The intentions of the public

If you had a powerful service, that could improve everyone’s living conditions, and was 100% free, and only took a few minutes a year to gain benefit year round- you’d think you have a pretty easy sale.

Unfortunately, in the United States voting is something that isn’t universally accepted (about half the people eligible to vote are registered) or partaken of (around half the registered voters vote).

Most marketers would say it’s time to rebuild the brand. Politicians keep trying to twist it even more- with more stupid rules (campaign finance laws that are as transparent as mud) and less actual discussion of the issues.

When I ask non-voters why they don’t vote, the answer is that they don’t feel they make a difference. Looking at the last election, where over $4 billion was spent trying to tell us why politician A isn’t as much of a slimeball as politician B says he is- we have the crazy write in vote for Lisa Murkowski- where the loser is actually challenging spelling errors on the write in ballots:

it’s also possible that Alaska’s defiant electorate, like the California voters who just approved a radical change to their voting system, is actually telling us something important about where American politics is headed, at a time when our system for selecting candidates feels increasingly anachronistic.

Alaska election officials began scrutinizing and counting some 92,000 write-in votes on Wednesday — about 11,000 more votes than were cast for Joe Miller, Ms. Murkowski’s Republican opponent. Assuming almost all of those write-in votes ultimately end up in Ms. Murkowski’s column, she would be the first write-in candidate to win a Senate election since Strom Thurmond, who did it in 1954

via Alaska Senate Race Offers View to Future – NYTimes.com.

Any voter who goes to the trouble to ask for a “write in ballot” and scratches anything closely resembling “Murkowski” (should she change her name to just “Lisa” to make it even easier) should be acknowledged for their effort- yet Mr. Miller (the loser who beat her in a low-turnout Republican Primary) wants to argue with the will of the people over penmanship- is that an “o” or an “a” in cursive- as a way to discredit votes.

It’s this kind of not-paying attention to the intentions of the public that has driven people away in droves from the polling places. It’s time to take a look at tweaking the system to improve voter turnout:

  • If primaries don’t get more than 35% of the party’s voters- the candidates all move on to the final election and it’s switched to instant runoff balloting- or the parties are made to pay for the primary.
  • It’s time to put a none-of-the-above option on the ballot- and if more than 35% of voters select it, all the candidates getting less than 50% of the other vote are not allowed on the ballot in the next cycle.
  • Voting is moved away from the fourth quarter, where retailers are trying to make their money selling things. It’s time to move elections to the 4th of July and make the holiday one where you do your country the service of voting- since it’s what we fought for: to stop taxation without representation.
  • Opening up the system to more than 2 parties by switching to instant runoff voting. Why should a country that gives us hundreds of channels of stupidity on cable TV not be able to supply more than 2 viable political parties. Let’s do away with anything that gives the advantage to major political parties.
  • Switch to vote by mail- it’s working in Oregon. ’nuff said.
  • Take the money out of politics entirely- have our tax dollars fund the mechanisms to inform voters of the candidates- instead of selling seats to the highest bidders. ~ or~
  • Build a unified donation system where all campaign donations must flow through a single payment gateway- with individual names attached- and all candidates are handed a debit card to spend the money- forcing all financial transactions into the open. (Good project for the folks at Google).
  • Build a complete and open voter database with contact info that is available equally to all candidates. A national voter registry could make it much simpler to cut down voter fraud- and to eliminate the political shenanigans we see in local boards of elections.

I’m sure there are plenty of other potential reforms that could be made. The real question is, do they move the system closer or further away from making sure the intentions of the public are actually being served. Looking at the race in Alaska- with the circus around the ballot verification, would say that the public is only being listened to begrudgingly- and that’s not the way it’s supposed to work.

Your thoughts?

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2 Responses

  1. truddick November 12, 2010 / 10:03 am
    Perhaps you’re getting tired of hearing this from me:
    Eliminate all districts.  Let all state and federal offices be elected state-wide, just like the governor and the US senators.  In cases where we elect several people to the same office (congress, state senate), each person gets to vote for only one candidate.  This would break party monopolies by giving smaller parties or independents a genuine chance at election, and it would eliminate the gerrymandering that opens each decade.
    Operate city/county elections the same way; in Dayton, let each voter choose only one commissioner or school board member from the ballot.  Then the party in power won’t be able to endorse a slate and dominate the polls.
    Yes, we’re dreaming.  But one must allow fiat in a debate.
  2. Ice Bandit November 14, 2010 / 8:12 am
    When I ask non-voters why they don’t vote, the answer is that they don’t feel they make a difference. (David Esrati)
     
    ….and they are correct. For with every interaction with the government, from the cop writing the speeding ticket ticket to the bureaucrat processing their dog license, they are treated with indifference at best to downright hostility. And for these unpleasant encounters, they are shaken down for almost 40 percent of what they gross. Top that off with the government’s constant scolding on every issue from not spending enough on education to consuming too much salt, and the public developments symptoms not too dissimilar from “beaten wife syndrome.” The public screams “we don’t want government mandated health care,” and the government replies “we who are better and wiser than you think you do, so here it is and here’s the bill.” A bloated, intrusive and expensive homeland security bureaucracy permits terrorists with explosive laden underwear unto Detroit bound planes while making 80 year old nuns do the one shoe bunny hop. Schools have become indoctrination centers while shielding the most flagrant perpetrators with tenure. From Washington to the local township office, government has failed those who sustain it, but flourish nevertheless because of their monopoly on the use of force. The electorate will re-animate only when the hostile behemoth that is government is minimized, minimalized and broke, and that day, dear David, may be sooner than anyone suspects……

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