How Voting Should Work
The decision on how to vote should depend only on the merits of the matter being considered. Votes should not be traded or even attempted to be used as a method to give or receive favors, build support among members, or any other reason not directly related to the merits of the issue.
The buying and selling of votes should be severely penalized. The penalties for buying or selling the votes of common citizens in regular national, state or local elections could be $500 for each vote bought or sold. If vote buying or selling takes place at higher level of government, such as among members of city councils, State legislatures, etc., the penalties/fines for each party would be drastically higher, like $5,000 per vote bought or sold. These activities taking place in the federal government, like in Congress, should face much more severe punishment, such as $50,000 fines for each bought or sold vote. Removal from office should also be one of the punishments for any public servant engaged in such activities. In addition, on the national level, penalties should include forfeiture of some of the freedoms of the vote buyers and sellers.
Bullying The Vote
Government and elected officials should be forbidden from threatening, intimidating, bullying, or unethically pressuring others to vote a certain way on any piece of legislation. Threats of voting a certain way on future legislation (retaliatory voting) should not be used to gain a favorable vote on any other piece of legislation in the present or future. Such actions should be defined as criminal offenses automatically subjecting the official to removal from office along with hefty fines, double of what would have been imposed if merely buying of the vote were to have occurred. Fines could be set as $50,000 per infraction within state governments and $100,000 per infraction involving federal government officials.