Archive for Thursday, September 22, 2011

Elections need makeover

September 22, 2011

Don’t be surprised if there is an epidemic of a new disease during the next few months. No, the disease will not be fatal, although it may create lethargy, frustration and, in many cases, anger. I am talking about “politicaloverkillitis” fever. You won’t find the term in any medical book, but I’ll bet millions will be suffering from it prior to November 2012, when we have the next general election. Many times the result of the disease is apathy and failure to go to the polls.

There was a time when there was a lull between elections. Voters had a chance to relax and begin to gauge the performance of those in office. Then early in the election year, the campaign drums would start. As far as the presidential election was concerned, there was relatively little excitement until after the party conventions. Normally, campaigns didn’t get hot and heavy until after Labor Day.

As we all know, the political landscape has changed and, in my opinion, not for the good.

Now the campaign starts on the Wednesday in November after the election. For the next four years candidates are out on the trail raising money and, hopefully enticing voters. I sometimes wonder how much time is taken by a senator or governor who is away from their duties campaigning. I suspect the figure would be staggering.

Unfortunately, many Americans take the right to vote for granted. Anyone who has studied any amount of history knows that’s not always been true. As we all know it was decades before African-Americans were allowed to vote in many states. There were several nefarious tricks used to keep them away from the polls. In some cases, there was a poll tax or impossible literacy tests. But, the most common method was fear. Sadly, it wasn’t until the 1960s that voting rights were guaranteed to African-Americans.

Women didn’t fare a lot better. It wasn’t until a constitutional amendment was passed in 1919 that women received suffrage. Not long back I read about a debate at a Bonner Springs ladies’ club concerning voter’s rights. One woman argued that no “real lady would want to vote.” She added it was the “Christian duty of men” to select state, local and national leaders. Certainly times have changed and women take an active role in leadership and government.

In colonial times, many states required voters be property owners, which was a custom from England. All of that changed more than a century ago as Americans moved to the frontier and had a much more tolerant opinion of voters’ rights. Labor unions also worked hard to end the property owner provision, too.

The Founding Fathers weren’t sure about the ability of the common man to vote. In the nation’s early days, voters selected representatives in all states, but state legislatures elected U.S. senators. In some ways, it was like the outdated Electoral College.

Personally, I believe it is time to change the Constitution and directly elect the president. That means the candidate with the most votes is the winner, no matter how many states a candidate carries. I wouldn’t mind seeing a national primary election to select presidential candidates rather than the mishmash of straw polls and other events in small states resulting in a big influence on the process of selecting presidential candidates. Certainly it is time for the party conventions to become a thing of the past.

We will be bombarded with negativity during the next 14 months. Maybe it’s time for all of us to begin to study the candidates and their positions individually and not depend on high-priced advertising or political commentators to make up our minds for us. It is our duty and responsibility to turn down the shouting and study the issues.


mvymvy 9 years, 2 months ago

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill is a state-based approach. It preserves the constitutionally mandated Electoral College and state control of elections. It changes the way electoral votes are awarded in the Electoral College. It assures that every vote is equal and that every voter will matter in every state in every presidential election, as in virtually every other election in the country.

Under National Popular Vote, every vote, everywhere, would be politically relevant and equal in every presidential election. Every vote would be included in the national count. The candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states would get the 270+ electoral votes from the enacting states. That majority of electoral votes guarantees the candidate with the most popular votes in all 50 states wins the presidency.

National Popular Vote would give a voice to the minority party voters in each state. Now their votes are counted only for the candidate they did not vote for. Now they don't matter to their candidate.

With National Popular Vote, elections wouldn't be about winning states. No more distorting and divisive red and blue state maps. Every vote, everywhere would be counted for and directly assist the candidate for whom it was cast. Candidates would need to care about voters across the nation, not just undecided voters in the current handful of swing states. The political reality would be that when every vote is equal, the campaign must be run in every part of the country.

The presidential election system that we have today was not designed, anticipated, or favored by the Founding Fathers but, instead, is the product of decades of evolutionary change precipitated by the emergence of political parties and enactment by 48 states of winner-take-all laws, not mentioned, much less endorsed, in the Constitution.

States have the responsibility and power to make their voters relevant in every presidential election. The bill uses the power given to each state by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution to change how they award their electoral votes for president. It does not abolish the Electoral College, which would need a constitutional amendment, and could be stopped by states with as little as 3% of the U.S. population. Historically, virtually all of the major changes in the method of electing the President, including ending the requirement that only men who owned substantial property could vote and 48 current state-by-state winner-take-all laws, have come about by state legislative action.


mvymvy 9 years, 2 months ago

In Gallup polls since 1944, only about 20% of the public has supported the current system of awarding all of a state's electoral votes to the presidential candidate who receives the most votes in each separate state (with about 70% opposed and about 10% undecided). The recent Washington Post, Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard University poll shows 72% support for direct nationwide election of the President. Support is strong in virtually every state, partisan, and demographic group surveyed iin recent polls in closely divided battleground states: CO-- 68%, IA --75%, MI-- 73%, MO-- 70%, NH-- 69%, NV-- 72%, NM-- 76%, NC-- 74%, OH-- 70%, PA -- 78%, VA -- 74%, and WI -- 71%; in smaller states (3 to 5 electoral votes): AK – 70%, DC – 76%, DE --75%, ME -- 77%, NE -- 74%, NH --69%, NV -- 72%, NM -- 76%, RI -- 74%, and VT -- 75%; in Southern and border states: AR --80%, KY -- 80%, MS --77%, MO -- 70%, NC -- 74%, and VA -- 74%; and in other states polled: CA -- 70%, CT -- 74% , MA -- 73%, MN – 75%, NY -- 79%, WA -- 77%, and WV- 81%.

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 31 state legislative chambers, in 21 small, medium-small, medium, and large states, including one house in AR (6), CT (7), DE (3), DC (3), ME (4), MI (17), NV (5), NM (5), NY (31), NC (15), and OR (7), and both houses in CA (55), CO (9), HI (4), IL (21), NJ (15), MD (10), MA(12), RI (4), VT (3), and WA (11). The bill has been enacted by DC, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Washington. These nine jurisdictions possess 132 electoral votes -- 49% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.



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