Things That Need to Be Done to Make Voting Easier
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.
Voting Mishaps from Election Day
- Pennsylvania Voting Machine Switches Vote From Barack Obama To Mitt Romney (VIDEO)
A Pennsylvania voting machine was taken out of service on Election Day 2012 after it was filmed switching a vote for President Barack Obama to one for his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, NBC News has confirmed. Mother Jones reported that the mach
- Fraud? No, spider delays Mass. town's vote count - Yahoo! News
From Yahoo! News: It wasn't hanging chads or voter fraud that delayed the vote count in one Massachusetts town — it was a spider.
- Election Day: Long voting lines reported across United States (VIDEO) | GlobalPost
Long lines formed early Tuesday as US voters turned out in droves for the presidential election. Lines were reported in Ohio, New York, Florida, New Jersey, Virginia and elsewhere.
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.