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#1
Old 07-05-2012, 01:48 PM
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Why can't I sell my vote?

Federal Law against selling votes:

18 USC 597 - Expenditures to influence voting

Current through Pub. L. 112-123. (See Public Laws for the current Congress.)

Whoever makes or offers to make an expenditure to any person, either to vote or withhold his vote, or to vote for or against any candidate; and
Whoever solicits, accepts, or receives any such expenditure in consideration of his vote or the withholding of his vote
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both; and if the violation was willful, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

Most (All?) states also have laws banning vote selling.

Given that corporations can spend unlimited money to influence elections, why can't I sell the proxy for my vote to the highest bidder?

This is not a SHOULD you vote question.

This is a question about why are state and local regulations interfering with what could be a more efficient and direct free market instead of all these advertisements, push poll calls, etc. If Walmart gave you 25% off everything you buy between now and Nov, would you assign them as your proxy to vote in Nov?
#2
Old 07-05-2012, 02:01 PM
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Not only that, but, depending on how "expenditure" is defined, it is also illegal to give something away as an incentive to vote - not to vote for or against anybody/anything in particular, but just to vote.

I mention this because, where I vote, there is usually a group of people (it may be organized by the local Girl Scouts) who offer free coolies just outside of the polling place, and I am not sure if you have to show an "I Voted" sticker in order to get one.
#3
Old 07-05-2012, 03:24 PM
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Winchell's Donuts stores back in the late 70s would give you a free donut on election day, provided you presented the stub from your ballot (this was in LA county, CA).

Until someone pointed out that this was technically illegal, so they stopped.
#4
Old 07-05-2012, 04:33 PM
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Unless Winchell's was only giving donuts to people who voted for their favored candidate I don't see how it's illegal.
#5
Old 07-05-2012, 04:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by That Don Guy View Post
I mention this because, where I vote, there is usually a group of people (it may be organized by the local Girl Scouts) who offer free coolies just outside of the polling place, and I am not sure if you have to show an "I Voted" sticker in order to get one.
I think there's more than election laws being broken if the Girl Scouts are handing out free slaves.

Cookies would be OK. Maybe even cooties
#6
Old 07-05-2012, 05:15 PM
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Because using advertisements to try to influence someone's voting decision is obviously not the same thing as just buying their vote.
#7
Old 07-05-2012, 05:20 PM
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What is the justification for limiting the basis on which an individual may base their choice of candidate? Aren't you buying votes if you promise to lower taxes or offer subsidies to people situated a certain way?
#8
Old 07-05-2012, 09:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Unless Winchell's was only giving donuts to people who voted for their favored candidate I don't see how it's illegal.
I thought the same thing at the time. I don't think I ever got a completely satisfactory explanation, but to the best of my recollection, any inducement to cast a vote AT ALL was considered too close to the line of legality.

My thoughts in hindsight? The bean-counters got the legal department to come up with a plausible rationale for discontinuing the expense. The counter staff never gave with anything more than a muttered hand-wave with the words "illegal" and "voting" buried in the blah-blah-blahs (and asking how come you're not giving us free stuff any more always struck me as a bit low-class).
#9
Old 07-05-2012, 10:02 PM
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Hey now money's free speech, are you saying I can't talk a man into voting for who I want buy giving him money.

At this point our system is so deeply flawed cutting out the middleman, advertisers, it might provide a clearer picture of how our voting system really works. It would have the added perk of encouraging voter turn out and economic stimulus.
#10
Old 07-05-2012, 10:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by emcee2k View Post
Because using advertisements to try to influence someone's voting decision is obviously not the same thing as just buying their vote.
We still have anonymous ballets giving someone money can only influence someones vote as they could both take your money and vote for someone else.
#11
Old 07-05-2012, 10:05 PM
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If someone were to buy my vote, how could they be sure I followed through on my end of the deal? They would have to have some method of verifying the transaction. However, folks who did not sell their votes would not need to submit to verification. These folks would stand out as not having sold their votes. The ballot would no longer be secret in any meaningful way.
#12
Old 07-05-2012, 10:12 PM
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Asking why people can't sell their vote, to me, is like asking why a politician can't accept bribes.
#13
Old 07-05-2012, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkel View Post
.....Given that corporations can spend unlimited money to influence elections, why can't I sell the proxy for my vote to the highest bidder?

This is not a SHOULD you vote question.

This is a question about why are state and local regulations interfering with what could be a more efficient and direct free market instead of all these advertisements, push poll calls, etc. If Walmart gave you 25% off everything you buy between now and Nov, would you assign them as your proxy to vote in Nov?
Because the law says it's illegal. You always have the option of trying to change the law.

You're confusing the actual act of going to a polling booth and voting (or mailing your vote in) with listening to someone tell you who you should vote for. Your neighbor tells you to vote for the Green Party, your brother tells you to vote Democrat, your mom tells you to vote Republican. It's your choice if you want to listen to any or all of them.

A union tells you to vote for candidate "A", NBC/MSNBC tells you to vote for candidate "B", Amalgamated Horse Poop, Inc. tells you to vote for candidate "C". None of them are actually buying your vote.
#14
Old 07-05-2012, 11:30 PM
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Quote:
If someone were to buy my vote, how could they be sure I followed through on my end of the deal?
They couldn't be sure, which is why prohibitions on vote buying seem rather pointless.

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 07-05-2012 at 11:30 PM.
#15
Old 07-06-2012, 12:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma View Post
We still have anonymous ballets giving someone money can only influence someones vote as they could both take your money and vote for someone else.
(bolding mine) I think this is funnier than the girl scouts with the coolies. Your America is much, much weirder than the one I grew up in.
#16
Old 07-06-2012, 02:17 AM
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Dateline November 3, 2008:
Starbucks plans to offer a complimentary size tall cup of brewed coffee to anyone who votes Tuesday.
Take that Winchell's!


Uh oh:
UPDATE: Starbucks halted its plan to give voters free coffee Tuesday after concerns surfaced that the promotion could violate election laws.

After launching the promotion with great fanfare, Starbucks spokeswoman Valerie ONeil said in an email late Monday that the coffee chain changed its plans. To ensure we are in compliance with election law, we are extending our offer to all customers who request a tall brewed coffee, ONeil said in an email.
Election day deals from 2008 included coffee, donuts, ice cream, sandwiches, phone calls and haircuts. They typically were offered to anyone so as to avoid uncomfortable legal questions.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright
Unless Winchell's was only giving donuts to people who voted for their favored candidate I don't see how it's illegal.
I dunno, undue influence? The authorities are presumably wary of wink-wink nudge-nudge appeals so they curb all activity.
#17
Old 07-06-2012, 03:06 AM
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This question seems like a Brickroll. Its basic intent is to highlight the presumed absurdity of "money = speech" that props up a host of campaign finance decisions.
#18
Old 07-06-2012, 09:45 AM
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Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
Because the law says it's illegal. You always have the option of trying to change the law.
The law also said restrictions on third party campaign spending were illegal. SCOTUS said the law couldn't do that. He's asking what the difference is.

I'm fairly certain he didn't ask what "illegal" meant.
#19
Old 07-06-2012, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Measure for Measure View Post
Here's my thought: Starbucks offering a free coffee to anyone with an "I voted" sticker: pretty innocuous. Home Depot offering 5% off to anyone who voted: I have no problem with that.

A Super PAC offering $10 gift cards to the Olive Garden to voters in selected precincts in certain swing states? Hold on, that probably isn't a politically neutral celebration of American democratic freedoms. I think the law, though broadly written, is probably a really good thing.
#20
Old 07-06-2012, 10:28 AM
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Well, that brings us back to my previous question: why? And don't say "because it's like bribing a politician." What specific negative impact(s) are you worried about?
#21
Old 07-06-2012, 11:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Well, that brings us back to my previous question: why? And don't say "because it's like bribing a politician." What specific negative impact(s) are you worried about?
Because making decisions about the future of this country on the basis of personal profit is wrong. I can't figure out a way to describe this reasoning that isn't a tautology, but it is based on the exact same notion that kickbacks and bribery are wrong. Unfortunately, the only way I can describe why bribery is wrong is also a tautology: bribes are wrong because people in power should make merit-based decisions, not those based on lining their own pockets.

What do you think about bribery? Is it wrong, and if so, why?

ETA: the impact I'm worried about is that people will not pay attention to any issue and just vote based on who pays them. That puts more money into politics when I think we should be figuring out a way to moderate moneyed interests.

Last edited by Ravenman; 07-06-2012 at 11:12 AM.
#22
Old 07-06-2012, 11:17 AM
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You can definitely sell your vote, just move to West Virginia
#23
Old 07-06-2012, 11:18 AM
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Quote:
the impact I'm worried about is that people will not pay attention to any issue and just vote based on who pays them. That puts more money into politics when I think we should be figuring out a way to moderate moneyed interests.
Okay, that's not bad. As you say, it's hard to distinguish this concept from bribery, so let's look at that for a minute. Is there a genuine difference between giving politicians money to get themselves elected and giving them money to do whatever they want with?

Last edited by Really Not All That Bright; 07-06-2012 at 11:18 AM.
#24
Old 07-06-2012, 11:22 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Because making decisions about the future of this country on the basis of personal profit is wrong.
If that were true, how could lobbyists give gifts? I know most of the money in politics is not "personal profit" on (sometimes rather thin) technicalities, but is anyone under the illusion that politicians don't make personal profit on the basis of the office they hold? It seems to me that personal profit within certain lines is quite acceptable: as long as you accept and deal with the profit in culturally proscribed ways, you may benefit from it, but you have to maintain some sort of pretense that it's not a direct payment to the individual.

I sometimes jump into political threads out of interest, not knowledge, so I'm prepared to be schooled on why the practices we have are not wrong but vote-buying is.
#25
Old 07-06-2012, 11:36 AM
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Don't feel bad. I have a degree in political science and two thirds of a law degree and I am equally prepared to be schooled.
#26
Old 07-06-2012, 11:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkel View Post
Why can't I sell my vote?

This is a question about why are state and local regulations interfering with what could be a more efficient and direct free market instead of all these advertisements, push poll calls, etc. If Walmart gave you 25% off everything you buy between now and Nov, would you assign them as your proxy to vote in Nov?
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
The law also said restrictions on third party campaign spending were illegal. SCOTUS said the law couldn't do that. He's asking what the difference is.

I'm fairly certain he didn't ask what "illegal" meant.
Why can't you drive 90 mph on I-55? Because there is a law against it. It's illegal. You can, of course, actually drive 90 mph until you are caught violating the law. Everything is legal unless there is a law against it.

You can also sell your vote. The only thing stopping you is the fear of getting caught violating the law.

To answer the 2nd question in the OP, it was decided that this would be a democratic republic. People would vote for whomever they wanted and the candidate with the majority of votes would then be the elected representative of those voters. Sounds pretty simple.

However, it would be possible for someone to compensate enough voters to vote for them based on the compensation instead of selecting the best candidate for the job. That would undermine the whole concept of a democratically elected government. Therefore, in an effort to discourage someone from buying the "actual" vote of anyone else, "they" made a law against selling/buying someones vote.

You can ask me to vote for you, you can surround my home with campaign posters, you can play recorded messages in my direction telling me what a great choce you would be (assuming you didn't violate any laws accomplishing these tasks) but you haven't actually bought my actual vote. When I enter the voting booth - the choice is still mine.

Campaign spending is not the same as buying my actual vote.
#27
Old 07-06-2012, 11:58 AM
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Originally Posted by Dr. Drake View Post
If that were true, how could lobbyists give gifts? I know most of the money in politics is not "personal profit" on (sometimes rather thin) technicalities, but is anyone under the illusion that politicians don't make personal profit on the basis of the office they hold? It seems to me that personal profit within certain lines is quite acceptable: as long as you accept and deal with the profit in culturally proscribed ways, you may benefit from it, but you have to maintain some sort of pretense that it's not a direct payment to the individual.
Right now, members of Congress may not receive any gift from a lobbyist. Previously there were limits of about $100 per year. Honorarium (payments for a politician to make a speech or write an article) has been banned for thirty years.

There are limited circumstances in which a lobbyist may pay for travel to and from official business -- something like flying somewhere to attend a conference or something.

But lobbyists may make campaign contributions which can be used for a variety of campaign-related expenses. So, a lobbyist may not buy a senator lunch, but the lobbyist can give a senator a $2,000 check for the senator's campaign fund at a lunch the senator is paying for.

Can I explain why these rules make sense? No. I think a lot of them are absurd.

But let's consider a recent law which bans members of Congress from making stock market trades based on information that they get as a result of their official duties. For example, let's remember the fall of 2008 when the stock market is tanking. Senator A meets with the Secretary of the Treasury to discuss the economic meltdown and two days later transfers his mutual fund to a safer investment. Senator B doesn't have such a meeting, but reads in the newspaper that the economic news is bad, and does the same thing. Did one senator act unethically? Did neither? Did both? How do we know that Senator A based his decision on that meeting, rather than reading the news like everyone else?

You're totally right that a lot of these rules are narrowly drawn and hard to justify. However, just because someone may or may not be getting away with something that's in a moral gray area doesn't justify rolling back all the rules and letting people literally take cash in exchange for official actions, including voting. That doesn't make sense at all.
#28
Old 07-06-2012, 12:09 PM
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Those opposed to this seem to think that there would automatically be some mechanism in place to ensure the sold vote was cast for the proper candidate. I'm not so certain that would happen.
#29
Old 07-06-2012, 12:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
But let's consider a recent law which bans members of Congress from making stock market trades based on information that they get as a result of their official duties. For example, let's remember the fall of 2008 when the stock market is tanking. Senator A meets with the Secretary of the Treasury to discuss the economic meltdown and two days later transfers his mutual fund to a safer investment. Senator B doesn't have such a meeting, but reads in the newspaper that the economic news is bad, and does the same thing. Did one senator act unethically? Did neither? Did both? How do we know that Senator A based his decision on that meeting, rather than reading the news like everyone else?
I would prefer a rule that required all officeholders' investments to be placed in a blind trust like members of the judiciary.
#30
Old 07-06-2012, 01:53 PM
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While I think both scenarios have the same outcome (undue influence of money in politics), there is a legal trick in the US that makes the situations inequivalent. People do not have a positive legal right to vote enumerated in the constitution, while they do have one to speak.
#31
Old 07-06-2012, 02:04 PM
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Feh. That's a throwaway line from Bush v. Gore. Any court that can't find a constitutional right to vote implicit in the 15th Amendment isn't trying.
#32
Old 07-06-2012, 02:17 PM
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Originally Posted by Acid Lamp View Post
Those opposed to this seem to think that there would automatically be some mechanism in place to ensure the sold vote was cast for the proper candidate. I'm not so certain that would happen.
Doesn't really matter. Let's say the state of Indimichitonia is a key swing state in the 2016 elections. It's razor close: the urban areas vote heavily Democratic, and the suburbs and rural areas are rock-solid Red.

If the big moneyed interests that control (insert party name here) start offering financial inducements for people to vote -- not even vote for a candidate, but just vote at all -- and target those endorsements to particular areas or precincts, they WILL be gaining an electoral edge. Current get out the vote efforts by campaigns or parties already work on this principle, except they do not actually pay people to vote. They just work to get people excited about the election, organize to take them to the polls, etc.

Now, if one party engages in this behavior and the other doesn't, I don't think that's fair. If both sides do it, it's just bringing more money into politics. Meanwhile, swing districts might not share in the windfall because the money will be funneled into preferred voting districts. You really want moderate voters to feel cheated by the electoral process because their neighbors two blocks over get $20 each for just going to the polls, but Mr. and Mrs. Rational Moderate Voter get nothing?

Sure, this idea to pay people to vote is a great idea. If you like multi-billion dollar electoral campaigns and finding new ways to anger responsible voters. The more I think about it, the worse idea it is.

Last edited by Ravenman; 07-06-2012 at 02:18 PM.
#33
Old 07-06-2012, 02:23 PM
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Almost forgot:

Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma
anonymous ballet
Thanks for the mental image.
#34
Old 07-06-2012, 02:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
You really want moderate voters to feel cheated by the electoral process because their neighbors two blocks over get $20 each for just going to the polls, but Mr. and Mrs. Rational Moderate Voter get nothing?
Who gives a shit? I imagine most voters already feel cheated because the voters of the otherwise insignificant states of Iowa* and New Hampshire have two or three times as much influence on the presidential election than they do.

*okay, Iowa is significant for its agricultural productivity.
#35
Old 07-06-2012, 02:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma View Post
Hey now money's free speech, are you saying I can't talk a man into voting for who I want buy giving him money.

At this point our system is so deeply flawed cutting out the middleman, advertisers, it might provide a clearer picture of how our voting system really works. It would have the added perk of encouraging voter turn out and economic stimulus.
This is probably the closest to my thought process.

I know it is not legal (I posted the reference to avoid 'is it legal of not' debates).

Since striking those laws from the books would require an official act, there is no reason they can't just put in a proxy system at the same time. Corporation use proxy voting for shareholders all the time. Now that we're electing CEOs like Romney, why not just treat the American public like shareholders? Instead of dividends, you get the right to market your vote to the highest bidder.

My representative more closely represents the concerns of his campaign donors than those of his district. So, if he can essentially profit from his campaigning, why is it that the voter is blocked from profits?

Many people have complained about our options in this election cycle and said that they are not going to vote. I think that is sad. People in other countries risk real death on the election day for the opportunity to vote. Yet, in the US there is such a huge amount of voter apathy. I'm personally also disgusted with the options, but I will vote no matter what. But, since none of the candidates (local) have two brain cells to rub together, there is little hope that my vote will cause any change in the status quo. Under those conditions (and living in a swingy type district), I think I could at least get a couple of bucks for taking the time and fuel to go to the polling center.
#36
Old 07-06-2012, 02:57 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Who gives a shit? I imagine most voters already feel cheated because the voters of the otherwise insignificant states of Iowa* and New Hampshire have two or three times as much influence on the presidential election than they do.

*okay, Iowa is significant for its agricultural productivity.
I feel cheated because my representative can be bought for as little as $15k. I've watched some of the most disgusting wrangling to that 'well connected' companies can take advantage of the stimulus package and other programs that are intended to help start up companies.

Real World Example: Company A has been in business for 20+ years, stimulus for new start ups is offered, so Brother of Owner of Company A starts a business, gets a mega GRANT (not loan, GRANT) for his "start-up" business that happens to be the same type of business (and at the same address) as the family business Company A. ONE YEAR later, Company A "buys" the now prosperous start-up and folds it into Company A. My Representative did ON-SITE photo ops when they got the grant and then again when the newly prosperous company was 'bought' by the long term "local company." Total new jobs created? About two.

Another Example: Company A operates ovens that are now illegal and need remediation. My representative finagles it so that they illegal ovens are sold to the county, who now owns a toxic site. The county spends $250k to clean up the ovens and bring them into compliance. Now the county owns newly renovated ovens/factory and for some reason sells it back to the original owner for $1 (not a typo, there... one dollar!). The owner had litterally two decades to clean up those ovens. If they county wanted to sell it to anyone for a dollar, it should have been the employees who'd been working there under the toxic conditions. NOT back to the same owner who couldn't be bothered to invest in upgrading equipment so that it wasn't toxic to employees and neighbors. BUT, my representative jumped on that photo op!
#37
Old 07-06-2012, 03:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Who gives a shit?
Nice. If only Susan B. Anthony and the other suffragettes had uttered such noble words about our participatory democracy. I can see the scene in the courtroom now, as Anthony is hauled before a judge to answer for the crime of voting in a Federal election:

ANTHONY: "It is true, Your Honor, I voted in the election, a right that is due all Americans--"
JUDGE: "Eh, who gives a shit? Ever since California joined the Union, this country is going down the fucking tubes. It's like people in Missouri shouldn't have even showed up to vote."
ANTHONY: "But Your Honor, the 15th Amendment to the Constitution says that---"
JUDGE: "Blah blah blah. Who the hell cares. I don't even care about this case. Politicians suck, the government sucks, elections suck, and you, Mrs. Anthony, you suck too."
ANTHONY: "But judge, this country is borne of sacrifice and greatness! The principles laid out by our Founding Fathers and carried through by President Lincoln, of securing a government of the people, by the people---"
JUDGE: "I don't care, that guy over there doesn't care, and your momma doesn't care. This country is screwed and you know it, so let's not even try to make things better. I'm bored. Get out of my sight! Oh, and you're guilty."

Thank you for reminding me of the noble roots of this country with your insightful riposte of "Who gives a shit?" And they say that intellectualism is dead!
#38
Old 07-06-2012, 10:03 PM
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I bet Susan B. Anthony would have been happy to allow the buying of votes if it meant women got them.
#39
Old 07-07-2012, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I bet Susan B. Anthony would have been happy to allow the buying of votes if it meant women got them.
Wow, I can't pull one over on you. If American scholarship has reached a single conclusion on Anthony's legacy, it is that Susan B. Anthony only looked out for Susan B. Anthony. She would have voted for an alcoholic, wife-beating, segregationist Democrat in a second if it meant another nickel in her pocket.

Don't laugh, a nickel was a lot of money in those days.

Last edited by Ravenman; 07-07-2012 at 10:39 AM.
#40
Old 07-07-2012, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
Who gives a shit? I imagine most voters already feel cheated because the voters of the otherwise insignificant states of Iowa* and New Hampshire have two or three times as much influence on the presidential election than they do.

*okay, Iowa is significant for its agricultural productivity.
I, and a lot of other people, give a shit. It's your appathy that would have no bearing on other people's opinion of who they should vote for. One person - one vote. Even in "insignificant" States.
#41
Old 07-07-2012, 12:16 PM
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One person, one vote, but it is crystal clear that (1) not all votes are of equal weight in federal presidential elections, which means that (practically speaking) it's NOT really one person, one vote; (2) money buys access to the legislative process, which means that not all voters have equal influence.

Not that vote-buying would solve this. New Hampshire and Iowa votes would clearly bring in more money than votes in solidly red or blue states.
#42
Old 07-07-2012, 12:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Ravenman View Post
Wow, I can't pull one over on you. If American scholarship has reached a single conclusion on Anthony's legacy, it is that Susan B. Anthony only looked out for Susan B. Anthony. She would have voted for an alcoholic, wife-beating, segregationist Democrat in a second if it meant another nickel in her pocket.

Don't laugh, a nickel was a lot of money in those days.
Quote:
Originally Posted by doorhinge View Post
I, and a lot of other people, give a shit. It's your appathy that would have no bearing on other people's opinion of who they should vote for. One person - one vote. Even in "insignificant" States.
You are missing the point. All votes are not currently equal.
#43
Old 07-07-2012, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
You are missing the point. All votes are not currently equal.
Who gives a shit when the proposition we are debating is whether or not to make votes more unequal? The fact that some votes are marginally more or less values today is not a valid argument against screwing up our electoral system even more.
#44
Old 07-07-2012, 07:07 PM
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I dunno. There's a twisted logic to it, isn't there? Money=speech (the USSC has been pretty damn clear on that), all we need to do is establish that voting=speech and then it's pretty easy to get to money=voting at which point selling your vote is constitutionally protected.
#45
Old 07-08-2012, 12:22 PM
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I can't think of any reason that voting wouldn't be political speech.
#46
Old 07-08-2012, 10:31 PM
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If we concede that money is speech and protected under the First Amendment, then we must permit vote-buying. It is as simple as that. "Here sir, you may be wavering between Candidate A and Candidate B, here is a hundred dollars, if you will allow it to sway you to vote for Candidate A, I will give it to you."

The correct answer, of course, is that money is not speech, is not Constitutionally protected, and Citizens United and several other decisions the courts have made along these lines are transparent truckling to the interests of conservatives and the oligarchs they serve.
#47
Old 07-08-2012, 10:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkel View Post
Why can't I sell my vote?
Because it's a secret ballot and you have no way of proving how you voted, so why should anybody pay you?
#48
Old 07-08-2012, 11:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boytyperanma View Post
We still have anonymous ballets giving someone money can only influence someones vote as they could both take your money and vote for someone else.
(and BrainGlutton as well)

That might have been true in the 1800s, but we now live in an age of ubiquitous cell-phone cameras. Pay them outside the booth when they can prove they voted for you - I believe the Internet colloquialism is "tits or GTFO".
No, wait, wrong one ! "pics or it didn't happen", that's the one.

That being said, turn the answer around, why don't you ? Secret ballots were implemented specifically to curb third parties influencing voting, be it through intimidation or bribery. The former I think we can all agree is a bad thing. The latter, well, I also happen to think is socially harmful to the extreme, but the OP was wondering why that was. In essence, it's like he'd been asking "why is stealing bad, when it comes right down to it ?" and you'd answered "because you'll go to jail if caught".
That's not wrong, but it's still not a good answer to the question.
#49
Old 07-09-2012, 05:42 AM
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Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 1,796
Generally, at least one reason that stealing is bad is because one party of the transaction is an unwilling party.

And, yes, if you sell your vote today, that is not legal. But, laws CAN be challenged and can be changed.

So, why do we persist with a law that blocks a willing seller (the voter who will provide a vote proxy for one election cycle) and a willing buyer (name any campaign you like) from conducting a transaction that both would be happy with. (Say to voter doesn't care WHO their proxy is used to vote for)

Drug trafficking (also a willing seller/buyer scenario) is illegal because the sold substance (e.g. cocaine) is believed to be a special kind of evil [as opposed to alcohol or tobacco].

Originally vote selling was to prevent those with wealth from taking control from those without the same wealth. Given Citizen's United -- the half billion being spent by just two brothers and the likely BILLION dollars that will be spent to benefit Romney-- isn't that argument now mute?
#50
Old 07-09-2012, 08:08 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 21,771
Quote:
Originally Posted by Really Not All That Bright View Post
I can't think of any reason that voting wouldn't be political speech.
Kind of a weird form of speech. People under 18 can't engage in it, felons can't engage in it, non-citizens can't engage in it. A vote cannot be spontaneous, it only happens when the government says so and puts into action a pretty cumbersome process to monitor and regulate it. There are specific laws dealing with voting that are not intermixed with laws on speech. Also, it is generally thought to be private, just between the voter and the ballot counters, as opposed to being a matter of exercising the press or religous liberty.

I don't think speech is the correct way to think of voting. I'm not sure there's a term for it, but I'd say "civic duty" is a better description of voting rather than speech. If I think of other civic duties, it is a short list of things, and it is absurd to think that people should get paid for those: should attorneys be able to pay jurors personally for their time? Of course not, it is ludicrous.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Enkel View Post
Given Citizen's United -- the half billion being spent by just two brothers and the likely BILLION dollars that will be spent to benefit Romney-- isn't that argument now mute?
Moot, not mute.

This argument to me is like saying, "I already do something unhealthy, I drink a sugary soda every day. Since I'm already doing unhealthy things, I might as well take up smoking." Well, no, drinking unhealthy soda does not mean that smoking is okay. I think Citizens United is a disaster, but that doesn't mean that we should adopt bad laws because some line in the sand has been crossed.
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