Online Voting and ways it can get money out of US Politics

There are many promising ways that internet voting can help get money out of politics. They are worth discussing.

 

In an earlier post, “Follow The Money”, I discuss the hold the television attack ad has on our political system, and why I feel online voting can help change that through greater participation in the process by younger, working voters.

There are also other direct ways that voting on the internet can “get money out”.

Dr. William Kelleher, in his book “Internet Voting Now: Here’s How, Here’s Why – To Kiss Citizens United Goodbye” goes beyond proposing change through participation and offers fresh ideas for how to transform our Presidential Election process in a way that gets money out, with internet voting being integral to that goal.

In May of this year, Mr. Al Dahler wrote a great article focusing on Dr. Kelleher’s book and his proposals. I am delighted to repost that article here for my readers.

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Can Internet help counter ‘Big Money?’

Written by Al Dahler – Progressive Perspective

(Editorial Note: Mr. Dahler’s article was first published in The Newsleader of Staunton, Virginia. Direct links to that article are no longer available. I am happy to repost the article in its entirety for the public to read – Rob Weber)

May 30, 2012

—During the Republican primary campaign, what has been missing are serious rational, in-depth analyses about issues which affect people’s lives and our national well-being. How does one become a player in this absurd theater production?

Several players intimated having a “call,” attributing their egocentric ambitions to God. Others assiduously courted the “Big Money” people to boost their candidacy.

One cold January night, a few eccentric Iowa party faithful cheer the opening night. Then, the play hits the road, allowing a few privileged early audiences to pick the star. The majority of the population then has to accept the fait accompli.

It is not surprising that he who placed his faith in “Big Money” trounced those claiming to have a “call.” In real life, Mammon always triumphs. But, does it even matter who receives the Republican star billing?

According to Grover Norquist, all the party needs is a cipher, a stooge, an empty suit who has enough digits to sign off on legislation passed by a Republican Congress beholden to Grover.

The general election, too, is a misnamed drama. Voters do not elect. They simply sustain the choices of the Democratic “Big Money” people or the Republican “Big Money” people. Yet, the political parties and the media continue to spin the fantasy that this hokum is a democratic process.

Does technology, specifically the Internet, offer remedies to transform our nation’s misbegotten election hubbub into a rational and meaningful civic exercise, allowing people, not money, to make the vital choice of who will occupy our country’s most important political office? William J. Kelleher, professor of political science at the University of California, Santa Barbara, believes that the Internet has a real potential to revolutionize America’s presidential election process.

In his book, “Internet Voting Now! Here’s How, Here’s Why — So You Can Kiss Citizens United Goodbye!” he makes a rational and compelling argument of how Internet voting is highly feasible, offering the possibility of informed and thoughtful citizen participation.

The Founding Fathers abhorred political parties. John Adams wrote: “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties …. This … is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.” Party loyalty creates a bandwagon effect and discourages independent thinking. Yet, political parties have captured the election process. Kelleher demonstrates how, by using the Internet, the election process can be made free from party tyranny and the influence of the “Big Money” people.

Internet voting has been tested by several countries and by our Department of Defense to facilitate voting of our overseas personnel. According to the author, Internet voting can be made safe, and the integrity of the system can be assured. He points out that much of modern commercial life and banking is conducted on the Internet.

Dr. Kelleher envisions an open system, allowing all qualified citizens to compete. The first step would be for candidates to pass a written test to ascertain that they are intellectually qualified, having a reasonable understanding of the governing process. Those qualified would then participate in a series of one-on-one publicly funded state selection debates. All of the debates would be broadcast (online, as well as by television and radio) to all eligible voters within the state. These would be real debates, not sham polemics hosted by media celebrities.

Each debate would be followed by a fact-checking analysis. Using their home Internet connection, voters would then indicate who they considered the winner, registering the intensity of their choice by awarding points ranging from one through nine.

The eventual winners of the state competitions would advance to regional one-on-one competitions in the Northeast, Midwest, South and West. Again, all debates would be broadcast and fact checked before allowing each voter to register his/her choice through the Internet.

The regional winners would move on to the national one-on-one debate competition with the candidate awarded the most points to be president and the runner-up to be vice president as originally envisioned by the Founding Fathers.

The system would not demand much time and effort from all eligible voters, only a few hours during the election period. Yet, the seriousness of choosing the president deserves from each of us wholehearted participation.

The brevity of this article allows only a cursory discussion of Dr. Kelleher’s proposal. His idea could be adapted to congressional and gubernatorial elections. The book is well worth reading to contemplate what might be and how we, the citizens, could build a true democracy using the Internet.

The monumental obstacle to allow true citizen participation is the “Big Money” dominated political parties which now have an ironclad grip on the election process.

Could a dedicated and rational citizens’ movement successfully challenge the current presidential election hokum?

The Internet has changed our lives in many ways. It may prove to be the means to make true democracy a reality.

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Write Al Dahler, a retired Air Force officer and a former college prep school administrator, at aadahler@ntelos.net

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2 Responses to Online Voting and ways it can get money out of US Politics

  1. Hey Rob! Thanks for posting this important essay! You are helping to make history! (Too bad it takes so long) Here’s my initial response:

    Dear Dr. Dahler:

    Thanks for this excellent summary of Chapter 4, Internet Voting Now. Because it is a new Internet based system for candidate selection and election, it may require some time for even reform-minded folks to digest all the elements involved. Abbreviated statements like yours are a very helpful way to get into the new idea.

    I would like to point out just how this process can neutralize the power of superrich corporate and individual players in our presidential elections. Both Romney and Obama will probably raise and spend close to one billion dollars each during their campaigns. They are both likely to forgo FEC matching funds, because those come along with complex rules, and limitations on raising and spending. Under the Citizens United rule, nonprofit groups can raise and spend unlimited sums to support their candidate and favored issues. 2012 will surely be awash in money. Of course, the average American will be left far behind in the Money Game, and when its all over, we will also be far in the rear of the line formed to tell the new president what policies we’d like him to follow. The new prez will have to take care of his donors before getting to the voters.

    What’s all the money being used for? In a word – advertising. Political ads will fill the air in crowded media markets, on radio, on TV, and online. The aim of these ads is to persuade voters, by hook or by crook, to vote one way or the other. Generally, these efforts at persuasion are not appeals to reason, but consist of tricks and gimmicks that Madison Ave pros have discovered can change the minds of voters, sometimes subliminally.

    Now, imagine you are watching a series of debates online or on TV. At the end of the debate you think about what you saw and heard, and then go online to vote. In this very moment all the money in the world spent on political advertising won’t affect your vote. Such ads need time to be repeated and repeated, to influence the mind of the voter. But in my proposed system of Internet voting in a series of elimination debates, there won’t be time for tricky ads. Each voter will base his or her vote on the opinion he or she has formed during and just after each debate. Thus, this system of Internet voting will encourage the voter to exercise his or her independent rational political judgment when voting. Because expensive ads won’t have time to manipulate the mind of the voter in the moment before he or she votes, the money will no longer give the superrich any advantage.

    Internet voting, then, will honor the intelligence of the voter, and respect his and her dignity, far more than is done in the money dependent two-party system in which we are all now trapped.

    William J. Kelleher, Ph.D.
    Author: Internet Voting Now!
    Twitter: wjkno1
    Internetvoting@gmail.com
    Blog: http://tinyurl.com/IV4All

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