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A better way to conduct voting and representation

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posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 02:07 AM
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This is about ways to return to a system of government where the people are well represented. We all have different outlooks on what we would like to see politically however for those views to be expressed, debated, and ultimately voted upon at a federal level we need a system that ensures our representatives can adequately express their constituents views, and we need to be sure that elections are open, free, fair, and anonymous. Which given events that have happened in elections for at least the past decade, is in doubt.

Part 1: Voting
I won't go into all the technical details, partially because while I have all the hardware/software skills to make a working system, it would take me some research to know enough to make an optimized system which makes exact details a bit pointless and partially because it's not relevant to the point and people probably don't care. So here's the basic idea:

Prior to an election the government would create special keychains, these keychains would measure say 1.3”x1.3” and would be printed on both sides along with contain a passive RFID tag. Each side would be printed with the same information in different formats, and the RFID tag would also provide this information, giving three forms of redundancy.

The first format would be in the embedded passive RFID tag, which could contain a 128 (125) character sequence of numbers.

The second format would be in the form of a QR code that could be scanned by anyones phone or other type of camera with QR code software. This would be printed on one side of the keychain.

The third format would be a printing of the number sequence in text on the other side of the keychain.

These numbers would contain multiple pieces of data and each number would be unique. Lists would be created for each voting district meaning with the proper checks certain keys could only be used in certain voting districts.

When a person arrives at their polling place to vote, the person picks a random keychain by whatever method an election overseer wishes (picking a bunch of jumbled ones from a bowl or box for example). There is no log kept of who grabbed which keychain or even of which keychains were grabbed.

The person then takes their keychain into the polling booth and scans it on an RFID scanner. The software records this as well as all votes attributed to that number.

After the votes are input the voting machine will query the database for the votes made by the most recent number and return them on the screen. This will make sure that people aren't altering votes as they're being cast. The voter will have an opportunity at this point to review their vote according to the database and confirm if correct or alter it if not correct.

Once a vote is confirmed further votes using that number cannot be input through the terminals and two papers are printed. The first is a piece of paper that's printed and easily machine readable and has the keychain number attached preferably printed on a distinctive color of paper lets say blue. What's printed is the vote results and is deposited in a bin at the voting location. The other piece of paper is human readable voting receipt and is kept by the voter containing the same information, the votes cast and the keychain number, printed on another color of paper, we'll say orange.

After the election is over, poll workers can scan all remaining keychains locking out those numbers from having votes cast, and wiping the vote if a vote was cast with one of those numbers. A count is also made of remaining keychains, which when subtracted from the total number allotted to each polling place should equal the number of paper receipts deposited in the bins.

After voting is completed the database will be distributed to multiple government servers (so it can meet the high load) and available for public download and inspection/querying. A public website will also go up after voting has finished allowing for a more limited query for the less technical in the form of inputing your keychain number and getting a list of voting results tied to that number. This number can be input either through typing it or scanning the qr code and pasting the result into the field.

If a result is incorrect when a person checks it, the voter can take their keychain and voting receipt to their local board of elections. The elections worker can then look up the number in the database and confirm that the vote results are not what the paper contains (this would indicate someone changed the results after the fact), at that point with the permission of the election overseer they can correct the vote. No identifying information is needed from the voter, they simply need the keychain and paper. No name or ID is required. After the vote is changed the persons keychain/receipt is returned.

If a sufficient number of votes in a district are altered (over 1% for example) the system will declare the election invalid and trigger a revote due to fraud. If election officials refuse to alter votes in order to prevent a revote, the items may be given to the state board of elections or alternatively anonymously to the press in order to raise the issue. If fraud is detected the results of the paper printouts can be

Once the election is over and proven fair the results are finalized and voters may destroy their keychain/receipt in any manner they wish.

So, that's a lot to absorb. What does the average voter have to do?
Step 1: Goto their polling place.
Step 2: Talk to the poll worker, and grab a keychain.
Step 3: Take the keychain into the polling booth and cast your votes.
Step 4: Confirm your votes are correct. Take your keychain and printouts (lets say they're orange and blue).
Step 5: Deposit your blue printout in the bin and go home.
Step 6: Wait 1-3 days and check your vote online. If it's wrong goto the Board of Elections with your keychain and orange paper and correct it.
Step 7: Once the election results are finalized, destroy your keychain/receipt.

The only loophole in this system that I can think of involves physically stealing keys and repeatedly voting at the polling place they correspond to which isn't practical as someone voting several times will eventually be noticed, and doing so in significantly large enough numbers to affect the outcome of an election would be very obvious. There's a reason this isn't how election fraud is actually carried out these days (though it's always the boogeyman example). While there is a chance an individual instance of election fraud can get through this system using the above method, if even 1% of the population confirms their vote afterwards there is a high degree of certainty that widespread fraud will be caught, particularly when combined with other methods like querying the database for a count of total votes in an area, checked against how many votes were physically cast, or how many voters are registered, which is very easy and would take anyone with basic SQL skills seconds to accomplish and alert someone of. If 10% of people check their votes the chance of any behind the scenes fraud significant enough to alter the results is virtually impossible to get away with.




posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 02:07 AM
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Part 2: Representation

So, now that we have an inexpensive reliable and secure method of voting in our Representatives lets focus on how we get them to represent us rather than the interests of a party or corporation.

The first thing here is to take advantage of technologies like Skype and start meeting virtually. This has two primary benefits. The first is that it becomes possible to have larger meetings because we don't need a physical space for everyone anymore. The second is that it means our representatives no longer have to live in DC, they can live in their community while still regularly attending meetings.

So what does that get us? The main advantage is that we can return to a constitutional standard of 1 Representative for every 20,000-30,000 people. Lets say 1 per 25,000 average. That's 12,400 reps across the country with our current population. With the increase in representation we could proportionally increase committee sizes to take advantage of everyones differing life experiences, skillsets, and viewpoints. The increase in number or reps would also have the effect of lessening the cost of elections. Parties and corporations wouldn't be able to afford spending millions to get 1 person elected.

The next part here is likely the most controversial, but it's an important factor. Increase the pay of representatives, however there's multiple reasons for it. I would propose 5 million/year per rep, tax free. This is equal to ~$200/year per person in their taxes which means the breakeven point here is 8.7% more efficient spending in order to get our moneys worth based on the average tax burden of $2300. So, the next part is how to make higher pay translate into higher performance. And there's multiple ways to do that, when all the ways are combined the public gets considerably better legislation, and more efficient ways of doing things, which makes up the necessary savings to cover their salaries.

The first proposal here is a wealth cap, if we recognize that insider trading exists as a consequence of the job, and that it's very tough to eliminate we can simply include it as unofficial compensation. Lets assume a member of congress is able to increase their pay by 33% per year through insider trading, that means they're actually making 6.65 million/year so if we create a cap equal to how many years we're willing to tolerate them in office. I'm going to go with 12 years as an example. The reason is because 2 Senate terms is 12 years, so if this were applied to senators as well, everything works the same. So that means the wealth cap is 79.8 million dollars, we can round this up to $80 million. This cap would have to apply to the person in office as well as immediate family members so that money can't be given away to hide it and would be a maximum on their net worth. The cap would disappear 12 years after leaving office. It would ideally start lower when first elected and gradually increase in amount and how many years until it wears off up to the 80/12 after each reelection so that someone couldn't get elected, take a lot of money, and then leave after two years.

Next would involve campaign finance reform, the reason for this is that while parties are relatively poor, and corporations couldn't afford to back everyone, high pay combined with inexpensive campaigns gives incumbents too much ability to win reelection so there needs to be a cap on how much can be spent in any campaign. It also requires a limit on how many PAC's any company/company owner may be involved in as well as a rather small total that the campaign itself may spend, lets say $1/person or $25,000 total.

After this, each member of congress (or the house in this case) would have to file a public document listing any sources they're receiving money from that year or in the previous year. This could be amended quarterly. If the rep accepts money from someone not on the list, they goto jail and all assets earned from public office are seized. There would be no penalty for accepting funds (if it doesn't go over the wealth cap), however being paid by a corporation or individual while serving in congress would be a matter of public record and could impact their viability future elections.

Change the passage of typical bills from requiring 50.1% of votes to 53% of votes.

So how does this get us better legislation?

Well, first of all in a binary system (R/D, Yay/Nay, etc) humans naturally split votes along the lines of 40-40-20, this has to do with group psychology and usually holds true without outside influences. In the current system with 435 reps that means most decisions are made by the 87 free votes, another way of looking at this is by saying lobbying the correct 44 people will buy a bill. Under the new system at just a simple majority 1241 votes need to be lobbied in order to buy a bill. This makes it 28x more difficult (more expensive) to lobby for legislation against the will of the public.

Next comes the 53% change, the reason for this is that smaller areas tend to be more solidified politically on divisive issues, an area of 20,000 people that's pro choice for example is more in the 60-75% range pro choice while a larger sample more representative of the population is closer to 50%. So 53% allows a representative to still easily represent their constituents but it significantly changes the goal posts in congress when moving against public interest because 1314 votes must now be lobbied, it also creates a situation where more legislation needs to become bipartisan. With multiple political parties the effect only improves. The overall effect is bribery becomes 30x more expensive and legislation is forced to become a product of compromise rather than being ideologically rigid.

Next, on the subject of expense is how much money a congressman will accept in a bribe. Due to the nature of the wealth cap, congressmen cannot simply be given money in exchange for a vote, additionally with the financial disclosure, their voting base can respond to any money given. With the high rate of pay to each persons rep they're also going to be more critical and quick to dismiss someone who doesn't represent their interests. These factors combine to make it a poor financial decision to accept gifts from corporations in exchange for votes. This results in legislation that represents the people rather than corporations. With the rep earning an average of 2.5x as much money and 30x more reps need to be bought we get an end result of it being 75x more expensive for a corporation or industry to force legislation. This means corporations cannot effectively leverage their greater access to funds against the public.

After this comes term limits of a sort, because of the caps, a rep will eventually hit the point where they earn no more money in government, and then have an incentive to get out of government work so that they can earn more money in the future.

Now, another advantage is that with the largely expanded number of elections and lower costs of campaigns, elections are more open to ordinary people to run (and with the high pay, many will want to run). This means that realistically not every district will result in a Republican or Democrat winning. In some districts there may not even be one, or at least a competitive candidate. The opens the door to independents or third parties. While there's no guarantee they would become major parties it would give everyone alternatives and put a stop to the two party system.



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 02:37 AM
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reply to post by Aazadan
 


States resist, along with ideologues and religious groups, a basic identification card and you think the Federal government (who doesn't actually run elections; those are States) issuing a key chain would solve our problems?

ETA:
I do want to commend your effort though for presenting an idea, and I mean that.
edit on 14-1-2014 by ownbestenemy because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 02:53 AM
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ownbestenemy
reply to post by Aazadan
 


States resist, along with ideologues and religious groups, a basic identification card and you think the Federal government (who doesn't actually run elections; those are States) issuing a key chain would solve our problems?


That's because an identification card doesn't solve the issues. It's pretty much a non issue.

If they require an ID, people who have trouble getting ID's are unable to vote, while at the same the invented scenario they're trying to prevent of people from outside the district voting aren't stopped in the first place because fake ID's are a thing and if you have the funding to bring in busloads of these people you have the funding to get ID's. The other problem ID's cause is that they leave a paper trail of who did and did not vote.

ID's literally change nothing, it's a do nothing fix to a non existent problem. This actually would change things, and it requires no identifying information from the voter, and almost no additional work from the voting district.



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 02:56 AM
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reply to post by Aazadan
 


The question persists though, why do I need a key, from the Federal Government, to vote? Even pertaining to the States', if we are to have free elections, why must I have their key? What if they don't have a key for me? What if they run out of keys?

I hope to help you in vetting your idea by the way.



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 03:27 AM
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ownbestenemy
reply to post by Aazadan
 


The question persists though, why do I need a key, from the Federal Government, to vote? Even pertaining to the States', if we are to have free elections, why must I have their key? What if they don't have a key for me? What if they run out of keys?

I hope to help you in vetting your idea by the way.


The reason for a key is so that there's a publicly accountable record of each vote. If you assign the votes to someone by SSN or some other identifier you no longer have an anonymous vote. As a result you need to create a random temporary number for each person. If you produce enough keys to account for 110% of voter turnout, you won't run out of keys. To go back to the 2000 election for example as it's something factual rather than say 2004, 2008, or 2012 theories, if we had such a system there would be no question of voter intent, and every single voter in Flordia (or the country for that matter) would have been able to look up their vote and ensure it was being counted the way they wanted it to count. If it wasn't, they would have had the ability to correct it.

If you need additional redundancy in the event keys do run out however (shipping errors or so on) a backup could be written into the system to allow a printer to create keys in the event a mistake was made and there aren't enough. This is fairly easy to do provided you create logs of all additional keys created (so that someone printing off keys at home can't use them), and set the numbers up in such a fashion to allow additional numbers to be added to the system which is easy with composite strings (more explanation would require all the technical details, which I can go into). You would still have the QR code and printed number in this situation but no RFID tag.

This does open up the path to a potential security hole however because a QR code can contain an internet link linking to a site with malicious code (an improperly configured machine would be able to goto websites) so it's not something you would want to enable by default, it also has a perception issue that your vote is being attributed to you because the computer is assigning you something as you want to vote. A physical object you randomly pick up doesn't have the same perception, in the event something goes wrong however printed keys could be used.
edit on 14-1-2014 by Aazadan because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 03:32 AM
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Aazadan
The reason for a key is so that there's a publicly accountable record of each vote. If you assign the votes to someone by SSN or some other identifier you no longer have an anonymous vote. As a result you need to create a random temporary number for each person. If you produce enough keys to account for 110% of voter turnout, you won't run out of keys. To go back to the 2000 election for example as it's something factual rather than say 2004, 2008, or 2012 theories, if we had such a system there would be no question of voter intent, and every single voter in Flordia (or the country for that matter) would have been able to look up their vote and ensure it was being counted the way they wanted it to count. If it wasn't, they would have had the ability to correct it.


But why should my vote be accountable to the State? I understand the process, but the application is more foreboding than the request for an ID. While my particular State can identify if I have voted or not (which is another story), to attach my votes to any particular ballot is disturbing.

If after determine my eligibility to vote, I am given an identifier that will be attached to my votes, doesn't really encourage voting. It would be akin to dipping my finger in ink (that is only a color for me), and allowing the State to have record of who I have voted for (or against).

Like I said, your process is sound, but the application is not practical to a free society in my opinion.



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 03:47 AM
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ownbestenemy
But why should my vote be accountable to the State? I understand the process, but the application is more foreboding than the request for an ID. While my particular State can identify if I have voted or not (which is another story), to attach my votes to any particular ballot is disturbing.

If after determine my eligibility to vote, I am given an identifier that will be attached to my votes, doesn't really encourage voting. It would be akin to dipping my finger in ink (that is only a color for me), and allowing the State to have record of who I have voted for (or against).

Like I said, your process is sound, but the application is not practical to a free society in my opinion.


It's not accountable to the state, there is no link between say key 123456789 and voter John Smith. There's a public record that someone with the key 123456789 voted for candidate A, but there's no way to attach that to any given individual. Once it's used you're even free to destroy the key so that no one ever knows what your key was (though you probably want to keep it for a couple days to make sure your vote was tallied properly).

A request for ID doesn't really fix anything because that's not how rampant election fraud is committed. Real fraud on a large scale is done by altering vote counts digitally, either hacking the tallying machines to give person A -50 votes and person B +50 votes (to keep final totals correct), or by altering who the vote is cast for as it's being cast. Both things this system actively prevents. An ID can only prevent the small scale types of fraud that rarely if ever significantly change voting outcomes.



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 04:53 AM
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Personally, I'm dead against compulsory voting (as we have here). It means politicians don't have to earn their votes. They simply have to convince you the other guy is worse than they are.

I refuse to be threatened with a fine for not giving my vote to the person I dislike the least. That is why I'm not on the electoral roll.

Another thing I believe is that the 2-party system is used in western countries simply to stop the masses revolting. If you have a 1-party dictatorship and push the people too far, they will feel trapped and revolt. Doesn't happen with the 2-party system because people believe they can get "revenge" and vote for the opposing party. Then they are happy that the old party is out, while the new party rarely does anything to repeal what the prior government did to make people so angry in the first place.

So you can actually push a population much harder with a 2-party system and get away with it.
edit on 14/1/14 by NuclearPaul because: (no reason given)



posted on Jan, 14 2014 @ 03:07 PM
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NuclearPaul
Personally, I'm dead against compulsory voting (as we have here). It means politicians don't have to earn their votes. They simply have to convince you the other guy is worse than they are.

I refuse to be threatened with a fine for not giving my vote to the person I dislike the least. That is why I'm not on the electoral roll.

Another thing I believe is that the 2-party system is used in western countries simply to stop the masses revolting. If you have a 1-party dictatorship and push the people too far, they will feel trapped and revolt. Doesn't happen with the 2-party system because people believe they can get "revenge" and vote for the opposing party. Then they are happy that the old party is out, while the new party rarely does anything to repeal what the prior government did to make people so angry in the first place.

So you can actually push a population much harder with a 2-party system and get away with it.
edit on 14/1/14 by NuclearPaul because: (no reason given)


This isn't compulsory, voting is still completely voluntary in this system. A two party system is better than a one party system, but that's all it's better than. It causes us no end of problems in the US.



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