Friday, November 04, 2005

Time to seriously re-think they way we vote

The obscene amount of money spent by various candidates to attempt to obtain elective office should convince even the biggest partisan die-hards that a different method is needed in the United States to choose public officials.
If anyone truly thinks the primary and general election process makes financial or participatory sense, when it takes almost a full year to complete – from the first date to file (in December here in Texas) until to final general election (the following November) – then I’ve got some newly-discovered Enron stock to sell you.
First, ALL elective offices below the state legislative and executive level should be non-partisan. I don’t understand why the county sheriff, county clerk, county auditor, tax assessor-collector, constable or whatever necessarily HAS to be a Democrat or Republican.
And wouldn’t judges appear more impartial if they were non-partisan? Just look at the debacle to find a judge to try Tom DeLay. This Democrat dropped a dollar toward this candidate but this Republican is also no good because he said someone’s name in his sleep.
You would then be voting for personal standards and performance and not along party lines (too many of them are solely chosen because of affiliation, not education). All judgeships should be non-partisan choices.
More importantly, it would save thousands of dollars in duplicate expenditure. Today, a man or woman must wage two expensive campaigns to gain such offices as county or district clerk, county treasurer, justice of the peace, etc. Hold one general election (and one runoff if needed) and let it be done. Winner needs 50 percent plus one vote and if the first round doesn’t produce a clear-cut victor, have a runoff 30 days from that first vote.
Second, in presidential years, hold a nationwide primary, allow as many candidates in each party to vie for the presidency and give ALL Americans the same opportunity to make their feelings known.
The first primary could take place in August and then the November general election would pit the winners of each major party (or alternative parties if you want to be benevolent).
At the present time, a handful of small northern states get all the say-so in who becomes the next president. In 2000, if Bill Bradley or John McCain had an equal opportunity to go before ALL the voters in their respective parties, instead of getting slowly chopped piecemeal state-by-state, perhaps the outcome “might” have been different.
When each candidate reached Texas in early March, the nomination process was effectively a forgone conclusion. Many voters were simply turned away because they felt their vote for those candidates were wasted. Neither man had ANY legitimate chance of winning.
Why should Iowa and New Hampshire voters get so much power to pre-determine what Texans decide? A national primary would allow any candidate a fair shot at the electorate – which is always a better way to do things.
A 90-day campaign period would then begin – plenty of time to get one’s message to the nation. No one needs months of monotonous campaign advertising bombarding our senses ad nauseum (literally).
It would also end the nonsense for holding national party conventions – good only for dull speeches, a lot of partying and staged photo opps and balloon drops. Nothing is ever mysterious about these trumped-up, bloated campaign rallies. No real news is ever made, which is why the networks stopped coverage in favor of anything available to broadcast.
Perhaps NBC could put the candidates through a real version of “Fear Factor?” Winner, bugs swallowed and all, gets the nomination.
Third, make early voting national and move Election Day to a Sunday. Many other democratic nations do that. Our archaic system retains the first Tuesday in November for the general election because … that was the best day when the U.S. was an agrarian society.
But does it fit a very busy 21st century America? How many people simply shun the chance to vote because of a limited (in their mind) time factor? It should be a customer-friendly process, not akin to paying one’s taxes.
I know this will never come to be because … in your heart you know it makes sense. Hence, it’s doomed.
Rats! Can I get on “Fear Factor?”

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