“Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” -Ben Franklin
Democracy tends to work better as the number of people participating decreases, but it is fundamentally flawed. But if we are going to cooperate as a species given the set of all possible conflicts, it is a reasonable solution. Even further, it is the solution forced upon us by our betters. In most people’s minds, Democracy is the machinery of our Republic. Certainly, a romantic idea at best and a filthy lie at worst.
I used to think that voting was just for show; a proverbial bone the ruling class would throw us plebes every few years so we would think there was such a thing as “consent of the governed”. In other words, casting a vote for the chief executive was akin to electing President of the Student Council. No one is under the illusion that this office has any real power at the Student Council level. Whether or not duly elected officials have any power is still up for debate in my book, but, thanks to the proliferation of media sources, my eyes are certainly opening to the very flawed process in which the will of the People is expressed. Anything worth doing is, at least, worth doing half-assed and U.S. elections aren’t even getting close to that level.
The lack of any remediation from the courts is greatly exacerbating the situation. Maybe there are some cards left to play there, but it seems like “the Establishment” just wants to put all this nastiness behind them. I use that term “Establishment” because it generally denotes the rank and file of elected and unelected officials that are not actively pursuing free, fair and transparent elections. A better term is “The Default” (coined by me) and “The Cathedral” (not mine). The Default always suffers from the diffusion of responsibility. This is a dreadful condition where a person drowns in a river with 50 onlookers unwilling or unable to help. Why/How could this happen? “I thought someone else would do it”, “I didn’t want to get involved”, “I was worried about being sued” are the refrains from the chorus. Answers like this are self-soothing, but utter horse shit. They all know the truth.
If the ruling elite expect the governed to have any faith in the outcome of elections through voting, action must be taken as a result of this debacle.
We can do one of two things at this point. We can investigate the truth and do nothing or we can get to the truth and fix the problems. It is my contention that The Default plans to do the former because there is very little risk in the short term. To find and fix the problem would reveal to them that they are responsible for an injustice and it is hard to live with that if your self-image is one of a good person.
So let’s start with the supposition that we have a set of voting processes that can be improved, in general. Can we design a better process? Clearly, the answer is yes.
Next, we need to define design principles that express our values:
- the need for a secret ballot
- who constitutes a legal voter
- what constitutes a legal vote
- ballot construction
In terms of who is legal to vote and what constitutes a legal vote, I think this is information for another article. For now, we can just stipulate that there ought to be one legal vote per legal voter. In terms of ballot construction, let’s assume the selection is one person per elected office. It gets messy when dealing with deliberately deceptive initiatives and referendums. This leaves the need for a secret ballot.
Let’s talk about the secrecy of the ballot for a minute. The reason we have a secret ballot is that we don’t want someone to be coerced to vote a certain way, i.e. the goon squad standing over you saying vote the way I tell you or else. This is something we actually do fairly well at the moment if you vote in person, at a polling location, with partisan observers. At the very least, showing up to a polling place with the goon squad in tow would look suspicious. And when you’ve cast your vote, there is no way for the goon squad to verify which vote is their victim’s. It also prevents people from being able to “sell” your vote directly, although every politician is buying votes (think Andrew Yang), so this requirement is moot.
So, it should be clear that voting in person, at a polling location, with partisan observers, is the best choice. Of course, we need to make provisions for people who simply can’t make it to an official polling place. I clearly remember voting in the 1996 U.S. Presidential election while I was in an undisclosed location serving aboard the USS Tunny (SSN-682). Provisions can, and should, be made, but this should be a very small amount of the overall votes cast. Even still, for every vote cast we must answer the following questions:
- What evidence is there that the ballot was cast by a legal voter?
- What evidence is there that this the only ballot was cast by this legal voter?
- Given sufficient evidence of the first two points, have we recorded the ballot in an immutable ledger, i.e. recorded such that the ballot cannot be changed, dropped or otherwise represented in any way other than the way the voter originally intended?
It is clear that the evidence provided for mail-in ballots would be incredibly thin, if at all. We can’t know if the mailed-in ballots were legitimate. Signature checking between the cast ballot and the voter registration card is the absolute bare minimum, but even this wasn’t universally completed. Even with in-person voting, identification checks were not universally done. How can we possibly assert that each voter’s 14th Amendment rights were upheld when we don’t have reasonable evidence that each vote was made by a legal voter?
With every right enumerated in The Constitution, it is paired with a responsibility. That responsibility is being shirked by The Default. This is happening at most levels of Government. Our elected officials have the responsibility to correct this problem. The question then remains, does The Default even care that the electorate regards their attempts at Democracy to be a farce? Will they make any attempts at creating free, fair and transparent elections?
The Voter doesn’t need to prove that other votes were cast illegally (and thereby violating his 14th Amendment rights). It is the responsibility of the Government to prove to the Voters that all votes were cast legally in the first place and this is where things have completely gone off the rails.