Voting (1 Viewer)

Isaac

Lifelong Learner
Local time
Today, 07:27
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
2,697
Over the last weeks/months, as I've read more stories pertaining to voting rights, it's made me realize that my own philosophy on voting has never fully developed.
Although I'd like a particular side to win, still, I'd like people to be able to fully exercise their rights. Of course, the problem comes (as always) in the definition.

Following from that, I started thinking about the most original question in the chain-of-thought: Who do I want to be able to vote in the first place? And precisely how easy do I want it to be? I realized that, to be honest with myself and others, I've never really come to many meaningful conclusions on that.

Many people would say "everyone", and "easy". But most could agree that a 5 yr old shouldn't vote, nor should we require a PhD to vote. Therefore, we really don't have a clear position--we are more likely floating somewhere, undefined, on the continuum.

Here are some examples of the questions that came to my mind. I'm not suggesting all of them are undecided in my mind (so don't react to some of the more fundamental ones), they are just questions, some have arisen over hundreds of years, but they also include a few that still ARE a question in my mind (I won't tell you which ones those are). Doubtless this list includes some that we all agree "yes!", and still others that may get you thinking/wondering:
  1. Should those who don't own property be allowed to vote?
  2. Thinking of your answer to #1, why do you suppose at any time during human history, it seemed like it made sense to limit voting to property owners?
  3. Should education factor into eligibility to vote?
  4. With your answer to #3 in mind: In the past, have you generally agreed with efforts to "inform the populace", and those who say that an informed voting populace is an important priority?
  5. If you answered "No" to #4, skip this. If "Yes": What do you believe the extent of negative impacts to your nation could be, assuming a hypothetical very uninformed voting populace?
  6. Thinking still of your answer to #3 and now #4: How would you feel if this scenario were currently true: A specific education achievement/lack, such as "graduated college" or "did not graduate high school", meant that any voters matching that descriptor meant that they believed something about government which you feel is utterly absurd--Maybe something about aliens, gods, reincarnation or whatever YOU know to be absurdly and impactfully false.
  7. Thinking of your answer to #6: Could it ever be possible that a measurable education level actually resulted in a predictable outcome as extreme (or lack thereof) ? Could it come close? If it did, would you be OK with that, or would you want to do something to the voting eligibility?
  8. Hypothetically, if there were a way to know that a person was high on hard drugs, or very drunk, when voting, would you rather that event be prohibited from happening?
  9. Do you believe 18 yr olds should vote? How about 16 yr olds?
  10. If you answered "yes" to #9, AND have fully raised children: How would you feel if your 16 or 18 yr old child's judgment became the guide that ruled your home? How about your neighborhood? What if their judgment only ruled the home or neighborhood 10% of the time, what do you believe the results would be after a year?
  11. How easy should voting be? Imagine at the "hard" end of the spectrum is physically showing up on a single day, swearing an oath of sincerity or patriotism, breathalyzer test and ID. At the "easy" end of the spectrum is waking up any day during a 30-da period, snapping your fingers, at which point your mental preference is recorded. ASSUME that even the easy way of voting is equally 'secure'--nobody will vote twice, nor impersonate another. Should voting be "as easy as possible" ?
  12. Think of any "effort" required to vote. (showing up, registering, bringing ID, postage, anything you can think of). Does altering that amount of effort (less or more) have any impact on the amount of votes that are cast sincerely, thoughtfully, taken seriously? Which direction? Should it matter? If you answer "No", then consider what you answered in #11 on the "easiest" end of the spectrum, if we could achieve that, ought we?
  13. The "harder" that voting is, presumably, the fewer people will be capable (either in reality or their own perception), to participate. As voting got stricter/harder:
    1. Is there any possible scenario that results in a more just outcome, or no?​
    2. What categories of voters (reasons that it was hard) are most affected? And lastly: Why ?​
That's it - I'm still thinking about all of this, myself.
 
Last edited:

Steve R.

Retired
Local time
Today, 10:27
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
2,391
  1. Raise the voting age to 25. The reason, younger voters tend to vote liberal, older voters tend to vote more conservative. Additionally, older voters would have more real-life experiences upon which to make a voting decision. They won't be as easily swayed by charismatic politicians.
  2. Limit those eligible to vote to those who who are not dependent on government assistance. The theory here is that those who pay taxes would have a greater sense of fiscal awareness. Hence they would be reluctant to favor policies that would have to be paid through additional taxes.
  3. Limit voting to in-person voting. It would be acceptable to spread voting out for a couple of days. Legitimate absentee ballots should continue to be allowed. The theory here is that it is a person's responsibility to get out and vote. That is an obligation of citizenship. The current trend of making it ever "easier" to vote, opens up opportunities for fraud. Making it "easier" to vote has a lot of emotional appeal, but there comes a time when this concept has gone over the edge. We have gone over the edge. It is not a government responsibility to help lazy citizens vote.
  4. Voter ID. Well, we no longer live in a society were we know our neighbor. When I go to vote, the greeting is "Who are you?" not "Welcome Mr. X". So we need voter ID. I also find it incomprehensible that the Democrats, who vehemently claim to be so concerned about everyone's "right to vote" totally obfuscate any voting identification requirements. The obvious implication is that they do not care about the legitimacy of the vote. Consequently, they don't really care about the integrity of the "right to vote".
  5. Education. A slippery slope. One issue of concern, too many people get high school degrees based on surviving the system rather than based on competence and knowledge. So at a minimum, to get a high school degree, you need to demonstrate a degree of proficiency. One component being civics. Within that context, having a high school diploma may be an acceptable minimum requirement for voting.
One thought that you put forward: "The "harder" that voting is, presumably, the fewer people will be capable (either in reality or their own perception), to participate." While voting is a "right", it should not be viewed within the limited context of either "easy" or "hard". Citizenship carries responsibilities, one of those responsibilities is voting. We also have public education, so people should be able to learn about voting and how our government works. It is the responsibility of the voter to arrange their schedule to get out and vote.
---------------------------------------------------------------
As an editorial aside for the rationale behind my response. John Kennedy, famously stated: "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country." Today, we live in a twisted version of that quote: "Your country owes you. You owe nothing to your country."
 
Last edited:

Isaac

Lifelong Learner
Local time
Today, 07:27
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
2,697
Thanks, Steve. All of this came about as I challenged myself as to "Am I honestly supportive of anything that results in greater inclusion?"--then I thought "Wait. Why should I be? Is that necessary, morally? Does it really make sense to run the country based on the preferences of 100% of all humans in the population?" Then I started to wonder how many caveats might make both moral and practical sense.

It is good to see others' opinions. I like your #3. Requiring people to show up, BUT, extending it over several days, seems very reasonable. Plus absentee ballots, with full verification & a request process.

Sometimes I also feel that the voter inclusion pushes go so far, they are basically "persuading" lazy non-voter types to vote. But I ask myself why would I want the country to be run on the judgment of those people? How does that make any sense?

These are important questions that no politician can afford to think out loud about.
 

Steve R.

Retired
Local time
Today, 10:27
Joined
Jul 5, 2006
Messages
2,391
Sometimes I also feel that the voter inclusion pushes go so far, they are basically "persuading" lazy non-voter types to vote. But I ask myself why would I want the country to be run on the judgment of those people? How does that make any sense?
This reminded me. The Democrats have even put forth the concept that you should be required, by law, to vote. If you don't vote, that you can be somehow penalized. This seems to be a form of re-imagined "ballot harvesting" that would favor Democrats. Forcing, people (who may not even be prepared to vote) to vote would not seem to promote the integrity of the voting process. They may very well just randomly check some boxes rather than make a selection based on an informed decision.
 
Last edited:

pbaldy

Wino Moderator
Staff member
Local time
Today, 07:27
Joined
Aug 30, 2003
Messages
34,736
Interesting topic. For now I’ll state some general thoughts rather than address the specific points.

If we voted on specific issues, it could be argued that you shouldn’t vote if you don’t have “skin in the game”. If you don’t pay property taxes, you shouldn’t get to vote on issues where the property tax would be raised if passed. If you don’t pay income taxes, you shouldn’t get to vote on issues where the income tax would be raised as a result. If you don't face the cost, it shouldn't be your decision.

There are two flip sides to those arguments. Regarding property taxes, renters would legitimately argue that they pay property taxes, just not directly. Secondly, except at a local level, we don’t vote on issues directly, we vote for representatives. Those representatives vote on a wide range of things, not just those affecting taxes.

Part of why the USA seems to be getting more liberal is that such a high percentage of households don’t pay income tax (around 50%). Who wouldn’t vote for more free stuff when there’s no cost to them?

I had a discussion with my very liberal son-in-law. He was all for liberal programs like universal basic income, etc. He said we’d just tax the big corporations to pay for it all (trillions a year). I pointed out that corporations generally aren’t tax payers, they’re tax collectors. Raise their taxes and they will either:

  1. Most likely, raise their prices. You and I are paying the tax, not the corporation
  2. Lower their expenses (typically cutting staff). The newly unemployed are paying the tax, not the corporation. Even if they cut costs by buying less stuff, whoever would have sold them that stuff is making less profit, so you'll lose tax revenue there.
  3. Reduce dividends or eat the tax, reducing profits. Either of these results in lower stock prices. Sure, you’ll affect the wealth of some rich people, but you’ll also hurt thousands or millions of regular people that hold those stocks in their 401k/IRA/retirement plans, etc.
Tax those filthy rich people! Sure, I’m all for it. I’m just a working stiff, it won't affect me. According to Forbes, the 400 richest Americans are worth $3.2 trillion. Screw just taxing their income, let’s take everything they’ve got! Great, you’ve funded the government for a year. What do you do next year?? I’m reminded of Ten Years After lyrics:

Tax the rich
Feed the poor
Till there are
Rich no more

Dinner time for bonzo!
 

The_Doc_Man

Immoderate Moderator, Former MVP, Retired SysAdmin
Staff member
Local time
Today, 09:27
Joined
Feb 28, 2001
Messages
18,326
One of the points referred to an "informed populace." But the problem I have is whether a biased media allows the populace to BE informed. Is it even POSSIBLE for ordinary people to be informed in light of the onslaught of slanted media.

I would change different rights - freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Not radically, but ... change them. Fine-tune them.

1. The importance of political speech is central to informing the public. There should never be any hesitation that news on politics is open and fair game.

2. HOWEVER, when an article includes "opinion words" under the guise of straight reporting, the journalist should lose his/her credentials for a certain amount of time. Clearly and always, make a distinction between NEWS and OPINION. Lose the "opinion words" and the moral outrage in ANY article that purports to be actual news.

3. Campaign contributions make it difficult for a candidate to be a "free respresentative." Poor people can't afford as big a bribe as rich people. Therefore, drastically limit the maximum size of campaign contributions AND force them to be anonymous so that someone cannot come back to the elected official later and say, "I gave you $10mil for your campaign. You OWE me."

4. Corporations are a legal fiction so that a person can sign a contract representing a legal entity without that person taking full personal financial responsibility for the contract. But corporations don't have the right to vote. Freedom of political speech for a legal fiction makes no sense. Therefore, a corporation that isn't a specially designated political organization cannot contribute ANYTHING to ANY candidate's campaign and cannot directly take out candidacy ads or position ads.

5. Make the previously mentioned dedicated political corporation a non-profit which cannot have private membership rolls. That way, it will not be possible to get away with registering a cemetery.
 

Isaac

Lifelong Learner
Local time
Today, 07:27
Joined
Mar 14, 2017
Messages
2,697
Thanks @pbaldy & @The_Doc_Man those are some great ideas.

Paul I like your central thesis about issues vs. voters. I've also been thinking a lot about voters who either vote, like you mentioned, on issues that they are uniquely unqualified to responsibly opine on (like spending vs. taxes), but also a lot about voters who are in uniquely challenging situations where they can pretty much be reliably predicted to vote based on a single issue.

We actually see this all the time on TV, when politicians parade some very specific handpicked individuals to introduce or emphasize a topic, like "I've got Barney here with me from Ohio, Barney is a bean farmer, and is very concerned with upcoming changes to our Bean Subsidies Law!"

I don't know, there's something uncomfortable about the idea of some large % of voters who, because of either their vocation or worse, because of some recent major event in their life, they are totally voting based on a single issue. You could argue that this keeps politicians in tune with recent events to sensitively represent voters' wishes, or, that too many people vote reactively to whatever is going on in their life at the moment, rather than taking a holistic approach to the general direction of the country--seems like it's possibly to do the latter only if one is comfortable enough to "afford" that viewpoint.

I like the distinction of Opinion vs. News (and the practice of prefacing a headline "Opinion:" does exist to some extent), but enforcing it sounds....too good to be true. Like, in a dream world if it could be enforced, that would be great? But it's hard to imagine any actual system that doesn't have to make uncomfortable judgment calls. I am mostly thinking of stories where it would appear Facts are being reported, but they simply continue to remain in dispute regardless. Like: "PoliticianY met with WarlordX when he visited Timbuktu", and "No, I didn't - that's just something Rudy says", kind of thing.
I guess in theory, we could perhaps come up with enough grammatical rules to put your system into place. It would be interesting!
 

Pat Hartman

Super Moderator
Staff member
Local time
Today, 10:27
Joined
Feb 19, 2002
Messages
30,059
Wow, lots of great ideas. I would vote for a couple of you any day.

"Informed populace" is the key. Our education system is getting worse, not better. Civics education is almost non-existent. Our media has stopped being fair (they've always been biased but they used to try at least) and now consider that their opinion and the opinions of those who agree with them are more important than facts. They do nothing to clarify the differences between opposing views for the public. I think at one time, small town newspapers used to at least for local issues do a good job of explaining the facts of local issues. People these days have the attention span of a gerbil and so network and cable news programs just jump from topic to topic keeping only to the talking points. It's like the old comedian's joke where they all just say a number and everyone laughs and when one person says 37 and no one laughs, he asks why and the response is - you didn't tell it well. The talking heads say "Charlottesville" and everyone knows that means that Trump is a white supremacist because they've only ever heard the edited clip that cuts Trump off mid-sentence. So as they move from talking point to talking point, people cheer or boo but no one ever learns anything about the underlying issue.

If the populace is not informed, and most are not, they cannot make rational decisions. Then we have the situation where at least 47% (varies from year to year) don't actually pay income taxes. Those people have a completely different agenda then the other 53% who do pay taxes.

Naturalized citizens need to pass an English proficiency test become a citizen. The reason being, if you can't understand the political discourse, you have to rely on someone else to explain the issues to you and you have to assume that they don't have an agenda. This is what the whole system has devolved to. The public are relying on the media to interpret the issues for them but the media has opinions and an agenda so "truth" does not exist.

I would prefer the voting age to be 21 but given that we draft people at 18, it doesn't seem fair that we're willing to put a gun in their hands and send them to some hell hole to die and not give them a vote so I would agree to 18 as the effective minimum age.

I think passing a basic civics test would also be appropriate.

I would be OK with local elections being separated from state and Federal elections. Even if you are not a citizen for example, there is some rational for allowing you to vote in schoolboard elections if you have children in the school system. I do not include people in the country illegally in this exception.

I would love to see the media clean up its act. The social media sites all love to "fact check" articles that deviate from the left-leaning dogma. Someone needs to keep score. and the score needs to be public and verifiable. It's really not fair that Biden can lie about where he went to school and people pass it off as "that's just Joe" but if Trump exaggerates a crowd size, they call him a liar.

Photo ID to vote is a requirement. I have always been against a national ID and I still am so there isn't any way to stop people from voting in multiple states but voting in multiple cities in the same state is certainly preventable. Criteria for registering to vote in national elections should be standardized and if the states do not want to conform to the national rules, they must run their state and local elections on a different day using separate ballots to avoid conflict. There need to be more efficient ways to clean up voter lists when people die or are convicted of a felony.

It's not like elections creep up on us so there is no reason to allow voter registration within a month of an election. We can set up a national "I'm moving" process to help people because if they're moving a long distance, they might not be able to arrive in town a month early. That would allow people to transfer their registration from one location to another. Or, they can just ask for an absentee ballot for their old home address.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top Bottom