Doc Cleveland: JFK's Birthday
I think it is past time we admitted the obvious, shucked off our mantles of denial and shame, and own the truth. We can shout it out or sing it in harmony, as we confess the all too obvious…..
It’s our fault that our form of democracy is failing.
Oh, don’t even try to pretend you didn’t know it.
But we can fix it! Really! For sure! Yes, we can! But, will we? How?
I know what I’m about to propose is radical and most likely will create all kinds of outrage, no doubt including accusations complete with cheeky labels like anarchist, commie (channeling Allen West), turncoat, even twit and bloody prat.
Oh, if you are wondering about the usage of British slang, it’s paying homage to Winston Churchill who best stated the motivation for this post when he declared:
"The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter."
Ouch. Yeah, the truth hurts, but not near as painful as the ongoing leakage of red, white and blue that keeps weeping from our self-inflicted wounds. Nope, not talkin’ about the farce brought about by the citizens united travesty or even the wonky actions of the GOP’s candidates for POTUS. The nucleus of our corrupted and impotent system is We, the People. The voters are our weakest link!
(I’m not advocating we adopt the Brit’s mode of governance, after all the results from their pomp and pompous aren’t any better than our current Ponzi scheme form of governance.)
So, how can we fix what seems to be hopelessly broken?
ALERT! WARNING! CAUTION! What comes next is not for those who are faint of mind and body. Nor for those who are prone to unbridled violent outbursts, or enjoy a sense of faux entitlement, or have found their niche by fulfilling all the ‘you know you are a redneck if…..’ hypothesis, and/or subscribe to the NRA theory that no house is truly a home unless there’s a gun in every room.
If any of the above represents you and yours, stop in the name of the democracy you profess to love and proceed to another post (or go walk it off). Seriously, turn away now.
I proffer that less than five percent (5%) of current voters have genuine knowledge of the history and credentials of the candidates, much less know anything factual or of import about current governmental legislative actions. It’s my contention that since the majority chooses to vote in ignorance, it is small wonder we have such a horrific mess. The government we deserve indeed.
The danger of fast food to our health and welfare is not near as hazardous to our collective wellbeing as the drive thru window mentality we adhere to in our voting processes. We want instant gratification with the least amount of effort and forethought. If they don’t give us our fries with our burgers one time, we’ll only suffer a temporary sense of ire and disappointment. But, in deciding who will provide the best leadership of our country, every vote cast without due diligence creates consequences of much greater and longer lasting impact. Just as consuming too much fast food is harmful to the human heart and body, our sloth has damaged and obstructed the heart and body of our country’s democratic processes.
It has always astounded me that while we robustly wave our banner of democracy, we do so little to protect the integrity of our democracy. People have killed and been killed, marched on in hope when all seemed hopeless. They endured endless sorrows in their quest to achieve the rights our nation was created to embody. Yet, when any warn We, The People, that we need to put forth more of an effort to protect and sustain the integrity and value of our democracy, this is met with howls of outrage.
Considering the sacrifices offered up to attain democracy, it’s all the more perverse that we are like spoiled, snotty kids who fight over the shiny object, but then neglect to care for it, leaving it outside to rust and ruin.
Truth is, our government has become a reflection of our societal weaknesses, not our strengths.
In my district, about 20% of our voter’s registration listings are not valid voters. Some are dead, others moved away or don’t really have their main residence here. One voter, who I know, moved away for over a decade, registering and voting in her new home state; when returning here, discovered she didn’t have to re-register as she had never been removed from our list. While she had no intent to commit voter fraud, there is another who enjoyed dual registration and for years, without remorse or consequences, voted here and also in her actual state of residence. If you think this isn’t going on everywhere, you haven’t done the research.
It’s impossible, without new mandates invoked to improve current federal regulatory oversight, to stop this form of abuse.
As the primary season proved, even the tallying of votes too often delivers incorrect data. This has consistently proven to be the case in many of our local, state and national elections too. Yet, as it only gets worse, there is little clamor by the masses for a universal implementation of one system that can deliver accuracy for all ballots cast and the ability to have the count easily verified. OMG, there are still too many districts who don’t keep hard copy records of voters original ballots if needed to validate the reports. The noise of our citizen's apathy is deafening.
To ensure the sanctity of our processes, we need to make some major changes.
Most, I’m sure, will find fault with the proposal offered here that only addresses part of the problem. I’m also certain that some have even better viable solutions. Hopefully those who negate and critique will submit feasible and positive alternatives.
- From January to March, every four years, in year preceding a Presidential Election, implement and maintain a mandatory voter registration renewal for every voter. (We have to renew driver’s licenses and auto registrations, even warehouse store memberships.) What’s old and sullied, becomes new again!
- All renewals must be in person.*
- Existing voters must advise which state they were previously registered in and via computer, this can be verified and data posted as to renewal date and site.
- Each renewal registrant will have their picture taken for placement on voter’s registration card. The card must be reviewed by election official at polls.
- Cards will be mailed to current address, cannot be forwarded.
- All states will be required to post on internet their voter registration listings inclusive of names without addresses or other personal information.
- Each state will have criteria in place to ensure annual purging of voters registration (i.e. deaths, name changes, relocations outside of state).
- Each state must, if applicable, within 10 days, send notice to previous state of residence for new relocated voters.
- The oversight regulations for absentee ballots reviewed: A copy of the voter’s registration card must be included with each absentee ballot submitted.
- All mail-in absentee ballots return addresses must be verified to be same in name and locale as on registration listing. (And no, this is not being done in many districts.)
*Must provide current proof of identification via driver’s license, passport, or other approved identifier.If unable due to health or other valid reason to apply in person, legal representative must provide affidavit assigning legal rights, with applicant’s valid I.D. and recent photo.
Those reaching legal voting age after requisite renewal dates will be allowed to register in their home state up to date of election.
11. Every renewal applicant will be given a ‘voters tutorial handbook’, with current information about recent governmental actions. At time of renewal will have to take and pass a test based on information delivered in tutorial. They can take the test as many times as needed.
Okay, wipe the spittle off the screen, take a breath and consider this:
There would be no undue burden on the poor, as they would incur no cost. For those who have no real property address, this is not an insurmountable obstacle.
My stance is that if a voter is not willing to expend a few hours of their time and effort every four years for the benefit of voting, as well as to ensure the veracity of our voting processes, then they should be denied the privilege. No citizen (who by law is eligible) would be denied if they make the choice to participate.
C’mon, if you have a better way (and I’m sure most do) to improve our broken electoral process, please share.
"Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried." Winston Churchill