Tag Archives: voting

Electoral Reform Suggestions

Streamlining Vote Counting
*People sign into a polling place.
*You bubble in a paper ballot.
*You scan the paper ballot with a voting machine.
*The voting machine prints you a Voting Verification Number (VVN) receipt. The VVN matches the number that was on your paper ballot.
*Absentee ballots would also have a VVN. This would come with a CR code (linking to the online Excel spreadsheet) and could be turn off along a fold from the rest of the ballot.
*The voting machine sends your voting data to an online Excel spreadsheet.
*This spreadsheet is visible to the public when polls close.
*Voters can verify the Excel data by searching their VVN online and seeing if there are any discrepancies.
*News agencies can get electoral data instantaneously.
*People can correct discrepancies by texting or calling the County Board of Elections with their VVN. They may also make an in-person complaint.
*The Board of Elections can then review the paper ballots corresponding to the VVNs, especially if the number of complaints exceeds the margin between the winner and other candidates.

Voter ID
*Sure, there is some voter fraud, but it’s minimal and it’s not the reason that mostly Republican state legislatures are pushing voter ID laws. Pennsylvania did it because its Republican state legislature wanted to swing the vote in favor of Romney in 2012. That has since been struck down because people who cannot get voter IDs are often minorities or they are economically disadvantaged. These people generally vote for Democratic candidates.
*In 2015, Alabama closed numerous DMV offices in mostly majority-black counties to favor Republican candidates. That has since been turned around. It’s very clear they don’t want these African-American voters to verify their identity at the polls. Just because the Civil Rights Act was passed in the 1960s doesn’t mean there aren’t still problems.

Voter Registration
*Voting registration should be automatic and should pull data from the DMV once a citizen becomes 18.
*People would be registered as independent. They can change their party affiliation by filling out a form either online or on paper. They can register for a party or they can remain an independent but be given the option to vote in one party’s primary elections.
*People should not have to renew their voting registration. Voting is a right, not a Netflix subscription. We need to do everything we can to prevent people’s right to vote whether it’s in a primary or in a general election.

Long Voting Lines
*Election data by precinct is now available so that Boards of Election can find the precincts that vote a certain way and force the residents thereof to go to one polling place. This can manipulate the results because voters who might have strongly supported Candidate A might be discouraged by the long lines or have to be turned away because they were 300th in line and the polls already closed. Meanwhile, Candidate B could have won even when popular support was with Candidate A.

Gerrymandering
*Why we don’t have independent redistricting commissions in this day and age is beyond me. Then again, the people who have the power to improve their reelection chances will do anything they can not to lose that power. Anywhere citizens can start an initiative to have independent redistricting

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This Democratic Primary Wasn’t Very Democratic

By PATRICK WOOD

I’ve become very disillusioned with the Democratic presidential primary process after reading, researching, and participating in it during this primary cycle.

The first issue, which caught the attention of quite a few people, was the debate schedule initially presented by the DNC. They significantly reduced the number of debates to be held, all the way down to a mere six debates. The Republicans also reduced their number but still planned to have twice as many debates as the Democrats.

It was widely believed the reason for this limited debate schedule was that it would help the one candidate the Democratic establishment wanted to see prevail: Hillary Clinton.

Hillary’s initial competition consisted of four (remotely serious) candidates:

  • Martin O’Malley and Lincoln Chafee, governors with little name recognition and very few diehard supporters.
  • Jim Webb, a military man and one-term Senator with some views far too conservative to earn the Democratic Party’s blessing.
  • Bernie Sanders, who made the decision to run as a Democrat after years of successfully winning against them as an Independent.

None of these four opposing candidates were going to receive much love from the Democratic Party. The party had every reason to favor Mrs. Clinton, and the best way to give institutional support to Clinton, already the betting-man’s favorite to win the nomination, was to see that absolutely nothing interesting happened during the primary cycle. A quick and quiet primary season would be beneficial to the Clinton campaign, and fewer debates would mean fewer opportunities for a Clinton slip up that might knock her out of her frontrunner status.

Not too long after this, there was another startling development, but this one did not get nearly the same level of attention. Lawrence Lessig, after declaring his candidacy and raising sufficient funds, reached out to the DNC in the hopes of appearing in a televised debate. The DNC refused to recognize Lessig’s candidacy. It then set a requirement that to appear at the first debate, a candidate must receive at least 1% support among likely voters in three or more national polls. Lessig wound up excluded from most polls because of the DNC’s withholding of recognition for the candidacy.

After being excluded from the first debate, Lessig set his sights on appearing at the second and appeared primed to do so. Lessig registered at 1% in two national polls and only had one more to go.

Then, the DNC changed the rules.

They added a stipulation that any polls conducted within six weeks of the debate would not count.

That was the end of Lawrence Lessig’s campaign to be the Democratic nominee.

I live (and vote) in New York, and while my voting experience in this year’s primary went smoothly, I can’t say the same for many of my friends in the state. My cousin, an 18-year-old first-time voter, received a piece of mail acknowledging her registration as a Democrat and informing her of polling location for the presidential primary. When she showed up, she wasn’t on the poll workers’ list and was turned away. I instructed her to demand an affidavit ballot which she did. I do not know if it will ever be counted. I instructed her to refuse to accept provisional ballots, as these simply do not count (Democratic Party Election officials acknowledge this). Anyone who submitted a provisional ballot this year appears to have simply wasted their time. Perhaps the same is true for the countless voters like my cousin forced to submit affidavit ballots. A friend told me she knew seven different people who were all forced to submit affidavit ballots for one reason or another.

Voting irregularities in Arizona and Brooklyn (which happens to be where Bernie Sanders grew up) are also cause for concern.

An examination of the kinds of things reducing voter access this primary cycle demonstrates an interesting pattern.

Some registered Democrats were taken off voter rolls because they had not voted in seven or more years. Voting rules stipulated that wearing pro-candidate clothes or accessories to the polls was illegal electioneering and anyone doing that should not be allowed to vote. Taking pictures of one’s ballot was deemed grounds to invalidate the ballot.

Voters falling into all three of these categories are in my view more likely to be Sanders supporters (Millennials excited about their first vote, wearing “Feel the Bern!” tees and snapping pictures of their first-ever vote, and older people so disillusioned with politics they haven’t felt inspired to vote since this fiery outsider showed up).

Finally, lets look at Wyoming. A state where Bernie Sanders won the popular vote by more than 10%, but received fewer delegates than Clinton. Granted, Bernie Sanders did agree to the rules which produced this result when he was recognized by the DNC and ran as a Democrat, but this result is wholly undemocratic.

If we vote for a candidate and give him or her a 10 point win in our state, but our candidate is awarded less delegates and comes out in a worse position to win the election after this result, how much should we really believe our votes are worth?