Should voting be mandatory in America?

  A few years ago, William A. Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, recommended that several of our states experiment with the idea of requiring by law that citizens participate in the democratic process of self-government. It hasn’t happened yet, but the idea likely persists in some quarters. Jury duty is mandatory; why not voting? The idea seems vaguely un-American. Maybe so, but it’s neither unusual nor undemocratic. And it would ease the intense partisan polarization that weakens our capacity for...

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Whether you vote is a matter of public record, but how you vote is not

After tomorrow’s midterm elections, anyone who wants to bother can find out if you voted. But no one can find out which candidates you voted for unless you tell them. You see, the secret ballot remains a cornerstone of the democratic process in America. But the Republican National Committee seems to think that the good folks of Iowa are not entirely aware of this situation. The RNC is peddling the notion that how a person votes, not just whether they vote, is public information. The story is...

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Does trend among early voters portend good news for Democrats in midterm elections?

With only a few days left in the midterm campaign season, the conventional political wisdom remains that Republicans are likely to gain control of the U.S. Senate — and I have no good reason to dispute that contention. But neither do I think it’s a lead-pipe cinch. More than a few analysts are hedging their bets, mainly because polls indicate close races in certain states. Then, too, there’s THIS: More than 20 percent of the nearly three million votes already tabulated in Georgia, North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa have come...

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Chance that Dems will win Senate equal to your chance of rolling 9, 10, 11 or 12 with two dice

As I’ve evidenced here on previous occasions, the one exception to my record as a poor student of mathematics is my fascination with laws of probability. That’s why I’m a big fan of Nate Silver and Sam Wang, the celebrated political numbers-crunchers. I pride myself, for example, in understanding that if Silver or Wang see a 60 percent likelihood that Candidate A will defeat Candidate B in the coming election, that doesn’t mean that Candidate A has a 20-point lead in the polls. On the contrary, a 20-point lead in the...

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Polling analyst Nate Silver says Democrats needn’t push the panic button — not yet, anyway

Celebrated numbers-cruncher Nate Silver says the FiveThirtyEight model on which he bases his political forecasts still indicates a close race for control of the U.S. Senate after the November midterm elections. Silver, like most other polling analysts, says Senate control will pivot on the outcome of elections in a handful of states. Democrats are not sitting as pretty as they were a few weeks, he notes, but it’s not yet time for them to push the panic button. Silver EXPLAINS: [T]here’s still a lot of campaigning to do, and one should...

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