The Warrior Scholar

This is a blog about current events - a way to provide a constructive outlet for some of the thoughts I have on the issues of the day. It's also a way to generate some discussion and to get my ideas out into the world. Enjoy!

Location: Alexandria, Virginia, United States

I'm a doctoral candidate in Virginia, with a love of history and politics. My dog is a great companion, and my family always keeps me in good spirits.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Voting in the Future

I was thinking about the upcoming national elections, and have some ideas about how to make the elections more representative and responsive to the electorate at large. There are only four requirements to be an American citizen: exercising your right (and privilege) to vote, defending your country in a time of need, obeying the laws created by the representatives you elect, and pay the taxes that your representative government levies to help our society. That sounds like a pretty simple formula for American citizenship. Of the four citizen’s duties, three of them have some sort of consequence if they aren’t done – i.e. fines or the like. However, the right to vote has no such consequence attached – even though it is the foundation of our society! So, here’s a plan I’ve been thinking about to improve our electoral process.

1. Have Election Day be a Federal “holiday”. The duty of all citizens is to vote during that day. If a business elects to remain open, that is their prerogative – but all the workers must be given a fair opportunity to exercise their civic duties throughout the day.

2. Do away with voter registration as it stands now, and have voters automatically registered when they get a Social Security number. After their 18th birthday, all citizens are now eligible to vote automatically. I would also tie in the Selective Service database to this as well, so that simply becomes transparent to the citizenry.

3. Institute electronic voting country-wide. The capabilities of today’s information technology allows voting to be done over the internet or via touch-screen voting kiosks (much like the kiosks at airline terminals now) available at public buildings. The votes are then encrypted and electronically sent to the local, county, or state elections office. This will speed the vote counts, and improve accuracy considerably.

4. Manual voting can still be done via paper ballots, or absentee ballots, but the electronic voting machines should be the primary form now.

5. Each electronic voting system would produce two documents – a paper receipt of the vote that the citizen cast, and a second receipt to validate that the citizen did vote because…

6. If a citizen doesn’t participate (they could still elect not to vote, but they would have to state that after signing in), then they would not be eligible for any income tax deductions. No standard deduction, no itemized deductions. This would reinforce the linkage between voting and taxation. The second receipt could be attached to the citizen’s income tax form, or electronically filed with the IRS to indicate that the citizen did vote.

7. Other penalties for not voting could include not being eligible during a fiscal year for various governmental subsidies, tax advantages, or other benefits.

8. The electronic voting system should have the ability for voters to learn more about the candidate. I think that if each candidate was given space to list the five most important positions they are taking, and have three or four bullet-type comments on each position, that would give the voter an idea about where the candidate stands on the issues. This way, the citizen has an opportunity to be informed by the candidate at the time of the vote what the candidate stands for.

I think connecting the citizen’s vote with their taxes is an important linkage. While I would not support hauling people off to jail for not voting, placing some kind of penalty for not voting would be a motivator. If citizens make the direct connection between their taxes and voting, I’m sure that would increase voter participation. These are my thoughts – I hope they get implemented someday!


Blogger FloridaMOM said...

Why don't you sponsor these changes?
Or find someone currently in an influential position to sponsor these ideas.
Write Bill OReilly and see if he likes your ideas. They really are interesting!

2:17 AM  

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