First, we need severe election reforms. Even the UN is amazed that we don’t have voter ID laws. I am quite sure there is enough voter fraud in this election to make up the difference between the candidates. I am just not sure which side it is on, though probably on both sides. But until Americans get serious about protecting the franchise, there will continue to be problems. Photo ID is an absolute must, as is preregistration, address verification, and voting in person.
Second, national elections need to be run nationally. With every state having different procedures, there is bound to be inequality. Consider even the day of voting. Congress has established it as the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. And yet we have states in clear violation of that law through things like early voting and absentee voting. As Justice Scalia would say, if you want a different law, then write it and get it passed. But until such is done, it is hard for me to see how early voting is legal voting. It shouldn’t be. Having different standards for casting ballots (including all manner of provisional ballots) is nonsense. The US needs a single standard for national elections. So here’s my list:
- National ballots have only national issues on them. So in most cases, it is a presidential vote only. If states have other issues, have another ballot and another ballot box.
- Rather than one day of voting, have a three-to-five day voting period, including a weekend. This ensures that there is plenty of time to vote. Make it thirty days if you want to staff it that long. No votes shall be cast past the time of the poll’s closing as set by law. People in line shall not vote.
- Each voter must show up in person at the polling place with a government issued photo ID with your current address that matches the voter roll. If you do not have one, then you do not vote. If you cannot afford to give up a pack of cigarettes every four years (about the cost of a photo ID if you don’t live in a state that gives them out for free), then you cannot vote. Period.
- If a citizen is out of the country, he or she can go to the nearest US Embassy or appointed polling station (such as a military base) up to 30 days prior to the election (to allow for more travel time). In addition, they can vote by online video (such as Skype) through their hometown’s election clerk so long as the clerk is accompanied by witnesses to verify the ID and to record the vote.
- There should be no absentee voting since it is impossible to know who actually cast the ballot. If you are invalid, you can vote by video, or by a personal visit from the city or county election clerk accompanied by witnesses to verify the ID and record the vote.
- There should be no electronic voting, because there is too much potential for error and fraud. Fill out a piece of paper, and drop it in the box of your choice. You should be able to see the counter go up by one (at least one and not more than one) when your slip goes in.
Third, I think it is time to do away with the electoral college. It served a purpose, but I am increasingly convinced it no longer does. I knew my vote didn’t matter because of where I live. If I lived fifty miles to the south, my vote would matter a great deal more. But in a national election, everyone’s vote should count the same. The President’s joke at the Alfred E. Smith dinner this year was on target: The election will be decided in places like Ohio, Florida, and Virginia. Which leads me to ask, “What are we doing here?” (in New York).
Fourth, we need people of character and integrity to run for office. We have learned again that ugly politics works. Both candidates engaged in blatant lies, personal attacks, misleading statements, and heavy-handedness. Why? Because it works. These are not men of integrity and character. They are pragmatists who will say anything and do anything to get what they want—elected. That probably won’t change. Everyone says they don’t like it, but no one is willing to give up the benefits it brings. That probably won’t change either.