As Election Day rumbles into its final hours we are once again hearing reports of voters being mysteriously dropped from their local voting rolls, fouled-up machinery, and long lines, up to 6 or 7 hour-long lines in some places in Virginia.
I submit that this is a disgraceful state of affairs for the country that is supposed to be setting the standard for other nations to follow. I have therefor assembled a trio of Modest Proposals I hope the next President and Congress will consider-
-Automatic National Voter Registration. If you are a US citizen, you are a registered voter. Start a Federal Voter Database which is tied to your social security number. When you move your registration is automatically forwarded to your new precinct and deleted from your old one. No need to register, check local voter lists against federal lists, etc. Just a clean, everyone-is-registered system with one list.
-Apportionment of Voting Machines Based on Local Voter Registration. It's a disgrace that there are such wildly disparate waits to vote across the country. We're going to have a fairly high turnout in our town, and FB and I waited five minutes to vote this morning. Federal Law needs to require that an appropriate number of voting machines are available in every precinct based on the number of voters in that precinct.
-Voting Week. The right of an individual to vote is the basis of our country, yet in many states many citizens have to chose between voting and keeping their jobs. Incredible, you say? Tell that to the hourly worker at Walmart who has to vote during lunch hour and finds a six-hour line in front of him/her. Do you think Walmart, or perdue is going to continue employing them if they take the afternoon off to vote? That's highly doubtful (no matter what the law says). But why should the most important collective decision our nation makes every two/four years be packed into a single 9-hour period? We need to have the polls open for at least a week, preferably 9 days, to include an opening and closing weekend. The most precious right we have is the right to vote, and we should honor it by allowing our citizens ample opportunity to assert it. What would that hurt?
It's high time America left the 19th century behind in terms of local and state-control of the basics of voting. The Federal government needs to step in and set some real standards, and take over registration. To ignore this problem is simply going to mean a continuing set of crises caused by antiquated machinery, poor funding and local political skullduggery and party thuggery aimed at disenfranchising certain blocks of voters.
Here's hoping everything goes well this time, but based on current news reports, I'm not betting on it. Enough is enough.