Das lange Warten auf unseren USA-Korrespondenten Charles, der unregelmäßig englischsprachige Spreeblick-Artikel schickt, hat ein Ende. Im heutigen Hudsonblick schlägt er vor, die nord-amerikanischen Bürger bezahlen zu lassen. Für ihre Wahlstimme.
How Poll Taxes Can Save Democracy
The American politician has many options for controlling the outcome of a free and fair election: stuffed ballot boxes, police intimidation, gerrymandering… He can even hope to someday simply upload the results he wants. Why let voter choice ruin a perfectly good election strategy? To a political hacker, the democratic process is a system waiting to be cracked.
One old favorite, the poll tax, often resurfaces in new guises. In its most popular form, some southern states used it to keep poor people, mostly black ones, from going to the polls. A more recent variation prevented people from voting if they had unpaid fines, with similar effect. Poll taxes like these are generally frowned upon nowadays, but I believe that the concept has unrealized potential, that it can be much more than the shallowly disguised election-rigging it“™s been in the past. I believe that the poll tax can be instrumental in saving the democratic process.
The counting and re-counting of the votes cast in Florida in the 2000 presidential race was a clear demonstration of how how politics can affect arithmetic. Since then, we“™ve had plenty of time to consider how the treatment of different factors (partially punched ballot cards, which counties were recounted, undervotes, overvotes, etc) would have affected the outcome. Part of the reason for the ambiguous vote count was the ambiguous paper ballots that were used. The not-so-brilliant solution to this has been to introduce closed-source electronic voting machines. Although this solution only permits a single, final count, which is nice, without a paper trail the count is completely un-auditable. Not such a good thing, when you consider the pure-as-the-driven-slush history of vote counts.
It“™s time to face facts: we“™re just no good at counting votes, by hand or by computer. When it comes to applying the democratic process, we as a species can“™t be trusted to make it work. The poll tax might be a solution to this. It might be a critical link between counting votes and something that we“™re actually good at: counting money.
How many ATM receipts do you have stuffed in your coat pockets? On your car floor? Littering your desk? How about bank statements? Credit card bills? Can you imagine even a single penny escaping the clutches of this electronic Alcatraz? Our current voting system leaves itself open to questions of validity and intent, but thanks to heartless bill-collectors, graying accountants, and suspicious bankers we have a money-tracking system that permits no such slack.
What I suggest is this: instead of banning the poll tax outright, make it a dollar. Or a penny. Whatever. Not enough to stop anyone from voting, but enough to make it a financial transaction. Then make each citizen pay for their vote. The machinery of commerce springs into action: money is collected, bar codes are scanned, receipts are issued, and democracy has one more satisfied customer. After the election stores close, accountants do the final tally and we check the bottom line.
I know, I know: It seems like just another naÃ¯ve attempt to get money involved in politics. It wouldn“™t be the first. But maybe, just maybe, we will find that when everyone“™s vote is treated with the sanctity of buying a gumball, then everyone“™s vote will count.
How reinstating the draft can save health care.
„How victory may be produced for them out of the enemy’s own tactics–that is what the multitude cannot comprehend.“
— The Art of War, Sun Tzu