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Who Should Vote?

Who indeed?

The simple answer to this is everyone should vote who is legally entitled to vote. Not every one of these votes will be well informed. News flash - most aren't well informed now either. If recent elections are any indication at least half of them won't go the way you wanted. But everyone should be able to vote.

How do we get there? H. R. 1 from the 117th Congress goes a long way in making sure it can happen. There are a few things I wouldn't support in it, but as a bill from Congress, it's pretty good.

Registration

One obstacle to voting is you must be registered. Various Republican led states are now trying to make this harder for people. H. R. 1 goes the other way.

Make online voter registration a requirement for all states. Also allow online updates as people move. Make it as easy as possible to be registered. While we're at it, go out of your way if you are in danger of losing your registration to fully inform the individual and give them a chance to correct the problem (if any problem really exists) and stop trying to take people off the voting polls just to be _____ to the people likely to vote against your party. In fact, just don't be an _____.

The steps the bill takes to automatically register all eligible voters are also a good thing. Making the default to be registered to vote and requiring opt out is a good way to go. Get everyone registered who is legally able to vote!

Do it when you graduate High School if 18. Do it when you get your first driver's license renewed at 18+. Do it when you register for the draft. Do it for all in-state college students. Do it with leases and mortgage applications. But do it automatically.

Finally, as a catch all, allow same day voter registration or updates due to recent moves at the polls. While not ideal, due to lines, nobody should be denied the right to vote if they are eligible.

How to Vote

Allow everyone to vote by mail. Send everyone a ballot. If we can get online voting secure, then make that an option. Corporations do it when conducting their annual business and are comfortable with it. There is no reason we can't make something similar work at the election level.

The alternative is to make days we vote paid work holidays so that everyone can make it to the polls to vote. The business minded Republicans don't like the idea of losing a day of paid work, so embrace one of the first two options, but get everyone a ballot and make sure everyone has the chance to vote.

In times of crisis, like we had in 2020, keep on making sure every vote counts. If that means you allow late ballots because the post office can't deliver, so be it. But count every vote received in some reasonable margin of time. Voting day + 5 business days if needed for mail. Whatever it takes. Just count every ballot whether postmarked or delivered at collection spot by closing time, done in person if in line by the time polls close, or received online by the time the polls close. Ignoring mailed in ballots that are slow due to some unforeseen weather or health crisis is wrong.

Also make sure that if people are going to be using polling stations, that there are enough of them, with enough staff to handle all of your voters with the same level of care. Poor people shouldn't have to travel miles to vote. Make sure all neighborhoods are well served - not just adequately served based on some party in charge's idea of adequate. If using ballot collection spots, make sure they are well distributed, voters using them are kept safe from intimidation, and that ballots deposited in them are secure.

The act also includes a lot of legalese on discrimination and intimidation. Less discrimination and intimidation is always a good thing as the people cheering on the Jan. 6 insurrection should know.

Early voting is also a good thing, but realistically I'd prefer a shorter early voting window so people would be as informed as possible about the candidates before casting a ballot. If you're casting a ballot a couple of months in advance, then you've pretty much fallen into the category of voters who just vote for R or D depending on their party, regardless of candidate. Not good reasons to vote for someone.

Security

Regardless of the means of voting, the voter needs to be able to ensure that their vote was correctly counted. They need a written record of their vote (or something they can print out if voting electronically) and a means of ensuring that it was counted correctly. Likewise there needs to be a trail guaranteeing every vote was properly counted that can be verified after the count.

We can't have the blather like we got out of Trump and friends' mouths making a mess of the election again. Over and over the courts ruled they weren't supplying evidence of fraud that would have changed the outcomes and over and over they screamed fraud. That these comments can be made at all is a sad state of affairs for our election system, regardless of the reality that there was no presented proof that it actually did happen and recounts supported the reported results.

About Primaries

First of all, they're a good thing. Get rid of the caucus system completely. What a load of antiquated rubbish where a small selection of grand poo-bahs get to pick who will be the candidates the rest of us get to choose from.

Next, make just one primary day for all the states. Everyone votes at the same time just like the general election. Make the primaries totally open. Use ranked voting. Pick the top "n" choices - say 4 or 6 for each office that win be the candidates for the general election. If it's an elect four type of thing for a local board then let people pick from the top eight or twelve that make it through the primary after the ranking is done. If it is an elect one sort of office, then pick the top four that make it through the primary. But let people rank every parties candidate.

For states that are heavily Democratic, the Republicans will be whining that no candidate in the general election might be a Republican. In Republican states, the Democrats will be crying the opposite. And third party candidates will be crying wherever they are. But the reality is that the severely minority party isn't going to win anyway, so pick among the best candidates out there in the primary to get the best "n" individuals on the ballot regardless of party. It's been pretty much proven that the party affiliations haven't been leading to anything good lately anyway. Let's start electing the best regardless of party. What a concept.

Getting rid of the primaries spread across a good part of the year would give everyone a fair shot at selecting the best individuals to run. As it is, if you aren't Iowa or New Hampshire, the candidate you think is best might not even have an opportunity to be voted on by the time your state votes. They may have been forced to drop out of the race. Everyone voting on the same day takes that problem out of the equation. We might not end up with poor presidents like Trump if every candidate had the same on-line platform to spout their ideas and your own family money didn't let you outlast everyone else.

Gerrymandering

Or why does my congressional district look like a bowl of spaghetti?

Regardless of open primaries, the reality is that when congressional districts or other state election boundaries are drawn by politicized committees, even a free open primary won't allow any opposition to ever win. The boundaries are drawn with that outcome in mind.

In order to get around that, make sure that all districts are drawn by neutral groups, throw out all the existing districts, and whenever possible follow groupings that a normal man on the street from each major party would consider sane. Keep neighborhoods together. Keep counties together.

Stop drawing horrible district constructs just to protect some precious representatives seat at state or federal level. It's bullshit, and you know it. Just stop it.

On Statehood for the District of Columbia

I do agree that residents of the District of Columbia are getting shortchanged in life. I don't think that an area of 68 square miles - much smaller than the smallest state of Rhode Island at 1,212 square miles should be made its own state. Carve out areas for where the federal areas should stay federal and return the rest of that tiny chunk of land to the state it originally came from (Maryland). The part that came from Virginia already went back to Virginia in 1847. So let it be with Maryland.

On Statehood for Puerto Rico

For Puerto Rico and others in a similar situation, make them a state. It's long past time it was done. The problems they have had and treatment they have received during the last round of hurricanes is deplorable. No state would have put up with it. Get rid of the corruption and make them a state already. If they didn't want to be a state, it would be one thing, but a simple majority in a recent poll seems to favor statehood.

End Notes

The H.R.1 act goes on and on, and I admit that I may be a bit more informed than some readers as I actually read some of it, but I'm not as well informed as I could be since I didn't read all of it. I have limits on legal bureaucrat speak that I can handle in a sitting. But mostly it's a good thing and most of what the Republicans have been trying to do post election in states is a bad thing. (Disclaimer - I'm a Republican).

Stop trying to keep people from voting. If Republicans are worried they won't get control of Congress or some other office ever again if they don't suppress the votes of Democrats here's a clue. Run better candidates. Stop running right wing yahoos. And for my Democratic readers, if you're worried about keeping power, stop running left wing yahoos.

Let the best man or woman win for a change regardless of party. Your state, country and your children for many generations will be better off for it.