Law Review: Updating the Voting Process
One of the beauties of our current form of democracy is the ability to freely voice our concerns and question the leadership of this great country. This political dialogue comes to its zenith in the single greatest act of democracy, the vote. Voting enables citizens to select which people and policies they would prefer to direct their country.
The current voting system consists of booths scattered throughout a random assortment of government offices, schools, sports halls and churches. In these “polling places,” there are a few methods of casting a ballot which include: paper ballots, punch cards, optically readable paper ballots and electronic voting machines. There is also the option of absentee ballots for those who would like to vote but will not be in their home state at the time of the election.
Our problem lies not in the act of voting, but rather in the process in which it is carried out in the United States. The current system is a mess. Tallying the votes is a nightmare due to the many methods and the need to hand count millions of ballots in some districts. Additionally, it can sometimes be difficult to determine whether the hole on the ballot was completely punched out or not. This creates uncertainty as to which candidate the individual voted for.
In the modern age of cynicism, many question the instrument that defines democracy. They claim that the system is rigged and votes are not correctly tallied. What stops a polling station staff member from disposing of paper ballots supporting the candidate they do not support? If there is no digital recording of a vote we can never be sure it is counted. If every vote is not counted correctly then the U.S. is not a democracy. The U.S. is better than the corrupt governments that fix their elections and our voting system should differentiate ourselves from them.
Thankfully, there is a simple solution to this problem: digitize all forms of voting. At present, nearly all forms of communication and important documents are digitized; it should be no different for voting. I sympathize with the argument that transferring the voting system to the internet would make it more susceptible to hacking and other illegal voting practices. However, one thing we could do is require all polling stations to use a completely electronic voting machine. This would spare us the wasted time in hand counting ballots and improve accuracy in recording the vote towards the correct candidate.
Digitizing the vote can also reduce fraud. The state governments could require every voter to present an ID card which would indicate the state a voter is registered to vote for. This, combined with a personalized voting PIN, would allow votes to be counted towards the correct district no matter the location the vote is cast.
For those who vote via absentee ballots, a proposed solution is for states to set up one booth per polling place dedicated to those from out of state. They could vote in the same location that everyone else is voting and it would count in the state from which they originate. The aforementioned PIN number would allow the government to ensure that each vote is counted in the state of residence of the voter, even when they vote as an absentee. The U.S. could set up a similar system in embassies for citizens who are voting in foreign countries.
Voting is what makes the U.S. a country for the people and by the people. An outdated process skews the results and is inefficient. We need to prioritize fixing a system that is clearly broken with a solution that could be seamlessly implemented.
Photo Caption: A gavel
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons