Voter suppression has historically been a popular method of “adjusting” election results.
It comes in many forms. For example:
Do supporters of your opponent have 9-to-5 jobs? Easily solved—set up the polling places from 10 AM to 4 PM (with a break for lunch) in inconvenient places!
Are your supporters richer than your opponent’s supporters? No problem—poll Tax!
Want to selectively disenfranchise arbitrary groups of your choosing? Literacy test / civics quiz!
Do your supporters all own exotic reptiles? Make sure to require two forms of ID (to prevent voter fraud), but allow a card from the National Organization of Snake Aficionados to count as one form of ID.
There are, of course, hundreds of variations on this idea.
The not-immediately-nefarious goal here is to make sure that a voter understands the ballot, at least slightly.
Fig. 1: This ballot only has 6 questions, but I’m a busy individual with no free time to search online for a summary of them. I’ll just vote randomly, or vote based on whichever one-sentence summary of each item looks the best. But wait—an informed electorate is important to democracy, and I’m sabotaging this process with my intentionally bad votes!
In order to make sure that the voter is making an informed decision, we will add multiple fake “ringer” candidates to the ballot. A voter who is voting randomly will probably end up voting for one of these candidates, but someone with even the most basic understanding of the ballot will avoid these obviously-terrible options.
The key component is that a ballot that votes in favor of one of these (intentionally) terrible ringer options will be automatically discarded—it is assumed that the voter is not actually taking their civic duty seriously.
- in addition to the traditional candidates, the ringer candidate ROBOTOZAR THE METALLIC is added.
- Robotozar’s electoral platform is listed as “DESTROY ALL HUMANS AS PAINFULLY AS POSSIBLE.”
- Then, any ballots that include a vote for Robotozar would be disqualified.
- This will save representative democracy, as well as humanity in general.
For areas with direct voting on ballot measures, we could have “ringer” measures as well, such as:
- Recall the current ambassador to Australia, and send a horse as the new ambassador. 🇦🇺🐴
- Change voting eligibility: only snakes may vote in subsequent elections; intent is determined by divination of their slithering. 🐍👀
Fig. 2: The two disqualifying “ringer” questions on this ballot (described above) are highlighted in orange.
PROS: Could cause more careful reading of ballot measures.
CONS: What if a horse actually turned out to be an amazing ambassador?