Nothing is more fundamental in an effective democracy than an unimpeachable voting system. This is an absolute necessity so that the electorate has confidence that each vote counts and the results are beyond question.
We don’t accurately know the extent of the voting problem, but there are obvious corrections needed all along the voting food chain. To ignore them and allow them to grow is an invitation to be a determining factor in a close election. That just isn’t good democracy. Making all legitimate votes count is vital.
In order to insure a totally sound voting system we would suggest five steps to meet this criteria:
- Eliminate the Electoral College. In this day and age it creates more confusion as well as selective campaigning.
- The election cycles need to be shorter, much shorter. In the current system primaries run almost two years and the general election runs about six months. The cost of this elongated cycle is obscene. In 2012 it is estimated over $8 billion was spent on all state and national elections. Perhaps worst of all the never-ending cycles turn voters off. Maybe that’s why only 60% of the registered voters actually vote.
Primaries could be limited to 90 days for the expenditure of any money to reach the public in any media; broadcast, print, direct mail, internet or billboards on behalf of a candidate. General elections could also be limited to 60 or 90 days with the same prohibitions.
- Voter registration rolls maintained by each state must be current and cleansed of illegal aliens, felons, duplicates and voters who have passed away.
- Voter ID cards are the simplest, easiest way to authenticate the person voting is a qualified, registered voter. You need a card to fly, to prove auto and health insurance. There is no rational reason to keep fighting this issue.
- The counting of ballots must be made as foolproof as possible and is perhaps the most vulnerable step in our current system. Dr. Barbara Simons writing in her recent book, “Broken Ballots—Will Your Vote Count,” offers her advice on the best voting system we can use.
The first step, according to Dr. Simons, is to use paper ballots followed by scanning each ballot into a computer which can count results within minutes. The paper ballot is always available as a backup checkpoint.
No other system, according to Dr. Simons, using machines, the internet or a computer is as error free.
The best insurance in a democracy is to make voting as foolproof as possible and get the most turnout possible. It would also help if Washington stopped playing politics with some of these issues.