American Democracy Repaired – Take Two

Previously I had suggested that Americans be given the option to publicize their vote if they chose to. I received a lot of feedback on this idea, most of it positive, but the bulk of the negative commentary focused on one issue: vote buying.

The idea is that if I wan to vote for CandidateX, I approach a bunch of people and say “Psst. Psst. No, over here … in the bushes. Hey, if you vote for CandidateX and can prove it to me, I’ll give you $Y.”

For each person that can demonstrate to me that they actually voted the way I wanted, I pay them.

People seemed quite certain that this would be rampant in any system that allowed a voter to prove that they voted the way they were bought. I think this argument is completely and totally ridiculous, but it’s just something I think, I can’t prove it.

So, with that in mind, is there any other application of the light of transparency that will improve our current system? I’m glad you asked. Do the counting publicly. This is such a simple idea that it’s hard to understand why it doesn’t currently happen. The idea would be that all counting is recorded, and webcast by multiple independent (and ideally opposing) groups.

These videos are made available real time and as archives available to the public on the web.  Every venue has candidate nominated scrutineers to make sure everything is on the level and it’s all recorded for later public analysis.

It still has weaknesses in that there are points in the system where votes could be manipulated, but it’s a ways better than the system we currently have.  New Hampshire is currently undergoing a recount because 81% of the votes cast in the recent Primary were counted by a private company in private.  Imagine how we’d feel if this happened in some other country.  We’d be mocking it.

That’s the state our political system has devolved to.  It’s a laughing stock and needs to be fixed.  Actually, fixed is probably the wrong word to use there.  Let’s run with “repaired” instead.  Our system needs to be repaired.  Visibility, transparency and accountability are a good place to start.

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