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Government Privacy The Courts United States

Federal Judge Says No Right To Secret Ballot, OKs Barcoded Ballots 584

Posted by timothy
from the it's-the-little-things dept.
doug141 writes "A Colorado county put bar codes on printed ballots in a last minute effort to comply with a rule about eliminating identifying markings. Citizens sued, because the bar codes can still be traced back to individual voters. In a surprise ruling, Denver U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello said the U.S. Constitution did not contain a 'fundamental right' to secret ballots, and that the citizens could not show their voting rights had been violated, nor that they might suffer any specific injury from the bar codes."
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Federal Judge Says No Right To Secret Ballot, OKs Barcoded Ballots

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:30AM (#41420725)

    LOL!

  • Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:35AM (#41420759)

    It seems that everywhere in the world, governments and corporations have decided that because we have the technology, it's okay to use it to abuse people's rights and freedoms in ways that would be illegal if they were done in person, or on paper.

  • Barcodes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jkflying (2190798) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:35AM (#41420761)

    Obviously, just barcode the people. It will make things much easier for admin.

  • by InPursuitOfTruth (2676955) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:35AM (#41420763)
    The fundamental problem is that lack of anonymity creates pressure to change one's vote not due to one's personal beliefs, but rather due to pressure from an outcome of what another might think. In the extreme case, we are talking potential retaliation by a regime or political part. This has happened repeatedly through history, and happens today. While the extreme case doesn't appear to apply in the US today, in pre-WW II German, it did. If civilized countries can change quickly to oppress, then how, if our inherent right to vote does not come with an obvious need for protections such as anonymity, can our constitution protect us indefinitely?
  • by mrmeval (662166) <mrmeval@@@gmail...com> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:38AM (#41420781) Journal

    We call it demockracy and that's not what we had. What we have now is an unstable crypto-plutocracy with the trappings of fairness and equality slathered on and maintained through the inertia of habit. We've not had a republic since the civil war which for the most part destroyed the concept of the sovereign nature of the states. There were a few amendments that eased the process. Governments will invariably acquire more power, sometimes it's given to it with great cheering and sometimes it's sullenly forced upon it and sometime it takes it by force.

  • by tramp (68773) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:44AM (#41420839)
    The whole purpose of a paper ballot is to keep your vote secret. If that was not the case you could far more easily went in and say your choice aloud.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:44AM (#41420841)

    You should modden down for replying with "This", even if your argument is correct.

    It's dumb. Stop doing it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:46AM (#41420863)

    They have no understanding of constitutional law. The constitution does now lay out our rights... we have our rights with or without the constitution. The constitution was meant to restrain the government. Since a few people thought that enumerating some of our rights explicitly in the Bill of Rights was a good idea, some how the foolish judges have the idea that if they weren't explicitly enumerated that they do not exist.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wvmarle (1070040) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:50AM (#41420881)

    Smart governments, at least those that also like to keep up true democratic values, will do whatever they can to prevent election fraud. This is also one major argument against online voting, without the need of going to a polling station.

    Ballots that can be traced to a voter, or where the voter can be watched filling in the ballot paper, can be bought. This way elections can be bought. And that alone is enough reason to not have any identifying mark on any ballot.

  • Re:Quick reading (Score:4, Insightful)

    by zippthorne (748122) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:15AM (#41421047) Journal

    Who cares if more people show up if they're showing up because they were paid or intimidated?

    I don't care if one person shows up (because that person would be me....), as long as that person is voting for what s/he actually believes is best for the country.

  • by doug141 (863552) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:27AM (#41421167)
    She said that even if a ballot could be traced back to a specific voter, it doesn't show that a person's voting rights were violated, saying there was no "fundamental right" to a secret vote in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nerdfest (867930) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:29AM (#41421181)

    Well, I say "I think" as I'm not American, nor am I an expert in American law, but I was under the impression that you do have the right to a secret ballot to protect you from having your vote coerced. If the barcode is tied to you voter registration number, it easily allows a machine to do what a human readable voter number would do, and tie your vote back to you.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:1, Insightful)

    by CobaltBlueDW (899284) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:34AM (#41421219)

    I'm shocked that people think not letting others know their political actions is an issue of liberty or privacy. Would it be okay if your state representative didn't tell you how he/she voted on bills? Everyone in this thread is blathering about their political opinions on the internet, but put that opinion in a check box on a public government form and suddenly it's encroaching on your civil rights. If you are so insecure about who/what you vote for, don't vote. All political/government actions, aside from national security, need to have public transparency. Your vote is your participation and collaboration with the rest of our society; it IS a social, public form of communication.
    Not only are peoples ideology blinding them to the true nature of this issue, but they are essentially advocating government corruption and identity theft. If your vote can't be traced back to you, then you can't be traced to your vote. The votes on your ballots could be changed, and since that ballot can't be traced back to you, someone just successfully stole your identity to rig an election. Congratulation, you have succeeded in hiding your vote, now truly no one knows what your vote was.
    Grow up and be proud of your political opinion. Put your big boy pants on and participate in meaningful, finite, social discourse.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concerned Onlooker (473481) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:46AM (#41421311) Homepage Journal

    How your representative votes IS your right to know. However, when the government knows how you vote then abuse creeps in. Just look around the world. It's not uncommon to be rewarded for voting a certain way or terribly punished for voting another way, and that is effected when authorities can know how you voted.

    I think you might be the one advocating corruption here.

  • by Sique (173459) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:46AM (#41421315) Homepage

    No. It is quite possible to ensure the integrity of the ballot without being racist. Voter registration is one of the methods. Making it unusually complicated to register for certain groups is racist. And it is unnecessary for the integrity of the ballot.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @11:57AM (#41421411)

    You don't need to speculate, just look at history. Before the secret ballot, it was routine in the US for companies and political machines to buy votes. Employees would vote for whoever their employer told them to, or would get fired. This is not an imaginary dystopia, this was the case in the United States just a touch over 100 years ago.

  • by TheGavster (774657) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:00PM (#41421439) Homepage

    I personally know at least one person who voted underage through voter impersonation. If I, as someone totally removed from the "inside" of the politcal process run into it, I can assure you that there are many, many cases with much more malicious intent than a 16 year old who really really wanted to be able to say he voted for Kerry. If a fully naturalized citizen must present ID to board an airplane, buy alcohol, or even travel by car near the beach on a holiday weekend (hello, welcome to the checkpoint, papers please!), why is it suddenly "racist" to demand ID to vote? Are minorities somehow incapable of going to the DMV for their non-driver ID cards like everyone else?

  • by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:01PM (#41421459)
    Then the USA isn't democratic as there is no way to remove big business from power.
  • Pay us to vote (Score:4, Insightful)

    by currently_awake (1248758) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:19PM (#41421591)
    Give out a tax rebate to everyone who votes. $100 should suffice.
  • We are not slaves (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jabberw0k (62554) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:24PM (#41421635) Homepage Journal
    The U.S.A. is a free country, we do not require Identity Papers. I did not have a drivers license until age 33 and lived my whole life just fine. For you to say that I would be required to carry identity papers, would be to say that I live as a slave in a totalitarian government. I only carry my drivers license when driving, and only show it to a police officer in regards to a driving offense. That is all it is to be used for.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:26PM (#41421657)
    Dude, you're the racist. You believe that minority members are so incompetent that they can't figure out ID cards.
  • Re:Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LordLimecat (1103839) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:28PM (#41421679)

    the state should pay for it....Nobody should be charged for their mandatory ID cards.

    Where do you suppose the state gets its money from? We're going to be charged, regardless of whether its an explicit voting tax or hidden in income tax. And there will always be some people who are effectively not paying that particular tax, and are being subsidized by others.

    As long as its like a $1 fee or whatever and not likely to restrict someone's ability, Im not seeing the problem. Are people less likely to vote because now they can SEE that it costs money to maintain a democracy?

  • by pepty (1976012) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:42PM (#41421781)
    Odd how republicans campaign on slashing and eliminating unnecessary regulations while simultaneously adding burdensome regulations without bothering to demonstrate that they solve an actual problem.

    If these were health, safety, or environmental regulations republicans would be screaming that the cost of implementing the regulations is a waste of tax dollars, that citizens have to be reimbursed for the "takings" (lost income, expenses) these regulations forced them to incur, and overall would blather about the rules being another example of intrusive big government. They would go on to say that any effect of improper voting is speculative and demand to see evidence of actual harm (thrown elections) before allowing any such regulations.

    Amazing how republicans' math skills invert if you switch from talking about arsenic in drinking water to improper voting.

  • by dcollins (135727) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @12:53PM (#41421871) Homepage

    "If a fully naturalized citizen must present ID to board an airplane, buy alcohol, or even travel by car near the beach on a holiday weekend (hello, welcome to the checkpoint, papers please!), why is it suddenly 'racist' to demand ID to vote?"

    Ah, the "Slippery slope exists, and I LOVE it!" argument. Don't double-down and expand on tyranny, roll that shit back.

    And yes, minorities do tend to have lower incomes, less flexibility in work schedules, and greater burden make travel happen, so requirements that they get ID cards do in fact hit them (and also senior citizens, and the handicapped) harder. Plus in some districts the non-driver ID cards come from a separate office that's open for 1 hour a week -- nice trick.

  • by RabidReindeer (2625839) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:04PM (#41421967)

    The U.S.A. is a free country, we do not require Identity Papers. I did not have a drivers license until age 33 and lived my whole life just fine. For you to say that I would be required to carry identity papers, would be to say that I live as a slave in a totalitarian government. I only carry my drivers license when driving, and only show it to a police officer in regards to a driving offense. That is all it is to be used for.

    I can tell you don't fly. Or are papers required to take the bus/train these days, too?

  • by lister king of smeg (2481612) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:05PM (#41421973)

    yes there is you vote with your dollars. don't like walmart for example, convince enough people stop buying their stuff and they will go out of business. If you cant then you obviously have a minority opinion and democracy is a majority rule system. People may say they hate them but if they go out and buy from them anyway then they don't really hate them its just what they like to think should be said, either to make them popular or fit in or any of a dozen possible reasons.

  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:06PM (#41421989)

    It's quite possible -- likely, even! -- that yes, we have discovered better ways. That doesn't mean those better ways are Constitutionally required, though.

    If you go to the Jefferson Memorial in DC, carved on one wall is a speech from Jefferson in which he declares that he knows the Constitution to be an imperfect document, and that he entrusts future generations with the task of correcting it by the process of amendment. If you believe the secret ballot is a fundamental right, then you need to acknowledge the absence of that as a flaw in the Constitution, and seek to correct that flaw by the process of amendment.

  • by Artifakt (700173) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:34PM (#41422215)

    My state (Tennessee) has now set things up so student IDs usually don't work as a form of picture ID (The law requires a fixed address and both an issue and expiration date - on campus housing is legally a temporary address and so may not fit the technical definition of fixed, and many schools don't put an issue or expiration date on their IDs). The same problem exists for most employee IDs (as many don't have at least one of either issue or expiration dates), and photo IDs for Military Retirees (particularly unfair as the disabled veterans IDs used at VA clinics don't have an expiration date, but some other military retirement cards do). I still have an old Green military ID, but commissioned officer IDs from that time were set up with no expiration date shown (because the Geneva Convention category on the back never expires as a legal indicator, and If we ever lose a war and the occupying force actually giives a damn about the convention, it stays a legal proof), so I couldn't use that, but If I had an enlisted ID that hadn't expired, it would probably work. It's more than a little disturbing to me that the state wrote a law about IDs without taking into account why some of them do or don't use all the lines the state thinks are needed to prevent voter fraud, and thinks its laws can override the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Geneva convention (or never gave a damn one way or another). I don't see how issue and expiration dates affect proving who someone is for voting purposes. You CAN use a concealed carry permit, as that has all the necessary lines.

  • Re:Freedom (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:35PM (#41422223)

    Here's the thing, you don't get the right to vote for your government because you can pay for it.

    You get the right to vote for your government because that's the only way it can legitimately derive its authority.

    Taxation as a pathway to voting, in any form, is a repugnant suggestion that ignores the very concept of government.

  • by davidwr (791652) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @01:57PM (#41422411) Homepage Journal

    In George W. Bush's home state of Texas, voter-ID laws are on hold in part because dozens of counties have NO place to get a driver's license or photo ID card. Everyone in those counties has to drive to the next county to get one.

    Voter registration can be done by mail, which is a much lower burden on those with no car or who work basically the same hours as the DMV office is open.

    By the way, the impact on minorities is not BECAUSE they are minorities, but because being a minority is, for now at least, highly correlated to being poor, lacking good access to transportation, and other impediments to getting to the DMV office to get a photo ID or drivers license. If poverty and lack of access to good transportation were both uniformly distributed over ethnic and racial groups and other "minority" groups, then voter-ID laws would still hurt the poor and those without access to good transportation, but it would not have a disproportionate effect on any particular racial or ethnic group.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @02:52PM (#41422783)

    Sure there is: don't buy their products.

    We tried that with GM and it didn't work very well

  • by physicsphairy (720718) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @04:04PM (#41423213) Homepage

    That is certainly a bleak picture you paint. My question is. . . why is it that after considering all the unfair hurdles they must face in obtaining identification, the conclusion is not to remove those hurdles? Why would we instead divert all focus to remedying one particular side-effect, when we could attack the problem itself? We should work on getting these people access to IDs and all the coincident advantages (being able to use public transport, buy cough syrup, etc.). Then we can tout equitable access while still enforcing integrity in the voting process, and generally improve the lot of the potentially disenfranchised.

  • by ultranova (717540) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @04:11PM (#41423265)

    Corporations deserve/require a voice in government too.

    No, they don't. Their owners already have a voice. Why would they deserve to speak with additional voices through entities that only exist as legal fiction? Should I be able to vote once for every pseudonym I use on the Internet?

    Our system of investment would crumble along with our economy if it wasn't there. The government has to be conducive to business if you expect jobs and/or a middle class of people.

    When corporations get a voice in the government they don't have any incentive to make things conductive to business. They have an incentive to make things hard for their competitors and conductive to the kind of financial games that led to the current crisis. Oh, and to allow employee abuse.

    If anything, giving corporations a voice in government would make it harder to start new ones since the existing ones have every incentive to pre-emptively fight against competition.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 22, 2012 @04:25PM (#41423383)

    Because the entire objective of the plan is to disenfranchise the poor, so removing those hurdles would defeat the purpose. You're operating from the assumtion that the voter ID laws were conceived to "enforce integrity in the voting process", with the implicit assumption that the voter ID laws will actually accoplish this in any statistically significant way. Neither of these are the case.

  • by HiThere (15173) <charleshixsn@ear ... t ['hli' in gap]> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:25PM (#41423739)

    Space colonies can be guaranteed to go for rigid control of the populace. The habitat is too vulnerable to damage. They will probably also be technocratic meritocracies with strong conditioning throughout the early years, and harsh punishments for those whose adolescent rebellion takes forms deemed dangerous.

    Earth is a much nicer place to live.

    N.B.: I'm talking about the physical and environmental regulation. It's quite plausible that virtual reality will provide a grant of freedom in other areas.

  • by Genda (560240) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Saturday September 22, 2012 @05:33PM (#41423817) Journal

    Sure there is, elect representatives who are clearly willing to create a constitutional amendment separating corporation and state. Return corporations to a sane level of power and wealth. Design them such that they can have great size, but the larger they are, the more limited their social strength, so they can't use their size to hijack the social process. Tax all corporations at a fix rate of 18% with no loopholes. Make any political representative found to be taking money from corporations ground for instant censure and removal from legislative body, you want to make it really hurt, require the representatives replacement come from the opposite party (that way you get help to stay on the wagon, as it were.) You can build all kinds of checks and balances into the system. It just takes the people of this nation getting a clue then getting off their fat collective asses.

  • by martin-boundary (547041) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:02PM (#41424635)

    Corporations deserve/require a voice in government too.

    No they don't.

    Our system of investment would crumble along with our economy if it wasn't there.

    That's exactly what people are saying. The current system of investment is broken and leads to ownership and control by the one percenters. The current system of investment needs to be scrapped and the economy needs a new foundation. Corporations should not be "people" in the future.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:03PM (#41424641)
    Or the Republicans that gave you a hereditary head of state in the form of a useless baby Bush that ran away and hid as soon as things got tough, both in the Army and as President. There plenty of Democrat examples as well but not quite so overt or recent.
    Membership or leadership of just about any form of government can end up being considered a family business. There's some families that had Senators until Rome fell, then Cardinals for centuries later - it was all politics, and frequently all nepotism.
  • by Taco Cowboy (5327) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @08:22PM (#41424761) Journal

    Sure there is: don't buy their products.

    We tried that with GM and it didn't work very well

    That is because you voted in the WRONG PEOPLE and sent them to Capital Hill.

    It would have worked if nobody on the Capital Hill decided to help GM - and that would set an extremely alarming precedence to all other corporations out there

  • by kenorland (2691677) on Saturday September 22, 2012 @10:37PM (#41425445)

    What we have now is an unstable crypto-plutocracy with the trappings of fairness and equality slathered on and maintained through the inertia of habit

    A "crypto-plutocracy" is what we have always had, since the founding of the nation, and it has served us well.

    You're right that the "trappings of fairness and equality" were "slathered on". Let's get rid of the trappings and stop pretending. It isn't the job of government to ensure "fairness" or "equality", it is the job of government to protect individual liberty and ensure the rule of law. That results in equal opportunities, and that's all that can be realistically achieved.

    The biggest risk we face is that it turns into a European style democracy; European democracies indeed are committed to "fairness and equality" (as defined by whatever political theorists are in power), and they burn democracy and a few million people along with it at regular intervals to achieve it.

Natural laws have no pity.

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