Electronic Voting Will Save Democracy

We are all so sick of watching the political games and torturous twists of logic, the endless reality bending and the dirty tricks that go into modern “governance.” Each year that passes seems to bring more obstruction and inability to decide and do things that TRULY need doing. Politicians spend so much of their energy campaigning, not just for themselves but their party, that they don’t seem to have time for what we pay them to do—governing.

Just because we have a Democratic Republic, though not a pure Democracy, doesn’t mean The People don’t get to have our say. WE were meant to have our say. WE deserve to have our say. WE elect people to Represent US and we now need to step up OUR game to take control of these people who we pay very well for their entire lives!

Paul Ryan, who retired at 49 (after giving himself a hefty tax break) doesn’t have to lift a finger for the rest of his life and will get $85,000 per year after getting several years of $223,500 per year. Multiply this times the whole Congress and it adds up. Do what we pay you for, Congress!

“People who love sausage and respect the law should never watch either one being made.” — Mark Twain

Fixing the Filibuster Is Not Hard

The basic concept of the Filibuster is not entirely bad. In a closely split chamber, it’s not necessarily always right for 51 people to override the will of 49 people who could happen to represent the actual majority opinion of the Public. But the 60 votes required seems a bit over the top and arbitrary to me but worse than that there has developed an intransigence and unwillingness to debate and come to terms on common sense matters that The People overwhelmingly support such as reasonable gun controls or any number of other topics with wide (65+%) agreement in the public and the Filibuster has become a tool of pure partisan obstruction. That is egregious misrepresentation, and entirely our fault too.

We all know, or should know, the Filibuster is nowhere in the Constitution so it’s a made up rule we never even got to vote on directly. Only 100 Senatorial Representatives of Yore got to decide that for us. That’s already a strike against it. What good is the Filibuster if it’s not a tool to decide a matter in the best interest of The People? I’m personally sick and tired of watching a minority party easily block the majority on a regular basis preventing us as a nation from even trying new things to solve society’s many problems. Most states don’t even have the concept of a filibuster and neither do most democracies around the globe so if we are going to have it, let’s make it work for US, not against US.

Because we live in the Zoom Age where millions of people and even legislators work remotely it is TIME to bring that remote power to the Voter. To THE PEOPLE. There is no turning back the wheel of technological progress and it makes no sense to cling to arcane methods that thwart Democracy when we have an alternative—Electronic Voting. After all, right there in the chamber, members vote electronically by pushing a button at their desk. They didn’t have that in Jefferson’s time, did they? No, because the Future is always different than the Past and it’s changing faster than ever. We need to use these changes to OUR advantage and blast ahead with Democracy, setting an example for the world. Read below for how to completely fix the Filibuster concept after I describe the mechanics and benefits of Electronic Voting.

How To Enact Electronic Voting

The most important aspects of qualified voting are:

  1. The verified identity of the voter (though not tracked in the voting only that they are who they say they are)
  2. The citizenship of the voter (national, state and local)
  3. Casting one vote per voter on a given candidate position/issue

These three problems are trivial in today’s Internet, biometric, mobile device driven world. In fact many businesses have already solved this many times over. For example, try logging into someone else’s bank account and depositing the same check 2 times. Not only does the bank know who you are and where you live but each check has a unique identifier which can only be deposited once. If banks and can do it, so can OUR government.

It’s not rocket science. It’s computer science. All you need to securely transact like this are these common, everyday things in today’s world:

  1. A secure, encrypted server ✅
  2. A secure network connection ✅
  3. A secure database ✅
  4. A secure application ✅
  5. An Authentication method ✅
  6. Unique Identifiers for transactions ✅

But it gets better because we have invented something even more secure and less hackable than all these so, in addition—A Blockchain. ✅

A Blockchain is basically a Ledger of transactions that is highly encrypted but doesn’t just live in one location. Just like our bodies contain a full copy of our DNA in every cell, the Blockchain has many of copies of itself that must all match for it to be verified and valid. All Cryptocurrency is based on this highly secure technology. If it’s good enough for a billionaire’s money, it’s good enough for voting. Voting is actually a trivial mathematical problem of basic addition. Add the votes, get the total, see who won. It doesn’t get any simpler.

The US Postal Service has already filed a patent application for Blockchain Voting. The wheels are in motion. All of the above and VERY doable things but the benefits of doing it are so numerous that we should all be clamoring for it.

Electronic Voting Benefits include:

  1. Convenient voting from anywhere at any time during the voting period. No more lines, no more waiting, no more time off of work, finding parking, etc. Just voting. Although some digital and mobile voting systems could be deployed for those that have lost access.
  2. Huge savings for states not having to set up and man polling places and then pay to manually count votes in a pathetic 19th Century, hanging chad, painful process that can take weeks to complete.
  3. No more Mail In ballots (obsolete)
  4. Accurate Results known almost instantly after voting closes.
  5. No more complex ballots that are confusing to understand, expensive to print (though samples can still be sent).
  6. Ability to create pop-up votes quickly polling the people to solve Filibusters Democratically.

These are HUGE benefits to every single voter. So the thing we must focus on is what is stopping us. Here are the problems to be solved:

  1. Universal Access to a secure device using biometric identification
  2. Universal Access to the Internet (Already being done)
  3. The Infrastructure Required (Servers, Database, Apps, Blockchain tech)

While it’s getting harder to find people at any income level that don’t have a mobile phone which have overtaken land lines, they still exist. I say for this the government could easily and very inexpensively develop a dedicated voting device and give them one per household since the same device could authenticate several people for separate votes. In reality, it wouldn’t matter whose voting device you used because anyone can use their voice, face and fingerprint to verify which voter they are. You say your name and location, show your face and place your thumb on the device and it 100% verifies it’s you.

Yes, this requires that the government has a copy of your name, facial metrics and fingerprint in your voter registration record but that information can be encrypted in such a way that it can’t be used for any other purpose without your permission. It’s in no way tied to the Justice Department. That’s up to US, the Voter who owns OUR Government. For all those whining about Voter ID, this is your answer too. Are you ready to accept Real Voter ID? Or are you afraid this will allow all voters to easily vote as it is their lawful right to do?

This method has got to be WAY cheaper than paying for and maintaining all those expensive voting machines and counting machines and personnel to run them. Such a dedicated device only has one purpose: VOTING. And to do that, all it needs to do is:

  1. Authenticate the voter using biometrical methods
  2. Show the voter the voting choices clearly
  3. Allow them select one item per issue/candidate choice or multiple choices in some cases like Board of Education.
  4. Summarize the voter’s choices
  5. Allow voter to push the Cast Vote button when ready
  6. Register the vote in the Blockchain database
  7. Keep a record of the user’s vote for viewing or printing if desired.

Besides these optional dedicated, government-issued voting devices, we could also use our mobile phones in the exact same way just like we do for secure banking, but with a secure government app. And because each transaction is final, there would be no ability to cast multiple votes to the same identifier. Voter fraud becomes nearly impossible. You couldn’t vote for your dead relative because THEY did not log in. In fact, we may want to even let voters change their vote up to the poll closing time because who says they can’t change their mind? As long as it results in ONE vote that expresses the voter’s will who cares? Poll closing would be final. No stragglers. No stranded voters out in the rain or snow.

One hour after poll closing, the final and perfect vote tally could be announced. No more hand wringing or BS about how the vote was mishandled or whining about fraud or “ballot dumps.” No more waiting for districts to report. The FINAL VOTE is perfect AS IS because the task for computers of adding even a billion votes is trivial! Photoshop does more calculations just creating an image file. Besides the beauty of the speed and accuracy, because voting is so easy, things like run-off elections and ranked choice voting become simple and easy to pull off.

It costs almost nothing to set up such a vote and any topic can be put to the THE PEOPLE any time so WE can always chime in with OUR will on the matter. This is a perfect way to do an end around on a Congress that is blocking progress and not doing THE PEOPLE’s work. WE will finish the job. WE will decide the outcome.

With the arcane Filibuster, we can make it so it’s not the 100 Senators that needs 60%, but instead millions of THE PEOPLE would need 60% and the matter is settled! In this way we directly participate in OUR Democracy and actually get things done that a real super majority supports.

If The People wanted to legalize marijuana but their legislators were wrangling over various issues such as licenses, rules and regulations and dragging their feet? Put each small item up for a PEOPLE’s VOTE. Because it’s so simple to do, we can easily make it a fun part of being a Citizen of the United States. A benefit. A voice. A real-time, instantaneous connection to our government for once!

Conclusion

Not only will Electronic Voting engage the voting public and make us eager participants in our own destinies but it will fully equalize the playing field. It doesn’t do away with unfair gerrymandering but it makes voting easy, secure and accurate for ALL people of all colors, religions and orientations. The younger generations will embrace this like it’s completely obvious and in fact they WILL insist on it. These are digital generations now and they will increasingly look at our current voting system with proper disdain and question not only its legitimacy but its purpose. They will become disinterested in voting in this old-fashioned, frankly stupid way when they KNOW there is a much better way available NOW.

Of course, we still have to Register to vote. That is the same as now except the identity is also now attached to biometrics. Once Registered, you are set to vote. Period. If you become a felon serving time or otherwise lose your voting rights or die, the system will know and you can’t trick it. Vote NOT tallied or marked as invalid. You can contest it if you are wronged, of course. We can even have the concept of partial votes like as with cryptocurrency where you can pay 1/1,000th of a Bitcoin. Perhaps a felon could be afforded a 1/4th vote for example. Who says it has to be zero when it’s digital? Qualified Engaged Children between 13 and 17 could be given 1/10th vote so even they could have some say in their own futures. The possibilities are exciting.

The cost benefits alone are worth it to states. But the real MASSIVE benefit is to Democracy itself which will undergo a Renaissance beyond the Founder’s wildest dreams, beyond the dreams of any Philosopher who has pined for a just representative system of governance for centuries. Things will get done and they will get done in a timely fashion. We will quickly progress into a much brighter future and politics itself will transform into a Rational and Purposeful process. Elections would become far simpler and our Representatives would be held to account much more easily. Yes, we still need them to carefully craft legislation and explain it to THE PEOPLE but in the end, WE THE PEOPLE must have the final say. The the Government we have and pay for would truly belong to US.

We all know, their are many powers that be who will hate this idea and will fight it tooth and nail. Those include any party or candidate who is afraid of the public’s True Vote and voting machine manufacturers and wealthy donors whose agenda requires a lower voter turnout to pass. There is a large swath of society that is convinced democracy is not even the best solution but rather lets have these “smart” wealthy people make all the decisions because by gosh, how else would they be so wealthy if they weren’t more clever and qualified than the rest? I, and a majority of Americans completely reject that notion. WE want Democracy, not Plutocracy, not Oligarchy and for sure not Autocracy!

But Wait, It Gets Even Better

Even this is just the beginning of what we can do with elections and voting electronically. We can also transform and equalize the ugly campaigning portion of our Democracy by creating a Public Campaign Forum where candidates would not advertise to us but explain their positions and ideas and show us their charisma and dedication and could interact civilly with constituents and woo and convince voters on an even playing field. We can make Campaigns entirely Publicly Funded (at low cost too) and do away with Dark Money and manipulation by behind-the-scenes oligarch types and corporations. This will allow MUCH more qualified Representatives who are not millionaires beholden to or dependent upon rich donors but Civil Servant types interested in the betterment of society. Currently we filter out so many possible wonderful, upstanding candidates who rightly refuse to enter into this charade of fundraising and glad-handing.

We have the power to completely transform our nation for the better using incredible, existing and proven technology. It is fully within our reach. Let’s do it as soon as possible!


Electronic Voting Will Save Democracy was originally published in DataDrivenInvestor on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.