Symposium 2015: The last two presidential elections were rife with known voter fraud. How do we ensure that our elections remain open, free, and fair?

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I would agree with this question’s positing of voter fraud if the definition of the term were expanded to include criminal and intentional disenfranchisement of large swaths of voters.  By tinkering with early voting rules, scrambling the ways in which college students are allowed to vote and where they have to be to do so and through other Machiavellian schemes, Republicans have mounted a concerted campaign to close the voting booths to constituencies that traditionally don’t skew their way.

It’s somewhat equivalent to the way both parties have gerrymandered districts for many years, although this is being done via legislative fiat rather than through creative mapmaking.

To the larger issue of supposed voter fraud, though, I think there is a simple solution:  A national ID system, providing a photo ID to every legal resident of the United States which would guarantee their franchise and be tied to other government programs, would be a simple solution.  Despite some of my liberal leanings, I in no way support allowing those who are not legal residents of our country being allowed to vote, and a national ID would get around the maze of different state and local regulations and give everyone the same framework within which to work.

The ID itself should be a masterwork of miniaturization, with holographic imprinting on the laminate, a complex barcode and any other jiggery-pokery that the tech wizards responsible for things like the current state of US currency can come up with.

At the poll level, technology also needs a major upgrade.  At my local precinct, the thin gray line between me and the exercise of my franchise is a kindly old woman with a massive book of names which she thumbs through to make a checkmark next to my name indicating that I’ve done my civic duty. With national IDs, each of which has a unique identifier (maybe the new chip technology that’s made our credit cards more annoying to use?), the process would be infinitely streamlined and the human error factor removed.

Yes, any system can be hacked or fooled, but if we make it hard enough, the likelihood of mass fraud drops.  Why not put the same technological prowess that goes into our credit cards into our right to vote?

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-In order to ensure that our elections remain open, free and fair, a number of changes in the election process need to be instituted at local, state, and national levels.  Those changes should involve the creation of an election commission that is made up of those not affiliated with a political party, the federal government or any state or local entity that is heavily involved in partisan politics.   The commission would be assigned to oversee the voting process and would be responsible for guaranteeing honest and fair elections.  This commission would pass down election directives to local and state administrators for enforcement at those levels.

Once an election commission is established, standards must be implemented with the voter registration process.  A potential voter must speak English; personally register with an official birth certificate and bona fide proof of citizenship.  No one should be allowed to register by mail or through another individual, unless they are disabled or unable to physically get to a registration location, and even then a notarized form must be provided for proof of inability to personally register.   A registrant should also be required to have a photograph and fingerprint image taken for a voter identification card that has to be personally retrieved from the registration location before release of the card or sent by registered mail.  The card should be made tamper proof and officially stamped with the district of registration.    In addition, no registered voter should be allowed to vote outside of their district or submit an absentee ballot, unless he or she has moved, has been deployed in the military, has been officially assigned to work out of the country, or is unable to physically vote at a polling location.  Also, all members of the military should be allowed to vote in sufficient time for their ballots to be counted in an election, with their ballots transferred by bonded military couriers to their appropriate home districts for release and counting.

Other factors involved with establishing open, free and fair elections include a number of critical issues that should include voting regulations that specify the following:  no early voting, no voting without a photo identification card, no internet voting, no multiple voting, no utilization of or direct involvement with voting machines from outside the United States, no tampering with voting machines, no voting outside of an established district, no last minute registrations or registrations of questionable or deceased individuals, and  no party affiliates, vote swaying, or threatening individuals allowed within a polling area.

With elections that are rife with fraud, potential voters have to consider the tremendous amounts of illegal campaign contributions that have driven questionable campaigns over the top.  Contributions must be critically analyzed and even with current laws that govern maximum contributions to candidates, improprieties still occur.  The contribution process must be thoroughly examined and stiffer regulations implemented.  Absolutely no donations should be accepted from foreign sources (particularly through internet donations) or criminally implicated individuals, mega-million companies, organizations, or financial institutions that expect something in return.

With an honest and free-of-fraud election system, citizens will be willing to cast their vote because they know that their vote will mean something and cheating will not be part of the equation.  Voters can feel a sense of relief that their vote will be cast in a fair and equitable manner, and new generations of voters will have confidence in a system that works for everyone involved, and new found confidence will bring an increase in voter participation.  Without necessary repairs to a broken system, voter fraud will continue to be an issue with every election cycle.

Cartwright—The instances of voter fraud in the last couple of elections is indisputable.  We had the whole Dallas Cowboys football vote in Ohio, even though I don’t think any of them were residents of Ohio.  Half of the Walt Disney character roster voted.  We have precincts where move votes were cast than there were registered voters.  And I was here in central Florida for the 2012 election.  We had a judge keep the polls open past established hours so that people could vote.  They were still voting the next day and the election was over.  All of this was fraud, but no has seemed to have an interest in investigating it and prosecuting the perpetrators.

The solutions to stopping voter fraud are very simple and my colleagues here have hit on some of them.

First, you should have to show a valid government issued photo ID to be able to vote AND you should have to be able to prove your residency in the precinct.  There should be no registering by mail or on the internet.  The whole argument against showing photo identification is an implicit endorsement of voter fraud.  Anyone who is eligible to vote in America can get photo identification. You can’t open a bank account or a utility account without a photo ID.  In fact, you can’t do much of anything without photo ID anymore, so this is just a copout for those who want to be able to rig elections by stuffing the ballot boxes.  If you’re not able to register in person, perhaps we can even send the sheriff, a couple deputies, and a representative from the election commission to your house to verify your identity, fill out the paperwork, and get you registered to vote.

Second, the absentee ballots should either be eliminated or issued only under the most extenuating of circumstances and with ample proof of the reason for needing the absentee ballot.  We all know when Election Day is.  Be prepared to go vote on Election Day unless you’re serving our country overseas or in the hospital.  There’s no excuse for not being able to vote on Election Day.  The polls are open enough hours that anyone can vote.  When I was a kid, everything was pretty much closed on Election Day.  Maybe we need to go back to that.

Third, let’s talk about the process of voting on Election Day.  We need police presence at every polling station so there is no voter intimidation.  Once you get inside, you must show a government issued photo ID AND your voter registration card.  Once your name is matched to the log of eligible voters and they have ensured you didn’t vote by absentee ballot, you get to dip your finger in the ink and put your fingerprint next to your same and signature in the register.  The ink will wear off in a couple of days and should prohibit anyone from coming back to vote again.  Once you’ve done all this, you get to vote.

These simple procedures should curtail voter fraud immensely.  No system is foolproof, but these measures should help keep our elections fair.  Any objections to these simple measures can only be deemed subversive.  If you are an honest person and you’re eligible to vote, you should have no problems with this.

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