Modern Voting

Alvin Lowi, Jr.

May 1, 2004

[Variations on a theme suggested by Peter Fleming.]

Extensive research on new technology voting and election theft has recently been published (BLACK BOX VOTING: Ballot-Tampering in the 21st Century, Bev Harris, Talion Publishing). The author discusses her book and research methodology and presents several reviews at: http://www.blackboxvoting.org/

Although vote scams and ballot tamperings are nothing new, perhaps Ms. Harris’ work will finally expose to all the victims (everybody who is not in politics) the fallacy of nose-counting as a means of determining how society will operate. At least one can always hope. It is now over three-hundred years since Jonathan Swift scoffed “Some people have no better idea of determining right and wrong than by counting noses.”

Sorting ballots and running tallies seems like a simple fool-proof counting procedure. Yet, as it happens, there are many ways for the process to jump the track, most of them innocent of ulterior purpose. Ballot omissions and errors in counting are legend. However, given the role of voting in the high-stakes game of politics where the winner takes all, error can easily be manufactured to purpose.

Suppose the tally is a perfect count of the invisible intentions of the voters. What do you have? The common belief is that bona fide decision of the majority has been made regarding the future course of human events. That is the folklore. But what does it mean?

Many assume the majority is always right, and they are resigned to see the polling results prevail even if they may have chosen otherwise. Of course they are right in one sense, namely the majority represent superior physical might and such might can overwhelm minority dissent and give the superficial appearance of being in the right.

Actually, the majority is usually wrong. It can be right only by accident because its predilections always represent the lowest common denominator of opinion. How else does a majority of diverse individuals come to a uniform consensus? Who is the majority that it can have an opinion? Who is this mindless collective mass of humanity? Only a fictitious entity created by a vote in a poll.

Given prevailing sentiments, concern for the integrity of the ballot box is understandable inasmuch as its contents are widely believed to contain the decision of the people (the fictitious entity) as to who shall rule. Such rule is sanctioned not only for those who cast votes but also for those who didn’t.

By long established habit of thinking, most people are resigned to submit to such an outcome as long as they believe it is faithful to the majority of votes cast in the affirmative. Whatever raises doubt and shakes their belief that the tally is at odds with an actual nose-count also casts doubt on the legitimacy of the outcome and any succession to rule so ordained. The mood of the subjects can quickly turn from doubt to outrage and on to outright rebellion at the slightest hint that the vote count was corrupted, miscounted, miscarried or forged. The reaction to even an abstract notion that the “decision of the majority” was thwarted by some evil conspiracy is no less than what one would expect from an invasion of alien plunderers. Yet, plunder would be the result of the election however conducted. The only issue is who shall be anointed to do the deed with legal immunity.

As if ordinary theft or contamination of ballot box contents is not bad enough, Harris shows how the new electronic voting machines, defy ordinary prudence and protection of the count. This advancement in the technology of manipulation is a boon to the masterminds of election fraud. Now we have cybercrime among all the others to contend with. What’s a citizen to do?

Be still. Take a deep breath. Relax. Now ask yourself “what’s the worst that could happen?” If you voted, perhaps you would have been in the majority and now, due to fraud, you are not. The democratically elected dictator is not of your choice. You chose a different dictator. Or did you? On the other hand, perhaps you merely deceived yourself in the matter and have been denying reality ever since. If you did not vote, you were at least resigned to your political fate and the looting of your estate regardless of the outcome however affected by whatever ballot scam. Perhaps you did not bother to vote because you realize political democracy is a scam in and of itself, and by abstaining, you weakened the electoral deception foisted upon you and your fellows.

Ms. Harris sounds the alarm about the new opportunities for vote-pilfering offered by hacking computer-aided electronic (“blackbox”) voting facilities. She makes spam, scam, identity theft and credit card embezzlement seem benign by comparison. However, inasmuch as political voting fails to obtain a democratic result that anyone would care to own afterward no matter how the voting is conducted, the ballot box ain’t worth stealing and its thieves ain’t worth chasing, let alone killing. The ballot box of concern — whether bean jar, slotted shoe box, punch card reader or touch-screen computer — never belonged to the voter in the first place; not you, not me, and indeed not any honest, self-governing person. It has never been anything but the object of a scam. This fact was well known to the Stoics of Ancient Greece (see Robert LeFevre, “Abstain from Beans,” Rampart College Commentary, Santa Ana, CA, 1970). This is because of what the political ballot box stands for — willingness to be ruled by somebody other than yourself.

The ballot box is a receptacle for token responses to hypothetical propositions beyond the reach of individual humans. It contains a fictitious decision of an imaginary entity (a democratic majority) as to who shall control a monopoly of political power over a human population. It also signifies that this population has forfeited enough of its individuality and autonomy to behave as a collective political animal herd rather than a responsible human being.

Ballot box fetishes are symptomatic of a collectivistic habit of thinking. The very phrasing of the question “Who decides what everybody must abide?” belies the abandonment of human language. Such “group-speak” is mere ritual that allows one to believe the nonsense that a population of individuals can make a decision without a brain and a voice to articulate it, and that decision is somehow owned by all the individuals as a whole but without responsibility for consequences. The vote creates a collective (fictitious entity) but it can not give it a brain, any more than Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” could give “Scarecrow” a brain.

Although a group of people has no brain with which to form a conclusion, the individuals comprising the collective do have brains themselves, and they could use them to make decisions but only for themselves. To attribute collective decisions to the group presumes the individuals are the property of themselves as a whole, i.e. all of them together taken to be a collective entity. This is a conundrum of the following type:

The United States decided to send some of “its” people to Iraq to remove its counterpart state from power, expenses to be paid by certain others of ‘its’ people for the good of all “its” people, especially the elected spokesmen for “the people” as a whole.

This type of language and the thinking that underlies it is pervasive and unexamined. It has become automatic like the proverbial “knee-jerk reaction.”  An example is the myth that collective decision-making by government officials is “better” than individual decision-making in a market economy. This fantasy is perverse because its only claim for “better” is superior brute force, which is irrelevant to human progress. Since such government is irrelevant to life in the real world, it is understandable how collectivistic attitudes have wrought so much misery.

Ballot box spoliation, real or imagined, can neither be prevented nor redeemed by any means known to fair-minded persons. It is strictly a tool of politicians whose purpose stripped clear of all altruistic and patriotic hypocrisy is to receive services without rendering any. What else is political power?

But even if political polls could be made absolutely clear of fraud of any kind, the results of political elections would still be unfair. For as observed by Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow of Stanford University, no system of voting can be fair in an election where the majority rules and the winner takes all. That observation seemed obvious to me when I first read about it. However, since Arrow’s conclusion was worth a Nobel Prize in mathematics, it is certainly worth some public consideration. If nothing else, people might ponder their complicity in the creation of a monopoly protection racket when competition offers their only escape from expropriation and exploitation.

So even if the political ballot box is scrupulously clean and free of tampering of any sort, the “decision” formed inside is actually a coup d’etat. It is merely a statistical exercise designed to deceive the public into believing that “they” are an entity unto themselves that has spoken on behalf of a leader with a program presumed to be on their behalf. Actually, those who sanction the practice of political voting are merely opportunistic spokesmen for an abstract collective entity that is only a figment of the public imagination but serves as a foil and cover for usurpation.

This process is known as political democracy, and political participation makes political democracy a self-fulfilling prophesy. Political democracy is where the majority sanctions a minuscule minority to rule over all while depending on the existence of a substantial degree of self-government without which there would be anarchy notwithstanding the hegemony of a political entity. This is true even if the sum of both majority “ayes” and minority “nays” is a minor fraction of the subjects under rule. Nostalgia for a flag-draped motherland and other collectivist sentiments does not alter the fact that political democracy is a protection racket. Political democracy does not lead to a democratic society. It is mob rule.

The merit of Ms. Harris’ work lies not in helping a person perfect his self-defense and self-governing capabilities. However, it does contribute to the recognition that political democracy is doomed regardless of all good intentions and efforts by exposing the absurdities and injustices of trying to make an unworkable system work. Ms. Harris’ research offers another opportunity for convincing people to abstain from participation in a scam. If enough of us abstain, the scam recedes into history. Abstention is the only way known to man to eliminate scams. And you would be doing a lot of people a favor by helping them to understand how political participation is pathological and how abstention from political participation can save them a lot of time and anguish now and a lot of property later.

I abstain from politics because I crave life in a democratic society. While I encounter a distressing number of political intrusions in the ordinary course of my life, I am encouraged by the abundant signs that a democratic society is alive and thriving even now. It resides in the competitive free market economy where we consumers rule ourselves as well as all other producers, all on our own recognizance. The marketplace is where we all live and work in peace. Here, there are still lots of ballot boxes around. There have to be because as consumers, we can and do vote as often as we please to the limit of our liquidity and credit, and regardless of the clock, the calendar, immigration status or residency. This is called economic democracy, and the secret anonymous ballot used in the myriad elections taking place around the clock in this democracy is money, otherwise known as the medium of exchange.

The freedom to exchange voluntarily between individuals to the limit of their own properties under their own recognizance is the only real freedom humans can have. Self government is understandable only in those terms, i.e. in terms of an individual person with a functioning brain and an awareness of his own sense of value. Since there can be no freedom from the laws of nature regardless of political promises, true freedom is as illustrated by Henry L. Mencken:

Freedom of the press is limited to those who own one.

Accordingly, my freedom is reckoned in terms of the extent and integrity of my estate. I am free to the extent I can keep and/or spend what I earn. In the absence of press gangs that spring from the political ballot box, it is my competence, imagination, energy, courage and ambition that determines the range of my freedom. Political government is irrelevant.

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