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Do you agree we need meaningful election reform?

Discussion in 'Political Discussion' started by Patters, Feb 28, 2006.

  1. Patters

    Patters Moderator Staff Member PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Is there any way to make elections not only more fair, but more dignified and honest? Despite our disagreements, we generally discuss issues in this forum. As a rule, we don't rely on soundbites, character assassination, or distortions to make our points. Sure, we have disagreements, but I think we honestly know where each other stands and no one pulls the wool over our eyes.

    With politicians, you seldom know what you're getting and what the truth really is? Did Kerry deserve his medals? Was Bush AWOL? These issues and the like become clouded by political opportunism, and there is no voice of objectivity that we as Americans are willing to trust. (I'll trust DailyKos; you trust Drudge.)

    I think it would be great if elections at levels consisted of a series of debates, discussions, and articles, with no ads except to promote voter turnout. I don't know if there's a way this can be done in a free society, and I'm not sure how severe the downside to this idea is.

    So, the question is this: Can we, liberal, conservative, libertarian, come up with election reforms that we would all truly support? Or do you think the current approach is pretty much the best one, and we doomed to be led by a mediocre lot.
  2. PatsFanInEaglesLand

    PatsFanInEaglesLand Rookie

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    #37 Jersey

    A great step would be TERM LIMITS.
  3. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Sure, if you want to get drastic. Do it the way they did 150 years ago. No PAC money. No fundraising at all. No television ads. No primaries, even. The candidates go from town to town delineating their policy, and why they believe it's the right one for our country. Each candidate is entitled to a train ticket and a free night lodging, courtesy of the federal government. Every time a candidate goes negative on an opponent, all other candidates get to punch him/her in the mouth. Every time a candidate starts screaming at ludicrous volume, the moderator gets to punch him/her in the mouth. Every time a candidate interrupts the one who is speaking, the interuptee gets to punch him/her in the mouth. All questions will be answered to the satisfaction of the person asking it. He/she has three minutes to answer, or to say "I don't know".

    The President will be elected to one six-year term. There will be no electoral college. A vote in California will be worth the same as a vote in Vermont.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2006
  4. mgcolby

    mgcolby Woohoo, I'm a VIP!!! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    That is funny. Not sure I like the 6 year deal. I do think that every vote should count and do away with the electoral college. With todays technology there should not be a reason why everyone's vote should not be counted and applied.
  5. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    The electoral college is not the reason that votes in California and Vermont are not equal. The reason is that Vermont polls open and close three hours before those in California, which gives the media three hours worth of predictions, exit polls, and various other spins, to influence the outcome. Since I do not favor any restriction on what can be reported, I'm convinced the best way to address the issue is to have every polling place in the country open at the same time, and close at the same time.

    For example, in Vermont, the polls could open at 6:00 am and close at midnight. In Hawaii, they would open at midnight and close at 6:00 pm. Then everyone's vote has an equal chance at being effective, and it simply wouldn't matter who in the media predicts what.


    The other thing is to get rid of electronic voting machines-- those are ripe for fraud. Do it the old fashioned way with paper ballots, preferably with no punch-out systems.
  6. All_Around_Brown

    All_Around_Brown Rookie

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    Election reform must begin with a paper verification of electronic systems, first and foremost. We'll never get away from the electoral college, unfortunately....it just won't happen. But if we develop the electronic system reliably, with transparent results, we can possibly get to a point where the popular vote gets the authority it deserves. With real time verifiable results, maybe the electoral college can more closely represent the popular vote. (just a couple of pennies)
  7. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    The situation you describe is why a vote in Vermont is more valuable than a vote in California.

    However, that's not what I was describing. I mean to say the all-or-nothing nature of voting in the electoral college. You know, if the Democrats get one more vote than the Republicans in California, the Democrats get all 48 or whatever the number is now electoral votes. If the Republicans get one more vote than the Democrats in Vermont, they get all 3 electoral votes. Hence, those California votes become a lot more important.

    I'd be more okay with the EC if every state gave a percentage of electoral votes to each candidate, although in this day and age I still think the EC is useless.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2006
  8. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    You could get virtually the same speed if you start with paper ballots that can be optically scanned, as you would with electronic systems that have paper backups. If we absolutely have to use electronic voting machines, then paper verification is vital, but I think we are far better served to do away with electronic voting machines completely. There's just too much potential for fraud.


    One other voting reform I would recommend is to have universal ballots for military, embassy personel, etc., that can be faxed or electronically transmitted. Someone would have to figure out some safeguards on that, as electronic transmission can also be an avenue for fraud, but that's something worth doing.
  9. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    I'd go with dumping the electoral college, if safeguards against fraud were adopted.

    AND there would have to be a runoff election between the top two candidates in any election where third party candidates accounted for more votes than what the difference was between the top two.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2006
  10. All_Around_Brown

    All_Around_Brown Rookie

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    IMO, scans vs touch screens have equal opportunity for fraud as computer based systems, and I agree with you that both need to be verifiable.
  11. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey


    I'm not sure. As long as one candidate got a majority or dominant plurality, I'd have no problem. I don't see why the election has to come down to two people that you would have to choose between. I'd love to see five candidates run in the election. It would most likely reduce the voting "against" a guy, or choosing between two guys you really don't like.
  12. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    Agreed! :eat2:

    The difference as I see it is that a scanning machine is an independent entity, whereas the electronic voting machine must be part of a network. To check against fraud with optical scanners, the quick way is to just run the same batch of ballots through another machine. The long way is to manually count the ballots. Either way, there's more certainty.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2006
  13. All_Around_Brown

    All_Around_Brown Rookie

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    Ok, if you say so. I just think its six in one hand and a half dozen in the other. The verification is the key.
  14. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    OK, try this. Let's say that under your system, there were three liberal candidates running and one conservative. The liberals get 70% of the popular vote, but no single one of them gets more than the 30% the conservative gets, so he is elected President. Are you going to be happy with that result?
  15. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    I'd live with it. Ideally, there would be candidates from across the spectrum. I doubt there would be enough agreement among the Conservatives for this to happen. Some Pat Robertson type who things that Bush isn't conservative enough, or Christian enough, would draw off some of the vote. Some Zell Miller candidate who falls on the conservative side of the fence but is more of a centrist would run to give people who believe Bush is too conservative or too Christian a candidate.

    You're scenario could happen, but people's egos being what they are, I don't think it would. The Republican party isn't THAT united.
  16. Harry Boy

    Harry Boy Look Up, It's Amazing PatsFans.com Supporter

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    It would change nothing with the Liberals, if they lost they would be demanding re-counts and claiming the other side cheated.
  17. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    That scenerio DID happen! (Just not with the same numbers or percentages, which I grabbed out of my... hat.)

    Bush I & Perot got more of the popular vote that Clinton,
    Dole & Pat Robertson got more of the vote than Clinton did, and
    Gore & Nader & Robertson got more of the vote than Bush II did.


    If you really want people to vote for the party or candidate that truly represents them, that will be far more likely to happen if they know their vote won't be a throw-away in a single general election. If there is a run-off, people will know that either one candidate was a clear majority winner, or that there was enough voter interest in several candidates to muddy the waters and NOT provide a clear single majority winner. In that case, a run-off would give us a consensus winner, someone whose election leaves a lot less room for doubt than the current system does.
  18. dryheat44

    dryheat44 Rookie

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    #75 Jersey

    Remember that under this scenario, there is no primary. Bush and McCain and possibly a guy like Lugar would all be in the running. The whole concept of political parties would become meaningless. There would cease to be a two-party system.

    The difficulty comes in limiting the field so we don't have 5000 candidates, which means we probably have to:

    a) Have a preliminary election to reduce the field from hundreds to 5-8, perhaps on a regional basis (awkward)
    b) Have some sort of requirements to meet to run for President. Like having served X amount of years in other public offices.

    Forget everything you know...my reforming starts with tearing down the entire process.
  19. mgcolby

    mgcolby Woohoo, I'm a VIP!!! PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Isn't that what the primaries do? Which then makes the Presidential election the run off. That scenario doesn't seem that much different then now other then the entire nation would vote at once instead of over a period of time.
  20. BlueTalon

    BlueTalon Rookie

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    The primaries are merely the mechanism for a party to choose its own candidate. There is nothing inherently bad in them, or anything about them that precludes candidates from other parties and other philosophies from running.

    Yes, having a run-off would add time to the actual voting process, but presidential elections are already lengthy. A general election in early November and the swearing-in on January 20th leaves a lot of room for a run-off, should one be necessary.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2006

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