Our Votes

One of the most important rights of our Republic is the ability to change our government through elections by the citizens of this country.  This right alone distinguishes this country’s citizens from most of the rest of the world.

So when this right is infringed upon and tampered with by the media, voting machine errors, groups like ACORN, voter fraud, and crooked election officials, people tend to get upset.  And that includes me…

Where I have issues with the media is that the majority of the media outlets are promoting one candidate – Senator Obama.  Yes, there are some media outlets that are promoting Senator McCain, but why must any media outlet endorse any candidate?  Consider the original intent of the First Amendment paraphrase “Freedom of the Press” was to allow the media of the day to criticize and otherwise expose the malfeasance of government and/or politicians.  It was not meant to allow the media to promote one candidate over the other, but to provide a fair and honest evaluation of each candidate so that the public can make their own decisions.

Voting machine errors are as varied as there are ballots.  Who can forget the “hanging chad” and “dimpled chad” controversies from the Florida ballot recount in 2000?  In many respects, intent of the voter does not count as an actual vote, but at the same time, there must be no question as to the validity of the ballot cast.  One would think that a totally electronic ballot machine would solve the problems of a paper ballot.  That isn’t necessarily the case.

In the documentary “Hacking Democracy,” it was shown that loading up a memory card with values intended to skew ballot results is possible.  Computer files can be manipulated, pictures can be Photoshopped, so why cannot election results?  The efforts to simplify and expedite the voting process with technology has introduced its own problems.  In many respects, the old mechanical voting machines were more reliable and trustworthy than the paper ballot counting or electronic ballot machines.  To go further, hand-written paper ballots that are hand-counted by a bi-partisan counting committee have the potential for less error (providing there is enough coffee on hand for the counting team).

While I do not have a problem with the idea of organizations having voter registration drives, there are two problems that I do have with these organization’s activities.  The first is the current problem with false registrations that these organizations invariably collect.  The second is based on a previous post with a video of Craig Ferguson.

False registrations cause nothing but trouble for our elections.  They cause doubt of the election process, and call into question the validity of the results.  When they are found, the absurdity of the registrations cause anything from mild amusement to cold outrage depending on the outcome of the election and the name found (Mickey Mouse, indeed – must be voting for the Rodent Party…).

Craig Ferguson calls the voting process a duty, and lambastes those who have to be “sold on their right to vote” by these organizations.  In some respects, if you do not have the sense of civic duty to register to vote, then you shouldn’t moan & bitch about how the elections turn out.  In essence, you are giving up your rights if you don’t vote.

Coupled with the two previous points is voter fraud.  In some states, you do not need to be registered to vote nor even have a photo identification to cast your ballot.  Instead, a signed affidavit is all that is needed.  In earlier days of where a person’s word was their bond, this would not be a problem.  In today’s world, this becomes a problem – ballot stuffing now becomes very possible.

Crooked election officials are a whole different story.  These people, while few in number, have the potential of skewing election results in a variety of ways.  Ballot stuffing, voter role manipulation, and so on with portions in conjunction with the above points in whole or in part of the above is entirely possible.  We have all heard some stories through the years of voting commissions determining elections by a variety of means.  I have no doubt that there is some of this going on by representatives of both political parties.

Does this mean that your vote will not count?  No, it does not.  Your vote will count providing that fair elections are held.  This is something that you have to trust – not easy to do in this day and age.

Here’s what I think should happen:

The media should stop the endorsement of any candidate – this is not their purpose.  The media should instead report the results of investigations of voter fraud and other problems with registrations originating either with organizations or officials without regard to political affiliation.  The media must remain neutral.

Voters should register and be able to prove their eligibility to vote with some form of identification.  With those people with objections to photo identification, then matching signatures would suffice, but everyone must register before the election, not the day of.  This is a right of citizenship that should never be legislated away because of “convenience.”  Please note that I state “citizenship” – only citizens of this country should be allowed to vote, not illegal or resident aliens.

Voter fraud of all kinds & forms should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  Period.

Election equipment should be manufactured and tested so that there will be absolutely no failures, breakdowns, or questions about the validity of the results of the election.  Situations of voting machines breaking down or a “hanging chad” should never be allowed to happen.

OK – that’s my list.  What are your thoughts?

6 thoughts on “Our Votes

  1. Why must any media outlet endorse any candidate? I think this is as much a tradition as apple pie. It began, I believe, during the time when the colonial press questioned the acts of Parliament and decisions by King George’s governors. Whether it has much effect on citizens today as it used to have is another question; we ought to consider how many people today actually read a newspaper, and the concern by most papers that their circulation has diminished.

    In some respects, if you do not have the sense of civic duty to register to vote . . . I think everyone has a responsibility to vote, but I don’t think it is a civic duty. There is no penalty for not voting, so it is much like a law that cannot be enforced. It isn’t worth the paper written upon. That said, I honestly question the wisdom of requiring citizens to vote when almost everyone is a product of American public schools. The blunt question is, should dumb people be allowed within fifty feet of a voting machine? In the Colonial Era, only property owners could vote; justified on two interesting principles: (1) a property owner has a stake in the result of voting issues, and (2) morons and people of low character were hardly ever property owners. Mr. Franklin suggested to us that can only maintain a Republic in an environment of well-educated/informed citizens. We haven’t actually achieved that goal (yet). I fear the results could be disastrous, such as, for example, black people voting for a presidential candidate because he is black.

    Crooked election officials are a whole different story. Again, we agree but then we should also ask, what have our citizens been doing since the year 2000 when the ACORN issue first materialized? The answer is, nothing. So while we bemoan the crooked election officials, why haven’t “we the people” done something about it? I suspect the answer is that most citizens have the memory of a gnat; the game is over, we’ll talk about it for a few days, and then it slips completely from our consciousness. If we are still having these problems in another two years, shame on us.

    Voters should register and be able to prove their eligibility to vote with some form of identification. Absolutely! I think this is a no brainer. Anyone who objects to positive identity for voting, but does not object to positive identification for purchasing alcohol, is one of those people who aren’t smart enough to vote responsibly. Personally, I like “fingerprint” technology as the solution because people can forge “identification cards.” On the other hand, I’m probably a radical. Or, I suppose having common sense is another possibility.

    As always, a great post, Tom. ❗ Keep on keeping on.

  2. [The media should stop the endorsement of any candidate – this is not their purpose.] I agree completely! It will happen when pigs fly though….

    [Voters should register and be able to prove their eligibility to vote with some form of identification. ]

    Without a doubt, this should be law. It would single handedly wipe out a good bit of the fraud taking place!

    The right to vote is a wonderful freedom that many do not take part in. Those that do, should be educated enough to know what they are voting for and that is the real kink in the system. I’ve been doing a little polling lately and found that most of those voting for Obama are doing it because they don’t want to see another 4 years of Bush. They could not tell me anything about his socialized healthcare or distribution of wealth. The voters that jeopardize this right are those that vote for the wrong reasons…..race in particular!

  3. Mustang – In my mind, perhaps mistakenly, voting is as much a civic duty as serving on a jury. Our system of government is dependent upon the participation of the populace, but it is unfortunate that there are those who do not keep themselves informed as to the workings of government (although the media has a great deal to do with this, in my opinion). As far as correcting the deficiencies of the system, since we seem to have the attention span of gnats, it gets left off the agenda until the next election, which of course is too late.

    Jennifer – I do know that there are some people that look beyond the color of skin and look at the issues. Unfortunately, there are those who have bitten the poisonous fruit and will be voting on appearance and not substance.

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