General Question

flo's avatar

Have you ever heard of voting by show of hands in a democratic country?

Asked by flo (12974points) May 10th, 2012

When you are in a democratric country would you take it as a given that voting for anything, is by secret ballot? Have you ever heard of such a thing as voting by a “show of hands” for anything?

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21 Answers

marinelife's avatar

Certainly. In small groups. It is done a lot.

tacres's avatar

At any town meeting I have ever attended the vote was either a show of hands or yeas & nays.

wundayatta's avatar

It’s done all the time in various legislative bodies.

Ron_C's avatar

The place I’ve seen “show of hands voting”:
Rotary Club meetings
City Council meetings
County Board of Supervisors meetings
School board meetings (public and Catholic schools
Deciding which bar our group goes to (some vote, others aren’t paying attention)

JLeslie's avatar

Besides everything listed above, I think it is arguable the Iowa Caucases for the democratic primaries is akin to a showing of hands.

gailcalled's avatar

We have a show of hands at our local town council, the governing body for our town of about 1600 people. There are, at best, 60 people who show up at the meetings and that’s for a hot topic like a development project in the offing.

SavoirFaire's avatar

This is, in fact, how democracy began. The ancient Athenians used voting by a show of hands as their standard operating procedure.

wilma's avatar

All the time.

flo's avatar

Why, considering people vote the wrong way in order to please others, is this system still around in democratic countries?

Ron_C's avatar

@flo I have been involved with organizations that vote by the show of hands for about 40 years. I have seen people vote “nay” just to be different but have never seen a person vote for something to please others, it just doesn’t happen in real life.

flo's avatar

@Ron_C First of all my ”people vote the wrong way in order to please others” I didn’t specify whether it is for or against. If someone votes against the way they actually feel or think about the issue, they still voted wrong way which proves my point.

”...but have never seen a person vote for something to please others,” How do you know for sure?

What would make anyone insist it shouldn’t be by secret ballot anyway?

Ron_C's avatar

@flo City council meetings are open to the public and secret meetings and ballots are against the Sunshine laws in my state. In the clubs like the Rotary debate is free and open. These people are leaders and not afraid to defend their position. I was a member, even president for a number of years and nobody even suggested a secret ballot. Secrecy is not a component of most social organizations and is frowned upon in local government.

flo's avatar

Okay @Ron_C I see what you’re talking about there, because the electors need to know their elected officials are not going against what they run for the election on. I see that. Thanks.

JLeslie's avatar

Representatives needing to open vote makes sense. But, my example of the Iowa caucauses, I think there is peer pressure among neighbors in an open vote like that. And, at some jobs people certianly feel they need to go along sometimes with the group or boss.

SavoirFaire's avatar

While the point about open voting for government representatives is well taken, I would like to suggest that @flo‘s worries are not completely baseless. The bandwagon effect is a well-established cognitive bias, and the Asch conformity experiments show how powerful the pressure to conform can be.

In an antagonistic environment like the political arena or a debate society, the pressure to conform is dissipated by the fact that it is already known that each side has support. Outside of such an environment, however, the results can be disastrous. The Challenger disaster, for instance, is typically attributed to the problems of groupthink.

What, then, is the solution? Asch’s experiments show us that the presence of even one dissenter significantly reduces the pressure to conform. Many people will not themselves become dissenters, however, unless they have a confederate. The lesson, then, is this: be the confederate; help others to express their dissent.

It can be uncomfortable to be the first dissenter, of course, but the overwhelming likelihood is that you will get allies in short order. For as @Ron_C notes, human beings love to argue once given license to do so.

flo's avatar

Thanks to all who answered.
To be continued…

flo's avatar

@JLeslie I’m so stunned to learn about the Iowa caucauses.
And I totally agree with ”And, at some jobs people certianly feel they need to go along sometimes with the group or boss.”

Just to clarify, what @Ron_C was referring to and what I agreed with is not ”open voting for government representatives” but open to the public as to how the reps vote on any given issue for or against.

JLeslie's avatar

@flo Oh, did you read up on the caucauses? I should have put a link.

Ron_C's avatar

Just to be clear, the only place a secret vote should be legal is for citizens. There is no circumstance where I can envision a secret vote for our representatives. I know that congress does not record some votes and that the Senate allows senators to put “holds” on legislation and appointments. Those practices and other underhanded things need changed. Virtually all of the fraud by representatives and senators is on the federal level where they make the rules and the people who they represent have no say or vote.

Closed door sessions and secret caucus meetings have no place in a democratic government.

flo's avatar

@JLeslie You didn’t need to put a link, I didn’t read up on it because it won’t help since I would still find it not the way to do things. It is like awhile ago, when I found out that there are people who are from democratic countries and who don’t lack education, who know about equality but are monarchsts. I was just stunned to learn that. I didn’t need to read up on them. If I read up on them, it just won’t compute to me that they exist.

flo's avatar

@Ron_C on that we agree. The leaders’ shouldn’t have their votes on issues, or their meetings be secret.

Re. . “the only place a secret vote should be legal is for citizens” since the leaders are citizens as well, can we change the word “citizens”?

Let’s say I want to open a bar in our semi residential neighborhood, I want to convince the city that it is fine with the residents, I shouldn’t find out which residents are against my proposal by taking a petition door to door, or or holding a…conducting a vote by show of hands, yay or nay kind of thing. I heard such a story.

” And, at some jobs people certianly feel they need to go along sometimes with the group or boss.” to quote @JLeslie and the examples @SavoirFaire gave, makes sense right?

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