05 February 2008

Drew has: Voted. Plus one: Sticker

For the weird title, blame...most of my video game geek friends. I call them such with love.

Anyway, I am pleased to announce that Georgia has open primaries. Which means that, as an independent, I got to vote. Cool.

When you don't live on campus, it's a lot easier to get to your polling place, mostly because it's closer to campus (for some people) than the polling place for those who do live on campus. I sense a bit of a disconnect somewhere...

Anyway, in light of the fact that so many state elections have major flaws, I thought I'd make a few observations and suggestions.

1. Get rid of the caucus system. Getting to your polling place is hard enough. You shouldn't have to devote an entire night to it. This set-up almost inherently rules out poor single parents, a lot of shift workers, and quite a few subgroups. What if you can't find a sitter for your three year old? What if you've got a shift during the caucus? People may have prepared responses for these objections - in fact, I'm sure of it - but the incredibly low voter turn out in states that rely on caucuses supports the claims taught in every high school civics class. Everywhere.

2. Get rid of closed primaries. Yes, I know that primaries pick party candidates. But we live in a two-party system (in fact, not in theory - along the same lines, screw you, Duverger). There is a much easier way to do this - you get to vote in one primary. Just one. You get to support one candidate. The end. Some use the argument that a person from Party A could vote for a candidate in Party B that they think is less likely to win in a national election. Like, if a Republican voted for Lieberman in the 2004 Democratic primaries. However, this argument holds very little water because in a closed primary system, the same person is still capable of the same thing, they would merely have to change their party affiliation on paper. To go back to the example, said Republican would only have to change his status to Democrat, then vote for Lieberman in the primary and Bush in the election. And under the current closed primary system, if a member of Party A is fed up with his party, he can't vote for a candidate from another party without filling out useless paperwork. Some of my Libertarian friends (the ones who are actually registered Libertarians, not the ones who complain about drugs not being legal) can't vote for Ron Paul in the primaries because they're not Republicans. Don't get me wrong, I don't like Paul, but his supporters should be able to support him.

3. Move all of the primaries to one day. This back-and-forth crap is annoying. We focus more on where the candidates stand in comparison to their fellow party members and not focusing on where they stand to their real opponents. We spend too much time talking about how important the first states are when, in reality, they aren't. Even pundits admit to this. Save time. Save money.

4. Make election day a state/national holiday. I voted between classes. I know people who aren't voting because they don't have a break in classes long enough to get to their polling places. Enough said.

5. Give people, especially university students, the option of an alternative polling place. Granted: I was incredibly happy to find out that my polling place is on the university bus line. But then again, it used to be on my way to class. Last year, it was out of walking distance and not on a bus line. If students, faculty, and staff of a college/university could vote on campus, we would notice a tremendous rise. And guess what? It could be easy. Step 1: Fill out registration card. Step 2: Check box requesting Application for Alternative Polling Place. There's no reason a campus of 35,000 students (not to mention faculty and staff) shouldn't have a polling place. Most students I know aren't voting because it's too much of a hassle to get an absentee ballot. We can change that.

6. Get rid of super-delegates/electoral college. Let the voters pick the candidates/presidents. Hillary is leading Obama by a tremendous amount just because most of the party leadership likes her. President Bush beat Al Gore because the electoral college isn't bound by the way the state votes. We call ourselves a democracy, but we have these huge structures getting in the way of it.

End rant.

We complain about low voter turnouts, but do nothing to fix it.

Mostly because if we did, people would start paying attention. And then they would realize that the two parties in power aren't that different and do very little and get paid way to much. And that would be bad for the two parties in power who, well, who make the election rules.

Rock on.