First, let me preface my remarks by noting that my intention is not to advocate any particular position so much as it is to highlight paradoxical election laws.
The prevailing script against verifiable voting says that paper trails lead to “vote buying” schemes. My protest to that answer goes beyond a healthy skepticism of electronic voting.
Candidates are bound by a plurality of election statutes, including disclosure laws. If you make a financial campaign contribution to any member of your Congressional delegation, that information will be put out for public consumption. But what good is a financial campaign contribution unless it can be used to collect votes? Which brings us to the following self-evident absolute: voting is nothing other than the ultimate campaign contribution.
The preceding truth prompts me to ask: if we should have a secret ballot, then why not secret financial contributions? After all, the distinction between a contribution at the polls and in monetary form is merely an arbitrary legal one.
I suppose the refrain to my question might run as follows: well, see, politicians can be “bought,” so we need to err on the side of transparency for financial contributions. But that only prompts me to ask this question: then why not err on the side of transparency for contributions at the ballot box (i.e. voting contributions) as well?
In fact, not only do politicians sell their votes in “vote buying” schemes for campaign contributions, but routinely I see politicians promising taxpayer funded favors in exchange for votes. Pursuant to the argument against verifiable voting, I guess the way to curtail that would be to have Congressmen and state legislators cast secret ballots on legislation. Anybody wish to propose that idea?
Also, anything short of absolute and complete disclosure for voting makes it inherently impossible to know whether or not the aggregate vote count is accurate.
If we are going to take the argument against verifiable voting to its own logical conclusion, not only should legislators cast secret ballots, but, come to think of it, most campaigning I see should be outlawed as well.
Let me explain. If you voluntarily choose to exchange your own property (i.e. money) with somebody in order for them to vote for a certain candidate, no matter how just the cause, that would be called “vote buying.” However, candidates running for office can promise largesse from the public treasury (i.e. other people’s property) in exchange for votes, and that is perfectly legal. What is the real objective difference, other than the latter inflicts far more injury since it is robbery?
What about government workers, government contractors, and paid campaign staffers? Could their votes possibly be motivated and influenced by financial incentives? I guess if you sell your vote to a common man, whose interest may even be just, that is bad, but selling your vote to politicians is fine.
In essence, politicians have a legalized vote buying monopoly. Unfortunately, we will never know what people are voting themselves subsidies (i.e. selling their vote), since voting is done by a secret ballot. The politicians better get a handle on this ASAP!