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Thread: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by TacticalEvilDan View Post
    I think that ballots cast in an election must be secret in order to maintain the integrity of the election. You must be free to vote for the candidate you think is best without fear of retribution from the government or ruling party.
    I don't think that's really all that much of a concern. At least not enough of one to outweigh the benefits of open ballots.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by TacticalEvilDan View Post
    When you're voting for a public official, you're not (unless you've got a one-track mind) voting for them because of one specific issue. .
    You are voting for that public official for multiple issues, so it is not really any different than signing a petition. That official you vote for will effect certain laws. Although merely signing a petition is not effecting the law only what gets put up for a vote by the people.
    "A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive treason from within. An enemy at the gates is less formidable, for he is known and carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves amongst those within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard in the very halls of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor; he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their arguments, he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all men. He rots the soul of a nation, he works secretly and unknown in the night to undermine the pillars of the city, he infects the body politic so that it can no longer resist. A murder is less to fear"

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Harshaw View Post
    I don't think that's really all that much of a concern. At least not enough of one to outweigh the benefits of open ballots.
    I agree that in today's current political climate, it's not all that much of a concern. We can generally trust that our countrymen will not punish us for our electoral choices.

    At the same time, the structure of our government was designed, at least in part, to eliminate the need for trust. This way, if that trust breaks down, the fundamentals mechanisms of government can continue to function.

    While I certainly agree that there needs to be more traceability in our current election practices, I think we can get that by eliminating electronic voting systems. I don't think we need to tie a particular person to the vote they cast.
    I'm already gearing up for Finger Vote 2014.

    Just for reference, means my post was a giant steaming pile of sarcasm.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    You are voting for that public official for multiple issues, so it is not really any different than signing a petition. That official you vote for will effect certain laws.
    It's very different. You often have to prioritize which issues are most important to you, since it's highly unlikely that one particular candidate will agree with you on everything. Furthermore, politicians can be convinced / pressured into changing their position on an issue based on voter discontent.

    It's important to remember that elections are about people more than they are about issues.

    Quote Originally Posted by jamesrage View Post
    Although merely signing a petition is not effecting the law only what gets put up for a vote by the people.
    I've already addressed that in a previous post.
    I'm already gearing up for Finger Vote 2014.

    Just for reference, means my post was a giant steaming pile of sarcasm.

  5. #35
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by TacticalEvilDan View Post
    I think that ballots cast in an election must be secret in order to maintain the integrity of the election. You must be free to vote for the candidate you think is best without fear of retribution from the government or ruling party.

    In the case of voting for or against a proposition, you are casting a ballot either for or against a proposed change to law, which directly impacts the lives of your neighbors. I believe that they have as much right to know who is responsible for that impact as they do if it's an act of a legislature.
    I just don't see the difference as being that substantial.

    The fear of retribution is the same if not greater when it comes to propositions as opposed to candidates. Simply voting for a disfavored candidate is troublesome in some quarters, but voting the "wrong" way on an issue can be enough to get you fired. This is because of the exact reason that you mention at the end - one has a more direct impact on your neighbors than the other. As the impact on your neighbors and community increases, so does the risk of retribution and the chilling effect on speech. For that reason, I think they should both be protected.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    I just don't see the difference as being that substantial.

    The fear of retribution is the same if not greater when it comes to propositions as opposed to candidates. Simply voting for a disfavored candidate is troublesome in some quarters, but voting the "wrong" way on an issue can be enough to get you fired. This is because of the exact reason that you mention at the end - one has a more direct impact on your neighbors than the other. As the impact on your neighbors and community increases, so does the risk of retribution and the chilling effect on speech. For that reason, I think they should both be protected.
    This isn't about speech, it's about law. Petitions seek to put a matter on the ballot. The ballot seeks to change the law.

    Voting for a candidate is a whole separate ball of wax -- you aren't directly responsible for what they do, and you don't have to agree with them on everything, or even anything.

    Why on earth should an official's voting record be public, but our individual record on ballots / initiatives / referendums be any different? Doesn't publicly exposing their activities with respect to their official duties have a chilling effect?
    I'm already gearing up for Finger Vote 2014.

    Just for reference, means my post was a giant steaming pile of sarcasm.

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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by Korimyr the Rat View Post
    People who aren't willing to stand behind their opinions don't deserve to have their opinions counted.
    Okay, so we're going to post every voter's vote in the Internet now, right?
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    A friend asked if I would sign a petition objecting to the government plan to introduce identity cards, and couldn't understand why I fell about laughing. Only when I asked if he was going to voluntarily send his name and address to the people he didn't trust to have his name and address, did he get it!
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by TacticalEvilDan View Post
    This isn't about speech, it's about law. Petitions seek to put a matter on the ballot. The ballot seeks to change the law.

    Voting for a candidate is a whole separate ball of wax -- you aren't directly responsible for what they do, and you don't have to agree with them on everything, or even anything.
    Your vote on an issue, much like your willingness to sign a petition or to donate to a candidate, is a quintessential example of speech. I'm not referring to "free speech" in the formal sense, but in colloquial terms, meaning your ability to express yourself on matters of public import without being silenced or otherwise influenced by external forces.

    Why on earth should an official's voting record be public, but our individual record on ballots / initiatives / referendums be any different? Doesn't publicly exposing their activities with respect to their official duties have a chilling effect?
    No, because that's the entire purpose behind their election. We elect them to act in the way we want them to act. Having their voting records be public is a positive thing in terms of civic engagement, as it helps us decide whether to support them in the future. I don't think my coworkers and colleagues should be looking at my voting record to determine whether or not to support me.
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    Re: Court to decide if petition signers' names public

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    Your vote on an issue, much like your willingness to sign a petition or to donate to a candidate, is a quintessential example of speech. I'm not referring to "free speech" in the formal sense, but in colloquial terms, meaning your ability to express yourself on matters of public import without being silenced or otherwise influenced by external forces.
    Okay, fair enough.

    I'm not aware of any marked chilling effect that was created by campaign contribution disclosure requirements (and I'm a lot more concerned about that since it goes back to the potential consequences of supporting the sitting party's opposition). Big donations continue to roll in from special interests, small donations continue to roll in from grassroots efforts.

    Quote Originally Posted by RightinNYC View Post
    No, because that's the entire purpose behind their election. We elect them to act in the way we want them to act. Having their voting records be public is a positive thing in terms of civic engagement, as it helps us decide whether to support them in the future. I don't think my coworkers and colleagues should be looking at my voting record to determine whether or not to support me.
    The basic building block for the various and sundry legislative bodies that represent our interests in this country is the elected official, for whom secret ballots are cast, and whose every official action is a matter of public record. The logic, at least for me, is very simple -- the politics by which you cast your vote for an official are your own business, but the official business in which they are involved is everyone's business.

    There are all sorts of political activities where your personal information might be helpful for credibility's sake, but strictly speaking isn't relevant. Protests. Letter-writing campaigns. Membership in any politically active organization. These are activities that, in America's grand tradition of political fisticuffs, we want to encourage (or at least avoid discouraging).

    Ballot initiatives, however, are an entirely different matter. For one thing, there is only one example of balloting which is not centered on elections and yet is essential to the functioning of any governing body in the U.S. -- school budgets. In this particular example, since we're talking about an essential function -- deciding how our tax dollars get spent on the local public school -- which isn't currently being decided by an elected official per se (educational standards aside), I don't think disclosure of who voted which way is a good idea.

    Aside from that, my understanding is that there are no essential legislative functions which are supplied exclusively via balloting. Balloting is certainly used to change the legal landscape according to the will of the majority in a variety of places, but that isn't the only mechanism available -- elected officials can make the same changes, on the record.

    What about politically sensitive subjects, the kind that elected officials won't touch with a ten-foot pole because they don't want be on the record as opposing the personal interests of this or that segment of the voting public? I can certainly understand the appeal of a functionally anonymous balloting process which permits us to express our individual wishes without concern that others will penalize us for our choice. At the same time, what we're essentially doing is allowing a simple majority to exert their will on what may well be a very large minority without having to take any responsibility for it, without having to run for office to do it, completely immune to any kind of lobbying effort. We are, furthermore, allowing them to do it when such an exertion is not a functional requirement of the structure of government, when such an exertion is not the only road by which their objectives may be achieved.

    The ignomious aspects of this nation's history aside, if there's anything that the structure of the government our founders left behind should teach us, it is that the tyranny of the majority was something they tried to minimize just as much as they tried to minimize any restrictions whatsoever on political speech or political activity.

    It seems to me that the one and only defense that the minority has against the anonymous will of a majority that they did not elect and cannot lobby is transparency. Leave alone highly localized balloting functions for which there is no legislative alternative and publicize the rest.
    I'm already gearing up for Finger Vote 2014.

    Just for reference, means my post was a giant steaming pile of sarcasm.

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