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Opinion: It’s time to revamp the election process

Opinion: It’s time to revamp the election process

By Greg Gerber
Editor, RV Daily Report

The presidential election is over, thank God. I’m ready for a much-needed break in what has become a three year, eight month presidential campaign of non-stop poll results, candidate bashing, negatively and general goofiness everywhere.

There is no question that this year’s election was the worst in my memory, which dates back to 1968 and the Nixon-Humphrey race. Never before have Americans been left with two choices that were universally despised by most people. It’s a symbol of just how divided our country has become.

At the church I was attending a few weeks before the election, the pastor scolded people for complaining about the choices they had in candidates. He noted that 90 percent of evangelicals sat out the primaries. What do you expect?, he asked.

That was an unfair generalization. Most people would have probably voted for other candidates, if they were given the opportunity. However, the election process is hopelessly broken and desperately in need of an overhaul.

First, it is wrong that the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire get to select the candidates for the rest of the nation to support.  There is a lot of hype and energy expended leading up to those two contests. And whenever someone loses, the media pounces on that person to drop out of the race.

Certainly after Super Tuesday, when citizens from a dozen or so states go to the polls about four weeks into the election cycle, the candidates the rest of the country can vote to support dwindle to a couple. We have 28 percent of the states selecting candidates for the remaining 72 percent.

Even then, the processed is rigged. People don’t vote for a candidate, they vote for delegates to a political convention where, as we saw this year, that doesn’t really matter. The delegates “vote their conscience” and support the candidate who promises them the most or, in some cases, buys them off.

Let’s not forget about the role “super delegates” play in the nominating conventions. These jokers aren’t even elected, they are appointed by the party apparatus – and their votes for a particular candidate can be locked up before the primary election in a state even takes place.

Then there is the “winner take all” Electoral College in which the winner of a state’s popular vote grabs 100 percent of the delegates to the Electoral College that actually determines who becomes the next president. In the past 16 years, we have seen two elections where someone lost the popular vote, but was “elected” president thanks to the Electoral College process.

Many people think the system is rigged to support the powerful, and this year’s election proved the point. It’s time to apply some easy fixes to the election process.

First, term limits must be applied across the board. Nobody should serve in any elected position more than 12 years – that includes local, state and federal offices. The idea of career politicians was unheard of when our Constitution was created.

Our founders always assumed people would come together for a few weeks to “do the people’s business,” then return to their farms, jobs and companies to live under the laws they passed.

The fastest way to end political corruption is to prevent people from attaining too much power. You served a total of 12 years on the city council, state assembly and U.S. Senate, then thank you for your service. Now go out and get a real job and step aside to let someone else represent voters.

Second, there has to be a national primary day 60 days before the general election. Do away with all the nonsense associated with political conventions, and give power back to the people.

Then, the top two votegetters in the primary – regardless of party — move on to the general election. We could have two Republicrats or two Demoplicans on the ballot or even an independent or third-party candidate. Some states already do this for state and local elections.

To incentivize participation in the primary elections, if any candidate other than for president gets 50.1 percent of the vote, the election is over and that candidate takes the office.

For presidential elections, we need to retain an Electoral College component; otherwise people could simply campaign in America’s Top 25 counties and garner nearly all of the 60 million votes to win a presidential election.

The blue areas in the map above shows where half the nation’s population lives. Is it fair to all Americans to give the residents of a few big cities power to control the destiny of the rest of the country?

The Electoral College gives each state as many electors as the combined total of U.S. senators and representatives to which the state is entitled. But, the current system generally gives a state 100 percent of the total delegates based solely on total popular vote.

A better system would be to adopt an approach used by Maine and Nebraska where they select one elector per congressional district based on popular vote, and the two remaining statewide electors based on total popular vote.

Next, let’s ensure that one person gets one vote by insisting that everyone present identification before being handed a ballot. Identification is needed for a plethora of daily activities, which is why people have IDs in the first place. Elections should be no different.

To ensure that vote totals can’t be tampered with, I think the entire country should adopt the approach used in the small Wisconsin town I lived eight years ago. Each person was handed a paper ballot and they marked their choices for candidate by darkening a circle.

Then, to make counting faster, the ballots were scanned into a machine. However, the paper ballots were retained so spot checks could be done to ensure accuracy and to prove the vote totals in the event of a recount.

Finally, regardless of what pundits say about “vetting” candidates, the entire presidential election can be wrapped up from start to finish in eight months – six months of campaigning before the primary and two months for the general election.

We expect absolute perfection from presidential candidates and demand that everything from their third grade reading scores, latest proctology exam, income taxes for 10 years, evaluation by high school dating partners, and statements made 30 years earlier all be analyzed to death under the guise of “vetting” a candidate.

You wonder why we wound up with two bad candidates for president. Who in their right mind would want the job? What normal person would subject their families, their business and their personal history to the scrutiny of a presidential campaign? Anyone who would, should be immediately suspect and evaluated for mental illness.

Every person reading this post has skeletons in their closets, have said stupid things they wish they could take back, and done even dumber things they truly regret. I can point to several major live-changing events that resulted in a completely different worldview than I held previously – getting married, becoming a father, becoming a Christian and owning a business.

What I did or said prior to those events offers little insight into my thinking in 2016. Why should we expect a presidential candidate to defend or affirm things he or she has said or did more than 15 years ago?

The election system in America is badly broken and needs to be overhauled. Can we count on currently elected people in positions of power to make the changes? I’m not going to hold my breath.

That’s why we need to utilize the protection against power strongholds written into the U.S. Constitution by our brilliant founders and convene a Constitutional Convention soon.

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About Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber is a freelance writer and podcaster who has been writing about the RV industry since 2000. He is the former editor of RV Daily Report and can be reached at greg@rvdailyreport.com.

7 comments

  1. Uh-oh politics! IMHO there is no “good” candidate in the current system we have in place. No matter who your choice off candidate I believe the best campaign topic came from Trump specifically on his call for a Convention of the States to implement term limits on Congress. The system is broken as a byproduct of leaders who want it to be broken. If you eliminate the money train that feeds the trough of political influence you will start down a path to cleaning up the entire system.

    One could easily argue that you would need to go all the way back to the first president in order to find someone who recognized the danger of party politics and lifetime politicians.

    In a weird analogous way it is closely related to the RV Death Spiral… we are here because we have made choices to get us here. Now it is time for the grown ups to stand up and take control.

    On a side note there needs to come the recognition that simply because the election is over does not mean that the biased media has given up on bashing Trump. This last election I was forced to ignore all reporting and tune in to what the candidates were actually saying. It was here, and only here, that I made my choice and submitted my vote.

  2. Ridiculous! You’d likwe to punish people for living in the cities. You had it right the first time. Just use the popular vote and get rid of the Electoral College. Also, forget about having counties counted equally. That would mean that Kings County in New York (Brooklyn) would count the same as some upstate county. There are 2,4 million people living in Kings County

    Of course the interest s of people living in small town are different than ciy dwellers. In many Metropolitan area the is little or no manufacturing. There are many real estate companies, insurance companies, law7yers, accountants and brokers of all kinds. They feel what they do is no less important than factory workers, miners, and farmers. As a matter of fact they sometimes represent them.

    Manufacturing jobs have changed in the US, but our education system hasn’t. Coal miners will eventually disappear and MUIST be retrained of they will eventually become very poor (as is happening now). There are two reasons for this. Technology has replaced many of their jobs and climate change has prove that coal is not good for the planet.

    The word “rigged” is Trump’s word and he was right. The Electoral college made him the President and now the majority of Americans are mad as hell.

  3. I agree with just about everything in this editorial.
    The delegates to the electoral college do “vote their conscience”, but their political stance is so deeply ingrained to their respective parties that they won’t vote for “the other candidate”. In many states, if they don’t “vote their conscience” (Read that as “vote for the party they pledged to represent”), they can be fined a paltry sum. These are called “faithless electors”.
    Some history:
    There have been 157 faithless electors in the history of the electoral college. Of those, 71 changed their votes because the person they had promised to vote for died before the electoral college vote. Three were abstentions, deciding not to vote at all, rather than vote for somebody they didn’t want to support. The other 82 were true faithless electors who decided to change their vote for various reasons. The last time a faithless elector crossed party lines was in 1972 when a Republican voted for a Libertarian. The last faithless elector voted in 2004 for for John Edwards instead of John Kerry, both Democrats.
    The final outcome of an election has never been changed by faithless electors.
    Twenty-nine states can penalize faithless electors with a misdemeanor charge on their record and a fine of approximately $1000.00. These penalties have never been used, and the laws defining them have never been vetted by the courts.

  4. People that loose always to change the process. Amazing!

  5. How about Campaign Spending Limits and the elimination of PAC and special interest groups?

  6. What company would have an outside organization run and pay for the selection process of their employees? Yet we let dark money control a process run by private organizations (political parties). We obviously got the best that that process could produce in 2017.

    How about having a publicly-funded process open to all candidates who meet some minimum criteria of viability? If you want to contribute money, contribute to the process, not a specific candidate.

    To some of your other points:
    – What’s magical about 12 years?
    – Voter ID solves a problem that doesn’t exist. Voter intimidation and access are real problems that need to be addressed.
    – There are better voting machines that produce voter-verifiable paper-trails without filling in bubbles and scanning smudged paper.

    • This is for GrayBeard

      Would you agree with me that Citizens United was one of the worst Supreme Court decisions ever made? Your reference to ‘dark money’ prompted my inquiry. Sadly, I think it is baked into every political system that the Golden Rule applies (“He who has the gold . . . .”). Our system was probably better than most prior to Citizens United, but that is just my opinion.

      You ask what is so magical about 12 years (term limits)? What is your suggestion, or are you opposed to term limits specifically?

      You evidently don’t like Voter ID. Granted, there have been few verified accounts of voter fraud. However, there are also very few drivers who do not drive without a drivers license. If drivers stopped obtaining drivers licenses would that be a good thing? To me, voter ID is tangible proof that you are qualified to vote, but more importantly, the requirement itself is another indicator to the public that the system has integrity.

      The only instance of recent voter intimidation I can recall was when the New Black Panther thugs stood outside a polling place in Philly carrying billy clubs and struck intimidating poses. Could you document any widespread voter intimidation? How is access to voting limited? Are you referring to the elderly?

      What a choice we had in this election! Either a grasping, pathological liar or a narcissistic demagogue. Again, just my opinion and you can have yours. That is what I love about America.

      Now here is my question: How do we heal the deep political divide currently abroad in our country?

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