Election 2016 Round Table Discussion: What are your thoughts on early voting and voting procedures in the US? Is it time for reform?

Owatonna, MN Correspondent-This country’s voting procedures are adequate but rapidly falling behind the times. An upgrade is needed in when to schedule elections, how and when to allow voting, how to tabulate votes, and whether the time has come for ranked-choice voting.

Early voting makes a lot of sense, as does increased access to absentee voting, provided checks are put in place to prevent fraud or voter suppression. Holding elections on weekdays and primarily during working hours of most voters is a deterrent to many voters. Saturday or Sunday voting, or a two-day voting period, perhaps Sunday and Monday, would allow more people a longer time to vote.

If early voting becomes popular, election officials will have to scramble to accommodate increased voting, which may become too expensive for local budgets, so it shouldn’t become the preferred method of voting. Leave early voting for those who know they’ll be traveling or unable to vote on election day for any other reason.

Voting security must be brought into the 21st century. Expand computer tallying, but employ hacking experts and computer security experts to develop secure computer systems that are virtually tamper-proof. Voters will only vote if they are guaranteed their votes will be correctly counted. A solution to hacking might be to have mobile servers that are used by individual precincts or municipalities that are established solely for vote tabulation. Put the servers online for only enough time to collect votes in a precinct, tabulate them, distribute results to the local officials for confirmation, and forward the totals to the next higher level of vote counting. The concept would be similar to hunters trying to hit a moving target that pops up from nowhere. A cyber Whack-a-Mole, if you will.

Finally, the time has come for ranked-choice voting to be instituted. Many voters fear third parties for the sole reason that they take away votes from their preferred candidates. Ranked choice allows for voters to rank three or more candidates by preference so a candidate without a majority who is ranked second on enough ballots can win the election. For decades, voters have bemoaned voting for the lesser of two evils. Especially in this election, voters who despise one of the two major candidates can rank that person third, rank a minor party candidate second, and rank their favorite candidate first. If the two major party candidates divide the first-ranked votes, a third candidate may win based on a combined first and second ranking that surpasses the other two. If a majority of voters agree that a third-party candidate is at least acceptable based on a high number of firsts or seconds, we might end up with less partisanship in government and more agreement on elected officials who are willing to compromise.

 

Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I learned just a few days ago that there are states in this country what don’t have early voting, and it shocked me.  Living in North Carolina, I’ve taken early voting for granted for years.  I think it’s a fantastic option, and that it should be made more available to all.  I am highly suspicious of anyone trying to limit early voting or make it more difficult for voters to exercise their franchise.  I think early voters should of course be held to the same identification requirements as those who vote on Election Day (I’m in favor of voter ID laws), but they shouldn’t be made to jump through any additional hoops.

As far as voting procedures overall, I think that the drive to computerize our voting process and to take it online needs to have the brakes put on until our nationwide cyber security has made leaps and bounds.  Quite frankly, I don’t have any faith whatsoever in our country’s ability at the present time to keep an online voting system safe from hackers.

Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-Early voting and voting procedures in the United States need to be seriously re-evaluated to prevent the continued rise and increase in voter fraud and other inconsistencies that affect and compromise the vote. It is time for reform.

In order to reform early voting and voting procedures in the United States, debate on the subject and productive decisions  need to be made at the local and state levels as to how early voting can be protected, limited or even abandoned altogether.  If early voting is going to remain in effect, the procedure is going to have to be restricted in ways that prevent and discourage those who want to taint the process.   Early voting should probably be confined to those who simply are unable to vote on a scheduled election day due to job obligations, family responsibilities or emergency situations.

Special permission should be applied for enough ahead of time so early voting applicants can be approved and provided with a tamperproof ballot that they receive at the polling station on a  specified  day and time. The ballot should be handed to an election official and opened on Election Day for a recording of the vote.

Voting procedures vary across the states and 34 states and Washington, D.C. allow for early voting, but every state has varying rules governing early voting.  Again, the voting procedures that govern early voting, absentee voting, mail-in voting and voting at the polls on Election Day should all be reevaluated to determine what can be done to protect all voting methods yet allow for special case circumstances.  Voting procedures should always involve strict voter identification and documentation, the honoring of paper ballot requests, receipts for votes cast, and proof of protection of the vote.

The problem with early voting is the “buyer’s remorse” effect and voters should be able to void their votes if necessary through a revote at the polls. Also, early voting seems to take away from the real meaning of a major election as there is less commitment and involvement with early voting, which is one reason early voting should be limited to members of the military, overseas diplomats and anyone experiencing difficulties or emergency type situations.

Whatever form of vote casting a state allows and controls, early voting should be restricted and watched closely for any irregularities that may occur in the election process. Every vote counts and early votes cast have become predictors for election outcomes with both parties. With stringent guidelines, early voting can be completed without interference, complication and irregularities.

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