be profiting from the system.

  2. It’s not the kids who devalue the vote, it’s those who make a fraud of both the political and voting process.

    Besides, some of the poll responders may rationalize selling their vote by believing that they can do more with the money than with a vote that may be worth nothing.

    That’s one of those polls that just sets up the respondents to look bad. Check out Huffington Post, where Arianna Huffington has just announced “HuffPo’s Polling Project.”

    She “decided to turn the tables by launching a wide-ranging effort to scrutinize an industry devoted to scrutinizing us.”

  3. $50 million, tax free. This leaves me free to buys Sam’s vote and still have $49 mill left so that I can be a member of Congress.

    Or start a record label that releases music that doesn’t suck – or conform to narrow genre strictures whose sole purpose seems to be to separate us from each other.

    I can see now I’m going to have to raise my price….

  4. A years tuition? Makes sense to me. That is the kind of issue a student would be voting for someone to address anyway.

    A million dollars? It is not what it used to be but it gets you through school with a nice chunk of seed money. There are more effective ways to influence elections and policy than casting a single vote.

    The ipod thing? 20% is well below the percentage of the general voting eligible public who give their vote away for nothing by not using it.

    Kid are not stupid, they never have been. They deal with the world they see. Every generation blames their kids first and then the old before they accept responsibility for anything.

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