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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Would Harland Prosecute Me For Paying Voters?

Harland Harrison wrote:

HH) Nobody else running for Congress on my ballot wants elections "more
hackable". Do you? (HH

Of course not, which is why I posted the Rivest article. However, I
might favor rules that give more weight to the votes of the
well-informed than to the votes of the ignorant, and my questions
pointed out that hackable elections can be seen as favoring rule by the
savvy over rule by the mob.

My current favorite system for punishing voter ignorance is that your
vote is discarded if you can't match the candidates you're voting
against with the one-line statement about their positions that they
pre-publish in the voter guide. Cheat sheets allowed, you just have to
recognize the positions you're voting against when they're presented to
you in random order.

A more drastic -- but perhaps more effective -- prophylactic against
rule by the ignorant mob is to impose an absolute limit on the size of
any one mob -- say, 1000. See

HH) Will you trade your votes for campaign contributions? For the value
of your house or stock? For pork for your district? For cash? (HH

(You forgot to ask about chocolate and sex.) Your ability to
successfully type random silly questions does not incur in me an
obligation to answer them.

HH) a voter represents society, just like a juror (HH

It seems you and I have different conceptions about the alleged
obligations of individuals toward society. My conception is called
"libertarian", but I'm not sure what to call yours. Is payment to a
voter the only form of misrepresentation that you recognize? Is giving
a ride to the polling place considered payment? What about cab fare?

HH) Your young children don't vote. Parents don't get one ballot for
each child, either. (HH

Perhaps you think they should, since you say voters represent more
people than just themselves. Why can't voters just be free to consider
themselves as representing whoever they feel like representing?

HH) only males with property were trusted to vote (HH

I would favor a rule by which suffrage is temporarily denied to people
who are, over the appropriate timescale, clearly net tax beneficiaries
rather than net taxpayers. (In EcoLibertopia, replace "tax" with "fees
for consuming, congesting, polluting, or monopolizing the commons".) I
also think that the only general taxation should be local land value
taxation, and favor residency requirements for voting which can in
effect be seen as property requirements, since residency requires either
land ownership or (at least imputed) rent to a land owner. The slogan
"No representation without taxation" makes a lot of sense in the context
of what should be government's primary job: local provision of public
goods (i.e. streets, pipes, wires).

HH) Why would they want to avoid getting paid for a recount? (HH

You're assuming facts not in evidence. I've asked for evidence of vote
counts fabricated in order to influence an election outcome. I'm still

HH) The Ohio election was rigged by denying liberal voters enough
machines to cast their votes. (HH

Again, facts not evidence. Your premier anecdote is about a town of
2200 where 50% of the two voting machines broke down on election day. I
guess sabotaging that one machine was part of the Bush campaign's master
plan to fabricate a 120,000-vote margin of victory in Ohio. If you care
to know the actual facts about Gambier, they're at The facts refute the
premier data point of your conspiracy theory in too many ways for me to
even bother cutting and pasting. I had always suspected that the
allegations about Ohio 2004 were thin, but I had no idea they were this
baseless. This has been very enlightening.

HH) Your party's candidate contested the 2004 Ohio vote; one of your
senators refused to certify it. Do you think it was a legitimate
election? (HH

Do I think Ohio's electors in 2004 were awarded to the candidate who won
the popular vote there? Yes. Do I have an evidence that Badnarik's
Ohio count was systematically and intentionally lowered? No.

HH) Will you sponsor an E-bay Election law to let voters get the most
cash out of their ballots? (HH

I favor voting systems (like Rivest's, and unlike absentee voting) in
which it is impossible for a third party to verify how you voted, and I
favor repeal of all laws limiting consenting adults from trying to
influence each other's votes in such elections. Don't you agree?

In 2004 I offered voters $5 (at if
they could pass a short test on my positions and still assert they
planned not to vote for me. I saw this as a way of paying voters
(instead of a media middleman) to advertise my campaign to themselves,
but while it complied with the letter of federal law (which doesn't
cover payments not to vote for X), it turned out to possibly violate the
California election code (below). About four or five voters collected
on the offer. Do you or do you not think I and those voters should be
prosecuted for violating this law? Do you consider yourself a victim of
our voluntary and consensual transactions?

CAL. ELEC. CODE § 18521(a) (West 2000) "A person shall not directly or
through any other person receive, agree, or contract for, before, during
or after an election, any money, gift, loan, or other valuable
consideration . . . because he or any other person voted . . . agreed to
vote, refrained from voting, or agreed to refrain from voting for any
particular person or measure."