Election Observations

6 November 2012

On election eve, I thought a fitting return to my blog might be a few thoughts about the US electoral process and how it is obviously broken.   While Electoral College is inherently undemocratic, the influence of vast sums of money and the potential for vote tallying fraud have pushed the system to the breaking point.  So a few thoughts on how we might improve things:

1)  Eliminate the electoral college.  Or, encourage states to sign on to the National Interstate Popular Vote Compact, in which states agree to have their electors split in the percentage of the national popular vote, rather than in a winner-take-all system.  Living in Ohio this electoral cycle has been interesting, but also hellish — we get at least 3 or 4 robo calls per day.  Why should voters in Ohio have so much influence?

2) Federally fund Presidential, Senate, and House elections.  The Citizens United decision makes a mockery of democracy.   Allow individuals to voluntarily contribute to an election fund (similar to the check-off item on income tax forms), to reduce the burden on the Federal government, but otherwise eliminate all individual and corporate contributions.    Set limits of $750 million for presidential candidates, and then develop a formula for Senate and House elections that takes into account population and geographic area.    That is — totally level the playing field, and attempt to eliminate the undue influence of people like the Koch brothers and (admittedly) unions.  Politicians with a serious interest in governing should like this because it would free them from having to fundraise constantly.

3) Have voting for federal elections be run at the federal level.  Voting machinery and standards for counting should be uniform across all states.   Have machinery and software approved by an independent and bi-partisan panel of computer scientists, etc.  The machinery should be designed so that it provides easy methods of verification and recount.  The procedure for reporting the final tabulation should be standardized across states and local jurisdictions.  The machinery and software should be such that it can be used for state and local-level elections, but the software should be reloaded for each federal election.

4) I don’t believe there is widespread voter fraud, but… introduce a national ID card and make it easy and cheap to acquire.  Require this card to be shown when voting.  The national ID system seems to function well in Germany and other European countries.  I do not see why such a system here would not also work.

So a variety of proposals… I don’t think the whole package would meet with 100% approval from most liberals or conservatives, nor 100% of Democrats or Republicans….  But something needs to be done to restore faith in the democratic process and to focus politicians on the issues of government and not politics.  Only then will we find some degree of bipartisanship that will help us solve the massive economic problems that still plague us.


2 Responses to “Election Observations”

  1. Jan Says:

    I think those are excellent suggestions, all of them. #1 reduces the marginal profitability of election fraud and also increases the value of the votes of Americans not living in states that are important only because they are both highly populous and closely divided. #2 pushes the pendulum back towards democracy and away from the near-Roman plutocracy we’ve become; if we don’t do that legally, sooner or later enough outrage will boil up (over something ludicrous, if history is any guide) to prompt less civil and more violent change. #3 goes with #1; if every vote for president is worth exactly the same as every other vote, then they have to be cast the same way. And #4 is going to be essential to carrying out #3.

    And as a liberal (well, centrist anywhere but in the United States) I also love the tension that #3 and #4 would set up for conservatives between their desire to be perceived to support fairness and their desire to suppress Democratic voter turnout by requiring extra documentation on the one hand and on the other their corporate wing’s absolute belief in the superiority of state government (which is cheaper and easier for them to manipulate) over federal government and their libertarian wing’s paranoid fear of central government.

  2. […] Another argument for federally-funded elections? […]

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