How Mail-In Voting Makes Social Pressure So Much Easier
Emotional extortion seems to be more widely and openly practiced these days. Just when I thought it couldn't get much worse, a young woman on TikTok proudly displayed the story of how she and her five sisters had "intense exchanges" with her terminally ill father. Her problem was that he was conservative and planned to vote for Trump. She explained — on index cards to background music — that the talks were hard because "we'll almost certainly lose him in the next few weeks/months." In the end, the father told them that he voted "for Biden-Harris 2020."
The gushing daughter reported that her father said he did so "because it matters to my girls and my girls matter to me." She actually saw this abuse of a father's love as a victory she should publicly declare. No matter one's favored candidate, such deathbed badgering is ghastly.
THIS!!! Wait for it 😭❤️😭 pic.twitter.com/RFgzU4wyWm— Jay Arnold 🎬 (@jadedcreative) October 25, 2020
This sort of cruel manipulation — to get vulnerable loved ones to prove their love by forcing them to vote a certain way — seems to have become more common these days. Hard-left young adults tell their parents that unless they vote their way, they won't let them see their grandchildren anymore. Black Lives Matter agitators tell the "white-privileged" that the only way to prove they are not racist is to cut off relationships with any family and loved ones who do not take part in BLM protests or support BLM financially.
There are many scenarios in which people apply personal pressure and undue influence to win votes. In addition to pressure from loved ones, groupthink and the general fear of being smeared as a bigot can be powerful tools of influence.
Hillary Clinton's Claims of Patriarchal Pressure in 2016 Don't Pan Out
Interestingly, Hillary Clinton brought up the issue of voter intimidation a couple of years ago by claiming that a majority of white women voted for Trump in 2016 because their husbands and boyfriends pressured them.
But couldn't we just as easily argue that Clinton had it backwards? Isn't it possible that Hillary-supporting women applied even more pressure on their husbands and boyfriends to vote for Hillary than the other way around? Let's focus on just one scenario in which social influence can be commonly applied: the socio-sexual pressure women can exert on men.
Women's Political Use of Sex Has a Long History
Sexual and emotional extortion in politics, at least with certain women, is an ancient phenomenon. It was the theme of Aristophanes's play "Lysistrata." Some Old Testament stories show the power of females to seduce men for political purposes. The Hebrew heroine Judith saved her people by luring Assyrian general Holofernes into her honey trap. On the other hand, Delilah betrayed her people and turned the Hebrew judge Samson over to the enemy.
Fast-forward now to the 1960s, when the sexual revolution was revving up big-time. Take a look at this old poster: "Girls say YES to boys who say NO."
The year is 1968, during the height of civil unrest over the Vietnam War. The woman pictured on the left is the famous folk singer and anti-war activist Joan Baez. The other two are her sisters. The message is clear: young men, you'll score with women if you resist the draft.
In addition to showing sexually "liberated" women, the poster challenges traditions associated with masculinity. Even in 1968, most men tended to express a sense of duty and honor to serve when called. Bound up in that masculine tradition was an ideal of virtue many men considered necessary (consciously or not) to attract a mate.
The central message of the poster was that a man's sense of patriotic duty was not only unnecessary to have sex with women, but unwanted by women.
Exactly forty years later in 2008, other posters imitated the iconic Baez photo, with the heading: "Girls say YES to boys who say OBAMA." The recycled message probably didn't have the same impact after two generations of a sex-saturated culture. Nevertheless, it illustrates just one form of pressure that can play out to extract votes in the realm of personal relationships.
Universal Mail-In Voting Invites More Pressures
How do we protect people in the political process from undue influence and voter intimidation? One absolutely critical way is the secret ballot, cast in private.
A little discussed problem with mail-in voting is that it serves to abolish the right to cast a vote in person and in secret. We hear less about that than the potential for fraud. Indeed, going postal with voting rights definitely invites fraud. No other nation votes that way. (You can read more about the rampant problems with universal mail-in ballots here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.) But just as serious an issue is that universal mail-in voting serves to erode voter privacy and thereby leads to more voter intimidation.
For all the lip service the left gives on the issue of domestic violence, you would think leftists want to secure a guaranteed secret ballot that allows individuals — especially women — to go into a voting booth alone to vote their conscience.
Some argue that mail-in voting actually allows for greater privacy. Maybe if you live alone and have a locked mailbox. But people whose official ballots come in a shared mailbox are susceptible to social pressures they would not feel in a voting booth.
So we ought to ponder and ask about all of the avenues to voter pressure and intimidation. What of those households where there is great dysfunction in which dominant personalities hold sway? What about students and young professionals who live in group homes and apartments? What happens to their ballots if one member who is on the outs politically with the others picks up the mail? What if Grandma wants to vote for Trump and the grandkids (whom she asks to drop her ballot in the mail) are woke? Emotional pressure — whether by women or men — is much more easily applied in such cases. Guaranteeing the right to cast a secured ballot in person and in total privacy is the only way to avoid that.
Back to Hillary Clinton for a moment. If she really believed what she said about men pressuring women into voting for Trump, she should come out against universal mail-in voting. But perhaps she knows that women — especially those groomed in her brand of feminism — can perhaps more easily dominate men when it comes to voting.
Social pressure is bad enough in these days of social media trolling and groupthink. As with the daughters haranguing their dying father, the calculus of extracting votes on a personal level can be hideous. Such stories illustrate how universal mail-in voting jeopardizes the right to a guaranteed secret ballot.
Everyone wants to know whom you're voting for. But nobody has a right to know. That knowledge should be shared only willingly, no matter how much someone may try to pry it out of you.
The tradition of voting by secret ballot is meant to guarantee freedom of conscience and was once considered sacred. Going forward, we should restore that tradition.
Stella Morabito has written on issues of society and culture for various publications. She focuses on the effects of political correctness and identity politics on human relationships. Stella is a senior contributor at The Federalist.