ABA Journal


Question of the Week

Did This Year’s Voting Persuade You That Election Law in the US or Your State Needs Updating?

Nov 7, 2012, 07:53 pm CST


I live in the New York City region, which is still recovering from the effects of Hurricane Sandy. NY Governor Cuomo declared two days before the election that registered voters could cast ballots by affidavit at any polling station. NY Governor Chris Christie declared that registered voters could vote via e-mail or fax.

The actual results (and effectiveness) of both remain to be seen. Not that the regular polling stations were without their own problems.

By Esq. on 2012 11 07, 8:42 pm CST

Yeah. Now what do I need to do to fix it?

By RutgersLawGrad on 2012 11 07, 9:06 pm CST

After the 10th election straight where my state went for the other guy, I'm inclined to think that Maine and Nebraska have the right idea. If our electoral votes were divided according to house district (the remaining two to the overall winner), maybe the minority party wouldn't feel left out so much. For example, in a presidential race, I'd hate to be a Democrat in Texas or a Republican in California.

By Esq.-esque on 2012 11 08, 4:09 am CST

It took about an hour and thirty five minutes to get through the line. It was like something between a third world election and a Florida election.

By B. McLeod on 2012 11 08, 4:12 am CST

We desperately need a modernized, efficient, secure voting system that will allow people to vote remotely. But it probably is not possible because there is no disinterested group that people will trust to develop it. We don't even have trustworthy in-person voting systems owned by disinterested groups. And for some reason, Americans are absolutely terrified of the idea that international election monitors might watch our elections for us to make sure no misconduct is happening on either side.

I think a remote voting system could work like the PIN numbers that students get to fill out FAFSA forms online. I think that would be an interesting idea.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 08, 2:44 pm CST

An hour and a half, carrying a wiggling baby. Not that I'm saying people carrying small children should be allowed to cut, but maybe people with small children and the elderly should be allowed to cut in line.

By OKBankLaw on 2012 11 08, 3:06 pm CST

I'd do something about the disturbingly opaque way that electronic voting machines are programmed and used in my state. Something similar to the way the Nevada Gaming Commission inspects slot machines might be a good place to start. Electronic voting machines have a lot of advantages, but there have to be technical and institutional safeguards in place to ensure that the public can be confident in their integrity.

By Scott on 2012 11 08, 4:22 pm CST

First let me say that I live in Washington State and the hearts of my entire family go out to all those affected by Sandy in the Northeast (Esq.).

We did not have 300 million people in the U.S. 200 years ago and we can see plainly that having just 1 day to vote is ABSOLUTELY NOT appropriate. It's hard to imagine that with all the technology we have today that this cannot be done online somehow giving people the ability to vote at home or other convenient location and time! In agreement with 'Another Andy', a FAFSA PIN model or similar and better security model should work.

Actually, I think the entire campaigns should be done entirely online with each candidates info, bio, pros/cons, objectives, what they stand for, etc. all posted for everyone to review and choose. I think it's disgusting for two people to suck hundreds of millions of dollars out of working class (or other) people just to get a 4 year job that pays a bucket drop in comparison. Don't get me wrong, I realize the magnitude of the position and its importance. But that doesn't mean that we cannot choose a person for the position without the seeking of donations in unGodly amounts that could otherwise go for things like feeding the hungry, cancer research or the like. And when people like Romney, who made hundreds of millions off of pushing so many onto the unemployment line, has the gall and tenacity to ask for millions upon millions of dollars from the 'working class' - it makes me want to puke! He should pay for his own campaign! Anyway, that's a whole other tangent.

YES, ABSOLUTELY, we need to change various parts if the election laws! Three important areas that need immediate review for change are:

1. "Balloting and Polling": The ability to cast a vote NEEDS to be made more convenient and accessible while remaining secure!

2. "Campaign Funding": First, if you are already filthy rich then pay for your own campaign as it is disgusting to watch a person worth $250 million asking anyone in the working class for money! - especially when their wealth came by screwing over so many from the working class! But even before Romney's ego dusgust, I believed that more can be done online saving the vast amounts spent on campaigns for more important causes!

3. "Voter Registration": Another BENEFIT from implementing an Online Balloting System with FAFSA PIN type security would be to stop illegal votes. Just because a person is inside if the U.S. does NOT give them the right to vote. Voting should be limited to the 'Citizens' if the country in which the voting/elections are taking place. Otherwise, we might as well just put up balloting locations around the world and let EVERYONE vote. Heck, with all the news coverage from 'Around-The-World' regarding our election; with Romney's International tour for campaign donors; and the seemingly more and more international interests in our country, we might as well let the whole world vote?!? We already allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain and vote anyway - why stop there? Hell, I think I'll cast my vote in Mexico's next election too.

By Ryan Ayers on 2012 11 08, 5:01 pm CST

It seems that certain people only care about elections laws before an election.

By faddking on 2012 11 08, 5:14 pm CST

Outside the obvious changes that NEEDS changed/updated, I know that there are many people that believe the 'Electoral College' needs changed as well when one candidate can get the overall popular vote but yet the other gets the electoral vote and thus the Presidency. THIS SHOULD NOT CHANGE!! And a quick history refresher as to why!

There are probably millions of registered voters that have no idea what the "Electoral College" is or why we use it. Either they did not pay attention in American History class or they immigrated here at a later age and never cared to learn the basis behind the freedoms and opportunities that they sought to enjoy. In either case, here is a quick refresher:

Over 200 years ago our country started with the original 13 colonies. When forming the Constitution, it was done in such a way as to provide each colony (now State) with as equal and fair representation as can be provided. This took into account that some states (colonies) had a bigger population, etc. Each colony was established based upon the group of people that settled there - i.e. varying religious groups, farmers & ranchers/city dwellers, etc. In providing the 'Electoral College', it provided better assurance that each state (colony) would get their fair representation at the 'Union' (Federal) level without one group (i.e. city dwellers over farmers, etc.) having an unfair advantage over the other.

More importantly, we seem to forget that most of the 'governing power' was and was suppose to be with the individual states (colonies). This system basically allows for an internal (state wide) voting for the President. Remembering that the 'President of the United States' presides over the states more so than the people (a theory lost in time) and thus it is the states and not the people per say that cast the votes. If the majority vote inside your state was for Obama say, then your state would then cast the states 'electoral' votes for him.

Over time our Federal Government has grown to an incredible size and magnitude and in the process it has encroached more and more into our individual lives. So much so that it is easy to forget that the individual is (or at least was) suppose to be governed by the states leaving only certain aspects to the Feds. But now you can't do anything without the Feds trying to control and monitor your every movement. There are Federal laws that can punish you for nothing more than the amount if water you use to flush your toilet! - the Feds are all up in your $hit!

Regardless, we simply need to remember that when we vote, we are simply telling our state (the one you reside in - thus 'residency') which candidate we want. It is then the 'States' that takes that overall results from within its borders and casts that in their electoral votes for Presidency to represent the State.

By Ryan Ayers on 2012 11 08, 5:38 pm CST

I live in New Mexico and we were allowed to vote early, which I did. Maybe other states should consider early voting to ease the long lines.

By Atticus on 2012 11 08, 6:07 pm CST

@11 - Unfortunately, it appears that high voter turnout is actually not in the interests of the political establishment in many states. That's one reason that I think the Federal government would be justified in stepping here.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 08, 6:12 pm CST

Texas also has an extended early-voting period which works very well in my experience. One thing I would change, though, is to eliminate one-button, straight-ticket voting. You want to vote for each and every Democrat or each and every Republican on the ballot? Fine; but you should at least have to confront the names of each individual candidate, if only for a moment. Having such an option exacerbates the problem of partisan election of judges; I've seen many good judges of both parties who are swept out of office depending on which way the partisan pendulum happens to swing in any particular year. Getting rid of the straight-ticket option, and making judicial elections non-partisan, would go a long way toward increasing stability and professionalism on the bench.

By MrBill on 2012 11 08, 6:19 pm CST

@13 - "You want to vote for each and every Democrat or each and every Republican on the ballot? Fine; but you should at least have to confront the names of each individual candidate, if only for a moment."


This exacerbates a LOT of the ridiculous partisan divide in our country.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 08, 6:29 pm CST

In New Hampshire, there is no early voting and absentee ballots are difficult to obtain, but there was no line at all at my polling location on election day, nor has there ever been a line. The entire process took probably two minutes from walking in to being out the door. When I lived in (urban) Virginia many years ago, a state that also has no early voting, I recall there being no lines there either. In Tennessee, however, a state with two weeks of early voting, the lines were outrageous four years ago, and that was an early voting day, a weekday, during mid-afternoon.

It seems that many of the states with long lines already have generous early voting and absentee policies (e.g. Florida), but I wonder about cause and effect here. Could early voting sometimes be symptomatic of a poorly-run election system (the long waits encourage its adoption), or might early voting itself disincentivize the provision of adequate polling locations/staff/machines?

By Roger on 2012 11 08, 6:39 pm CST

I spent the entire 14 hour day assisting disenfranchised voters at two poor precincts in our community. There is no question that the election laws are being used to disenfranchise poor. Unfortunately, being poor they often change addresses. In Michigan the voter rolls are closed one month before the election and only voters "on the role of registered voters" are eligible for a ballot. Some are missing from the roll entirely and others are eligible to vote only in their old precinct. Being poor, they lack transportation to the old precinct and once they do vote they lack transportation back to their new precinct.

In today's world of laptops and smart phones there is no reason that we should not have same-day registration universal throughout the United States. 10 states already allow election day registration and it is time for everyone else to get up to date.Unfortunately because local secretaries of state are partisan, election law reform will only occur by federal action.

By the way, in the election of 1788 there was only 11% turnout of eligible voters (white males owning property).

By Morrislaw on 2012 11 08, 9:16 pm CST

@15: Same where I live in in Massachusetts, there is no early voting and absentee ballots are difficult to obtain. If I could change the way elections were done, I'd move the electron day to a weekend day, and I'd expand it to the entire weekend. I'd also implement #13's "no straight ticket voting", and require people to actually vote (or withhold their vote) in each race on the ballot. In addition, I'd require each race on all ballots have a "none of the above" option. Lastly, in any given race I'd require the candidate name order be randomized (on both electronic and printed ballots) just to make people have to read the damn things.

By Tyrone on 2012 11 08, 9:31 pm CST

I've always wanted to see a system where we could choose to vote *against* a candidate if we did not wish to vote *for* another. My sense is that there are a lot of people who are not strongly for one party but are strongly *against* what the other represents in our society.

At the presidential level, yes, sadly, a vote for one party is essentially a vote against the other. But it was never intended to work that way. And for lower offices, this might have the effect of creating some much-needed room for independent and third-party candidates.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 08, 9:38 pm CST

Florida's rules requiring voters to stand in line for hours to exercise their right to vote has become to many places in the world the symbol of American democracy in decline, where those in power use any and all devices to remain there.

Restrictive voting techniques such as multiple id requirements, limits to voting booths must be made illegal to allow federal judges to enjoin such experiments in totalitarianism. Methods of early ballot submissions by mail or in convenient ballot boxes used by many States encourage citizen's participation. I feel Florida voting officials have shamed our country. I wonder if its electorate will do the right thing.

Lastly, I'm just happy that Big Bird will stay on TV.

By Adel on 2012 11 09, 1:02 am CST

To ensure fairness and equal access, it's time to move responsibility for voting out of the states to the federal government. Why should people in one state have a longer period of time to vote while the state next door has fewer hours? One state has tougher restrictions? It's patently unfair, and when it comes to voting in federal elections, fairness and access are tantamount. Granted some mechanics would need to be worked out with regard to how federal, state, and local elections work together to be cost effective, but the time has come. We have to fix this.

By Linnea on 2012 11 09, 12:25 pm CST

We need an independent Election Commission. An entity that runs elections nationwide. Many people will belly ache about another government agency, but if we away with all the games played by local polling stations it would really help. We could also save money from having all these politically elected county election commissions. Second we would have fixed polling stations instead of people having to guess each election whether their station has changed. Third we would have uniformity in the dates and times for voting and hopefully standard machines. Their is nothing wrong with the electoral college, but we certainly can be more efficient with the voting.

By Mark on 2012 11 09, 1:10 pm CST

I live in a rural county in Illinois. Our circuit judge election was won by a candidate with no experience. He won simply because everyone knows his name and he's a republican. The democrat candidate has over 25 years of experience. He's held the position of State's Attorney, Public Defender at the county and federal levels, he also handles death penalty cases at the federal level. He is an incredibly smart and gifted attorney who would have made a great judge. But, he lost the election because he ran on the democratic ticket. Now our county is stuck with an inexperienced judge who was also an inexperienced attorney. I'm not sure how to fix this system, but judges should NOT be elected....inevitably, you end up with a popularity contest instead of the candidate best qualified for the job.

By Letisha on 2012 11 09, 1:28 pm CST

No; it persuaded me we have voters who need their education updated/upgraded.

By Realist on 2012 11 09, 1:59 pm CST

Given that Florida is still counting votes, I say they should not be allow to vote in the next election. Kidding, of course.

By Snarky Prof on 2012 11 09, 2:02 pm CST

Clearly, given the outcome of the election, the problem lies with the electorate itself, not the election laws.

By Whatever on 2012 11 09, 2:09 pm CST

I live in a large university town. 30,000 students and 30,000 locals. Polls were to close at 7:00 and last student voted at 9:22. Problem... students were required to vote way off campus. My solution, vote on campus or next to campus. Local voting registrars solution. "blame the students"
"The situation mirrored that of the 2008 presidential election in Montgomery County, when Virginia Tech students were sent to a polling place miles from their dormitories to stand in line for hours.

"The students are the issue," Voter Registrar Randy Wertz wrote in an email sent shortly before midnight." Roanoke Times.

By Blame the voters??? on 2012 11 09, 2:15 pm CST

Yes, in several ways:
#1. States' electorial votes should be proportionally split to each candidate. It is ridiculous and literally undemocratic to give all a state's electoral votes to a single candidate when the popular vote is 49% v 49% v 2%. Doing so instantly silences all who did not vote for the "winning" candidate.
#2. No president should be elected without a minumum of 51% of the vote. There should be a runner-up choice for those who vote for a candidate who ends-up not being in the top 2 to assist in breaking ties or near ties.
#3. There should not be any "electoral votes" held by individuals in any state. Is this the "democracy" so many men and women have died fighting to protect or establish in other countries?

After the last 3 presidential elections, I am not sure if any one would agree that "our version of democracy" should be applied to any other country or the U.S. has any business giving advice to other countries on how to run or setup their governments.

By Doug on 2012 11 09, 2:16 pm CST

1. For federal elections, only federal requirements (such as when to register, IDs, move times, etc.) should control, and they should be uniform nationwide requirements. State law should not control voter qualifications and requirements.

2. Allow same day registration and have a state wide live database that poll workers can check to discontinue the prior registration and activate the new registration. Obviously, there must be documentation requirements to ensure the registering voter is a citizen and resident of that voting district.

3. If someone has moved within the state outside of the time and location parameters, at least allow that person to vote national and senate races, even if they can't vote local races or issues. Obviously, you will need a ballot option for that.

4. State legislatures: remember that when you enact laws for all kinds of voter ID requirements or other kinds of voter requirements, they will be implemented in elections by VOLUNTEER poll workers who only receive a few hours' worth of training. Don't make the rules unnecessarily complicated; doing so leads to confusion and mistakes.

5. Expand early voting days and hours and locations, and move election day from Tuesday to a weekend and have "election day" cover at least two weekend days.

By Donatra on 2012 11 09, 2:50 pm CST

Elections need to be run by nonpartisan commissions, from initial planning until the last vote is counted. No partisan elected official with any political agenda should have a hand in them. All votes cast need a paper backup so recounts can actually mean something. Optical scanners are great. Touch screen machines should be phased out. Opportunities for early voting needs to be maximized. Voters should be able to cast ballots at any voting location in their state. With today's technology, this should not be difficult. The goals of anyone involved in any aspect of an election should be to maximize participation by all eligible voters and to ensure the integrity of the result.

@10 Another reason for the electoral college was to give the Southern states a disproportionate say is who was elected president. Remember, slaves were counted as 3/5 of a person for congressional representation, and thus for the number of electors from slave states. They could not vote, of course, so the weight of their numbers translated into power for propertied whites.

Even after slavery ended, the electoral college could give less populated, more conservative states proportionately more weight in the presidential election. A move after the 1968 election to amend the constitution to elect the president by popular vote would likely have succeeded if not blocked by a filibuster by mostly Southern senators. But now, as we just saw, the electoral college may actually favor more liberal candidates because so many of the conservative states are deeply red while the blue and swing states are more evenly divided. So isn't it about time we consider whether the electoral college has outlived any usefulness it once had?

By IndyCanary on 2012 11 09, 2:54 pm CST

Well something needs to change. Over $2 billion was spent on this election, nothing changed except the country is now more divided.

I'm in favor of the Maine-Nebraska method (split the electoral votes in each State). Why? Because the "winner-takes-all" system has resulted in 41 States receiving little to no attention from the candidates. How many times did Obama visit Wyoming? How many times did Romney visit California? Or Ryan visit Illinois? Or Biden visit Texas? The electoral college was supposed to encourage candidates to bring their ideas and consider the interests of people in both small and large States. But the opposite has now occurred. No wonder why Illinois is so Blue, Republicans never campaign there because it is a given that Illinois will vote Democrat. Vice versa for Idaho.

If we move to the Maine-Nebraska method, Republicans will need to campaign in California to fight for a share of the electoral votes. And Democrats will need campaign in Alabama for the same reason. This will mean that both parties' ideas are directly presented to all voters, and not just to those in swing States. Enough of this Florida - Ohio, Ohio - Florida elections. The candidates are expected to represent us all.

By Doug on 2012 11 09, 3:06 pm CST

I was a poll watcher in Illinois. We don't have a voter ID law. But, after seeing some of the mistakes made by the election judges. I think we should have one. I watched a rather ethic polling place. There were so many people with the same last name coming in, that to just go by what the voter says there name is is ridiculous. The IDs are there more to make sure that the right person casts a vote and not to protect against fraud. I would hate to come into the polling place to find out that someone has voted on my name but to find out a similar name was still in the book.

Also, we need to get rid of winner takes all electoral college voting. I don't think that a non-winner takes all electoral college vote would offend the constitution. The big cities which have higher population would still have the advantage because they have more seats.

Get rid of early voting. Now its nice, what happends when it gets to a point where either the votes are actually calculated and released prior to election day (not just exit polling) or if an area has had a critical mass vote early that the candidates will ignore that area in the days leading up to the election

Shorten the election season. 6 months for president and 3 months for everything else. You start campaigning or raising funds before the time period, you are barred from that election cycle. Simple as that. Also, the incumbent must pay 100% of the costs incurred with any activities that are election related. So that means, that when the president flies on Air Force 1 with full security detail, the campaign must pay everything associated with that flight and security (gas, time, logistics).

By Abe on 2012 11 09, 3:07 pm CST

Esq.-esque - The problem with transporting the Maine and Nebraska models into the large states is that the Presidential election would become gerrymanderable and the battles in the state legislatures over re-districting would become even more acrimonious.

By Pierre Paul on 2012 11 09, 3:09 pm CST

Another thing, make election day a legal holiday. That means everyone off (no school, no government, no mail delivery (only mail drop off for election purposes) like Christmas, New Years, or the 4th of July. Nobody working means people not waiting until 6 PM to go to vote because they had to go to work.

By Abe on 2012 11 09, 3:11 pm CST

I'd like to see a "none of the above" on the ballot for each political office. If the result of the "none" category exceeds a set percentage (either 50% or exceeds the highest candidate's result) then a new election must be held (preferably with new candidates).

By Hon. E. Bee on 2012 11 09, 3:11 pm CST

voting should be easier, not harder; barriers should be withdrawn and more time given for voting. Only then will participation rise

By okiedokie on 2012 11 09, 3:20 pm CST

I walked into the polling place, showed my photo ID at the entry desk, and was directed to my precinct. At the precinct desk, I sholed my photo ID, recieved my paper ballot, and pencil, went to the booth, filled in the circles, came back to the precinct desk, dropped my paper ballot in the locked box, and waited two minutes or so for my wife and adult son to finish voting, and went home. We have early voting, I won't do it. Election Day is a special day to my family.

#3 is correct, we should amend the nationwide electoral system to the Maine/Nebraska system, where the electoral college picks are determined by congressional district. We must, at all costs, keep the Presidential election a state by state election, else most people in the "flyover" states will be ignored. If the electoral college is chosen by congressional district votes, candidates will be forced to spend time with more people, instead of hammering Cincinnati for days on end. We do get tired of hearing about Ohio and Florida.

By JME on 2012 11 09, 3:37 pm CST

In the 2008 election, turnout was higher in states with no early voting than in states that had it (65% to 62%). This was true to a lesser degree in 2004 as well.

By Roger on 2012 11 09, 3:38 pm CST

the 15 precincts in Philadelphia, where one party's observers were evicted for a time, that produced 90+% turnout and 99+% Obama vote SCREAM of fraud and box-stuffing. This along with complaints elsewhere of touchscreen machines that would not accept votes for certain candidates, show this election result was most likely fraudulent.

The only remedy is to require a re-vote in any precinct where there is any hint of fraud or other chicancery -- perhaps the third tuesday of November - and with non-locals as poll workers.

Lesser penalties have simply not worked, especially given the bias shown in prosecution....

By stevieB on 2012 11 09, 4:49 pm CST

#37-Roger that... BUT, voter turn out was less than in 2008 ,AND less than 2004. There is a message in that data.

By Grayghost on 2012 11 09, 5:11 pm CST

Ryan Ayers obviously needs a history lesson. His explanation is basically the Michelle Bachmann Tea Party History of the United States.

The selection of the president was hotly debated throughout the entire convention and the last major decided. The vote was held well after the vote to adopt the compromise on the Senate that gave small states equal representation there.

The Electoral College was a compromise solution developed by a committee. The committee was assigned to resolve the dispute between those who favored direct election by the people (Madison), the selection of the president by the Congress, and the selection of the president by state legislatures. If Mr. Ayers actulally understood the history of the ocnvention or had read the notes from the proceedings, he would see just how wron he is. A simple understadning of the Electoral College also shows the nature of the compromise.

Madison argued for the direct election of the president. Of course, he was also right. Very simply, his chief argument was that the President woudl be a rallying point for the nation as a nation symbol. He argued that the people should elect this leader because the President shoudl stand fro all the peole and be their champion. Madison was, as usual, 100% correct about how things would play out 200 years in the future.

Ayers view of the world at odds with the actual history of the Convention. The tension over the selection process not just a small/big state rift it was also about the role of citizens in the power structure. Conservative states like South Carolina that had high property restrictions on voting wanted to keep citizens as far away from voting for President as possible. Hence, South Carolina, was the last state to allow its citizens to vote for president leaving the seleciton of the state's presidential electors soley in the hands of the sate legislature for nearly 70 years after the Constitution was ratified.

Of course, Ayers other arguments about the true meaning of the Constitution and the concertration of federal power are pure Hannity Hubris. Any person who actual sat through a history class in high school should know better.

By Know Your Constitution on 2012 11 09, 5:34 pm CST

@40 Very good summary - though I would hope most people coming to this site would realize #10 was a gigantic bunch of nonsense. That being said, his issues with how difficult it is to vote and the need for campaign finance reform are understandable, and I agree with them.

The issue with keeping the electoral college is just silly though. It's already based on population growth and electors, in 99.9% of the cases, vote for their state's majority. Removing the electoral college (which won't happen because of the difficulty in getting states to agree on anything) would just simplify the process.

By Mole Mountain on 2012 11 09, 6:03 pm CST

Without even looking at the earlier responses so far, I predict they're along the lines of:

Republicans: This is a "travesty" that calls for "revolution" and a "march on Washington" (to quote Donald J. Trump.

Democrats: Wouldn't change a thing.

By R on 2012 11 09, 6:40 pm CST

If people are complaining about the wait, at least the mechanics of running the poll sites must be updated - at least in New York city. I responded to a call for helpers at a poll site the Saturday night before the election day. I received an 2-hour training to be an information clerk Sunday afternoon and was told the only job was to make sure the voters go to their assigned poll sites based on their current residential addresses. Monday afternoon, Cuomo signed the order the displaced voters can vote anywhere in the state. Everyone took that order to mean everyone - not just displaced voters - can vote at any poll site by an affidavit ballot. The helpers arrived at the poll site 5a.m. on the election day, without anyone from the Board. We did not have any officials from the board until very late in the afternoon, and they apparently appeared because there were complaints about the handicapped access to the polling place. I am guessing all of the workers at the center were helpers like me, lacking experience and knowledge of how the sites are actually run. There were voters coming to me and another younger of the workers, complaining about the inefficiency of the workers. To be very honest, it was very frustrating when you see a long line of voters - some very old - stand outside the building in the cold and wait to make their voices heard. Especially when you knew the line could be shortened half if there was some more efficiency at the site among the workers. After the poll was closed, I stayed to help. At one point, I got to learn another worker's duties at the spot by reading the manual that I was shown the first time (e.g., counting ballots, etc.) because she could hardly read the numbers and was literally falling asleep (which I cannot say unreasonable after working 16 hours straight). I am speculating the lack of resources is the reason for not having better trained workers. But I am sure the Board could have been better prepared than the mess I witnessed Tuesday.

By Poll site helper on 2012 11 09, 7:23 pm CST

No one seems concerned about the amazing cost of the elections -- the fact that the candidates could spend vast amounts of money telling the world how great they are. And then, of course, there were the Super PACS, who were busy telling the world how dreadful their opponents were.

I somehow think there needs to be a limit on how much a candidate can spend, and how much can be spent by the Super PACs in the various races, but particularly in the Presidential/Vice-Presidential races lest countries who have reasonable restrictions on donations, like Britain, hold us in utter and deserved contempt.

By James Matheus Guy on 2012 11 09, 7:35 pm CST

We should start with this constitutional amendment:

"Natural persons have a protected interest in supporting candidates through advocacy and monetary contributions, subject to reasonable restrictions determined by Congress and the states. Corporations, advocacy groups, political action committees, unions, and other legal fictions that may be granted the rights of a person by Congress or a state shall never be permitted to expend money or other valuable resources in support of or for the benefit of, or in opposition to a candidate for public office. Such restrictions shall also apply to advocacy on ballot initiatives, propositions, and referred measures.

This amendment shall not be construed to prevent a candidate from establishing a legal entity to receive and expend funds contributed by the citizens of the United States on the behalf of the candidate."

That way, people can still support candidates and Congress or the states can implement laws requiring disclosure and a reasonable contribution limit. Congress or the states can preserve the rights of corporations and similar entities to sue and be sued, own property, pay taxes, advertise with protected commercial speech, and whatever other rights the legislatures might ordain. However, corporate entities would be barred from direct participation in elections.

By JJ on 2012 11 09, 7:48 pm CST

@45 - That is very interesting and well-reasoned. Thank you for sharing it!

By Another Andy on 2012 11 09, 7:53 pm CST

Yes -

1. We need paper ballots. We've all seen the You Tube video of the guy pressing "Obama" and "Romney" lighting up, and heard allegations that some machines were recording votes incorrectly. PAPER BALLOTS, NOT ELECTRONIC.

2. Get the money out. No PAC's, equal funding. Although Rove's across-the-board defeats after spending $300 million does give some hope, the fact that a billion dollars was just spend on this election is utterly sickening. GET THE MONEY OUT.

By David Perry Davis, Esq on 2012 11 09, 8:21 pm CST

The chilling effects much like the south in the 1960’s have returned and are being felt by SAR white voters like myself. I lived through that time and now truly understand the frustration. Florida is the new poster child of inequality with the recent changes in voter laws and the reduction of early voting days, despite Florida v. United States and other challenges. When you step into the ballot box one has a reasonable expectation that his/her vote will be counted and be represented as a whole. The fact is that in Florida the voting results were not timely and did not count and the entire process pointless. Is this misrepresentation akin to misleading advertisement “Every Vote Counts” or taxation without representation?

By TooLong Inthesun on 2012 11 11, 3:22 pm CST

1. Federal elections should be conducted under universal Federal rules, including positively identifying a voter by means of a non-expired government issued ID. The Federal rules would also govern better policing of the voting rolls themselves, including regularly purging the voting rolls from those who have died, moving out of the voting district, or who have been inactive over the last couple election cycles.

2. Given the fact that this is a Federal election, the voting precints should be under the control of somebody other than the local political machine. In addition, observers from political parties should be permitted access to all voting precints. This year's election was tainted by republican observers being ejected from a couple dozen Democrat polling places in Philadelphia.

3. A broader question is whether those individuals on government welfare programs should be permitted to vote in Federal elections. An excellent public policy argument could be made that they should be required to sign away their voting rights until they no longer require assistance. At that point, their voting rights would be reinstated. You need to contribue financially to the system to have a say; they don't

By Yankee on 2012 11 11, 10:33 pm CST

Yankee -

1. Many of the poor in this country don't have photo ID. If you don't drive a car, you don't need a license and don't need a photo ID. Not really democracy to exclude them from the polls.

2. This year's election was tainted, as usual, by Florida illegally removing people from the polls if they lived in heavily Democratic elections. Obama's wave of support was just too strong to overcome with their fraud - if it had ben closer, it would have been a problem.

3. Really? Anyone getting government assistance shouldn't be permitted to vote? This would include, I assume the 47% that Romney wrote off - disabled veterans, those whose jobs were shipped overseas by the Right wingers and who have run out of unemployment insurance? Sure an "excellent public policy argument" could be made that only those who haven't been fu*ed by the system can vote -- it's called National Socialism (e.g., Nazism) and it didn't work out well.

By David Perry Davis, Esq on 2012 11 11, 10:42 pm CST

@50 You spew: '. . . it’s called National Socialism (e.g., Nazism) . . . "

Playing the old Hitler card won't get you anywhere, David.

By Yankee on 2012 11 12, 3:00 am CST

each presidential election cinvinces me more that the electoral college must go. 20% of the nation's population decided the election and three of the four biggest states (cal, ny, and tex) each had large majorities and could be bypassed by the candidates (except of course for fundraisers!)
there is a movement called something like nationalpopularvote which is trying to get enough states (ie states totaling more than 270 e.vs)to pass a law directing their electoral voters to vote for the winner of the popular vote.
second the whole federal election process should be taken out of the hands of partisan state legislatures and federalized. thus we'd get rid of gerrymandered districts, voter suppression, election day incompitence, and the 50 different rules for registration of candidates and voters, calendars and early voting, standardizing procedures.

By steven c on 2012 11 12, 1:45 pm CST

It says much for the patience of the voters of Florida that they have not yet marched en masse to the governor's mansion in Tallahassee, carried Rick Scott out nude and bodily thrown him into the Gulf of Mexico.

By AndytheLawyer on 2012 11 12, 5:53 pm CST

@53 ". . . carried Rick Scott out nude and bodily thrown him into the Gulf of Mexico . . ."

Andy: Surely the unruly masses let Governor Scott put on some clothes on before they throw him into the Gulf of Mexico?

By Yankee on 2012 11 12, 7:33 pm CST

Either way, anything that oily is going to violate their NPDES permit.

By B. McLeod on 2012 11 12, 7:38 pm CST

@22: "….inevitably, you end up with a popularity contest instead of the candidate best qualified for the job."

Yep, and we are now left with another 4 years of disaster.

By Marc on 2012 11 12, 10:15 pm CST

There should be an educational qualification requirement to vote.

By Marc on 2012 11 12, 10:18 pm CST

Or another four years of the lesser of two evils, from another perspective.

The educational qualification quip is just that -- a quip -- but an interesting one. We've all had that thought before, but I think the problem is not about education, but rather about a grasp of (or willing to live in denial of) objective, factual reality.

And I don't know how you test that, or even if we actually should. On one hand, every person probably has the right to willingly choose to ignore facts. On the other, maybe such a person ought not actually *vote* based on a false grasp of the factual state of things. (Again, talking here about factual reality, not about opinions or preferences.)

By Another Andy on 2012 11 12, 10:24 pm CST

Well, AA, whether or not Romney would have done a better job is speculation. We don't need to sepculate about the last 4 years.

I think we agree to an extent about the educational aspect. It is clearly not debatable that a large swath of those who voted have no idea of what the major issues were or where either candidate stood on the issues.

By Marc on 2012 11 13, 12:39 am CST

The more alarming part to me is that they might have known but not have *cared* where they stood.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 13, 12:44 am CST

The federal government fails or is in competent at everything. The most vital control on government, the ballot, should not be given to the most dangerous and oppressive institution on the planet. Sober up, Brethren.

By Blue & Gold on 2012 11 16, 1:06 pm CST

I agree with the post by Linnea, but I think it needs to go a bit further, by outright abolition of the electoral college and relying, instead, strictly on popular vote.

In spite of numerous acts of Congress, such as the Voting Rights Act, many states, especially in the south, [including, but not limited to, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida] the majority of the voting population remains Caucasian, in spite of the significant percentage of non-Caucasians who live there. What has been occurring in such states, is a textbook example of disenfranchisement, where minorities often elect to just not vote, because they know it is a foregone conclusion that the Caucasian candidate [or Caucasian-sponsored candidate], more often than not, will win.

The electoral college problem was on full, technicolor display this year. Southern, conservative states across the board saw pathetic turnout by people of color. The media reported for many months leading up to the election that the election will "come down to a small handful of states." That messaging in itself serves as testimony to the power of being white! It also serves to leave the states regarded as already in the pocket of one candidate or another, as being completely disenfranchised.

Imagine how different the election landscape would be if the popular vote was the controlling factor in a presidential election. Even if, in a popular vote setting, any particular state's majority were to go to Caucasians or prospective vote winners who are supported by "white money", the cumulative effect of the minority in such a state would still add to the aggregate, would not only reshape outcomes, but would actually enfranchise minorities, overall.

Every state would count. Every VOTE would be meaningful. Just imagine.

By Marty Barron on 2012 11 16, 3:05 pm CST

@62 - I empathize, but I still believe that we need a system that's somewhere in-between. I don't think that a popular vote is always a good idea when you have different regional needs and population imbalances. Yes, it's not as big a problem now as it once was...

I don't know. Would be interested to see what others think, but I am seriously on the fence about the popular vote issue.

I don't pretend that the Founders were omniscient, nor do I agree that we are obligated to structure anything the way they would have. But it may be telling that the Convention Notes display an abject distrust and distaste for popular democracy...

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 3:09 pm CST

Seriously, Marty? Here's a clue - there is no such thing as racial disenfranchisement any more. The incidents where early voting time periods were shortened, insufficient polling places set up, etc were aimed at a political party (usually Democrats), not at a race.

By David Perry Davis, Esq on 2012 11 16, 6:00 pm CST

@64 - That is abjectly inaccurate.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 6:11 pm CST

Another Andy: With all due respect [not yet clear just how much respect is, in fact, due; I'll let you gauge that on your own], racial disenfranchisement is RAMPANT. Either you live in a location where your elections are runs in an extraordinaily democratic manner [read: somewhere outside of the USA] or you are in desperate need of wiping the smudges ooff your rose-colored glasses. BUT, make no mistake: that you choose to deny the reality does not makes YOUR non-reality accurate.

Moreover, voter disenfranchisement is sure not limited to race; because of the nature of the electoral college, if your position on ANY issue is not a part of the majority in your state, you, too, are disenfranchised. That is without regard to race, creed, color, handicap, sexual identity or any other factor you choose to apply to the box you create to place your identity into. This is a matter that would be largely cured with a strictly popular voting process run by a national program that disallows any and all forms of discrimination or relegation.

Grranted, there may be a number of other manifestations of election plans that may also work, but the most direct way to enfranchise the greatest number of citizens is strict popular voting.

Utopian? Perhaps. Possible? Absolutely.

By Marty Barron on 2012 11 16, 10:40 pm CST

I uh... I think you might have me confused with the author of post #64? Because I wholeheartedly agree with you.

By Another Andy on 2012 11 16, 11:16 pm CST


Another Andy: My apologies. You are absolutely correct that my reply was intended to go to David Perry Davis, Esq's post @64.

Sorry for the error!

By Marty Barron on 2012 11 18, 4:13 pm CST

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