Election Reform I'd Like To See

by Colonel Dan


The Cowboy Chronicle

November  2006


Now that the mid-term election is mercifully over, I’m sure we’ll hear renewed calls for election reform—especially from the losers.  While I agree some changes are warranted, those I’d support are aimed at attacking election manipulation and skullduggery not enhancing it as did the Campaign Finance Reform Bill.  However, since political elitists naturally prefer a system they can control, my ideas will probably never be considered but I’ll suggest them anyway. 

[I use the word “attack” not “eliminate” skullduggery because when you have a professional political class as we do, they’ll always find ways to manipulate, get around or unashamedly break any law ever passed—elimination is impossible.] 

Without exception, require proof of citizenship and eligibility before allowing anyone to register and vote.  This may be an obvious no brainer to us but the unscrupulous don’t like it because that would cut voting way down in several key segments of their political constituency—illegals, felons and dead folks 

Abolish punch card ballots.  Dimpled ballots leave the election vulnerable to what we’ve already seen—fraud and exploitation.  We should do away with those and adopt a universal system of optically scanned ballots.  We have that system in my county and it works fine.  It combines electronic vote counting with paper ballots that can be used for any required verification.  There are no hanging or dimpled marks or pregnant chads requiring divine revelation to determine voter intent.  Absentee ballots should be similarly marked with ink—no punch cards and no internet voting.  A web based system wouldn’t allow hard copies to be retained and only permits a more sophisticated kind of fraud; e-fraud.

Do not call election results until all polls are closed.  This would greatly lessen media hype on election night and reduce the arguments about who was discouraged from voting in the west because of early calls made in the east.

Assign Electoral College votes.  For presidential elections, I’d consider doing away with Electoral College delegates but not the Electoral College system.  Eliminating the system itself would essentially disenfranchise most of main stream America.  Without the Electoral College, a candidate would only have to win the few historically liberal hotbeds of our major population centers to win the presidency.  The rest of America’s mostly conservative strongholds would become inconsequential and that’s exactly why many liberals are suggesting elimination of the Electoral College.   

One reason we have delegates is that in the 18th century the way to cast an electoral vote was by the human hand in a central meeting place.  Not so today.  The change I’d consider is assigning the state’s electoral votes to the winning candidate after state certification of the vote count was complete.  This would retain the Electoral College concept keeping all of America in the election process and eliminate delegate tampering by political hacks.  Politicians, on the losing side have been known to dig up dirt on the delegates in order to persuade them to change their vote from the election night winner to the loser as happened in 2000.  If we assigned the votes, we’d eliminate such persuasion by removing the human targets.  But never remove the Electoral College process; that must stay.

Shorten the election cycle.  Presidential candidates today are required to canvass the country for months pandering to every little caucus, straw poll and primary just to generate the momentum necessary to keep contributions flowing!  This takes time; time takes money and money takes contributors and large contributors always come with quid pro quo deals.  Why not shorten the primary and general election campaigns to a month each.   You could argue the exact length for these two cycles, but for now, let’s focus on the concept rather than the details.

The political parties could declare several candidates internally as they really do now anyway and the primary campaigning would last about 4 weeks.  The country would vote on the same day in a national primary and be done with it.  No need to go after momentum where the Iowa Caucus or New Hampshire primary sets the tone for subsequent states because the sheeple have allowed media hype to win out over independent thought. Best of all, there would be no yearlong campaign requiring multi-millions of dollars, endless speeches and countless lies. 

Let’s establish the official start date of the campaign season as April 16th – the day after tax day should have people in a proper mood to consider what they really want in their next leaders.   Run debates and ads for a month with unlimited, but publicly revealed, contributions to the candidates and hold a national primary in mid May—and do it on a weekend to help those with jobs vote more easily.  The general election campaign would begin immediately after the primary and go for about a month.  The general election would be held in June, again on a weekend, and a new set of leaders sworn in on July 4th—what more appropriate date? 

Such a national election system would reduce the money required by shortening the overall process and spare us from the torture of nonstop political rhetoric. In fact, such a process might convince a better crop of folks to run if the race didn’t consume their lives, honor and fortunes for over a year. 

This would limit transition time between administrations but folks could adapt. Since work always expands to fill the time available, even a year of transition wouldn’t be enough for some politicians.

Term limit all elected officials to one and only one 6 year term.  With no hope of re-election and no need for raising re-election money, politicians couldn’t entrench themselves in power, corruption and influence peddling for life so we just might be able to get some fresh, more decent and effective leadership for a change…maybe.

Postscript:  At some point, we may hear calls for election reform tied to a constitutional convention “…to make common sense reformsfor the children.” Don’t buy into that!  The day we agree to allow official meddling with the entire constitution is the day politicians begin officially meddling with our rights and dismantling the constitution legally.  The modernization of the Bill of Rights to make it a “more living, breathing” document would be the first “reform” and the concept of pre-eminence of the individual over the state would officially die… In the interest of society’s overall welfare” Yeah, right! So if what I’ve suggested gets tied to an overarching constitutional convention, forget I ever said anything.

Just the view from my saddle…

Contact Colonel Dan: coloneldan@bellsouth.net




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