Before I head over to Total Wine for the self-medication that will help me through what sure will be a long evening of election results, a couple of thoughts about what I would do to change the electoral process given the chance …
1) Standardized voting methods. There’s a video of a miswired machine in Pennsylvania that already has people howling. Say what you will about Arizona, but the methodology here (at least in Maricopa County) is simple. Take ballot. Pick up black felt marker. Fill in the gap to complete an arrow pointing at a name. Done. It ain’t high-tech, but no one’s chad is hanging out for the world to see.
2) Early voting restrictions. The main one? If you’re newly registered, you need to head to the polls on election day. Something about registering someone and getting them an early ballot immediately feels far too much like the work of the old political machines where votes were bought and paid for. There really shouldn’t be an area of voting with this little scrutiny.
3) Eliminate the Electoral College. I don’t live in a battleground state so my vote’s more or less useless. It’s not the nation deciding who our next president will be as much as a handful of counties in Ohio, Florida and Virginia. The Electoral College today has zero to do with the Founding Fathers’ idea of a collective of duly elected, somber individuals making a rational decision. Enough of battleground states, winning a particular state and all the rest. Campaign for the nation, win the national vote.
4) Shorten the election cycle. Candidates for president should not be permitted to announce that decision any earlier than 15 months before the election. There is no benefit to be had from a series of one-party debates among electoral wannabes who have zero chance of ever becoming president. And there is no reason to subject the rest of us to the election fatigue that comes from a two- to three-year campaign for a four-year job. Enough already.
There’s something to be said for the British model. Call an election, get it done with in a couple of months and get back to the work of ruling the country. Instead, we have a system where the campaign never ends and the real work facing the elected never really begins.
Maybe just start here. The rest can sort itself out.