by James Wallace Harris, 9/15/22
What if we had the perfect voting machine – how would it change politics?
What would make the perfect voting machine?
- It would only allow one vote by each registered voter
- It would block any illegal votes
- It would block tampering
- It would be trusted by all
- It would make vote tallying easy
- It would allow for easy recounts
- It would be easy to use
- It would be easy to access
Let’s imagine a perfect machine. Let’s imagine its impact like we were plotting a science fiction story about the future.
What if the government issued every registered voter a tablet that had limited internet access and could only be used for one function: voting. The tablet would be configured:
- Fingerprint recognition
- Faceprint recognition
- Voiceprint recognition
- Eyeprint recognition
- Had a unique physical ID number in a chip
- It will only work with the .gov domain
To register to vote and get one of these machines you’d have to prove your identity to the government. It would link your machine ID and identity to the voter registration system. It would register your encrypted biometric data. You will be given a voter registration card with your name and machine ID.
When you vote it would only accept one vote from your machine’s ID and only if your machine has validated your biometrics in four ways. This is far more secure than any online banking system or financial investment system. No one but yourself should be able to use this tablet. If it was stolen it would be useless.
Whenever a vote is taken the results should be tabulated nearly instantly and the results put online. Anyone could validate their vote by looking up their machine ID in the voting results. It’s not likely anyone will know this number unless you tell them. If you think your vote was changed you can register a protest.
This method would allow any individual to conduct a vote recount. The data file from a national election would be large, but probably smaller than a downloaded song. Voters could be given software that would allow them to drill into the data and analyze the results. Everyone should get the same totals. If needed, a vote could be retaken to validate the process. And countless checks can be added to the system to automatically look for fraud.
Right now we have a representative democracy. We vote for people we want to vote for us. With this system, we could vote directly. Our elective representative would prepare possible laws but everyone would vote on them. Of course, not everyone would vote on each issue, but the numbers would be huge. Far greater than any valid statistical sample. This would eliminate more forms of current corruption.
To make this system even more effective, we should set the winning majority higher than 50%. This could solve our current political polarization. We should aim to make more people happy with our government and laws. We should aim for a two-thirds majority or 66%.
That would push out the extremes of the political spectrum and create a purple party in the middle. Our representatives would have to work up laws based on compromises that would appeal to a wider majority.
Right now we’re getting minority rule and citizens are becoming unhappy. There’s talk of civil war. Extremists on the left and right want things that the majority of Americans don’t. Our political system is corrupted by political parties and their shenanigans. If we maximized democracy it would eliminate the need for political parties. Everyone would vote for their own unique platform. But to achieve a two-thirds majority would require voting with the aim of making the most people happy rather than just ourselves.
I doubt this will ever happen, but it’s a kind of science fictional speculation of how we could change things if we tried. Human nature pushes us to keep doing the same thing until everything breaks and we’re forced to start over. Some people are advocating starting over now, but that will only make even a smaller percentage of people happy.
If we had such a maximized voting system it would be important to elect politicians that tried to make the majority happy rather than just special interest groups.
6 thoughts on “How Could We Maximize Democracy?”
In ‘The Moon is a Harsh Mistress’, loonies voted at their bank, because of course you can trust your bank.
Proportional representation would be better to then the first past the post system.
Many states seem intent on suppressing the vote, not encouraging citizens to exercise their rights. Democracy is not universally accepted as the best way to govern.
Because certain groups now see democracy as a disadvantage to getting what they want. They either corrupt the system, or disrupt it.
But we really need to create a political system that attempts its best to support everyone.
Jim, theoretically, democracy has the ability to best support everyone…if run correctly. But, as you point out, forces today want to disrupt and corrupt our democracy to get what they want. We’re all in deep trouble.