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Obscured Voting

Vote on issues rather than people
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There is often too much emphasis on the PEOPLE in the process, their age, gender, race, family, friends, etc and not enough emphasis on what that person actually will DO when they get into office. I propose a radical change to the voting system as it stands now. Not only would it change the voting system, but the entire process of campaining.

You walk to your polling place and sign in. You then enter a booth and begin the voting process.

Instead of a list of names you see a series of questions about important issues.

Before you begin you are asked to rate the issues in order of preference. If you feel education is more important than economy, for example, education questions will weigh more in the final decision if you are split down the middle.

If it is still a completely dead heat in the end you're shown your pluses and minuses for each side (still obscured) and asked if any one side appeals to you more than the other. (For example, I'd really rather see a candidate for "this" and "this" win and I can let go of "that" so I'll go with candidate A)

All the questions will be based on answers to public debates given by the candidates. Obviously, you could sit through the debates and "Game" the system to vote for whomever you wanted without obscurity by listening to them but I don't think that is a flaw, if someone is listening to the "cute" candidate and hear them say too many things they disagree with maybe they change their minds. Regardless, at least they're paying attention to what the people are saying about the issues.

When you get to the end of the questions you are issued a voting receipt with a record of every question and answer given and finally you see for whom you voted. The receipt you were given is a duplicate, the original is kept safe within the machine for auditing. In the event of a recount in your county you could be asked to return with your receipt to verify your vote on the official records via a non-identifing number on your receipt.

This also dismisses the two-party system. You could, in theory, have any number of candidates running and the questions could apply to several of the candidates. Only the one you most closely relate to will be your vote.

You could even use some other voting system entirely. The one that comes to mind would rank your preferences and assign a value to each candidate. The candidate with the highest point value from your area would win.

rfl717, Sep 03 2008

how about a borda count election? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Borda_count
[copycat042, Sep 07 2008]

Someone listening? http://abcnews.go.c...fullpage?id=5542139
ABC News created a "game" to find out who your ideal candidate is. [rfl717, Sep 17 2008]

[link]






       This would be do-able with some kind of online voting system. Don't think it would eliminate the parties, though.
RayfordSteele, Sep 03 2008
  

       No, probably not but it would make them less necessary in theory.
rfl717, Sep 05 2008
  

       Love the idea.   

       But... the media decides who is best for us to vote for!! [if you didn't realize that's a joke, who bribed you?]   

         

       Misinformed people are so common it is hard to conceive of a fix. And people get weird ideas due to strange wording. Sometimes rudimentary logic proves general ideas don't make sense, even though people believe in them; facts aren't always checked.   

       Maybe a safer starting point would be to have online voting for Bills and Laws. People who are concerned go onto a web site with the whole law and each party's take on it, along with special interests; they can vote on it. People's votes get tallied with Senator's.   

       Direct Democracy is sort of a dirty word, yet with our technology why can't we at least have government backed mass polling on the issues?   

       Back to the issue at hand, polling places normally have lines so making polling take longer would be... hard.
Bcrosby, Sep 05 2008
  

       I did think about the long lines but short of more "booths" I couldn't think of a fix. Perhaps we could start polling place entertainment and refreshments that people waiting could be kept busy! Take a number to vote and mingle until then. It'd be like a polling place party!
rfl717, Sep 05 2008
  

       //There is often too much emphasis on the PEOPLE//

On the contrary, I think that there isn't enough emphasis on people. Most of the time you are voting for someone that you don't know, probably don't trust and wouldn't recognise if you passed them in the street.
DrBob, Sep 05 2008
  

       But [DrBob], you're not electing them so that you can stop and chat to them in the street. You're electing them to enact laws, apportion public money, etc. I agree with [rfl717] on this point. Up with competent, faceless technocrats; down with charming, plausible chancers.
pertinax, Sep 05 2008
  

       Sorry, pertinax, I didn't make myself clear. My rather obtuse point was that "national" government will never provide you with a candidate that you are happy with because once you vote for them they no longer need to take any notice of you. The only time that you are likely to have any real point of contact with them (if you are lucky) is during an election.
DrBob, Sep 05 2008
  

       Which is why it should make even less sense to base your decision on the kind of person you perceive them to be. I can't wait for the debates to start because (even though you can't fully believe them) that is when we'll hear where the candidates stand on the issues rather than just hearing how one candidate is less qualified or more qualified because of their age, race, gender, wealth, or experiences.   

       In "Obscured Voting" you never vote for the "nicest" or "smartest" candidate you only vote for the candidate who matches your views on issues.   

       A question in the voting could be, "Your ideal candidate believes that: A: More money should be allocated to issue x B: Less money should be allocated to issue x C: No money should be allocated to issue x"
rfl717, Sep 05 2008
  

       What if your candidate couldn't or didn't give his answers to the questions?   

       Questions would need to convey a sense of trade-offs. This is hard to convey in simple English.   

       Can you list some specific example questions?
Bcrosby, Sep 08 2008
  

       Questions would be based on public info, politicians' speeches, websites, debates. I have a sample question above but I hesitate to give an exact question because I don't want to start a discussion about any particular issue.
rfl717, Sep 08 2008
  

       //...it should make even less sense to base your decision on the kind of person you perceive them to be//

That depends. If you are voting for someone you know and have met and talked to, your perception is likely to be more accurate than basing your decision on a list of popular questions. History is replete with examples of politicians who have espoused one policy whilst trying to get elected and done something quite other once they are in power. I don't see that this idea will do anything to change that situation.

To change tack slightly, the idea also depends on a certainly level of literacy amongst the voters. How do you intend getting around that problem?
DrBob, Sep 08 2008
  

       Politicians lie all the time. Sometimes they say one thing to get elected and then do another thing when in office. Sometimes their voting record is an accurate prediction of what they intend to do, sometimes its not. How could one possibly say for sure that this candidate is, for example, willing to save money by cutting corn subsidies or expand the national debt in return for a safer country?
Voice, Sep 09 2008
  

       rfl, you are probably right about starting a debate on a specific issue... still I am interested on the wording. Let me propose a few questions on a silly issue.   

       Do you support continued subservience to the Martians?   

       Should we serve the Martians?   

       Do you want the candidate who voted 'yes' to support the Martian cause?   

       Do you want the candidate who accepted $400,000 from the Martians? (the other candidates accepted $50,000 and $1,000)   

       To DrBob's point, how many people in America would have problems with these questions? And, these are really simple compared to more complex 'real issues'.   

       This is a great idea, how can it work?
Bcrosby, Sep 09 2008
  
      
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