Want to fix a lot of voting issues at one time? It’s easy. The current system is expensive, difficult to manage, requires a lot of workers, and is susceptible to fraud (or at least, that’s what some people claim).
If we combine the best ideas from Mr. Obama, the Democratic Party, and the Mideast, we’d have no opportunity for voter fraud, and we’d save a bunch of money—that’d please the Republicans.
Right now, we have problems of identification, of voters voting multiple times, voting on behalf of dead people (well, they have trouble getting to the polling places themselves, don’t they?), and people (like convicted felons and illegal aliens) who have not been granted the right to vote trying to have their say in the polling place.
So we try to manage the situation by controlling every aspect of voting that we can (the usual governmental response to any crisis). We require potential voters to register in the counties they currently call home. We require them to pre-register, so that the information they provide can be verified. More and more, we require photo IDs, so that the poll workers can match up that seven-year-old horrible DMV snapshot that we wouldn’t willingly expose to anyone, with our new hair (who keeps the same cut and color for seven years?), face (seriously, who doesn’t at least Botox these days?) and eye color (contacts, people! have you never heard of contacts?)
And then, every time a voter moves, he has to re-register. Even if he moves just across town, he has to update his information, because more likely than not, he’s in a different precinct. Or, if the little darling is away at school, he has to obtain an absentee ballot between exams (and how many harried college students are that involved in what’s going on back home to do that?)
The same holds true when the voter is away, visiting friends, is on vacation, or out of town for work. If he’s interested in casting his vote, he must plan his absence so that he can obtain an absentee ballot in enough time to comply with the regulations. Sorry, Charlie. No absentee ballot, no voting.
Don’t forget those poor sots who had the bad luck to end up in the hospital just when it was time to vote. They may be laid up, but that doesn’t mean that they won’t be interested in who’s running the country when they are back in action.
And how about those who live overseas but still consider themselves U.S. citizens, and still want to vote? They have to plan their actions months in advance, in order for snail mail to cross the oceans in time.
And don’t even get me started on service members. A poor sucker’s out in the field, putting himself in harm’s way for his country, sleeping when he can, subsisting on MRE’s, when he suddenly realizes that he forgot to request an absentee ballot. He may be unhappy with the current regime that he’s actively defending, but now there’s nothing that he can do about it.
So, how do we solve all of these problems with one fell swoop?
First, set up polling places in convenient spots, so everyone can get to them. Train stations, airports, grocery stores, and the like. People can’t vote if they can’t get to the ballot box.
Citizens who are overseas can vote at the U.S. Embassy in the country where they are located, and members of the military can vote on base.
Second, do away with pre-registering and provisional ballots. Let everyone vote who wants to. College students, people away from home on work, people who just moved, illegal aliens.
The only requirement is that they all only get to vote once. This is where the people in the Mideast have really forged ahead of the U.S. Once a person has voted, he plunges his right index finger into a bucket of indelible ink. No need to print up millions of “I voted” stickers; the ink tells the tale for a lot less cost. Then tabulate the votes, and transmit the results via the internet to the appropriate election officials.
In order for this system to work, the time for voting must be shortened. It’s got to be finished by the time the ink wears off. Give it a few days, say Saturday through Tuesday, and that’s it. It’s over. Count the votes, and announce the winners.
But if we set up polling places everywhere, you may ask, how do we get the proper ballots to each voter? That’s the true innovation in this system. There are no pre-printed ballots. Voters must know who they want to vote for, and write in each office and each candidate for that office. They must write legibly, and their spelling must be correct.
This method requires that voters must do prep work before they vote. When confronted with a blank piece of paper, they must have ready their own list. If they only want to vote for President, they only write down that name and office. But they are free to vote all the way down to dogcatcher, if they want, and if they have the ability to write down the name of their candidate and the corresponding office.
I know, I know. It’s asking a lot to require that the electorate be informed; be responsible for their own votes. It’s much easier for voters to enter the booth, squint at the ballot, find the (D) or (R), punch the appropriate chad, and leave. Under this system, they would have to think ahead of time and write at the ballot box. Which is not necessarily a bad thing.
This system even solves the problem of third, fourth, or fifth parties fighting for attention on the ballot. This way, everyone has a fair shot—there are no cues for voters to follow. They must do at least some research on the candidates.
It certainly goes against the grain in this day and age to require people to be responsible for their own well-being. And that speaks volumes.