THE BLOG

Fix Our Electoral Process In Seven Easy Steps

09/26/2008 11:10 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

There's no better time to consider how to fix our election process than while in the midst of the President election. Polling voters around the block and across the country, seven relatively easy suggestions came to light that would make for a more efficient and effective election of the President of the United States.

Make Election Day "President's Day, a National Holiday

Why celebrate an arbitrary day when we have such a great opportunity to give it some meaning? Certainly the day we elect the highest office in the world should be a national holiday in our country. By making election day President's Day, a national holiday, millions more people will be able to vote without fear of work-related retribution. Further, a day off will give people more time to participate in our most important of political processes. The current system fails the hourly worker, typically democrat, who understands the theory of the right to vote but lives in the reality of a boss who does not accept any excuse for being late to work. A national holiday would help potentially millions more Americans participate.

Revamp the Electoral College to Be More Like "American Idol"

In our present system, an "indirect election" process, we actually vote for electors who are "popularly elected" by us. (No one knows who the electors actually are, but we trust them nonetheless.) The electors in turn place votes for the President, having the power to ignore our votes in the process if they feel like it.

As we (and Al Gore) painfully witnessed, this system makes it possible to win the popular vote and lose the election. Yet, complete abolition of the Electoral College seems to big a leap for those who think it has merit. (Coincidentally, those opposed to it are typically from the states the Electoral College system gives power to during the election). An American Idol influenced system would consider both the judges vote (electors) and the popular vote (TV audience) rather than one or the other.

The Electoral College votes could account for 40% of the overall election votes, and the popular vote - that stuff we do - ccould account for 60% of the decision. The people should have more power, after all, than the "electors", our political equivalent of the Mayor of Oz standing behind the velvet curtain.

Give a Tax Rebate to Those Who Vote

No one has to cast a ballot for President. No one has to participate in the political process, as it is a right not an obligation. Yet, we give all sorts of tax breaks and incentives for a host of citizen actions, so why not voting? A $10 tax rebate for everyone who takes the time to vote could be just what our country needs to get more participation in the most crucial citizen driven political process we have. The $10 rebate could cover the costs of transportation, baby sitters, and the snack you need to keep your strength up if there's a line at the polling place. For those not interested in the rebate, they could donate it to charity or for the improvement of polling places in the next election.

For some reason, this proposed solution was received with cheers and jeers. "Why should we pay someone to get to exercise their rights as Americans?" I guess its for the same reason we pay people for showing up to jury duty, give tax breaks to those who reproduce, deliver aide in times of crisis or a host of other easements delivered to fellow Americans. Incentives for action are not foreign to our nation, and a tax rebate that would benefit working class voters in particular might be just what we need to get more than a dusting of our nation's voters to the polls.

Force the Government (FCC) to Fight for Fair and Accurate Political Reporting and Truth in Political Ads

We own the public airwaves, which are supposed to be governed on our behalf by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Broadcasters are compelled to act "in the interest, convenience and necessity" of the American people. If they don't, the FCC is supposed to yank their licenses. As we own the airwaves, let's end false advertising and lies spread as content by candidates and broadcasters. If we're not lied to, we have a much better chance of making accurate choices based on our beliefs.

Make "Concerned Citizens" Groups' Attack Ads Illegal

Let's face it: these anonymous groups are often fronts for strategists from either party. Yes, they are primarily from the GOP, but I'm not here to throw stones. Let's just get rid of them all, and dial up the volume on "fair" and "just" broadcast communication.

Drastically Limit Political Ads Spending and the Months Prior to an Election When They Can be Aired

Imagine if we saw half of the political ads we're subjected to in a normal presidential election. We might actually listen to them. By limiting how many times they can advertise to us, maybe they will be more focused on their messaging. A more focused and accurate message can only help citizens in their candidate quest. By limiting how far in advance of the election advertising can begin, we'll decrease voter fatigue and force candidates to make better ad content decisions.

Enforce Equal Access to Airwaves

Candidates are supposed to have fair and equal access to broadcast coverage, meaning no one should get more air face time than anyone else. This edict has fallen through the cracks, and needs to be revisited. Surely Sarah Palin has had a bit more coverage than Joe Biden, to cite one example. All candidates deserve to be heard equally so that we have the balanced information we deserve.