Re: [EILeg] Vote Buying/Selling

From: Marc Baber <marc_at_botworks_dot_com>
Date: Thu Dec 07 2006 - 10:27:41 CST

In the NM example, how did the candidate's workers confirm that the
people they took to the polls and gave "food" money to actually voted
for their candidate? What kept the voters from lying to the candidate's
workers to get rides and money while, in fact, voting for the opponent?

Why would a candidate pay for votes after an election, when the election
has already been decided? Why would a voter believe that they would
ever see a penny of the promised payoff enough to change their vote?
For that to be a problem, you'd have to have an extremely entrenched
political machine serving many candidates year-in, year-out with an
established reputation for making good on vote-buying pledges. I'm not
saying that's impossible, but I am saying it wouldn't be a secret long.
Which means it would only be able to stay in place if law enforcement in
the town/city/state/country was bought off and the press was afraid to
break the story or owned by the machine. I'm not saying that's
impossible either, just that, when it's the case, we have much more
serious problems than vote buying/selling to worry about.

It may be that this is a problem that varies hugely from state to
state. In Oregon, we don't seem to have levels of poverty and
corruption that lead to vote-buying/selling. Other states apparently do
have ripe conditions. That's why I think it may make sense, at the
federal level, to define a "solution space" for election reform that
includes a range of verifiable election systems including HCPB, PBOS,
with or without receipts that let voters confirm their individual votes
according to conditions in the state with regard to corruption, poverty,
availability of pollworker volunteers, state financial resources, etc.
and let each state choose the option that is most likely to result in
the fairest elections in their state under their state's conditions.
There is no one system that's perfect under all conditions. There are
some inherent trade-offs between verifiability and secrecy that can't be
designed away.

charlie strauss wrote:
> Indeed we just had an instance similar to your here in NM of vote selling. The candidate's workers were "helping" people get to the polls and with some "food" money. If they agreed to vote for the candidate. In the case which developed no sever punishments could be handed out because it was just he-said-she-said and so close to a grey area. After all there are many groups that provide poll transportation and they certainly target their voters. Church groups do it too, and they might even have refreshments afterwards. It's not even uncommon for church members to help the less fortunate with financial aid.
> The key thing that allowed this to go forward is that vote selling in this manner is retail--you have to go find and coerce a lot of prospects before you get a sale. That leaves a big trail of angry people who might turn you in, even before the election. If you can vote sell after the fact by proving how you voted, it lets sellers find buyers and then it becomes wholesale. And it all happens after the election when it's too late.

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Received on Sun Dec 31 23:17:08 2006

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