Future Vote

or how the vote might change

Now we vote, one at a time, for the people who try to make governmental decisions. But it needn't be so blasť. Soon it will be possible for large groups of people to make direct decisions on issues, not just on choice of representatives. Sounds good? Well, maybe not. New technology will bring us closer to a mob rule guided by professional media people like me, and that's dangerous.

Imagine, if you will, some future debate between candidates. On the wall behind the interrogating journalists is the image of the candidates as they are seen on TV. Inset in this screen is a graph showing the candidate's ratings.

Now imagine that electroencephalographic tracking polls are done on a second-by-second basis. Each statement, each smile, each gaffe that the candidates make is reflected immediately in the polling numbers. They know when to go back and restate a point. They know which rejoiner worked and which failed. They know immediately if mentioning their dead kid makes a difference to women between the ages of 25 and 40.

Now imagine what kind of person will be good at this new kind of glad-handing.

Voting on issues is not new. Referendums are found on ballots throughout the US. What will be new is people voting on a daily or weekly basis in the home through cable tv or telephone.

Imagine listening to a stirring flag-waving speech by the President and then immediately voting to invade some misbehaving small nation. Imagine a television presentation that gets a lot of people very angry at the disgustingly amoral behavior of some group, then voting to ban that group. Political momentum will be measured on a second-to-second basis. Lobbying will be done through infomercials, newsgroups and web sites. And, if there continues to be low voter participation, then small, well organized groups could control legislation just like they do today through traditional lobbying.

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