Public Opinion 19 May 2019.

Voting in elections has a somewhat troubled history.  Even before the Russkies and a bunch of other countries started messing with the elections in other places.

Problem: back in the 1800s, when elections were a new thing, how could you tell that the government in power hadn’t rigged the election by stuffing the ballot boxes?

Solution: have everyone place their ballot into the box of an openly identified party or candidate in a hall open to the public.  Observers could count the votes cast.  They could estimate a rough “real” return, then protest apparent fraud.

Problem: If everyone could see how you voted, then so could your land-lord, employer, creditor, and the guy at the local tavern who either extended or did not extend you credit when you didn’t want to tell the Missus you’d wasted your pay.  Public voting meant that voters could be pressured.

Solution: The “Australian” ballot.  Go into a little booth with a curtain, cast your vote in secret, and go tell they guy who paid you to vote one way that you did vote that way.  Then, go get some drinks.

Problem: In a sexist society, women are dominated by the men upon whom they are economically dependent.  Also, according to the accepted thought of the time, women are flighty and emotional.

Solution: Deny women the vote.

Problem: Democracy is political corruption—on the part of the individual voter—writ large.  All men (and women) are corruptible.  That is, they will do what is economically favorable to them.  Tax/Spend/Elect v. Tax-cut/Spend/Elect.  Thus, the economic situation or prospects of the individual citizen will determine their vote.[1]  So, what economic or financial considerations weigh upon them?  That is, may we know their biases when they vote?

Solution: Make public the tax returns (which reveal the financial data and pension assets/claims) and the votes of all citizens, whether they voted or not.  This will help reveal the extent to which Americans are being “corrupted” by their financial interests.  A computer analysis can reveal patterns.

Should the tax returns of President Donald Trump be made public?[2]  No law requires it, but a now-entrenched tradition does require it.

Should YOUR tax returns be available to the public?  So they can tell if you are the pawn of a corporate interest?  One man-one vote, n’est-ce pas?  The same rules for everyone.

Should we apportion voting according to a “corruption index” arrived at by a non-partisan board of academic assessors?  (The NYT has reported that the Educational Testing Service of Princeton, NJ, had developed a system for scoring the “adversity” experienced by college applicants independent of their academic performance.  So, in theory, a “corruption index” could be done.)

[1] OK, sometimes they get distracted by “cultural” issues like race, gender, sexual-orientation, age-cohort, and the general sexiness of the candidate (Go AOC!)

[2] In late April 2019, 56 percent of people polled wanted President Trump’s tax returns released to the public; only 27 percent did not want them released.  That leaves 17 percent Not Sure.  “Poll Watch,” The Week, 26 April 2019, p. 17.

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