Political rhetoric in the U.S. is often characterized by sickly sweet appeals to democracy. Voting is held up as the foundation of democracy, or as the most useful or necessary method of political participation or expression. Judging by that rhetoric, and by the image of the U.S. that is exported around the world, one would think that the U.S. would be able to execute the actual practice of voting well.
Excellent piece. I agree with the details and the premise.
I disagree with "requiring every citizen over a certain age to vote (akin to how jury duty is required);"
I have experimented a bit at polling places and have felt the pent-up energy of the people to enjoy voting day.
The polling place energy of people attempts to flower like a Norman Rockwell painting complete with a BBQ smoke. Instead — People are hustled in to hurry through a vote all alone in a little booth. Puritanical abolition of fun during voting can be overcome by puritanical requirements to go where fun is prohibited? That's not a solution.
A democracy is a system of representative government. We neither have nor want that today. Representation is allotted by economic class -- much for the rich, a measure for the working/middle class, and no representation whatsoever for the poor. As a matter of policy, we have stripped our poor of a list of civil and human rights since the 1990s, and even today's liberals have been fine with this.
Should anyone be forced to vote for pols who refuse to represent them? It's too short of a step from mandatory voting to Soviet-style elections (choice of one candidate).
Excuse me for differing with you just a bit, DHFabian.
You said, "A democracy is a system of representative government." That statement may have been a little bit true in the early 1780's. Today we can study the forward thinking democracy research and practice of the Kurds and the Zapatistas.
Their conclusion for autonomous democracy is that government is not needed to be living and working with democracy. In actuality, almost every government on Earth is focused on killing people who don't want to do what the government tells them to do so that oligarchs can easily rip off both people and planet.
The Kurds live in Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey, they doubled their population with gender equality. The Zapatistas live and are persecuted by Mexico's corrupt "democracy." Zapatistas also operate with gender equality. Step one seem to be justice.
Decentralized autonomous democracy is used to focus distributed human intelligence. The concept of democracy has very little to do with government and this will be the case until drastic changes are made in the definition and institutionalization of government.
Here are the candidates for a House of Representatives seat in a country with 'compulsory voting'. http://results.aec.gov.au/17496/Website/HouseDivisionFirstPrefs-17496-228.htm
The transferable vote system there also encourages more candidates. Proportional representation in the Senate also means that there can be dozens of candidates to choose from on a ballot. Also while everyone is obliged to be enrolled to vote and to account for themselves on polling day, as the voting process is in secret (first introduced there) and on paper there is no way to enforce the making of a valid vote. Elections are also conducted by a non-partisan independent statuary body with a full-time professional staff.
However while there is relatively little dissatisfaction with the electoral system there is still considerable dissatisfaction with the political system and politicians in general. More usually needs to be done than tinkering with the mechanisms of 'democracy'.
And I guess we'd be "fined" if we didn't, eh?
Encrypted Online Voting added to traditional less secure methods is the way to make voting much, much, easier. It would greatly increase voter turnout.
We also need the important option on every ballot - NOTA - None Of The Above
You miss the point. We (which is to say, "they") don't want to save democracy. Democracy is already gone.
What we have is (1) a plutocracy -- rule of, by, and for the very rich -- and, in case it's needed (2) a federal government equipped with enough police state powers to keep the population in check.
What "they" want is to maintain a facade of democracy so enough of the people will think they live in one. It's better for profits. But "they" will not permit a return of anything like an actual democracy.
Don't forget to trash the machines, or comply w/the experts recs for making them totally transparent and unhackable.
we just may force them to. :O)