The Argument for Vote Buying

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The Argument for Vote Buying

Postby pjbogart » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:20 am

I'm not sure if this philosophy professor is channeling his inner Jonathan Swift, but he certainly sounds sincere in his proposal that people be allowed to sell their votes.

With the national elections just weeks away, the campaigns of both President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are ramping up their efforts to persuade citizens to give them their votes. But rather than spend millions of dollars trying to persuade citizens to vote for them, it would be far more sensible for them to be allowed to buy votes from people who wanted to sell them.

Lest you think I’m being facetious, consider the status quo: Our money currently is taken from us via taxes and used to influence policy, and we don’t even get a few dollars for our votes in return. In an ideal world, politicians wouldn’t have this power at all. But since they do, we might as well get something for our vote.

The economic logic here is simple: If a person sells his vote, he would be made better off by the transaction, for he preferred what was being offered to his vote. The politician who bought the vote would also be made better off, for he would prefer the votes to the items or cash they exchanged for them.

The argument for vote buying

He goes on to counter several arguments against vote buying, relying largely on notions that seem steeped in libertarian ideology. He fails, however, to address the most obvious problems, one of which is that wealthy individuals who currently seek to influence elections have no guarantee that their money will produce the results they desire. Providing them with a guarantee encourages their participation and essentially transforms our democracy into a plutocracy.

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Re: The Argument for Vote Buying

Postby Donald » Sun Oct 21, 2012 9:52 am

In order to institute vote buying effectively the secret ballot will have to be changed. For example, if the Koch Brothers would pay me $100 to vote for Romeny, I could just take the $100, vote for Obama and there is no way to tell the difference. Thanks, Koch Brothers.

Under every states' laws that I know of, this sort of thing is illegal. Not only is exchange of money prohibited to vote for a particular candidate, but in most states you can't exchange anything of value, other than a ride to the polls, to get people to vote.

The obverse of vote buying is voter suppression. Republicans have figured out that the way to "buy" elections in this country with the secret ballot is to put money into effort to suppress certain voters who are likely to vote for the other candidate. That should be made illegal as well.

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Re: The Argument for Vote Buying

Postby Henry Vilas » Thu Oct 25, 2012 12:57 pm

Donald wrote:... in most states you can't exchange anything of value, other than a ride to the polls, to get people to vote.

Then there is this: Atlanta-area gives gun raffle tickets to voters, prompting complaint the game violates law.

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