How to Prevent Americans from Voting Themselves More Money Without Instituting a Poll Tax

In the aftermath of last month’s election, an Electoral College map from CNN had been circulating conservative blogs, showing what the map would have looked like had only taxpayers voted.

It showed that Mitt Romney would have won the election with 441 Electoral College votes to Barack Obama’s 206.

When I first saw the map, I was floored at the disparity between the real results and the potential results, and I felt great anger at the injustice of such a voting system that allowed people to vote themselves more money.

As it turns out, the map is fake.

The original 441-206 map was created by CNN to show what the results would have looked like had only whites been permitted to vote. They also created maps to show what it would have looked like had only men been permitted to vote and another if only those over 24 years of age had been permitted to vote.

So while the original map was edited by someone to make it seem as though the results of a whites-only election were actually those of a taxpayers-only election, it is still hard to imagine Romney losing had only taxpayers voted.

I would strongly favor a law that permitted only taxpayers to vote; after all, as Alexander Fraser Tytler said (and not, as is commonly believed, Alexis de Tocqueville), “A democracy can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largess from the public treasury.”

The trouble is that a law requiring all voters to be payers of income tax would amount to a poll tax, which is expressly forbidden by the Twenty-fourth Amendment, passed in 1962.

Ideally, lawmakers will set about to repeal that amendment. It was obviously never a part of the Founders’ vision that those who do not help support America should be able to vote, otherwise they would have included that in the Bill of Rights; but alas, it’s only a 50-year-old law.

Because repealing an amendment is difficult and controversial, however, the next best option would be instead to prohibit people from receiving benefits from the government unless those people pay income taxes. That way their voting themselves more money will be negligible.

The bottom line is that if you want to change the country, you ought to have a stake in the country. If you have no stake in the results of an election, then you will not be voting with your mind but with your feelings. And we see where that has gotten us.