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Depoliticizing Voting

How did voting become a political issue? I don’t mean who you vote for. That’s obviously very political. But all of the surrounding stuff really troubles me. Both parties saying the other will cheat. Both parties saying the other will try to keep people from voting, or will encourage people to vote more than once. And that doesn’t even begin to address actual reported voter fraud. The news is full of voter fraud lately. I think it’s time to deal with this problem and put it to bed. I suspect nothing at all will be done, because I suspect both major parties cheat, and each party thinks they’re better at it than the other. That’s not very charitable, and on other days I feel different, but that is how I feel on this day. I’d like to address several things in the next few minutes. I have no political agenda in this matter, I just believe that the process can be improved.

  1. Only adult United States Citizens should be entitled to a vote. This does not seem to be political to me. I can’t vote in France, or Mexico, or North Korea, even if I move there. If I become a citizen, I can. Seems very simple to me.
  2. We should have a voting age. In my opinion, if you are not old enough to die for your country, and you are not old enough to make decisions about what you put in your body (nicotine, alcohol, etc.) you are not old enough to vote. You can’t have a beer but you can help decide the fate of the nation seems somehow wrong to me. I’m not advocating for raising or lowering any specific age of consent, but I am for using common sense to determine when humans are adult ‘enough’ for various activities. The founders, who placed age restrictions on various levels of service understood that youth and experience both had their place, and might disagree with me on the drinking-voting equivalency, but following their lead might not be a bad idea either. How about you can only vote for an office you are legally allowed to hold?
  3. Everyone should get one vote. This is already the law. What we need is a way to make it bullet proof, and fair to all. In this next part, I outline how to accomplish this.

A Perfectly Fair Election In Five Easy Items

Item One: Every citizen gets one vote, and only one vote. Non-citizens get no votes. The idea of requiring identification for voting has been portrayed by the left as a subtle way of making sure that the poor or disadvantaged can not vote.This facile argument doesn’t hold up. We require identification for all sorts of things and no one cares. Video stores used to demand my Social Security card to rent a copy of ‘The Mask’. But the hurdles to having identification, such as they are, need to be addressed. I’m a personal fan of the United States requiring every citizen to have a passport and just using that for voting. It’s better than the Social Security card because it has anti forging features and a picture. Its downside is that it’s expensive. I am not a big fan of taxes and such, but in this case I’d gladly pay for a second passport for someone who couldn’t afford it, if it led to greater election integrity. I’m sure millions of others would join me, and if not, the Federal Government has shown no reluctance to spending far more than this would cost on far less. So, step one is that, as Oprah would say, “you get a passport, and you get a passport, EVERYONE GETS A PASSPORT”. Each passport has a unique number on it. We’re going to use that number in a minute.

Item Two: You use your passport number to vote. Not directly, your passport number creates a new number known only to you by means of a program connected to a blockchain. That new number can be used by you to vote in person, or on your phone, or on a friend’s phone in a gas station parking lot, or whatever. You can vote on election day. You can vote the week before. If there are legally allowed circumstances, you can vote the day after.

Item Three: You can vote as many times as you want. The blockchain enabled program will only keep your most recent vote. If you’re worried you won’t make it to election day, you vote a week early. If you change your mind the day of, you just vote again. Your old vote is erased and replaced with your new vote. If you are coerced into casting a vote for someone, you can just go back and change it later, up to when the voting closes for an election.

Item Four: You (and only you) can view your vote at any time. Using your passport and code you can see who your vote was cast for. You are absolutely certain there was no fraud with your ballot. This information is encrypted into the blockchain.

Item Five: Votes can be tabulated instantly and error free. Once we call time (Olly olly oxen free!) we can have a big red button in Times Square that we press to see who won.

Is this solution perfect? Nope. Here’s a list of problems.

  1. People could still sell their votes. But it would get more expensive, because they could sell their votes over and over, then still vote for whomever they preferred in the privacy of their homes.
  2. The Passport office is not nearly equipped to do this in the short term.
  3. For this to be most effective, a combination of passport, blockchain and biometrics would be preferable. However, some people don’t have easy access to biometric equipment, but it’s becoming more and more common in handheld devices.
  4. Someday someone may figure out a way to break blockchains, and that will present a new problem. However, it seems like it would be a lot harder than ringing up a bunch of votes on a voting machine before polls open, requesting a ballot on behalf of an unsuspecting citizen, pulling a ballot out of someone’s mail box, or paying someone money for their ballot, all of which have been reported as having happened recently. And as a bonus, the world would get to forget that a chad is a little piece of paper that can be left hanging or even pregnant.

I understand that this would be a new way of doing things. It would be uncomfortable, especially for people my age and older. When I was younger I worked the polls at my precinct. We, Democrats and Republicans alike, were beyond conscientious. We had a chalk line past which electioneering could not take place. It was measured at least three or four times by each side, who came ready with their own tape measures. We turned away voters in overtly political apparel, regardless of party. We counted signatures, ballots, and ballot stubs. If those numbers didn’t match, we recounted until they matched twice in a row. We then transported the locked ballot boxes to the building where they were to be counted and at least one representative from each side stayed until OUR ballots were added to the total. Sometimes it was late into the night when we left, hours after we stopped being paid (not that the pay mattered, no one there was working the polls for the money). We cared. A lot of people still do. I still do. That’s why I wrote this. I think implementing this idea will make elections more secure. I believe that it would make the counts more accurate. I believe that it would make it easier for people to vote, and harder for people to cheat. All are worthy outcomes.

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