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How to Fix Problems at the Polls

There have been a number of items in the press lately about problems with voting machines, fraud with paper ballots, and other similar topics that bring to mind the hanging chads of Florida. All of these problems are difficult to combat because of the secrecy of ballots, and this made me think:

Would you be willing to trade the privacy of your vote in exchange for transparency? If votes were listed and counted publicly it would me much harder to game the system.

At first I thought this was a bad idea but then I thought that votes are less important than donating money to political candidates and that’s widely available.

3 replies on “How to Fix Problems at the Polls”

The secret ballot is one of the fundamental traditions of this nation. Being required to publicly declare allegiance to one candidate or another opens the system up to too much potential abuse in the form of coercion and retaliation. Legislators already have shown the impact that their public votes can have on their voting behavior; let’s not pass that on to the electorate as a whole.

My view of political contributions is contrarian, but in a different direction. I believe all contributions should be publicly disclosed (right now the threshold is $250 for federal office), but there should be no limits.

If a politician wants to take $100 million from some rich guy, that’s fine. Let the voters judge the merits. Right now with the relatively low limits (when compared to total cost of the races) it actually conceals the sources of influence since no one contribution can be that significant. Rather, the influence comes from how the money is raised.

I have no objection to public disclosure of contributions because it is an additional affirmative step in support of a candidate. One can still support a candidate privately, by voting. Ultimately, votes matter most. While money certainly does matter, the candidate with the most contributions and cash does not always win.

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