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Things That Need to Be Done to Make Voting Easier

Updated on June 8, 2013

History Should Not Have Repeated Itself

In the United States, there are few things that cause such a stir as voting. Fortunately, we only vote for president every four years. But that does not make things easier.

If you were like me on election night, you probably said to yourself: "Florida again? Didn't y'all get enough of this in 2000? Didn't you give the country enough of this in 2000?"

Florida became the laughing stock once again by being the last state to declare the electoral winner. On Veteran's Day, a good five days after the election- Florida definitively went blue for President Obama.

Thankfully, the situation was different because the President had enough electoral votes to decisively be reelected Tuesday evening.

And it was not just Florida that had election issues. There were other states, such as Virginia, with ridiculously long lines that went into the wee hours of the morning. And let's not forget those who dealt with the horrendous damage of Superstorm Sandy.

While we can take the time to lament what happened this year, I propose we start to implement change so we will not face the same problems in 2016.

Federal Guidelines are Needed

It is quite clear that there these flaws could have easily been remedied if there was some sort of federal policy in place. The voting guidelines should not vary that much from state to state.

If we have a federal guideline for conducting elections- there will not be too many differences between when and how each state votes.

While it may take some time for our friends in congress to get the logistics in place, here are some basic principles that need to be implemented nationally in order for a smooth and successful election:

  • Voter Registration Should Be Readily Available: It's amazing how hard it is for some people to register to vote. Many people do not know the registration process. How about when people get their license at age sixteen- the election board can automatically receive their paperwork to contact them when they are eighteen? Or how about having a registration table available when rising College Freshmen get their immunizations done before going to school? What about setting up a table in the high school alongside the yearbook table? These are some basic ideas but with the right insight and foresight they can help get people registered.
  • You Should Only Have to Register Once: I understand that for local and municipal elections that it is important to register in the specific county you move to, but what if when you move you can let the election board know so they can send the information to the election board of your new residence to eliminate the red tape
  • A Federal Voter ID is Needed: Let me get my point across: I am not in favor of disenfranchising anyone nor making the voting process harder but if the voting process is streamlined- a simple photo ID or modification to your current Driver's License with a Ballot or other symbol representing you have the right to vote is made available? Now, I know some people cannot afford identification but this could be something that happens when you get your license.

While there are many more guidelines that could be in place, I believe this is a healthy start to making voting easier for everyone involved.

There Should Be a Nationwide Early Voting Period

The biggest problem with Election Day is that it is only a day. While many people are able to vote, there are many who have to rearrange their schedule to make sure they vote. Early Voting has become a viable option but there are some changes that need to be made.

If anything, there should be a national period in which anyone across the country can vote. For instance, if the ballots are ready October 1st and they are properly verified by the necessary entities then early voting should happen as soon and as long as possible.

I know some states only designate certain weekends or a two to three week period for early voting. But if there was a national time period, people would be sure to mark their calendar and go vote.

We Need A Universal Ballot Type and Length

Hanging Chad became a meme before the world knew what meme was. But let's be honest, it was funny in some regards to think that the way a ballot was punched determined who became the president.

On the other hand, it was just plain annoying. That being said: there needs to be one type of ballot that would make life easier for all of us. We also need a ballot that is not as long as a Harry Potter book. I heard that some people had to endure a 12 page ballot. That's too long.

While the ballot length may vary based on the respective living area of the voters, in general it should not exceed ten pages. Some people use their lunch hours or break time to vote and end up losing valuable time reading an extensive ballot.

What needs to happen is that we have an electronic ballot that is easily transferable and can reliably tally the votes without any errors. And if that ballot goes out due to a natural disaster or other unfortunate event, we have a study backup.

Polling Places Need to Be Clearly Indicated

Have you heard the one about the guy who went to the polling place when it turns out he went to the wrong one? His real polling place was two blocks down.

While that might sound like something Seinfeld would say, it sounds like something none of us want to go through.

How hard is it to clearly indicate where people need to vote? That determination needs to be made when someone goes to get or modify their driver's license or the board of elections should send out a clearly defined list.

While many people have access to newspapers and television- they also need to have a hard copy of the polling place and any instructions on getting there- such as parking.

With the onset of Superstorm Sandy- an issue that arose is the growing need for a backup polling place in case of emergency. Now this may take extra time and consideration but it is better than people dealing with a natural disaster and then scrambling to go vote in their regular polling place.


Control the Environment

I know some people need to know who they are voting for.but at the same time, where you vote is just like where you study. Certain environments produce certain results.

While I don't mind people providing a sample ballot for informational purposes, I think having someone of a particular party emphasize straight ticket voting is a little much.

If the parties involved in the election want to hold a special seminar or rally to help educate voters. This is commonly done on college campuses to lure new students, but it benefits all types of voters.

That way, those of us who come to the polls prepared to vote will not feel hampered by people pushing their respective party tickets on us.

Machines Should Be Thoroughly Inspected

Florida was not the only state with voting snafus. Massachusetts delayed their vote count because of a spider in a local machine in the town of Rehoboth. While this sounds funny, it is not for the candidates waiting to hear if they won or not.

It's one thing if the election board does not have their ducks in a row. But an insect in the machine? Now that's just plain ridiculous.

Not only that but now that machines register electronic ballots they also need to be hacker-proof and virus proof. Let's not forget plain old system glitches. One machine in Pennsylvania switched a vote from the President to Mitt Romney but officials were diligent in fixing the error and disabling the machines.

To ensure these errors don't happen- it would be a good idea to have a test run so all issues can be averted on Election Day.


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    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Teaches12345,

      You have a good point about the ballot- it's hard to read. Maybe one day we can have digital voting.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      4 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thank you Vellur!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      4 years ago

      This is all good and excellent advice. I believe our system does have to restructure the voting process in order to secure our identity. Those ballots are hard to read as well, but that may be another day.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      Great pointers to make voting easier, great hub. The spider in the machine is too much, just imagine all the voters waiting because of a spider.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Gus,

      I understand your points. I feel the ID will be good for a lot of reasons. Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      5 years ago from USA

      Hi Alecia (Alecia Murphy) -

      Most of your suggestions are OK. Some are unnecessary because that is the way we already do our voting stuff... Federal election ONLY won't work because locales vote for lots of other things at the same time as for Federal candidates and locales pay lots of $$$$ to hold any sort of election (also volunteer poll folks don't need to volunteer every other week, or do they?). As for DRIVER licenses, if you don't need to drive then you can get a state ID card (looks just like a license card) and they usually cost ZERO to get.

      The main thing is to insist on good photo ID for registered voters to weed out the dead people voting several times, same for the Donald Ducks and the Popeyes, etc., and folks from New York running over to Connecticut to vote and those from Cleveland casting ballots there in the morning and in Detroit that evening...

      Way too much vote cheating goes on these days - and we all recognize that something needs to be done to cure THAT problem. Voter photo ID is a good place to start.

      Gus :-)))

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Au Fait,

      The driver's license issue is very true. I didn't get mine until after I graduated college. Not only is it expensive just to get a license ($28 in NC) but it's also expensive just to get the insurance to take the test and so on. Hopefully a better solution will come about.

      Currently in NC there have been a slew of protests to get legislature from blocking early voting and other perks. I've followed it closely and hope that soon we can get a solution.

      Thanks for coming by and commenting!

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 

      5 years ago from North Texas

      Some interesting ideas. If the various precincts were organized it would make a big difference too, but sometimes they're not.

      Not everyone has a driver's license, especially in bigger cities where public transportation is available. I was surprised to learn recently when researching a hub I plan to publish in the ear future, that lots of people are actually choosing not to get a driver's license nowadays.

      Anyway, I hear your frustration and I agree that Florida and Ohio too, need to get it together and do a better job managing their voting procedures. Glad to see you're thinking about this and hope you get involved in making improvements. We need more people to pay attention and believe that they can make a difference.

      Great hub!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Express10,

      I don't know why people think restricting voting rights or making voting harder will help anyone. We've fought too long and hard for things to go back. So whatever happens, I hope each party exercises proper discretion.

    • Express10 profile image

      H C Palting 

      5 years ago from East Coast

      It appears each party that doesn't want to lose will continue to do as much as they can to keep the process a bit fractured instead of streamlined in the excellent ways you suggest. I waited for a couple hours to vote and when I heard about Floridians I thanked GOD that was not something I had to deal with. As for Florida, I'd guess not much will change by 2016. Another issue is that there are some seniors, who are literally living off a few hundred bucks of SS a month and they don't have the minimal fee to pay for it as you mentioned. Also, there are a large number of elderly who can't drive to their nearest DMV to get a current ID. It is not uncommon for elderly people to let their ID's and DL's expire once they get to a point where they spend most of their time at home.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Sherry,

      I think you're right. It makes no sense that people in Florida and other states with large polling places have to be subjected to such long lines. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Sherry Hewins profile image

      Sherry Hewins 

      5 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

      This is such an important issue. I too watched in dismay as I saw footage of the long lines at the polls in Florida. I have never had to wait more than 30 minutes to vote. Where I live, in rural northern California, there are not large central polling places. People often go to vote in a neighbor's garage. It seems to go smoothly. States like FL need to take some lessons from others with a successful system.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      HI Maria,

      I'm glad you found this hub so relateable! Thanks as always :).

    • marcoujor profile image

      Maria Jordan 

      5 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

      Solid, sensible and logical suggestions. Well penned, Alecia.

      Voted UP and UBI. Hugs, Maria

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Michelle,

      I agree- there needs to be more order so people don't feel like they have to go through a long process just to vote. Thanks so much for coming by, commenting, and sharing.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Alecia, am not a US citizen, but I agree that some sort of centralization is necessary when it comes to voting, especially in large countries like the US with millions of voters going to the polls. Or it just gets messy and long drawn. Thanks for sharing these insights with us, and it has been really interesting to read. Sharing!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Thanks for coming by and commenting FredBhai!

    • FredBhai profile image


      5 years ago from Denmark

      A federal voter ID is a good option to which I would definitely agree.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Shiningirisheyes,

      I know- if you move it shouldn't be that hard to re-register- your information should go with you like with your license and your medical records. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Shaddie,

      That's so horrible you were trying to register and it didn't go through. But I'm hoping those in charge really learn a lesson from this year. We are a good way into the 21st century and we still have 20th century problems. Thanks so much for coming by and sharing your experiences and thoughts!

    • shiningirisheyes profile image

      Shining Irish Eyes 

      5 years ago from Upstate, New York

      Outstanding job producing an informative and important hub. I was one of those struggling for voter RE - registration after moving back home to take care of Mom. Although I was successful, it just shouldn't be so damned difficult to exercise my right.

    • Shaddie profile image


      5 years ago from Washington state

      Voting is ridiculously difficult to register for. I registered for the first time this year, printed everything out, filled out all the damn boxes, and mailed in my papers to where it told me to... Only to find that my mail either never reached its destination, or something was perhaps wrong on my papers yet they never told me what was wrong or how to fix it. F the gov'ment.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi alocsin,

      I know. I think online voting should be implemented but I saw recently they're trying to figure out the security glitches in the system. Thanks as always!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Cyndi,

      I think changing the minds of the people is easy, it's the officials who I worry about!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi chef-du-jour,

      I don't know much about the UK's voting system but it does sound like y'all having things under control more than we do stateside.

      And the idea about making voting mandatory I think is needed too. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi ib radmasters,

      I agree voting eligibility should be made clear as well. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi RavenBiker,

      I'm sorry I forgot about this part of the constitution but I think with recent history it's high time we change things. What worked for our forefathers isn't working now.

      I'll keep the petition in mind though. Thanks for coming by and sharing this information.

    • alocsin profile image


      5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      It's a bit weird that we still don't have online voting in this day and age, which will go a long way to speeding up the process and allowing more people to vote. I guess security issues for that haven't been thoroughly ironed out. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • cclitgirl profile image

      Cynthia Calhoun 

      5 years ago from Western NC

      Great suggestions. I love what you came up with. Now, to get everyone on board....

    • chef-de-jour profile image

      Andrew Spacey 

      5 years ago from Near Huddersfield, West Yorkshire,UK

      You've made several valid and insightful points in this hub, some of which ought to be implemented! Longer time spans for voting seems to me to be sensible and would ensure counting ends more or less at the same time. Surely they could organise an extra weekend or two at no great expense? Florida coming last again sounds dodgy.

      A polling station should be a neutral place in which to cast a vote, simple. No political people should be anywhere near voters!

      I like the driver's license idea too.

      The bottom line is, voting should be a smooth, hassle free process. Here in the UK we seem to manage this most of the time but there are still issues around counting, ballot papers and timing!

      As for turnout percentages well - I'm still making my mind up whether or not voting should be compulsory (you're fined if you don't vote in Australia I believe) or a matter for a free conscience!

      Thanks for this hub, I'll vote for it!

    • ib radmasters profile image

      ib radmasters 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      What we need to do is to make voting more accurate by not allowing those people that are not eligible to vote to cast their ballot.

    • RavenBiker profile image


      5 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

      No, no, no! The federal government MUST not direct, redirect, count votes or"universalize" voting ----whatever! It is a state's right to conduct elections just as the Constitution of the United States says:

      Article One, Section Four: The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature

      Article Two, Section One: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

      If you have a complaint about how elections are conducted in your state, petition the legislature of you state---not the Federal government.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Mary,

      I don't blame you at all. If I could vote by mail, I would. There needs to be something done so that people don't feel taxed doing something they have a right and a privilege to do. Thanks so much for the visit and comment.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Sunshine,

      I don't think it's so much the fault of the people, y'all were exercising civic rights but the government takes the fall for this one hands down.

      Early voting should be extended and if you are an effective leader- you will trust the systems in place. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 

      5 years ago from Florida

      Great Hub. I got so tired of standing in long lines I now vote by mail! I couldn't agree with you more! You are right about polling places. They get changed and voters don't know they were changed.

      I voted this Hub UP, etc.

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      5 years ago from Orlando, FL

      In defense of Florida for 2012 I blame Gov. Rick Scott. He cut the early voting period in half which was just mean. After the election he wanted every ballot counted. Every one. Why? Because he's a sore loser, he was so upset that Obama won. We tried to pink slip him, we need to try again. There is no way he will win a re-election. I won't move from FL, I will continue to defend their mistakes because we like the attention. Haha!! Great hub with awesome suggestions.

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Jeannie,

      I can only imagine what you went through. But for the elderly and people with illnesses- it's not something they can do without some kind of issue arising. Everyone deserves to vote without worrying about things like that. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • Jeannieinabottle profile image

      Jeannie InABottle 

      5 years ago from Baltimore, MD

      You are so right on with this hub. I can't believe how long the lines were this time. I waited 2 and half hours to vote and the line just kept getting longer and longer behind me. I imagine they had to wait 3 - 4 hours. Some people just can't do that or won't do that. It is not fair if everyone doesn't get to vote that wants to vote. Awesome hub and voted up!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi tillsontitan,

      I think a Voter ID will help make voting run a little more smoothly. I agree about the paper ballot but I know some people aren't as computer literate so I understand having it around a little longer but hopefully by 2020 we can start to become a digital voting society.

      Thanks so much for coming by and sharing your thoughts!

    • Alecia Murphy profile imageAUTHOR

      Alecia Murphy 

      5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

      Hi Janine,

      If I lived in Florida I would move. That's beyond ridiculous- it's been 12 years and it seems like they haven't learned anything from 2000. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting!

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 

      5 years ago from New York

      You make some good points Alecia. A process that is everyone's right is sometimes very difficult. Voter ID made simple, there must be a way to do that...I like the symbol on a driver's license idea. You've listed some pretty strange happenings across the country.

      As for the voting itself, I think it is so ridiculous in this day and age to have to sit and fill out a paper ballot...but that's the computer geek in me I guess.

      Voted up, useful, and interesting.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 

      5 years ago from New York, New York

      Alecia, couldn't agree with you more on this and you hit every point that could be changed to make this process easier. Couldn't have said it better myself. Seriously, Florida'd voting policies has become a huge issue and you talked about this in depth and perfectly. Have of course voted up and shared all over!!


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