Not All Votes Are Created Equal

AGENT: How may I help you?
CLIENT: I’m calling for an increase in my credit line.
AGENT: I see you’re calling from your home phone. Just a few security questions?
AGENT: Which of these cars have you never owned? Ford Falcon, Dodge Caravan, Toyota Corolla, Chevy Blazer.
CLIENT: Chevy Blazer.
AGENT: You recently made a large purchase with your credit card. What was the merchant’s name?
CLIENT: Sears.
AGENT: Name all the streets on this list where you once lived: Placid, Westmoreland, Chesney, Manor.
CLIENT: Placid, Manor.
AGENT: Good. Sorry for the questions but they’re for your safety. Now let’s get to your credit line.

We know how to validate your identity for business transactions: credit cards, online purchases, loans, car rentals, etc. Why can’t we do the same for your vote?

Politics. Some (blue) states go as far as to prohibit asking for voter identification.

Here’s the law Congress should make regarding election regulations (and it’s not voter ID cards).

Continue reading “Not All Votes Are Created Equal”

The Vote

In the summer of 1864 before the elections for his second term, President Lincoln wrote a memorandum , folded it so the writing was on the inside, and obliged his cabinet members to blindly affirm their acceptance of its contents by signing it on the outside.

This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so cooperate with the Government President elect, as to save the Union between the Election and the inauguration…

Lincoln had already trampled on the U.S. Constitution as an expedient of war (e.g., his suspension of habeas corpus). He could just as easily have delayed the election. This memorandum affirmed Lincoln’s belief that the vote must go on and that he and his cabinet members would whole-heartedly support the next president. For Lincoln the vote was the ultimate guarantor of liberty, the best protection against tyranny.

Humanity has struggled for centuries and sacrificed many lives to achieve universal suffrage, to condition its leaders and the leaded to internalize this concept as a sacrosanct principle. And now look how we waste it!

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How to Game an Election

We use Google.

Search out independent voters based on their search histories or self-identification. These are our targets. Our goal is to set up algorithms, automated rules, that serve up biased search results to these individuals and move them toward our candidate. How do we do this? Massive data farms. We categorize individuals based on their search histories (e.g., ‘loves the outdoors’, ‘has libertarian leanings’) and develop messages for those categories favorable to our ‘product’ the candidate. Next time our independent voter performs a search he is served up results catering to our interests. It’s advertising 101 applied to politics at a very personalized level.

But we can do even better

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This is by far not the biggest issue facing the nation. But it’s fun. You apply rational thought and come to a definitive conclusion without having to worry about too many subtleties. Our goal? To define a method of voting that cannot be “gamed” by manipulating the boundaries of voting districts. We provide a mechanical solution that has the following outcomes:

  • Voters chose from among a limited number of candidates vying to represent their voting district, using a ‘first past the post’ voting system
  • Voting districts represent geographic areas that are subsets of the state geography (except perhaps in the case of sparsely populated states, e,g, Alaska).

We gather up names and locations of voters within a state, input this information into a computer, turn the crank, and out pops voting districts and assigned voters. Simple, elegant and foolproof.

Continue reading “Gerrymandering”