Governments need to vote in secret

Transparency of government has been heavily pushed, but when it comes to voting… it seems governments may need secret ballots in order to have the ability to act upon our behalf.


Description

James D’Angelo (Winner 2014 MIT Climate CoLab, ex-NASA scientist) uncovers a crucial flaw in American democracy. Incredibly, the solution – which lays at the heart of all current social concerns (inequality, the recession, political division, government disapproval, Citizens United, civil rights and corruption) – costs under 5 dollars.

Welcome to the world of Martin Gilens’ 2014 paper and flatline graph. Also welcome to the world created by electronic voting machines and the Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 (passed on October 26, 1970). Unheard of in any current political discussion, this act of Congress has produced endless avenues for lucrative lobbying of special interest groups.

This video is a new and shorter version of the 1 hour video “The Cardboard Box Reform”. So if you are looking for more in-depth analysis, data and research check out that video…especially the second half.

REFERENCES

NEW: FAQ (lots of links, references, new data and questions answered) updated by James D’Angelo
http://worldbitcoinnetwork.com/FAQ/Ca

Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 - the bill that opened up voting and committees, particularly in committee of the whole.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legislat

Gilens’ original paper
http://journals.cambridge.org/action/
New Yorker article about Martin Gilens great work
http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-ca

Clayton Peoples 2013 Paper
https://www.scribd.com/doc/247872190/
Clayton Peoples great studies on Contributor Influence (Bribery via vote buying)
http://ethics.harvard.edu/blog/yes-co
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10

Chapter 5 from Fareed Zakaria’s great book "Future of Freedom"
http://books.google.co.ke/books?id=Rx

Massive congressional vote buying rigged by speaker of the house Tom DeLay and lobbyist Jack Abramoff
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Abr

D’Angelo has found the most unusual (indeed counterintuitive) source for our current explosion in inequality and campaign financing in a place that most economists would’t consider, the secret ballot.

Considered by many to have crushed the first gilded age, the secret ballot was introduced en masse in the US starting in 1890. By 1940 it was everywhere (all citizens voted privately and most bills in congress were decided by teller or voice vote). And then for 30 years life was pretty good. Inequality was dropping, so were a number of other metrics, partisanship, campaign finance, national debt etc. And then, October 26th, 1970 there was a crack in our air-tight democracy - The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 opened up the votes of Congress (the committee of the whole). Dubbed a ’sunshine law’, this bill has only ever been considered a good thing.

The trouble is, we vote in secret for a reason. Reasons most Americans forget. Every time votes are public we get massive explosion in two types of electoral fraud. They first form of Electoral Fraud is Vote Buying (Tammany Hall, etc), with as much as 20% of the electorate being paid to vote a specific way (often poor individuals being paid with a chicken wing or a beer). The second form is Voter Intimidation, often times people would vote in the local court house, and they would just announce their vote to the local staff. The trouble with voting publicly (stating your votes to a clerk) is that often citizens were voting on deputies and sheriffs who were sitting right there in the court house, listening. It is hard to vote against an evil Sheriff if he can see how you vote. It is easy to see the problem there.

Interestingly, this is exactly what now happens in our Congress. Inside of congress, Voter intimidation leads to massive partisanship and polarization, and the vote buying leads to what some congressmen call ‘legalized bribery’. The convictions, admissions and stories of this are common (Jack Abramoff, ABACAM, etc etc). And this change in 1970 has led to a feedback loop that responds to the ever increasing money in Washington. Indeed The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 is the cause for the phenomenal growth of K-street. And all the big firms were born just months after it passed. The trouble is no one has ever called it what it is, Electoral Fraud. And the beauty is, all these alarming trends can be reversed by re-instating the secret ballot.


Nixon’s Ghost Bill And The 24 Words That Changed History



On average, Congress votes 4,000 times a year. I’ve never met a single, ultra-informed citizen who was monitoring even 1% of those votes. I know this. You know this. And lobbyists REALLY know this. Most of the corruption happens on bills no one is watching.


It was actually Tip O’Neill who pushed the legislation and cosponsored by sad sap Republican Charles Gubser. In fact the amendment was called the Gubser-O’Neill amendment. Don’t bother looking it up, I’m the one who posted 99% of the stuff out there. So I’m not blaming Nixon individually, but his name does give it a catchy title. Still, he did sign it without comment or critique, so he’s as guilty as any.


And I would agree with all three if you were correct that it was impossible to make a secret ballot actually secret. Trouble is there are a number of ways to make a secret ballot actually secret in Congress, even ways that you would accept are impossible to rig.

And once the vote is secret and the lobbyist can’t see the vote, they pack up and leave. The lobby group is done. They lose all power in Washington. Unlike you, I don’t need to theorize about this, this is what happens every time. Every time you install secret ballots, bribery stops.


I agree 100000%. If the system is electronic it can be rigged and fudged and fiddled with to no end. But I never even considered an electronic vote. I hate the system they installed in 1973. But electronic is far from the only offering.

The Senate is 100 people and the House of Representatives is under 500. So this means that both chambers are small in number. Aristotle 2500 years ago proposed a solution that would work - two urns, one wood and one bronze. Each senator would put their hands deep in the urn placing a white ball in one and a black ball in the other. They could do this while the TV cameras are rolling, and no one on Earth would be able to know how they voted. Then at the end of the vote, flip over each urn and count. The bronze urn and wood urn should have the same number of balls representing the right vote count.

That’s perfect voting, perfectly secret.


No. Institutionalized coercion is bad. I believe that. Further, I don’t think anyone would suggest that a social contract is nothing but smiles and sunshine.

But the argument is, that governance is a major upgrade from a Hobbesian society, and the evidence is pretty clearly in favor of that. I mean I love Rousseau but, man, all of our archeology is suggesting that he was just a blinkered idealist.

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The private ballotcia transpatency, we must be very careful the language.
But I would call this ‘secret’ ballot vote privacy. At the voter ballot box its vote privacy and because it affords a representative the opportunity to vote their conscience and actually represent or alternatively to cover a likely smaller sell out, its still privacy in a way that supports transparency and greater accountability.

Notice crucially that the sponsored media did not cover this change and therefore enabled it. This was by design for the same reason that sponsors are able to deny politicians access to sponsored media unless they accept selling out ahead of time. This is the money is speech and conflation of speech with censorship and privacy with secrecy. Stuff like slur will help restore real privacy by breaking organizatuonal the way the secret ballot does. The money is really sponsorship money, why pay sponsored media in the first place, why allow it and even with it why not make a condition of continued access or spectrum.

As for intimidation, sponsored media wont cover it or will spin any thing that gets through.

Thom Hartman on the Powell Memo

I’ve not watched the videos yet, but I disagree. A representative is a representative and should act representing the people; making a vote private takes away the accountability that the people need to maintain over their government.

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Interesting video, does leave the question as to how a person would know how their rep is voting on a given issue. The weirdness (imo) in decision making (eg, Iraq war, millions on the streets saying no, they go ahead regardless) may be due to factors unrelated as to whether the votes are secret or open.

Really completely disagree with the video’s arguments and reasoning. It is basically saying that politicians should vote on issues behind closed doors in a way that gives the public no clue as to how their representatives vote.
If the issue is bribery, corruption and bullying by Corporate interests, then deal with the actual problem in a way that does not prevent politicians actions being transparent to the electorate.
What exactly are we talking about here? It seems to me that the answer is to not keep electing corruptible, weak minded, bribe taking politicians that crumble in the face of Corporate bullying and don’t have the balls or basic integrity to vote according to their consciences. If 90% of the electorate are against something, yet their congressman votes the opposite way, then the public are alerted to the possibility that they have been corrupted. How on Earth are they going to know this if it all happens behind closed doors?
So, in summary, the argument goes that in order to deal with corrupting, bribing bullies, we run away and hide, rather than deal with the bullies? What utter nonsense.
The alleged correlation between Nixon’s introduction of transparency and the rise in corruption reminds me of this joke:

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I love the comic ! :slight_smile:

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Sounds like we will have to deal with sponsorship and a situation where we have to pay and reinforce the filter just to vote. Sponsored media shouldn’t exist to begin with because of the damage (it exists to undermine power sharing) but its massive insult to injury that its enriched for undermining elections.

Updated OP, including:

The trouble is, we vote in secret for a reason. Reasons most Americans forget. Every time votes are public we get massive explosion in two types of electoral fraud. They first form of Electoral Fraud is Vote Buying (Tammany Hall, etc), with as much as 20% of the electorate being paid to vote a specific way (often poor individuals being paid with a chicken wing or a beer). The second form is Voter Intimidation, often times people would vote in the local court house, and they would just announce their vote to the local staff. The trouble with voting publicly (stating your votes to a clerk) is that often citizens were voting on deputies and sheriffs who were sitting right there in the court house, listening. It is hard to vote against an evil Sheriff if he can see how you vote. It is easy to see the problem there.

Interestingly, this is exactly what now happens in our Congress. Inside of congress, Voter intimidation leads to massive partisanship and polarization, and the vote buying leads to what some congressmen call ‘legalized bribery’. The convictions, admissions and stories of this are common (Jack Abramoff, ABACAM, etc etc). And this change in 1970 has led to a feedback loop that responds to the ever increasing money in Washington. Indeed The Legislative Reorganization Act of 1970 is the cause for the phenomenal growth of K-street. And all the big firms were born just months after it passed. The trouble is no one has ever called it what it is, Electoral Fraud. And the beauty is, all these alarming trends can be reversed by re-instating the secret ballot.

Its the language to an extent. The public will hold politicians accountable for what they proclaim. Maybe it would be unlikely but they could make a mistake in entry or change their mind afterward. asssuming a sound system the damage of a legislator would be limited by their percentage of the vote and time in office based on their professions. Does a secret ballot make it harder to troubleshoot a rigged vote? Where a question came up there could be an after the fact complete or partial open voluntary accounting. That recount could also be sealed or specifics time capsuled.

I understand that there are very good reasons for the general public to vote for their congressmen/political parties in private to avoid intimidation etc - the public are not representing the politicians. As the politicians are representing the public however, then the public need to know/verify their views are being properly represented by the politicians - hence why transparency is required. It is basically a different kettle of fish altogether really.

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@alkafir I agree with that logic whole heartedly but what if there were a time delay? What if their actual record would be made public right before the next election? Even when they are up there voting for us they are serving in at least three roles. In one sense they are casting their own vote as a citizen. It doesnt matter if they’re President in a govenment of the people their rank is citizen just like ours. In another role they are acting as steward advocate and in a final role they are acting as representative. There is a fourth or fifth role that I think we want to limit. The 4th by degree is the election oriented compromise politician who capitulates with money and power (citing sponsorship as if it were unavoidable reality) and the fifth is the outright puppet yes man who is sometimes a self righteous self proclaimed realist.

Hmmm…I think the reasoning in favour of a time delay would be along similar lines to secret voting I think and have a number of similar pitfalls - the reasoning against still stands I think - could you expand on what benefits you see to this?
In regard to the secondary role as a citizen, they have the same opportunity as any other citizen - to vote in secret at a general election. If you mean when they vote according to their conscience in the absence of a clear indication of their constituents wishes, then again I can’t see a reason to do it in secret.
In the Steward/advocate role, I don’t see where the voting comes into play really. It is only the representative role that I/we and they should concern ourselves with and again, the open voting would appear to address the 4th/5th issues you mention I think, :smiley:

We now have the ability to go to referenda almost in real time. We can have much more direct systems and bypass this delegating of authority which some claim can’t be delegated in the first place. But in current systems legislators come up with bills which only they standing in our place will be able to vote on. In those situations they represent us and themselves as citizens in their voting. Their deliberative effect in a republic is slowed and exposed to a degree by various devices that pit power against power.

But we also have careerist pupets who put personal gain above all else. These are precisely the kind of semi human walking sponsored ads that money power wants to put in power. These are the people who want to enshrine bribery as speech- its job security. Its probably no coincidence that the Buckley verdict came after the Powell memo.

Interesting. I’m usually a fan of open voting, but I think this is actually a good bandage for current problems. But that’s all it is! A temporary solution. It’s not the root of the problem that we actually should fix.
In the long term, we should just switch to direct voting. We no longer really need representatives to vote for us. But that’s a whole other topic.

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So we the people, can see who the shameful politicians are on the ‘you have to pass it, to see it’ TPP deal…I dont think were going to take up arms over this though are we.

Meanwhile, the big boys know exactly who they can rely on from here on…since this is such a pivotal time in the private takeover of governance and commercial law.

Your going to vote on legislation that no legislator has been allowed to read. Once passed you can see what you have voted on.

Secret or Open voting in this case?

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Surprised to Wyden. Maybe this is where they call in all their chips?

It may make it seem more tempting that we know those who voted badly, but the fact of the matter is still that we cannot do enough against them, even if we know. If they gave a rat’s ass about us knowing, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.

The day we can level serious criminal charges against them for now voting as promised is the day they might start to care.

And talking about the US system specifically, you have that ridiculous senate who is even supposed to be free from voter influence! What do they care if we know what they voted? We have no leverage - not through official channels at least.

The Founding Fathers’ Forgotten Solution

How the Founding Fathers prevented special interest groups and lobbyists from corrupting our democracy – and how President Nixon shredded their work with an unheralded bill in 1970.

Even temporary private ballot (we should be careful about the words here, its not really organizational secrecy or secret ballot) wouldn’t get rid of the sponsorship filter that puts the wrong people in office. We need to get rid of the sponsorship and sponsored media.

America thinks sponsorship is positive. Its incredible. At public schools in CA we have wealthy parents too cheep to pay for better private schools for their children enrolling them in certain cloistered public schools through programs like STEM. These same parents are given a tax incentive to donate to these public schools deprived of funds over long term state budget frauds. Such parents are then given an awards ceremony for big donations and a lock on the speech input (censors everyone else) and their kids are given a free pass, automatic high grades etc. A sponsored public school is the definition of graft, but this type of stuff is the holy grail and its taught to MBAs as enabling entrepreneurship and freedom from red tape. The tax code is literally subsidizing/sponsoring this graft and censorship.

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