Say no to polls!
Tired of this?
Around the world, many people have given their life in the quest for the right to a secret ballot.
Yet in the US, the majority of people who are eligible to vote just don't.
It is easy to understand some of the frustration of the average non-voter.
So here's the plan. When asked who you are voting for, refuse to answer, or if you feel really mean, lie.
If someone asks you who you are voting for in the voting booth, or links your vote to your name, they are committing a federal crime. However, if someone calls you up, they can just ask you who you plan to vote for, and expect you to answer, and then people make decisions based on your answer.
But here's the point: While it is not (nor should it be) illegal to call you and ask your opinion, it is NOT illegal to not answer...or even lie!
A poll works by sampling a small number of people, and from that, infers the opinions and outcomes of the population as a whole.
The size of the sample and how closely it reflects the reality of the people who actually end up voting in an election determine the "margin of error".
The "margin of error" indicates how much confidence the poll taker has in the results. If Candidate A polls to have 51% of the decided vote, and Candidate B has 49%, but the margin of error is 5%, you really can't say that Candidate A is in the lead, as the two percent difference (or one percent changing their mind!) is well within the margin of error.
Don't obsess too much on the meaning here. The point is to predict how the election will turn out. Yet, polls regularly change beyond the margin of error within the election cycle, and the results often don't match the polls. Don't get me wrong, statisticians actually have very good processes in place, and their numbers mean very precise things; the problem is by the time it filters through the media and through politicians (both professions are filled with people who regularly profess they "did poorly in math"), most of the meaning is lost.
The goal of this project is to widen the margin of error. We want to make it so that not only is there an "undecided" block, but a block that has decided, but isn't telling. Or might even be lying!
Look what that does to the numbers. Again, let's say we have a 51/49 split in our poll, except we suspect that two percent of the polled people are lying about their preference, we just don't know who. Now the actual results could be anywhere from 53/47 (a lead outside the margin of error) to 49/51 (the opposite of the poll results).
And, we want people to know we are doing this. We want the media, the public and the politicians to know this is going on, not just the poll takers.
Q: Who put you up to this?
A: Personal disgust at what is going on. I.e., the media helped a lot. Notice how much time they spent talking about who's ahead of whom, who's up and down this month/week/day/hour, and the various gaffs, rather than the positions of the candidates?
Q: Who is funding this?
A: two relatively ordinary people. One wacko right-winger, one wacko left-winger (who are actually fairly moderate as far as wackos go, and for the most part agree in the goals, just completely disagree in the means to the goals). It's just a website running on servers we already have. Total marginal investment is about that of a couple decent meals. We are cheap dates.
Q: How much influence do you think you will have in the poll results?
A: That would take a poll to find out. And if we succeed, the results would be completely wrong.
Q: If I refuse to answer a poll, won't they just put me with the
A: Today, probably, yes. However, as people, media and candidates realize that there is a segment of the population that just won't play along with polls, they will start to demand that the undecided voters be separated from the refuse-to-answer people. These are two very different groups as far as politicians and media are concerned. People who are undecided are the TARGET of media campaigns -- these are the people who can be influenced. However, those that are decided, but just not telling are wasted effort.
Q: Won't they get pissed off at me for not answering their poll?
A: Yeah. They may decide to quit calling you. Imagine, eating dinner in peace. It might be horrible.
Q: Do you really think reducing the accuracy of polls will cause the
media and canidates to focus on issues rather than popularity?
A: Sadly, no. But it might help.
Q: Isn't lying to people wrong?
A: Probably. If you don't like lying to poll takers, just tell them you refuse to answer.
Q: How can I help?
A: Spread the word. However, send your friends a LINK to this website, don't e-mail them the contents, and don't just forward on the e-mail someone sent you. Copy and paste either of these addresses:
Q: How are you making money off this?
A: We don't anticipate making a dime off this. However, if you wish to make us both filthy rich to shut down our message, we may be willing to talk.
Q: Will you take advertising?
A: No, we do not wish to sell advertising, trade links, etc.
Q: Can I link to/Tweet your site?
A: of course. We couldn't stop you if we wanted to.
Q: Who are you? How can we contact you?
We are Mike Burden (the wacko left-winger) and Nick Holland (the wacko right-winger). You can reach us both at