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[DRAFT] Eliminating Financial Barriers to Voting

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Barfleur
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[DRAFT] Eliminating Financial Barriers to Voting

Postby Barfleur » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:15 am

Eliminating Financial Barriers to Voting
Category: Furtherment of Democracy | Strength: Significant | Proposed by: Barfleur


Whereas a state has no legitimate interest in reserving the right to vote to persons of any one financial status; and

Whereas the exclusion of poor and insolvent citizens from elective franchise—
    a. ensures that only the wealthy have a role in determining national policy, when such policy has an impact on the nation as a whole, and
    b. is often applied as a means of disenfranchising racial, ethnic, or religious minorities, while still complying with national and international regulations prohibiting such disenfranchisement; and

Whereas the imposition of a poll tax or other tax as prerequisite to vote is fundamentally anti-democratic: Now, therefore,

The World Assembly, with the advise and consent of the nations and delegates thereof, and by the authority of the same, in this present session assembled, hereby enacts as follows:

1. In this resolution—
    a. the term "member nation" means all nations which are members of the World Assembly, as well as all political and territorial subdivisions of such nations,
    b. the term "poll tax" means any tax in which every taxed person is assessed the same fixed sum of money,
    c. the term "fee" means any amount of money charged as a condition of completing any action, and
    d. the term "person" refers only to sapient beings;

2. Member nations shall not—
    a. restrict the right of any person to vote at any primary or general election, referendum, plebiscite, or other election at which such person would otherwise be entitled to vote, solely on account of such person's inability to pay a poll tax or failure to pay any other type of tax,
    b. require any person to pay a fee as prerequisite for casting a ballot or registering to vote under the laws of such member nation, or
    c. criminalize the inability to pay a poll tax or other tax if the party in question has made a bona fide attempt to pay the tax but is left unable to provide for their basic needs; and

3. Nothing in this resolution shall be construed to require member nations to hold elections; nor to prohibit member nations from criminalizing the deliberate evasion of lawful taxes when there is no pressing necessity to do so.


How does this not contradict GA#476?
5. Bars member nations from invoking a person's debts, financial obligations arising from previous state of captivity, fines, or fees as reason to deprive that person of the right to vote in any election, referendum, or plebiscite in which they would otherwise be eligible;
6. Clarifies that [...] for the purposes of this resolution, tax liabilities are not included in any definition of debt or financial obligation.

A good-faith interpretation of GA#476 reveals that such resolution bars member nations from using private debts and fines imposed by courts as reason to disenfranchise a voter, but unpaid taxes (including poll taxes) are still legal grounds for disenfranchisement.

Edit Log
9/21/20: Drafted
9/21/20: Changed "eligible person" to "taxed person" in clause 1b and added "registration fee" in clause 2. Amended clause 2 to allow states to allow non-citizens to vote, should they so choose, with the same restrictions as would apply to citizens. Changed title from "Against Poll Taxes" to "Eliminating Financial Barriers to Voting".
9/21/20: Basically reworked everything after the enacting clause
Last edited by Barfleur on Mon Sep 21, 2020 5:52 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Kenmoria
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Postby Kenmoria » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:50 am

“I see no reason not to support this proposal of yours. Poll taxes are, as is said in the preamble, fundamentally anti-democratic and unrepresentative.”
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Postby Minskiev » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:54 am

“Poll taxes? Are you thinking of a toll booth?”

Anyways the ‘assessed’ in 1b doesn’t sound right. Not sure why.
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Postby Honeydewistania » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:57 am

Support in principle but it can be expanded upon to plug potential loopholes
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Postby Araraukar » Mon Sep 21, 2020 7:58 am

IC: "What kind of taxes are a fixed sum for everyone, regardless of what their earnings are? Are you sure you're not thinking of some kind of registration fee?"

OOC: "Fixed sum of money" doesn't quite fit what I understand the word "tax" to include - what's to stop a nation that wants to keep those for whatever reason, just renaming it as "poll fee" or "registration fee" or whatever?
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Postby Picairn » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:00 am

Full support.
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Kenmoria
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Postby Kenmoria » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:01 am

Araraukar wrote:IC: "What kind of taxes are a fixed sum for everyone, regardless of what their earnings are? Are you sure you're not thinking of some kind of registration fee?"

OOC: "Fixed sum of money" doesn't quite fit what I understand the word "tax" to include - what's to stop a nation that wants to keep those for whatever reason, just renaming it as "poll fee" or "registration fee" or whatever?

(OOC: Fees are already covered by GA #476 clause 5, so somehow altering a poll tax to a registration fee wouldn’t be an issue.)
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Postby The New Nordic Union » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:04 am

Kenmoria wrote:
Araraukar wrote:IC: "What kind of taxes are a fixed sum for everyone, regardless of what their earnings are? Are you sure you're not thinking of some kind of registration fee?"

OOC: "Fixed sum of money" doesn't quite fit what I understand the word "tax" to include - what's to stop a nation that wants to keep those for whatever reason, just renaming it as "poll fee" or "registration fee" or whatever?

(OOC: Fees are already covered by GA #476 clause 5, so somehow altering a poll tax to a registration fee wouldn’t be an issue.)


OOC: However, going by the current definition, having a poll tax be, say, 2% of the voter's last monthly income would not be. Which is also why I support the resolution on principle, but not in its current form.

Also, there are countries where non-citizens are allowed to vote. The prohibitions in 2. and 3. should therefore refer to 'voters', not citizens.
Last edited by The New Nordic Union on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:05 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Araraukar
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Postby Araraukar » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:12 am

OOC: A registration tax/fee/whatever still wouldn't be caught by this proposal, due to definition 1.b referring to eligible persons. You won't be eligible to vote until after you've been registered, so by definition a payment that makes you eligible is applied to persons not yet eligible.
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Postby Barfleur » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:20 am

OOC: In many nations whose legal systems are descended from Anglo-Saxon common law (including the United States) a poll tax just means a tax in which every person has to pay the same amount of money. Other names include a "capitation" and "head tax." This contrasts with a flat tax, in which every person has to pay the same percentage of their income, but that would of course be in different amounts depending on how much a person makes.

Araraukar wrote:OOC: A registration tax/fee/whatever still wouldn't be caught by this proposal, due to definition 1.b referring to eligible persons. You won't be eligible to vote until after you've been registered, so by definition a payment that makes you eligible is applied to persons not yet eligible.

By "eligible person" I meant eligible to be taxed, not to vote. But to make that more clear, I changed it to "taxed person."
Last edited by Barfleur on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Minskiev » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:23 am

Barfleur wrote:OOC: In many nations whose legal systems are descended from Anglo-Saxon common law (including the United States) a poll tax just means a tax in which every person has to pay the same amount of money. Other names include a "capitation" and "head tax." This contrasts with a flat tax, in which every person has to pay the same percentage of their income, but that would of course be in different amounts depending on how much a person makes.

Araraukar wrote:OOC: A registration tax/fee/whatever still wouldn't be caught by this proposal, due to definition 1.b referring to eligible persons. You won't be eligible to vote until after you've been registered, so by definition a payment that makes you eligible is applied to persons not yet eligible.

By "eligible person" I meant eligible to be taxed, not to vote. But to make that more clear, I changed it to "taxed person."


Ah. Support. Sorry that my ambassador was a bit drunk.

Oh, and also. 1b: assessed is correct. Haven’t heard it used that way much, or maybe I’m just forgetting.
Last edited by Minskiev on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:35 am

Head taxes are the most efficient tax because they don't have any deadweight loss. A economy with low levels of income inequality can use them effectively without trouble.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:59 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Tinfect » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:44 am

Imperium Anglorum wrote:Poll taxes are the most efficient tax because they don't have any deadweight loss. A economy with low levels of income inequality can use them effectively without trouble.


OOC:
Are... you seriously defending poll taxes here mate? I wasn't even going to have the Imperium do that, fuck's sake.
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Postby The New Nordic Union » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:57 am

Barfleur wrote:OOC: In many nations whose legal systems are descended from Anglo-Saxon common law (including the United States) a poll tax just means a tax in which every person has to pay the same amount of money. Other names include a "capitation" and "head tax." This contrasts with a flat tax, in which every person has to pay the same percentage of their income, but that would of course be in different amounts depending on how much a person makes.


OOC: Be that as it may, how is a percentage/flat tax not anti-democratic? Exercising the right to vote, imo, should not be dependent on paying any money at all.
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Postby Hannasea » Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:58 am

“There is no requirement that World Assembly nations allow their citizens to vote at all. There is nothing that prevents nations from enacting total disenfranchisement. There are many WA member nations that are proudly, openly, and completely legally entirely anti-democratic.

“Therefore proposals of this type are nonsense and we shall always oppose them as such. It amounts to dictatorships and autocracies regulating democracies while being bound by none of the same restrictions themselves.”

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Last edited by Hannasea on Mon Sep 21, 2020 8:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:00 am

If the OP wants to fashion this into 'regardless of tax liability, people can vote', I'll be happy to support.

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Postby Tinfect » Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:22 am

Imperium Anglorum wrote:If the OP wants to fashion this into 'regardless of tax liability, people can vote', I'll be happy to support.


OOC:
Ignore this. The draft is perfectly workable with its current goals in place.
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Postby Barfleur » Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:49 am

The New Nordic Union wrote:
Barfleur wrote:OOC: In many nations whose legal systems are descended from Anglo-Saxon common law (including the United States) a poll tax just means a tax in which every person has to pay the same amount of money. Other names include a "capitation" and "head tax." This contrasts with a flat tax, in which every person has to pay the same percentage of their income, but that would of course be in different amounts depending on how much a person makes.


OOC: Be that as it may, how is a percentage/flat tax not anti-democratic? Exercising the right to vote, imo, should not be dependent on paying any money at all.

The downside to that is that people convicted of tax evasion would still be able to vote. And of course the idea of this proposal is not to give financial criminals any additional rights, but to ensure that the poor cannot be disenfranchised for the very state of being poor.

Hannasea wrote:“There is no requirement that World Assembly nations allow their citizens to vote at all. There is nothing that prevents nations from enacting total disenfranchisement. There are many WA member nations that are proudly, openly, and completely legally entirely anti-democratic.

“Therefore proposals of this type are nonsense and we shall always oppose them as such. It amounts to dictatorships and autocracies regulating democracies while being bound by none of the same restrictions themselves.”

Daniella Russel, MA PhD
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"Precisely. If a nation wishes to enact 'total disenfranchisement,' that is their prerogative. But if a nation wishes to give its citizens a voice in the government, it must extend that right to the poorer citizens as well, lest democracy degenerate into oligarchy."
Last edited by Barfleur on Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:55 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Postby Tinhampton » Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:53 am

I can't help but notice that this proposal looks significantly fancier than Regulations on Convict Labor...
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Postby Barfleur » Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:56 am

Tinhampton wrote:I can't help but notice that this proposal looks significantly fancier than Regulations on Convict Labor...

Blame IA's style guide.
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Last edited by Barfleur on Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:58 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby The New Nordic Union » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:04 am

Barfleur wrote:The downside to that is that people convicted of tax evasion would still be able to vote.


OOC: As they should.
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Postby Hannasea » Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:18 am

Barfleur wrote:"Precisely. If a nation wishes to enact 'total disenfranchisement,' that is their prerogative. But if a nation wishes to give its citizens a voice in the government, it must extend that right to the poorer citizens as well, lest democracy degenerate into oligarchy."

Daniella looks around, trying to locate the source of the voice responding to her, but does her best to reply to this nameless someone.

“The logic of this utterly baffles me. Why is democracy treated as an absolute-good-but-not-at-all-a-good? If it’s in the interests of the WA to promote democracy at all costs, then a limited franchise is still preferable to no franchise at all; restrictions of this nature are only likely to tip transitioning democracies back into autocracy.

“Furthermore, it is hypocritical to even pretend democracy is a good. If a nation has a majority opposing some particular WA policy, then not only does the WA demand that nation override the majority view to impose the WA line, but it will even actively sanction nations that do not.

“It is simply bonkers to assume that an absolute dictatorship is a preferable state of affairs to a democracy featuring a poll tax, and yet that is the logic of this unfathomable proposal.”

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Last edited by Hannasea on Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby Imperium Anglorum » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:00 pm

A few OOC remarks. (I know Gruen will hate it lol.) (1) Gruen (Hannasea) brings up good points as always. (2) Why is my style guide (and what style guide specifically) to blame? And for what? (3) Tinfect needs to read up on the economic incidence of taxes and how they discourage work, investment, and consumption. Head taxes (capitations, also poll taxes) have no deadweight loss because they cannot be avoided and are not dependent on whether some does or does not partake in economic activity. They are extremely efficient -- and exceptionally unpopular -- ways for the government to raise revenue.

Some historical states used head taxes, eg Ptolemaic Egypt regularly, the Roman Empire regularly (in the provinces only, Roman Italy was exempt, including Egypt), and England extraordinarily (under the heading on "The Peasants' Revolt", which should show instantly how unpopular it was).

If applied on a residency basis, large capitations naturally discourage residency and usually lead to population flight, especially in loosely controlled areas outside the "grain core". See generally James C Scott, Against the grain (2017) (displaying historical examples of this in early agricultural states). This was also found in the short British experiment with capitations at the end of Thatcher's time as prime minister: students stopped went home and didn't pay. Naturally, the administrative burden would be resolved by applying the tax at a national level and reapportioning the monies back to the localities, but the Tories didn't pick that. Similarly efficient is a land value tax if you can force people to hold that land (eg Georgism). This is usually easier, because land titles are centrally registered, unlike localities. Legally speaking, both forms of taxation (capitation and land value) are "direct" taxes and, in the US context, must be constitutionally apportioned by population (nb from an economist's perspective, Pollock v Farmers' Loan & Trust Co, 157 US 429 (1895) is just wrong).

Now for IC:

ELSIE MORTIMER WELLESLEY: We concur with the remarks given by Dr Russel of Hannasea.
Last edited by Imperium Anglorum on Mon Sep 21, 2020 10:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Postby Omigodtheykilledkenny » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:19 pm

Like I've said before, legislating against Jim Cow-style poll taxes -- which were an extraordinary measure, specific to the US South, to block minorities from voting -- are pointless in this game, since they only occurred in one RL nation. It's tough to argue that many NS states also have instituted this practice, as the type of taxes you're citing are an historical anomaly, from 50+ years ago. Thatcher's poll taxes, for example, would have precious little to do with this proposal, as they were not aimed specifically at keeping minorities from the polls. I'd say drop this daft, and find something more relevant to the NS universe to focus on.
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Postby Barfleur » Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:10 pm

The New Nordic Union wrote:
Barfleur wrote:The downside to that is that people convicted of tax evasion would still be able to vote.


OOC: As they should.

OOC: If a person cheats the government out of the taxes they are required to pay, why should they have the right to participate in the working of such government? Upon release, yes, they should regain the right to vote, but there is no reason white-collar criminals should have more rights than people who follow the laws but cannot afford to pay a tax designed to keep them from the polls.

(Also, IA, when I said to blame your style guide, I was responding to Tinhampton's remark about the style of the draft, not making a judgement about what you wrote.)
Last edited by Barfleur on Mon Sep 21, 2020 1:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Barfleur, Where Blue Seas Meet Golden Sands
Citizen of The East Pacific
“Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life so you bought some sweatpants.”
― Karl Lagerfeld
Ambassador: Roger MacGeorge
Military Attaché: Colonel Lyndon Q. Ralston
The Barfleurian World Assembly Mission can be found at Room 1903, Floor 19, WAHQ

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