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The Spectator
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 by Jon Burras
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Is It Not Time For Election Reform?
        The past eighteen months have been an unprecedented time in regards to our national election system. We have been witness to historic events where a non-politician can capture the nation's highest office (presidency), where record-setting campaign money has been spent (nearly two billion dollars) and where "mudslinging" has taken on a new low. We have also seen how backwards and antiquated our election system is and in most peoples' minds is in great need of reform.
        The present day election system is over one hundred and fifty years old and began when candidates would travel around the country in the back of a train and visit as many cities as possible. This was a time when the only source of direct communication with the common people was either through the second hand words of a newspaper writer or if you were fortunate enough to have the candidate's train stop in your home town for a personal speech.
        Much has changed since the Civil War era, as we have far more ways of communicating these days. These methods of communicating include the following: the internet, television, magazines and newspapers. The mainstream media is one source of information but so are many others like independent blogs, alternative web sites, radio broadcasts and podcasts.
The following are some ideas about how to reform national elections so that they are fair and just not only for the politicians but for the American people as well.
        1. Campaigning for an election will begin no more than six months out from when the election takes place. If a general election were to be held on November 8th than the election season would begin on May 8th and no sooner. You would have three months to elect a primary candidate and on August 8th the primary election would be held to determine the top candidates from each party. This would create an election cycle that does not burn out the candidates and the American people. Today's modern election cycle has come to last around eighteen months.
        2. Once the primary season begins there can be as many candidates as there are political parties. If you have at least 100,000 registered members you can present a candidate. This way the two dominant parties (Democrat and Republican) cannot steal the show.
        3. The primary election season is to choose the top candidate for your party. A series of debates or town hall meetings will help to inform the public of a candidate's position. On August 8th a primary election will take place to choose the top candidates from each party. These candidates will then move on to the general election.
        4. There will be no private money donations allowed. Each candidate will be given two million dollars by the government to spend any way they wish. Since no money will be raised hundreds of millions of dollars will not be wasted and elections will not be able to be bought. The antiquated method of traveling around the country and giving speeches, shaking hands and kissing babies is over. Most people have never met the politician whom they are voting for yet still know how to vote. It is extremely costly to fly around in private jets by candidates, their security team as well as their staff of dozens.
Politicians and their staff do not stay in a Motel 6 but in four and five star hotels and eat at fine restaurants. This is not necessary. Eliminate the travel and you will eliminate much of the expenses. A sitting president running for re-election or campaigning for his party will spend millions dollars a day just flying around to various locations. It cost over $200,000 per hour just to operate Air Force One. A presidential trip often includes over 900 personnel, 45 vehicles and 3 cargo planes. These are the expenses for security, logistics and the operation of the presidential plane—Air Force One.
With today's modern day media methods there are plenty of ways to get your message out to those who might vote for you. There is plenty of free exposure through written media journalists, radio interviews, television appearances and public debates. More and more people get their news from the internet these days and it is free or relatively inexpensive to advertise there. With no donor money candidates will not owe any favors once they get into office. Foreign and domestic corruption can be greatly reduced by eliminating the lobbying efforts by every special interest group.
        5. Elections will be taken from the states and handed back to the federal government who will set the rules for all states. Currently each state makes up its own election rules. For instance, New Hampshire and Iowa keep writing into their laws that they must be the first states to vote in a primary election. If another state tries to move ahead of them they will change their voting laws again to stay ahead of the pack. This power play tries to make a few states relevant who have small populations and are not that relevant at all.
Currently in many states you can only vote in a primary election for the candidate where you are registered member of that party. If you are a registered Republican you cannot vote for a Democrat in the primaries. This needs to change so that you may vote for anyone whom you wish to in a primary election. Party officials have created this scheme so that independents and those who vote on conscious rather than on party lines will be kept out of the decision making process. The new federal law is that you can vote for anyone of any party in a primary and general election.
        6. Voting will take place on the same day at the same time. Make a presidential election a national holiday where people do not have to take off work to vote. We do not need a "Super Tuesday" where several states vote in a primary election on the same day. If candidates are not traveling around from state to state kissing babies and shaking hands it does not matter the timetable. Everyone votes on the same day in the primary and general elections. If Iowa first votes in February (February 1st) it is not until mid-June before Californians will vote. States like California are the last to vote in a primary election and usually the election has already been decided by the time Californians cast their ballots.
        In states in the West, many people stop going to the polls in the evening hours because the results from the rest of the country are already in and people see their vote as not being able to make a difference. Do not announce a winner or loser until all votes are counted. This includes mail in ballots as well. Once all votes are counted then announce a winner. The idea of releasing voter numbers one precinct at a time may make for drama television but it is a lousy way to run an election.
        Also, make sure that there are plenty of polling stations in each county. Having voters wait in line to vote for two or three hours happens in third world countries. It should not happen in America. One solution might be to convert several recreational vehicles to polling stations. You could move them around to where they are needed most.
        7. Count all votes. Some states do not count mail in ballots if election officials determine that the outcome of the election will not change. When publicity campaigns say that your vote counts they are lying. In many cases your vote is not even counted.
8. Eliminate all "Super Delegates." The Democratic Party has in place a system where special voters are given privilege votes. These are called Super Delegates and there are 712 of them. This is 15% of the entire vate devoted to gie-away votes. These individuals are mayors, party insiders and loyalist whom the party has vetted to vote a certain way. This is a way for the favorite candidate to ensure a victory. This is also how the election system is rigged. Again, when we are told that your vote counts you are being lied to. You are voting against a select number of people called Super Delegates whom the party has chosen to vote for the favorite candidate. This method is a way for the party to choose a candidate and not the people.
        9. Remove or change the electoral college. The electoral college was put in place to ensure that a few states did not dominate politics. Each state is given a number of electorates based on the population and the combined total of Senators and Representatives. The states with the biggest populations receive the most electorates. (For instance California has 55 electoral votes and Rhode Island has 3 votes).
        The system was also put in place as a stop gap measure because the fore fathers did not believe that the average voter had enough political intelligence to directly vote for a candidate. While that idea might still be true, the electoral college seems antiquated and a victory by popular vote seems like a more modern way to run an election. Most other countries elect their officials by popular vote. Why not America?
        If you did not eliminate the electoral college one way to improve it is to vote by county. If you won the popular vote in a particular county then you won that county. The candidate who wins the most counties across the country becomes the president. For instance, we have seen that in a state like California where there are 55 electoral votes at stake, voters in Northern California tend to vote differently than those in Southern California. Orange County, for instance, usually votes Republican but the state is overwhelmingly Democrat.
        Also, rural areas often vote differently than city dwellers. Why should a candidate receive all of the delegates from one state when much of the state might not have voted for him or her? Elections are more local rather than national. People within a certain area tend to think the same and care about similar issues. Either remove the electoral college of assign counties as having one delegate each.
        10. Debates are to be run by C-SPAN, the government information service. We have seen how each television network can choose its own biased moderator who favors one candidate over others. Television networks have made millions of dollars broadcasting political debates and have turned them into a farce with biased journalism, ridiculous gossip questions meant to undermine some candidates and have filled the audience with loyal supporters of the cause that the network is supporting.
        Eliminate the biased nightly news anchors as debate moderators and find someone who is truly independent and has no agenda to deliver. Give each candidate equal time and stop favoring certain candidates. Have a random pattern where each candidate will stand during a debate. In the past, networks have placed the most popular candidates in the center and have given them the most air time. Also, have a button to cut off a candidate's microphone after their two minutes of answer time is up. No long-winded answers will be allowed.
        11. Super Pacs will be disallowed. These are third party entities who raise money and advertise for a candidate.
        12. All political advertising must first be approved by a central committee. Too often political advertising contains lies, mistruths or gossip. No advertisement will be allowed unless it first passes the truth meter.
        13. Voter identification will be mandatory in order to vote. Too much voter fraud exists because many states do not demand identification in order to vote. States like California, who have issued drivers licenses to undocumented immigrants, might have a problem as many might be voting with state issued drivers licenses.
        Mail-in ballots will be disallowed because identification cannot be verified. A ballot mailed to a home does not guarantee that the person who is voting is the one who is registered. We have seen on many occasions that a deceased relative seems to have mailed in a voter ballot.
        14. No electronic voting machines will be allowed. Paper balloting machines only. Due to the digital revolution, we have seen every aspect of our lives hacked into, from customer data bases of large corporations, email accounts of those working at the Pentagon and many individual credit card accounts. If it has not happened yet it is bound to happen to have electronic voting machines hacked into by fringe groups or foreign governments to help sway an election.
        Electronic voting machines are dangerous, cannot guarantee security and are undependable. The only people benefitting from these machines are those who manufacture them and those who are counting ballots. (It is much faster to count ballots by a machine than by hand ballot.) By eliminating electronic voting machines you avoid any chance of electronic hacking.
        As noted, it is time for reform. As the rest of the world has looked on they can only shrug their shoulders at the incompetency of the great American election system. Through this last election cycle we have exposed a perilously flawed method of electing our highest public officials. Ignorance is shining a blind eye to what is going on; stupidity is doing nothing to correct it.