Tuesday, February 05, 2013

What Is Needed To Fix Florida's (and the Nation's) Voting Woes

The finger-pointing and arguing over the debacle that was the 2012 elections process - hundreds of thousands discouraged from voting due to long lines, those long lines due to ballots being 4-12 pages long (!) - has begun in earnest, but instead of finger-pointing we need to - as a state and as a nation - make these very important reforms to ease voter access and improve voter rights.

1) We need to get ALL eligible people who can vote registered to vote.
2) We need to make it easier for people to vote, period.  That means giving them the ability to vote wherever they can on election day or during pre-election early voting days.  People get confused by being required to vote by precinct or specific location which sometimes are miles away while a perfectly good precinct is right down the block, and some people have moved since their last registered address and trying to vote from a new address.  Same-Day voter registration updating the voter's proper address to allow them to vote right away.  Creating a uniform balloting system that identifies the voter's district needs and prints (or electronically displays) the proper ballot - something elections offices here in Florida can do during Early Voting polling - can reduce the need to vote at a specific (and oft-times overwhelmed) precinct: just think of all those voting lines in Dade County that could have been eased by sending voters to nearby polling places that weren't overwhelmed.
3) We need to drop the ban on ex-felons denied the right to vote, and forcing them to re-register to get their right to vote restored.  This should be an automatic thing: they've legally paid their debt to society, once out of prison the ex-felon should have the right to act like a citizen again as part of their probationary/ rehabilitative process.  Having the ex-felons jump through years' worth of bureaucratic hoops is insulting.
4) We need to drop gerrymandering.  Gerrymandering literally wastes people's votes.
5) A Photo ID for voting actually does make sense, alongside the signature requirement when showing up to vote.  But the states need to issue such photo IDs at no cost: voting needs to be free in every way possible.
6) We need to have more Early Voting days, not fewer.
7) We need to move Election Day from a Tuesday - the middle of a workweek - to a weekend day like Friday or Saturday or Sunday.  AND make the Election Day a national holiday.  Back in the old days when voting was done at the county seat and people had to travel by horse or foot, it may have made sense to have elections on a workday when people would be at the county seat on other business.  But not anymore.  We need to make sure people can get to vote, and making the Big Election a banking/school holiday nearest to the weekend frees up a ton of people to give them all day to get out the vote.
8) We need to include a None Of The Above option for every candidate.  It will get messy but if all candidates for an elected office are just disgusting human beings, the voters should have the right to say No to the offal the parties are shoving at them.  It should make the parties' more responsive (maybe).

Any other suggestions?

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