The essay below was written in the wake of the disastrous and humiliating stolen election of 2000. Since then, a lot, but clearly not all of the problems with voting in this country have been fixed, or at least improved. There is still, incredibly, voting going on in this country which produces no paper trail and which produces results which cannot be verified in any way. Ever.
Nevertheless, the 2008 election resulted in an utter repudiation of George W. Shitforbrains. The christianist thugs have been decisively ejected. Things are looking up.
A lot of what was wrong with the electoral process still needs work so I have left the wording pretty much intact
I demand the right to vote. And I demand a guarantee that that vote will count.
The 2000 'election' was a spectacular and protracted humiliation in front of the world - and in prime time. The resulting antics and 'legal' thuggery showed that the current voting system in the US is antiquated and prone to error. Our electoral system has shown itself incapable of determining a winner in a close race. It is not surprising that it finally failed; it is a little surprising that it failed in so many ways in so many places. It has very likely resulted in a man being seated as President who got less votes in both the US and in the deciding state of Florida. The mere spectacle was a travesty and an embarrassment in front of the world. It was also a severe shock to many when it was finally revealed that the citizens of the US have no Constitutional right to vote for president and that our votes may be utterly disregarded.
I think the time has finally come to fix the voting system of the US and I feel that the US should adopt certain principles for all future elections:
1. An end to the electoral college. The fact that a candidate can win the votes of the majority of voters and yet not win the election defies common sense - this is the very definition of perversity and unfairness, and is the antitheses of every democratic principle. At the very least, the electoral college should be divided proportionally according to the popular vote. In any case, the electoral college is an archaic and unnecessary barrier between the voter and full fair participation in our democracy.
2. A commitment that all future elections will be scrupulously fair. It is clear that both major parties have ways available to them to encourage their own voters while seeking to suppress the vote of the other party. All forms of partisan vote suppression or one-sided voter favoritism are anti-democratic and abhorrent and should be discouraged by the full force of the law.
3. A set of national standards for all voting procedures , including uniform poll closing times, a prohibition on exit polling, and no declaration of a winner while the votes are counted and finalized.
4. A standardized ballot design which is unambiguous, intuitive, ergonomic, and which offers the voter the ability to correct any errors. Punch card ballots are so prone to error that their use should be outlawed. Current punch card ballots have so many known failure modes that it is unconscionable that they should ever be used in any election again.
5. A voting process which enables voters to correct mistakes before the vote is registered. If a voter manages to mark an incorrect entry, a new ballot should be provided. This right is sacred and the voter should have every opportunity to submit a proper and correct vote for their candidate of choice.
6. A voting process which provides validation immediately to the voter that (a) he has voted, and (b) that he voted for whom he intended. When a voter has marked the ballot, and the ballot is submitted, the voter should receive a validation receipt with a unique identifying number and a printed tally of his own vote. That is essentially what happens whenever anyone buys a lottery ticket. The technology already exists to provide immediate validation.
7. An additional element would be verification of voter identity and comparison with a dedicated-purpose voter database. This is necessary to make sure that only legal voters cast ballots, that they cast only one ballot, and that the dead don't vote. Such a database should be legally protected from being used as a tool for law enforcement or for any purpose other than anonymous voter validation.
8. The automatic registration of every U.S. citizen to vote. Are you alive? Got a SS#? You get to vote. What could be fairer than that?
As the alleged world leader in democracy, we should set the pace and the example for all other democracies on the planet. We should not show them an antiquated and archaic system that is patently unfair, susceptible to gross error and cheating, and which collapses in a close vote. We should be the technology demonstrator for the most fair, inclusive, and conclusive voting system on the planet.
As for this savagely botched election, we are now stuck with its result and its legacy. This should serve as both a wakeup call and as a springboard for a badly needed and long overdue modernization of election process of the United States of America. We should be committed to the democratic principle that a citizens vote is the purest manifestation of our involvement in a fair and open democracy, and that we are unwilling to accept anything less than full and fair participation for every voter.
Anything less would more closely resemble the electoral processes of Iraq.
|©The Assertive Atheist||