Paper vs Online Voting

Folks, imagine if we had a site where fantastic visionaries and activists like Nick Brana, Jimmy Dore, Lee Camp, C.A. Matthews, Jamarl Thomas, Tim Black, Mike Figueredo (just to name a few in no particular order) could and would put their heads together and anybody else (besides trolls) could join a genuine public discourse and even vote on issues, thus creating a forward moving alternative to our rigged political system and propagandist establishment media… It’s something I hinted at last Friday.

Then, on Saturday, someone whom any frequent reader of mine surely knows left a comment. Nick Brana! Yeah! A happy day for me! 🙂 

I thank you, Nick, not only for your great work in the Movement for a People’s Party (or coalition), formerly known as Draft Bernie, but also for chiming in here and elaborating on the block chain voting idea which, frankly, is still new to me. I had been looking somewhat into online voting tools for direct democracy (such as Germany’s “Liquid Democracy” software and Nancy Bordier’s interactive voter choice system (a.k.a. Global Social Network For Voters)), precisely for advancing from a representative democracy to a more direct democracy which you so well promoted when you commented, “For thousands of years the general trend in human civilization has been towards greater decentralization of political power and we shouldn’t stop at representative democracy,” and for which you argued so well when you pointed out: “Like health insurance companies that position themselves between you and access to health care, representatives are corruptible middlemen who have inserted themselves into the process of decision-making.”

An idea I came up with, and occasionally promoted before, is an online discussion AND voting system which could run in parallel to our current establishment-run political process and provide two things: an improved public discourse AND a check on the official elections similar to exit polls. If only someone could solve the problem of hackability (and other issues like anonymous voting guarantee), we could use such a system to counter-balance and expose the currently rigged system, allowing the American people and the world to see what we Americans really want and that the operatives of the oligarchy (from within the party duopoly and corporate media) deny us our wishes and present a false image of the American people to ourselves and the world. When such an electronic participation system would make it obvious to everybody what is really going on and how much most people agree on the most important issues, it could boost direct action and the formation of a people’s coalition.

I haven’t so far pursued this idea more because, for one thing, I am still very busy pointing out other highly important things, such as the economic root cause of money in politics (the self-enforcing wealth inequality that funds political bribery) and the underlying mentality issues of false narratives and cultivated false believes which enslave us by warping our sense of reality and desirable goals. The other thing that has held me back is my innate worry about the hackability of anything online, due to my own professional past in IT that gave me scary insights in that area.

I suppose that the attempt to perfect and truly secure an online voting system (if that is actually possible) would best be done ASAP in the form of a people’s alternative to the current establishment-rigged political system and corporate mass media. It might never become fully secure, fully voter-anonymous, or fully available for everyone, and thus fully suited to replace off-line voting — but efforts to create it as an alternative to our rigged system could assist our fight for a true democracy even if it accomplished nothing more than stand in for our establishment-blocked exit polls.

Imagine how our public narrative and awareness could have been altered if in 2016 a people-run electronic voting system with a high participation rate had put up the presidential nomination candidates during the primaries in a ranked choice voting model and shown an overwhelming win for Bernie Sanders — on one hand demonstrating the superiority of ranked choice voting over winner take all, and on the other exposing the American People’s true preference.

Imagine such an online voting system had pitted Bernie and Hillary against each other in clean online primaries free of voter purges and other “Democratic” voter suppressions, ballot spoilage, closed-primaries-style exclusion of independent voters, ballot-box stuffing, and voting machine rigging — in other words without the massive “Democratic” primaries rigging of 2016 — and if Bernie had utterly destroyed Hillary in that non-rigged alternative election!

Imagine if, parallel to the official November election, the online people’s alternative had put up all the November candidates for vote and very different results had been produced, such as 7% or more for Jill Stein for instance, and maybe with the effects of gerrymandering removed, showing us how much gerrymandering alters the results. If we could actually trust such a system to be safe from hacking, might it not open a lot of eyes about our oligarchy-run sham democracy and finally snap millions of voters out of their identity politics complacency?

An online voting system could indeed accomplish a lot of things, even if it never were to become the official voting system, provided it could be made fully secure in an age where the establishment has begun invading Twitter with political spam bots and Facebook with paid trolls that distort online discussions, get groups shut down, or take them over by wheedling themselves into admin positions in order to then kick the original admins out and invert the nature of these groups. Could we, the people, in this age in which black-hat hackers are winning the security war, actually have confidence in its security? It is too early for me to say.

It is an interesting idea, though. Nick Brana, who is always great to listen to or read, made good points about it which you might want to check out yourself in his comment. We could definitely profit from a more direct democracy. Bribable representatives are the Achilles heel of democracy.

In the short term, though, I – and apparently Nick as well – think that the official voting system best be returned to paper ballots, counted publicly and recounted for verification by political opponents. I would add that the count results should be locally reported in real time to the public so that late doctoring of the tallies can be caught. Unlike what many Americans have come to think, hand counting of votes is not a daunting task, nor is it beyond our capacity to keep our polling stations free from long lines. I had the chance to observe last year’s German election a little. The polling station I visited within a short walk had no voter lines whatsoever. Polling stations in Germany are so numerous that typically nobody has to wait and the counting doesn’t take very long. All the polling station problems that plague us in the U.S. are unknown there. Election day there always is a Sunday, by the way, a day when hardly any German has to work; so hard-working people (many of whom traditionally are poor) are not financially kept from voting.

So, for now, paper ballots are safest, and online voting (except for great hacking risks) holds enticing potential beyond the things we normally associate with voting.


To conclude, two relevant videos. Here is a video on online “Liquid Democracy”:

(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Liquid Democracy In Simple Terms”)

This video has a vivid comments section on its Youtube page. I recommend taking a look.


And here is a video interview on Nancy Bordier’s Global Social Network For Voters that I have had in my waiting loop for a very long time but never, yet, got around to share:

(Note: if the video linked above gets deleted, you may search the Internet for the title: “Discussing Re-Inventing Democracy with the Global Social Network for Voters with Dr Nancy Bordier“)


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One thought on “Paper vs Online Voting

  1. Oh, to be listed among that great list of progressive commentators! 😉

    I, for one, will never vote on a machine ever again. Paper ballots may not be foolproof, but at least they leave a record of your vote and cause more problems for those who would suppress the vote since they have to be physically discarded. I really wish we could have UN election observers at times.


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