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Buy my vote, philosophy prof says

Tim Lee / Staff Photographer
By Meghan Coppinger

People can sell clothes, food and cars …Why not votes?

A lesson on the legalization of voting markets was given by a College philosophy professor at the last politics forum of the semester on Thursday, Nov. 17.

Associate Professor James Stacey Taylor challenged the illegal concept of candidates “buying” support from voters in an election.

“How many vote to influence the outcomes of an election?” Taylor asked the audience.

“Poor, misguided people,” he said to the students who raised their hands in response.

Taylor believes that the vote of an individual person is very unlikely to influence the final outcome of an election, and therefore people don’t gain anything from voting, he said.

However, the professor gave his audience a new idea: People would gain something through voting if candidates were allowed to purchase votes.

When asked if this was a good idea, not one audience member raised a hand.

“Most people would be made better off,” Taylor said of the idea of buying and selling votes.

Markets in voting do not exist at this time, but people would be more likely to vote for a particular person if money was an incentive, he said.

Taylor then asked audience members if they would be willing to vote for a party with unconventional ideas, such as the Neo-Nazi party, if the candidates were willing to pay voters more money than Republicans and Democrats.

The audience responded that they would not because of their unpopular values.

Taylor said he believed the audience had responded like most people would. According to Taylor, voters would consider the values of political parties offering lower amounts of money to pay voters. People will look at the price and policies, he noted.

“You won’t sell your vote to the party offering the highest price,” Taylor said.

With this agreement, voters would still be paid to vote for candidates with similar values, and the candidates would receive votes to win, according to Taylor. Therefore, everyone is satisfied.

“It’s a beautiful situation,” he said.

If markets, such as voting markets, are banned, people do not have access to options they might wish to pursue, Taylor said.

Voters would rather have a small amount of financially and politically beneficial choices, he said, than have a large amount of choices from which they do not receive anything.

“I think we’re in the worst of all possible worlds,” Taylor said. “We have a coercive government and no markets in votes. … The best option would be to have no markets in votes, but we get rid of governments.”

“It was eye-opening,” sophomore Steve Campeau said following the lecture. “I thought this was very interesting. He made a great point.”


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