If anything has been proven in this year’s primary season, it has been just how screwed up our country’s voting system is. I am not talking about the various different ways that states do their damnedest to confound people on how they choose their candidates with either a primary or caucus with arcane rules. No, I am simply thinking of the various ways our country has now come up with to disenfranchise and steal elections.
For once I am not the only one thinking this. Congress has noticed the overwhelming anxiety Americans are feeling toward our election process and gathered together to address it. Whether something is actually done about it beyond that is something else entirely.
I know most people are familiar with the state of our elections, but for those few who do not, let me enlighten you just a little bit before I go on. Voter rolls have been purged unnecessarily, polling places reduced to increase lines and encourage some to leave before voting, people have been given provisional ballots that are usually not counted, and then we have party affiliations changed or not changed soon enough so that people could not vote in the primaries.
Beyond that, we have a slew of new voting laws that have taken effect after the Supreme Court gutted part of the Voting Rights Act, which kept states from enacting new laws that could affect minorities in their states without review from the Court. Stringent ID laws followed on the premise that they would cut back on the supposed massive voter fraud in our nation, despite the fact that a recent study shows there is virtually none. Other studies before have shown the same, but they ignored those for ideological purposes, which some of their representatives have accidentally said.
The thing is, we actually do have vote rigging in this country, and it has been going on for some time. After the infamous 2000 election, the government went to an electronic system, and a division of the UN started monitoring our elections for tampering and fraud. They are doing it again this election in certain states to watch for the same old things.
However, they can’t see the most obvious concern that everyone should have. Our electronic voting machines are old and have been proven to be faulty and easily rigged in the past. One of the best ways to show that something is wrong is to look at exit poll results. If exit poll results are far away from the margin of error, then there is a good possibility that there is something wrong with the machine count. This has been proven in a recent recount of Illinois machines and in other places before.
So what is the solution to all of these problems? The meeting in Congress did actually address some of them quite well. We do need new machines that don’t run on proprietary software and are secured with top notch encryption. Nothing is ever perfect electronically, but if you have good paper copies that is verified by the user that cannot be tampered with later by a single partisan official, that is a step in the right direction I would think.
The varied aggressive voting laws have to be gotten rid of, and I don’t think just creating a new law is enough. A new Congress or Supreme Court somewhere down the road could just rewrite it or get rid of it. Why don’t we just solve this problem once and for all? We have taken half measure after half measure throughout our country’s history by giving the right to vote to this group and that time after time. Isn’t it time we just do the right thing and pass an amendment that states that everyone is automatically registered to vote at 18, and regains that right once they serve their time in prison?
That isn’t the exact wording, but you get the idea. This way anyone who turns 18 has to register, just like men with selective service. If you move you have to update it if you want to vote. The reason I throw in former convicted people is because in some states they are still not allowed to vote after serving their time and paying what is supposed to be required of them. Why are we still punishing them, when being in prison is a huge punishment when you leave anyway? Wasn’t going to prison supposed to be paying for their crime?
It’s an idea to consider. An amendment provides more permanence, but is certainly harder to pass.
Image via Huffington Post