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Saturday, July 13, 2024 | Back issues
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Vote Secretly

I remembered to vote last week.

I didn't remember why I voted, but I did remember to vote, out of force of habit, I guess.

You may recall I forgot to vote last time around because I was so annoyed by the incessant campaigning that I tuned out the election. Or because of senility. I'm not sure which.

Anyway, I made it to the polling place and found myself presented with lots of names running for obscure offices and realized that I had no clue whether any of these people were capable of doing their proposed jobs.

Well, that's not entirely true. The majority of elected officials I've run into over the years seem completely incapable, so I probably voted for some major losers.

I know that's the cynical view. I've joined the ever-growing demographic of "pox-upon-both-your-houses-but-I-guess-I-slightly-prefer-one-side-over-the-other" voters.

I'm pretty sure this is not a good thing. Races for offices are either too quiet for us to know anything about the candidates or they're so inundated with money that we know too much but aren't sure whether anything we know is true.

It's either "Citizens United" or "Citizens In The Dark."

What should be done about this?

You know I have a solution.

We need to reaffirm and reinstitute a concept that's supposed to be central to our democracy: the secret ballot.

I'm not talking about being able to hide your votes. What I mean is that candidates should be secret.

We don't need to know who we're voting for. It's better if we don't.

I don't say this simply because randomly picking names would get us a government just as good as the one we've got. It would, but the secret ballot can be used to radically improve elections.

The Supreme Court may have ruled that the Constitution allows legal fictions to speak as loudly as they want with their money, but the court hasn't ruled that we can't change candidate and voting requirements.

We already have apparently constitutional restrictions on candidates - age, residence, citizenship, a lack of felonies (so we know they haven't been caught). And there are a lot of apparently constitutional restrictions on the way elections are conducted - gerrymandering, chad-punching, voter registration, old people running polling places.

All we need to do is add a few requirements.

First off, names and party affiliations must be banned from ballots. We don't need to know who these people are or what club they belong to.

That should take care of "Citizens United." No one spends billions promoting generic products.

We solve "Citizens In the Dark" with ballots that instead of names list each candidate's qualifications. Things like IQ, degrees, special skills, experience and favorite joke.

You know - stuff any sane employer would require for normal job hiring.

We might actually get someone qualified that way.

To get on the ballot, you'd have to pass a test demonstrating basic sanity and ability to do the job you seek.

Grades would be posted on the ballot.

Think how different our government would look.

Write your legislators - anonymously.

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