Yeah, I know the common consensus (and the politically correct view) is that everyone should exercise their franchise and vote.
Don’t misunderstand, I’m not against people voting. We’ve come a long way since the vote was limited to property-owning white males. We now have almost universal suffrage. I say almost universal because we make exceptions for age, legal status, incarceration and state of residence.
I would like to modify that. First of all, universal suffrage should be universal as it pertains to American citizenry. Everybody (including present and past incarcerated individuals as well as the young and the citizens of Arizona) has a stake in the outcome, so they should have a say.
I can already envision people getting their backsides up over letting criminals and kids vote. I’ll get to them in a couple of paragraphs.
Right now, I’d like to drop a couple “fact bombs” on you.
To quote fairvote.org “The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy. Yet most Americans do not realize that we do not have a constitutionally protected right to vote. While there are amendments to the U.S. Constitution that prohibit discrimination based on race (15th), sex (19th) and age (26th), no affirmative right to vote exists.”
“More than nine million American citizens are denied the same right to vote that they would enjoy if living in another part of the country. Several states deny voting rights for life to anyone once convicted of a felony. Children of American families living abroad often cannot vote when they reach voting age. American citizens living in Puerto Rico, Guam and the Virgin Islands can be drafted into the military but are unable to vote for their Commander-in-Chief. Congress governs the District of Columbia more directly than any other state, yet the more than a half million citizens living in the District have no voting representation in Congress.”
And that’s not even counting the assault on voting rights currently going on in almost every Republican controlled statehouse under the guise of combating almost non-existent voter fraud.
Interestingly enough, the far greater proportion of the potentially disenfranchised mostly vote for the other party. You wanna talk about voter fraud? Let’s talk about that!
Btw, check out FairVote’s website, they have a lot of very interesting thoughts on some of the reforms that need to be implemented. I’m going to propose a couple of my own which, of course, is the purpose of this tirade.
In my not-so-humble opinion, no matter what the U.S. Constitution says or does not say, VOTING IS A RIGHT OF AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP! It is not a “privilege” or a “state’s rights issue” as some of the hacks on the troglodyte edge of the political spectrum would have you believe.
Voting requirements should be uniform throughout the states and territories. Just because you live in one state instead of another is no dammed reason to be barred from voting.
Now, as to criminals voting? American criminals (past or present), no matter what their crime(s), haven’t had their citizenship taken away. They are still American citizens and should be free to exercise their rights.
As far as kids voting, I’m not advocating a “Gerber Block” of voters. There has to be some common sense applied to this. (A first for me, I know, but bear with me.)
Under Common Law, the age of reason is seven years old and children 14 and older are considered fully responsible. Since this is really a post about responsibility, let’s go with 14. I’ll explain why that’s not a bad idea a bit later in the post.
OK, the title of this post is “Too Many People Vote” and so far I’ve been expounding on expanding the number, not the other way around. So, it’s probably time to pull the old switcheroo.
As I mentioned a couple of paragraphs back, this post is really about responsibility.
My one exception (and it’s a biggie) to universal suffrage would be ignorance. Not stupidity, ignorance!
Ignorance is the absence of knowledge and can be cured. Stupidity is the abhorrence of knowledge and that seems to be incurable.
I believe that along with the right to vote, comes the responsibility to actually understand who or what you are voting on.
That doesn’t mean knowledge of your side’s “talking points”. That means an understanding of the candidate’s position on the issues of importance. That means having an idea of the impact, both positive and negative, of the measure you are voting on.
Too often the politician that gets elected or the law that gets passed or rejected, depends on the amount of money spent and the slickness of the ads.
All that money spent and all those slick ads don’t clarify the situation. They mostly magnify one side’s point of view to the detriment of the other. Plus, a good portion of the time, they subtly lie (lies of omission or “creative shading”) or not so subtly lie (lies of commission or “creative distortion”). All too often, the end result of money and slickness is people voting against their own self interests. They have a right to do this, but I’m getting damned tired of them dragging the rest of us down with them.
I have the remedy for that problem!
The United States has “Truth-In-Advertising” laws that require that
- Advertising must be truthful and non-deceptive;
- Advertisers must have evidence to back up their claims;
- Advertisements cannot be unfair.
Unfortunately, these laws don’t seem to apply to political advertisements, and they should!
The solution to this problem is really very simple: (Although, I guarantee politicos will hate it.) Expand “Truth in Advertising” to include political ads and then enforce the laws.
Any political advertisement would have to be submitted to neutral fact-checkers along with proof of any claims or statements made before those claims or statements were disseminated.
This would have the immediate effect of eliminating a lot of those “negative ads” that we all profess to hate. (Except of course, when they boost “our side”. Then we secretly love them.)
I know in this country, we have a Republican dominated Supreme Court that thinks corporations are people and money is “free” speech. But all their twisted interpretations of the law doesn’t make it so.
Also, It seems like a very large percentage of Americans are not too happy with our current crop of politicians. (The current congressional approval rating is hovering around 13%.) A lot of people try to apportion the blame on several factors, but the truth is, there’s only one factor to blame: THE VOTERS WHO ELECTED THEM INTO OFFICE IN THE FIRST PLACE!!!
I have the remedy for that problem!
To begin with, what is needed is a balanced view of things political, and that requires a little work. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. After all, you are making decisions that are affecting your life and probably your money. And no, I’m not saying you have to understand every little minute detail, but a general understanding would go a long way in creating better laws (and better politicians).
My state (Oregon) issues a voter’s pamphlet for every election. I’m sure that most, if not all other states do the same. In the pamphlet is a list of the candidates and a copy of the measure(s) under consideration.
In Oregon’s pamphlet there is also a neutral, plain language description of the measure and it’s impact as well as arguments pro and con. The one thing lacking is a matrix of the competing candidates’ stand on the major issues of the campaign. The addition of that and a couple of hours studying the pamphlet would make for better elections with more positive outcomes.
Thousands of soldiers, sailors and civilians have died for your right to vote. Isn’t it worth a an hour or so (and not to mention – your duty) to get it right? Besides, it’s in your own best interests.
Oh gee! Sounds great, but not very practical. How the heck do you make this work? And wouldn’t it cost a lot to implement if you could make it work ? And what about safeguards and security?
First of all, let me introduce a given. THE COUNTRY IS HEADING TOWARDS VOTING ON HOME COMPUTER! It’s going to happen! It can happen now; it may not happen for a few years. But, it is inevitable – IT WILL HAPPEN! And, once it does, everything gets very simple.
Before I explain and before you start reminding me that not everybody has a computer to vote with. I already know that. However there are plenty of computers in schools, libraries and other governmental and private locations that could be utilized on election day without spending any more time or expense than it takes to go to a poling location and vote now.
Security and safeguards? No system is completely foolproof, but those objections were raised about Oregon’s “vote by mail” and that’s turned out to be a lot more tamper proof than some states’ balloting that I could mention – Florida and Ohio come to mind real quick. Plus, we have a whole industry devoted to making computer transactions safe and secure.
OK, here’s how its done: Once in front of the computer and logged in with your personal voting ID, you would answer 3 – 4 neutral questions (multiple choice?) about the measure or candidate you are voting on and then cast your vote.
And yes, if a 14-year-old can understand well enough to vote on a measure or politician, then he/she has proved their commitment to democracy. (Which is a hell of a lot more than a lot of today’s voters do.)
When the votes are to be tallied, complete with a paper trail (excluding voter ID of course), the answers are checked and if correct, the vote is recorded.
PRESTO! The results of an informed electorate. And isn’t that the ideal that we are supposed to be striving for?
p.s. I can’t wait to hear the rebuttal rationales as to why ignorant and stupid people should be allowed to vote. They should be hilarious.