I’m wondering, from a partisan/election-outcome perspective, what would happen if every voter were forced to cast a public ballot. If I understand right, way back in the early 1700s or that time era, votes were in public and the voter would be asked by the election official, “How vote ye?” and the voter would reply in public, “(I vote for so-and-so.”)
The obvious effect of not having a secret ballot would be to allow all kinds of voter intimidation to take place. I think what would happen would be that:
The vote disparity in the blue and red states would become starker. Republicans in blue states would be publicly shamed for voting red and Democrats in red states would be publicly shamed for voting blue. So instead of the Democrat winning Massachusetts by 30% and the Republican winning Alabama by 30%, it might be the Democrat winning Massachusetts by 60% and the Republican winning Alabama by 60%.
The Trump vote would go down, due to Trump being considered a boorish or embarrassing candidate to vote for. In fact, it would probably follow that, in any election, the less “respectable” candidate would get fewer votes in public than he/she would in a secret-ballot system.
Voter turnout would go down, as many blue voters in red states or red voters in blue states would not turn up to vote.
There would be far fewer accusations of voter fraud, because every vote would be open and public. Voters couldn’t vote twice without being caught on it, and there wouldn’t be the hanging-chad or machine irregularities because votes wouldn’t be tabulated or recorded in secret, they would be recorded in the open.
If every citizen’s voting record was made public there would be massive and completely unhindered voter intimidation from every social, financial, legal, political connection. This would be followed immediately by open and unfettered access to purchasing votes. I’d expect vote buying auction sites to pop up immediately.
I agree with most of your speculations except this. I fail to see why open voting would prevent voter fraud more than secret voting. Voting openly does nothing to prevent me from voting twice, voting in more than one district, or improperly registering in the first place.
And something has to tabulate the votes, whether a check mark by a human (voter or othersie), a punched card, or a switch flipped. Open or closed makes no difference.
It was very bad in the UK. People would be evicted from their homes for voting the wrong way. There’s a very famous cartoon on this subject. So famous my search-fu is completely failing me
I don’t know about the US but in the UK, the vote is only technically secret. The State can find out how you voted if it needs to, for example when checking for election fraud. I’m not privy to the details, but believe there’s a manual step or two necessary to prevent abuse.
I see what you’re saying - right now, whether someone voted is public info, and that’s sufficient to catch fraudulent votes. (And people do get caught that way.)
But I’d suspect that having actual votes publicly available would probably lead to increased crowdsourcing.
In other words, people’re more likely to spend time poring over voting records if they can hunt down known R/D/etc voters. Human nature.
This would be terrible; any gains in preventing fraud would be far offset by further politicizing the act of voting.
It’s easy enough to test the hypothesis by looking at states that have party caucuses or conventions instead of primary elections. Not only is your vote known to everyone there, but in a caucus you actually get up and stand with a group to vote for a candidate.
That’s a good point, I hadn’t thought of that. I had been thinking “voter fraud” in terms of rigged machines, etc., that could secretly flip red votes to blue or vice versa, but you’re right, vote-buying would be rampant.
Yeah, when I saw this, I immediately started imagining dark-web sites where you could sell your vote to the highest bidder.
But, overall, this would be a terrible system.
It makes sense for our elected officials to be held to a public ballot, as we need to know how they are representing us, and we should be able to influence (but not intimidate or bribe) them into voting the way we want them to vote, and hold them accountable for them.
The public, however, should not be held to account for their vote. Their vote should be entirely between them and the ballot. If they want to tell their spouse of friends that they voted a certain way, while they vote their conscience instead, that is how it is supposed to be.
Overall effects, I think you would see quite a bit of intimidation and fraud.
I’ve kinda liked the semi-public/private method, where you essentially have two passwords, one private, one public. You place your public votes with one password, and you private vote with the other. Only your private vote is actually counted, but you could “show” your friends your public vote using your public password, and verify that your vote was correctly counted with your private password. Only allow one login type per week, that way you can’t be bullied into showing that both passwords vote the same way. This would allow more secure online voting, without as much chance of intimidating or bribery into voting a certain way, as you could vote the way you are instructed, but do so on your public account, rather than your private, and then go vote in private at a later time.
Intimidating voters and bribing voters are both considered corrupt practices, and open voting facilitates both. FWIW, when the secret ballot was being debated and eventually implemented in the UK in the 1850s, 60s and 70s the general understanding seems to have been that voter bribery was a much bigger problem than voter intimidation, and when the secret ballot was introduced the cost of campaigning fell sharply - fewer beers to be bought and parties to be thrown - which of course made it possible for a wider range of individuals to consider campaigning, and a wider range of groups to support them.
I seem to recall reading that in the early 19th century, how one voted was published in the newspaper, in the US.
It would not surprise me to learn that how one voted the ballot, could be determined. The absentee or mail-in ballots are all tied to social security #s and address, bar codes, etc.
Interestingly, Australia will fine citizens for not voting. Who is allowed to vote is a contentious subject, there certainly can be arguments to be made for certain limitations. Vote buying, at least directly, would not improve the state of politics.
I think voter participation would go up, not down.
Sure, there’d be voter intimidation, but why intimidate someone into not voting when you could intimidate them into voting for your preferred candidate?
It would also be much easier to sell your vote (since currently you can’t easily provably vote for someone), which I think would lead to a swing to the right everywhere (assuming that the right remains the preferred party of rich people).
Caucusing went very well for Bernie, interestingly enough. In Washington we were being outrightly pressured by some little old neighborhood ladies that we had a moral obligation to vote for a woman. It was both cute and obnoxious. But we rightly wanted a Bernie candidacy like so many other caucusing states.