Kevin Price
How a simple election reform can help restore republic
By Kevin Price
October 14, 2009

The United States government has, for years, put a premium on the act of voting. The idea is, the more people voting, the better. Are you getting your license renewed? Apply for a voters registration! Are you applying for Food Stamps? Go ahead and register to vote! This idea, however, goes completely against the grain of trying to maintain a responsible government. Our Founding Fathers believed in the idea of "quality of vote" versus "quantity of vote," which is the mantra we have today.

We all know that in the early days of our republic, an entire gender (females) and ethnic group (Blacks) were not allowed to vote. What most of us are not taught, however is that the vast majority of the population (regardless of race) was not allowed to vote in those early years. Voting was largely determined by states and virtually all of them had property ownership requirements that excluded, by many estimates, as much as 90 percent of the population. The discrimination practiced by the early leaders was not nearly as inclined toward race, as it was making sure that those who participate had a vested interest in the process. Those with property had to pay taxes directly, giving them (in the eyes of the early leaders) a right to participate in the process.

The classical economist John Stuart Mill argued that, if any person was receiving money from the government, they should be prohibited from voting until they were financially free from any assistance. This idea would not be merely welfare recipients, but corporate "fat cats" getting subsidies from Uncle Sam. Mill argued that there was no way to maintain a small and reasonable government if people could vote benefits for themselves. It was similar to serving on the board of an organization and being allowed to vote on something that directly benefits you. That would be bad form and everyone would expect you to "abstain." "Abstain" we all should do if we are eating at the trough.

Unfortunately, that was then, and this is now. Such a proposal would not be politically palpable. What if there was a third way beyond the "anyone with a pulse can vote" mentality pervasive today and the elitist position found earlier in our nation's history? It is against the law for candidates to campaign for office within a certain distance of voting locations. That is why, when you walk up, you are bombarded with people offering you flyers up to an invisible line. Yet, the single most important information — party affiliation — is actually seen on your ballots. Worse still, we allow people to vote "straight ticket," requiring absolutely no thought at all.

To restore integrity in the ballot box, we should remove party affiliation from every ballot entirely and from voting locations. This will require every person who goes in to vote to know exactly for whom they are voting and why. They should not be provided a "cheat sheet" in the form of the ballot for the most important test they take for liberty each election cycle. Those who cry "foul" will be implying their followers cannot read or lack the faculties to make such decisions. What an insult to their constituents. Without party identification, our elections will become a sober task in maintaining our liberty and not a celebration of ignorance. Will we have fewer voters? Most definitely, but we will have more thoughtful voters.

© Kevin Price


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Kevin Price

Kevin Price is Publisher and Editor in Chief of

His background is eclectic and includes years of experience in both business and public policy, as well as two decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He was an aide to U.S. Senator Gordon Humphrey (R-NH) and later went on to work in policy areas with some of the nation's leading think tanks including the National Center for Public Policy Research and was part of the Heritage Foundation's Annual Guide to Public Policy Experts... (more)


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