July 24, 2023 at 2:41 am #131Jonathan BuhacoffKeymaster
This topic contains a variety of proposed election reforms.
Elections and referendums are the foundation of democracy because they enable the people to choose their leaders and representatives and approve (or reject) proposals, with the understanding that everyone consents to be governed by the outcome which is determined by a majority or super-majority of voters, even if they disagree with it. The legitimacy of government depends on the integrity of elections. The consequences of elections that are rigged, or perceived to be rigged, are the same as the consequences of a government that intentionally violates the constitution — the government may face resistance, insurrection, or civil war.
Comparison to the United Nations:
Article 21.3 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights states “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”
However, elections can be operated in a way that subverts the will of the people. In the United States, the electoral college and “first past the post” voting can result in a winner that is not supported by a majority of the population. In contrast, ranked choice voting produces results that are supported by a majority of the population every time. Also, political party entanglement captures the electoral process for one or two dominant parties and prevents other parties from expanding their reach.
The following is a collection of proposals to maximize election integrity:
Cities and counties know exactly which homes lie within their boundaries. Therefore, when there is a local election, the set of eligible voters is the set of voters who live within those boundaries.
For example, a county may include two or three small cities. When those cities have local elections for mayor, city council, sheriff, and other local positions, the election infrastructure may be supported by the county but only people living in those cities should be eligible to vote for those city elections.
State elections are for state offices such as governor, attorney general, state legislators to make state laws, and federal legislators to represent the state in Congress to make federal laws.
Everyone living in the state who is eligible to vote should register for the elections and all their votes should be tallied for all the candidates. This eliminates the possibility of gerrymandering. Each voter should have one vote per position being filled.
Having already set up infrastructure for state elections in each state, and having elected those officials, and having already set up an infrastructure for inter-state voting in the federal Legislative Branch, it is a complete waste of resources to run country-wide elections for federal offices and to coordinate all the states doing it on the same day.
The people of each state should make their preference known to their representatives in the federal Legislative Branch. If those representatives feel uncertain, they can propose a referendum in the state prior to the federal election so they get a clear signal of who to vote for, but that would be an internal state process that can happen any time before the federal election day.
On federal election day, the voting should be done in the Legislative Branch — the same way that states votes on enacting laws, they should vote on selecting the President and Vice President. Instead of having every eligible voter in the country turn up the same day to vote, their elected representatives can vote for them.
The state’s elected representatives to Congress have a full-time job of understanding what the people in their state need and want and can invest the necessary time in learning about the federal candidates and in making an informed decision for their constituents, in contrast to the vast majority of the population who have jobs or businesses and can only learn about the candidates in their spare time, and who may be unduly influenced by advertisements, shenanigans, and gimmicks when they don’t have enough time to research the facts for themselves.
Application in the United States – Abolish the Electoral College
In the United States, the current version of the electoral college has “electors” from each state who are chosen by the winning political party in that state and they all vote for the candidate from their party. They are completely redundant — since all their votes are the same it may as well be just one person, like the governor, certifying the election results for the state. They are undemocratic, most people don’t know who they are and didn’t choose them to make any decisions on their behalf. The electoral college unnecessarily injects non-elected partisans into the election process not just as workers but as people who certify the results, instead of relying on elected officials. The problem with this was evident in the 2020 election in the United States, where in 7 states, groups of non-elected partisan “electors” assembled to self-certify themselves as the authorized electors and declare their preferred candidate as the winner even though that candidate lost the election in that state. To underscore the illegitimacy of these “fake” electors, the group in Arizona met in their party’s headquarters. Any system where that allows people states to just send a group of self-certified documents to Congress to be counted without being actually authorized by the people of that state is simply broken. The federal government should only accept election results from the current elected officials of the state who run the elections.
Under this proposal, those elected officials would be the representatives to the federal Legislative Branch who already have the infrastructure in place to assemble, vote on behalf of their states, and have these votes counted immediately to tabulate a result in public which eliminates some methods of cheating that people try to do in elections that use ballot boxes.
Separate state elections from the party primary elections
In many states the “primary” elections to select from each party the candidates that will run for office in the state elections is actually part of the state election process. This needs to stop. Parties are, of course, free to select their candidates to promote in the state election, but their internal business of how to select candidates needs to remain an internal matter and the state needs to stay out of it. Each state needs to have laws on candidate eligibility and voting process and the parties should have nothing to do with that process other than promoting their own candidates. Citizens should not have to declare their party when they register to vote — that’s an artifact of the state being too involved in the party’s internal process. A citizen should be free to be a member of more than one political party and to vote in the internal processes of any party in which they are a member. That doesn’t make much sense for the two-party system of the United States, but that system is barely functional and has fostered a winner-take-all, us-versus-them mentality in the two parties that is unhealthy for democracy. When the parties are reformed to be single-issue parties, it makes a lot of sense for citizens to be members of multiple parties — they’ll pick the issues they are most concerned about and support those and be involved in those.
Prohibit informal polling at voting sites
News organizations love the attention they get when they publish updates on their estimates of who is winning a race. This news is not factual because it’s based on a sample of voters who are not obligated to even answer correctly about who they voted for. Furthermore, some people might see the poll results and mistake them for facts, which then causes confusion and distrust in people when the actual results are published and they don’t match people’s expectations from the estimates. Even worse, some news organizations “call” the election and declare a winner before all the votes are counted and possibly before everyone even finished voting. Even worse, when a significant number of votes are sent by mail, they aren’t reflected at all in the polling site exit surveys, and if the people who vote by mail tend to favor the same candidates than people who vote in person, possibly because of propaganda by one party that discourages voting by mail, the exit surveys will be even more wrong. Furthermore, the voting is secret so asking someone how they voted is counter-productive to secrecy, and also exit polls can be used as a guise to identify people who voted a certain way and harass them later or intimidate them before the next election. Finally, publishing estimates from exit surveys enables candidates to believe that they are winning and might cause them to try and disenfranchise voters for the other party, even calling for voting to stop while they’re ahead. All these problems are caused or facilitated by the practices of surveying a sample of voters as they exit the voting stations and publishing those results as if they are facts and “calling” the election before it’s done.
The proposal is simple: prohibit the practice of publishing results of exit polls during the election, including “calling” the election result before the election results are published by the local government or voting district that collected them. The practice of conducting and publishing those results during the election interferes with the election itself and therefore is not peaceful.
However, the people do have an interest in knowing how things are going. So instead of surveying individual people as they leave the voting site, news organizations can instead collect the voting results from each voting district and publish their tally. Those results are facts and news organizations will then be reporting on the same numbers that higher levels of government (state and federal) will be seeing and also reporting and everything should match. This means that instead of people watching the news on election day for these reports, they’ll get the news the following day or as each voting district finishes counting everything it could be over the course of the next few days.
In small, local races where all votes are in person, it’s possible for voting districts to report the winners the same day and for the news organizations to report on this the same day.
For state and federal elections, we need to drop the idea that we can know the winner of the election on the day of the election itself — especially when voting by mail is allowed, unless it’s done in a way where all voting-by-mail results are known to the voting districts on election day.
- You must be logged in to reply to this topic.