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View Diary: Today is the end of the electronic voting machine (372 comments)

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  •  Value of a secret ballot (4+ / 0-)

    Obviously, Kos, increasing turnout is important. And, yes, voting by mail gives you the option of taking your time, evaluating the candidates, and making really informed choices if you don't know who the people running for something obscure like Judge of Probate are. But, at the same time, I don't know if increasing turnout is a good thing if people are compelled by others to vote in a certain direction. Remember, one justification for the Australian (secret) ballot was that business owners and their cronies were keeping their eye on their employees when they went to vote and were asking to see their ballots. If they didn't vote the way the boss wanted them to and he found out, the employees were risking harassment and/or loss of their job. And in that day and age, when factory owners often had ties to local political bosses, you can imagine how biased they were.

    Similarly, I think a lot of harms like this still exist today. What about people who work for places such as HMOs or think tanks or labor unions, whose bosses have a significant ideological preference for a certain side? Think of all those families where one person is the bossy decision-maker and is neurotic about consenting to everything else anyone does. Do you think it's really productive to have a little old lady filing out a ballot while her husband is staring over her shoulder, barking commands at her? And of course, you have the problem of ministers coercing their parish into voting a certain way by demanding to see their ballots before they cast them so they can ensure that "God's candidate" got all the votes he deserved.

    I don't think proponents of a mail-in system have really given a solid argument yet as to why this is not an issue. Yes, you can compare signatures on the envelopes. Of course, the boss can still ask to see your ballot BEFORE you stick it in the envelope. This is very problematic, especially for people whose better judgments tell them to vote against their boss's or their minister's or their husband's interest.

    I think a better system would be one where anyone could freely vote over a 5-day span or something, with paper ballots that you pick up and fill out on the spot.

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