Right Opinion

The Country's Election System Needs Dramatic Overhaul and Reform

James Shott · Oct. 24, 2018

We’ve all seen the political ads for the upcoming election, right? We’ve all likely found many of them to be smear pieces, using exaggeration, taking words out of context, and using unflattering photos or pieces of videos of opposing candidates to make them look bad or stupid or both.

It is not important to the producers of these ads that their content accurately represents the opposing candidate’s character, record, actual spoken words, or positions on issues. What is important is that they create a negative impression and a negative vote.

Nearly always these ads are not directly the work of an opposing candidate’s campaign staff but the work of an independent group — maybe a political action committee (PAC) — that supports another candidate and works to get him or her elected by trashing the opponent. The candidate favored by the ad has little, if anything, to do with the ad and therefore cannot be held responsible for whatever untruths or other dirty tricks may be employed.

Many of these ads contain a statement to the effect that no candidate supports the ad. It is junk such as this that helps give politics its well-deserved reputation of being a sewer. These ads should be outlawed.

Another thing that stretches the bounds of decency is that much, or sometimes most, of a candidate’s financial support comes from people or entities he or she does not represent. A candidate in South Carolina may get financial support from people and organizations in California, New York, Missouri, or any or all of the other states in the union.

Why should any candidate in a state or local race receive financial support from people and organizations in other states? Why is this allowed?

There are other problems with our political system, and many of them involve the system of elections. For example, some “Americans” think it is okay for people to vote who are not eligible to vote. And they openly advocate for that.

One such person is a candidate for governor of Georgia. Of the Democrats’ blue wave that they hope will sweep the nation, she said, after listing some of the kinds of people who comprise the wave, “It is made up of those who’ve been told that they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented.”

This person is the Democrat candidate, Stacey Abrams. She is a lawyer and has served in the Georgia General Assembly and ought to know better.

While many deny the reality, noncitizens do vote in our elections, as do some who have been dead for years or months, some who vote under more than one name, and some who are registered in more than one state.

Here is just one example, as reported by the McClatchy Washington Bureau: Habersham County’s Mud Creek precinct in northeastern Georgia had 276 registered voters ahead of the state’s primary elections in May. But 670 ballots were cast, according to the Georgia secretary of state’s office, indicating a 243% voter turnout.

Here is another: ABC News reports that the California Department of Motor Vehicles admitted last week that a mistake caused as many as 1,500 noncitizens being registered to vote in the state.

That there are ineligible voters in every election in the United States is not in question. What is in question is how many are there and how often do they affect one or more races.

Russians being blamed for a poor candidate’s loss in 2016 does an effective job of distracting the people from the actual problem of illegal voting that occurs in every election.

Our elections have lots of problems. The Trust the Vote Project cites voting machines as one of them, noting the potential for manipulation by cyber criminals.

Other elements also can be problematic. Early voting, for example, is convenient, and it may be the easiest way for some people to vote in some circumstances. But voting is a critical duty of citizens, and convenience is not the primary concern when important duties are the topic of discussion. Things can happen after an early vote has been cast that could have influenced someone’s vote. But after the vote has been cast, it cannot be changed.

Another is that any person can claim to be an eligible, registered voter, but without a photo ID requirement their identity is less easily verified, allowing voter fraud to occur.

The two most important aspects of voting are, first, that everyone who is eligible to vote be registered to vote and study the candidates and the issues, make informed and thoughtful decisions about them, and then express their preferences at the polls.

The second is that election officials make an honest and determined effort to be sure that no ineligible person votes in any election that anyone who breaks voting laws is prosecuted and justly punished.

The U.S. has a long way to go to strengthen and secure the election process. We do our nation and ourselves a great disservice by not focusing on improving and securing the election process.

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