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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 9/17/16

Strike the Vote

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So how many votes for Jill Stein will be redistributed to Trillary in November? Nobody knows, and nobody will ever know. To put it another way, nobody can reasonably assure you such a redistribution won't happen, or that there is a reliable system in place to detect or prevent it. Unless you find that "Trust us. It can't happen here." provides a reasonable assurance. This is an electoral system that's designed to enable fraud, and has been riddled with prima faciae evidence of fraud over the past 16 years, so "Trust us" doesn't work so well for me. Collier puts the emphasis right where it should be: "It's not the responsibility of voters or candidates to prove a non-transparent vote count was fixed. It's the job of legislators and election officials to provide transparency and uphold basic standards of democracy, and it's their failure to do so that's truly shocking."

Which brings me back to my reluctant conclusion: Since the American voting system lacks the most fundamental condition of electoral democracy--that every citizen has a reasonable certainty his or her vote will be counted as it was cast--it is an insult to democracy, and to one's self, to participate in it. The most effective electoral tactic for leftists is not to vote.

I don't, of course, mean sitting home and sulking. (I'm not quite going George Carlin, although he is spot on about who gets to complain.) I mean a public, organized boycott that demands the electoral system be reformed in such a way to earn the public's confidence, a way that gives a consistently reasonable assurance that your vote will count for whom it is cast.

Let's stipulate for the moment that we're talking about the presidential election, and that the more local the election, the better is the possibility of detecting and avoiding fraud and the more chance there is for your vote to make a real difference. No elections in the United States are more important than School Board elections. The presidential election is an obscene carnival anyway, and its only real use for leftists is the opportunity it gives to organize around issues that have the media attention usually reserved for Kim and Kanye.

Leftists do, of course, use that opportunity to highlight important social and political issues, but also spend way too much time arguing about which "lesser evil" to vote for. Every erg of that energy would be better spent putting forth--alongside all the other important issues--a critique of, and a set of proposals for fixing, the fundamentally undemocratic electoral system--backed up by a refusal to participate in it until and unless it meets minimal democratic standard of transparency and trustworthiness. Every demonstration during an election should include and forefront those demands, which would be attractive to every citizen who has a sincere commitment to democracy.

In terms of the voting and counting process these demands should include: All voting by paper ballot; all votes hand-counted in the polling place in front of representatives of the candidates, parties, and however many voters can be accommodated on site--live-streamed to the public; results posted immediately, in hardcopy, in the precinct, available for anyone to photograph or copy, before any transmittal to a central clearinghouse or to media; results of every precinct posted, with public oversight, on freely available web sites; national media required to wait until all this is done before reporting winners and losers (There's no rush. It's not a process for the benefit off Wolf and Rachel!); strictly-enforced chain of custody of ballots and results; NO proprietary hardware or software anywhere in the process; entire process overseen by public, non-profit agencies and personnel. Every voter must be able to trace the path of his/her vote from the precinct to the final result.

There's plenty of new technology here--smartphone cameras, live-streaming, web posting--that can enhance democratic transparency. These are the uses to which that technology should be put, rather than in the service of opaque, proprietary profit-generating apparatuses that hide what's going on from the public.

As part of a movement for election integrity, these kinds of demands can be linked with all the more general demands the left has been making: for an end to voter caging and suppression, for full enforcement of the Voting Rights Act, for an elimination of the electoral college, for public funding, for an end to discriminatory ballot laws, for an end to gerrymandering, for independent management of debates, for instant and automatic voter registration, for some kind of Instant Runoff Voting, for extended voting days, etc.

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Jim Kavanagh Social Media Pages: Facebook Page       Twitter Page       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Former college professor, native and denizen of New York City. Blogging at, from a left-socialist perspective. Also publishing on Counterpunch, The Greanville Post, Medium, Dandelion Salad, and other sites around the net. (more...)

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