Your Vote: Do you? Should you? Why?

Voting: Its Importance, Accuracy, Abuse and Reform

By: Gary Hardee

The United States is full of good people, well-meaning people, in and out of government. We know and accept this. We also know that there are bad people, evil people, devious people and people who seek power and undue influence in almost every walk of life. We know about special interest influence peddling and the political bias in reporting the “news”, which is more a “statement of opinion” these days, than facts. These influences can reasonably be termed “negative influences”.

On the other hand, “positive influences” are rooted in being informed, getting to the truth of issues, knowing the lessons of history and the importance of how to preserve a free society. I know of very few that go to the polls and cast their vote to bring about a slave state or a totalitarian regime.

Much today is made of the term “self-interest”. Having hit briefly touched on the positive and negative forces above, the issue of self-interest is much more complicated and delicate. But it is at the core of the motivations and decisions that we exercise on election day. Whether you think government should do more or do less, or just something different, it remains the driving force in who and what we vote for or against. When you boil it all down, voting is a reflecting of what we have been convinced is an extension of what we think is in our best interests.

If you are evil, corrupt, dishonest, lazy, uninformed, ignorant or greedy, you will likely vote accordingly. If you are an angel, well educated, naive, starry eyed, trusting,  suspicious, fearful or a scholarly economist, you will likely vote accordingly.

But there is one thing about voting that cannot be denied and that is by doing so and participating in the election of “public servants”, we are granting our permission for them to act on our best self-interests. We want so desperately to trust our elected officials to serve that best interest of the least among us as well as the greatest among us.  I believe there is one small element that we seldom think about or lays in our subconscious and that is our knowledge that each one of the places their right hand on the Bible and swears to protect, preserve and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.

We have almost a silent trust that every public servant has read and understands what its words are and what limitations of power they will be exercising. Sadly, far too many voters have even bothered to read it within the last 10 years of their lives. So let me ask, how can we expect to see it preserved by those elected or those who do the electing if we possess little or no clear understanding of its contents and deeper purposes?

With the astonishing vastness of the instantly available internet at our fingertips, we have even fewer excuses to remain ignorant about our republic. We have the ability to search a word, term or phrase into a search field and in milliseconds have all the information we need to inform ourselves better.

Regardless of how you feel about certain issues and regardless of which side of the issue you may be on, nothing overrides the first act, the first obligation and the solemn oath that binds our servants from mischief – their Oath of Office!

So, to the extent that we want our servants to stray and pass laws or repeal laws, raise our taxes and fees or repeal and reduce them, our requests should be rooted in a sound understanding of what is allowed and what is not. History should have taught each of us that a government large enough and powerful enough to give us all we want is also big enough and powerful enough to take all we have. There never has been nor will there ever be a “free” lunch, somebody somewhere at some point pays for it. It may be you, your neighbor, your friend or even your grandchildren, but somebody will have to pay the tab!

Please, before you vote this year, take an hour of your time and read the Constitution of our great republic. Remember too, that we honor our Veterans who have sacrificed their blood and left loved ones alone and children without a parent in its defense.  The first Vets were those who helped found this country!

When it comes to elections, given the almost universal electronic paperless tabulations that are used, just how much faith should we really have in the results? Should blind faith rule the day when such an important process is conducted by the government? Do we owe it to ourselves to establish an auditable paper trail? Are the results really the accurate results without being able to audit them? Have special interests taken advantage is this potentially hackable software driven system? How will we know that we have been defrauded if such fraud is really occurring?

There have been obvious advances in technology in the last 30 years that have both added to the quick reporting of vote tallies in elections. Such advances are admirable but do have an interesting if not adverse effect on voters’ behaviors.

Polls that close on the east coast while the west coast and Hawaii voters have still hours to vote before their polls close have been at the heart of electoral criticism for years.  Calling early states’ outcomes in national elections may increase or decrease the numbers of those who had planned to vote but didn’t or those who weren’t going to vote but did! While I have not researched to see if there are any studies on this specific subject, it pales in comparison to the much larger possibility  of vote tampering by other means.

Tampering may come in any number of forms. This is my list in declining order of importance:
1. Inability to audit the votes cast; no paper trail.
2. Outright but covert alteration of the real votes cast prior to official release.
3. Undue influence; very problematic!
4. Bribes or coercion; paying cash for your vote or use of fear tactics.
5. Disruptive reporting practices.
6. False registration or the use of another’s registration; be they dead or alive.
7. Dual or multiple registrations that might allow 2 or more votes by the same person in different precincts or states without proof positive of voter ID.

There may be others you could think of that might need examining but solving the most vexing problems from the above list would raise our confidence in the process and outcome. It would also provide for a reliable audit when challenged. Your suggestions, observations and criticisms are welcome so please comment.


Your thoughtful comments, rating, feedback and discussions are welcome!

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