Electioneering

Discussion in 'Clean Debate Zone' started by Statistikhengst, Jan 8, 2014.

  1. Statistikhengst
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    [​IMG]

    This thread is a project I have been working on for months, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. Putting it out on USMB is a promise I made to [MENTION=32163]Listening[/MENTION].

    From the moment a US-Representative is sworn in, he or she is already planning and fundraising for the NEXT election. Huge PACS and Super-PACS are scrounging for money all year long. The media machine for all political parties is set to full-blast 24/7. Polling for the next presidential election started quite literally on the day after the last presidential election! We are now living in a permanent election cycle that literally never ends. This is not healthy for us.

    Liberals complain that voter suppression is happening. Conservatives complain that there is voter fraud. Both sides have some very valid complaints. The last three presidential election have seen long-lines of people waiting to vote at polling places not equipped to handle that many people. Gerrymandering has literally made about 80% of the House of Representatives „safe“. And the list goes on and on.

    In fact, it is just crazy.

    In many ways, we have an electoral system that is designed for failure. That was surely not the intent of the founding fathers, but this is how it is working out and I think the time for some real common sense changes has come.

    In this report, Conservatives, Moderates and Liberals are all going to find some things that they like and things that they don't like, but I ask of you to read all of it and digest it before commenting.

    My main contention is that there is a severe structural flaw in our system of electioneering, namely, that very little of it is set in stone in the US Constitution. What was considered checks-and-balances has now become gridlock. And the rest, because of Federalism, is left up to the individual states to decide. And out of this, a hodge-podge patchwork of electioneering has evolved into a money making-monster.

    So, I am a proposing a complete overhaul of our electoral system, but not an elimination of the „Electoral College“, as we like to call it. I am going to do this in four parts. Because of the length of this all, and to make it easier for you all to quote only one section, these four parts will be spread over postings 2-5 of this thread:

    I. The Legislative (posting no. 2)
    II. The Executive (posting no. 3)
    III. The Judicial (posting no. 4)
    IV. Election rules and timelines (posting no. 5)

    Many of these things are things that Larry Sabato has also suggested in his book „Toward a more Perfect Union“, but many of them are also orginal ideas of mine.

    The goal of all of this is to

    a.) increase the amount of undisrupted time for governing between elections.
    b.) streamline the actual time frame of electioneering.
    c.) unify the rules for electioneering.
    d.) reduce the money chase.

    I am not saying that this is the only way to do this, but I do think that much of what I suggest is worthy of real adult debate. As I already wrote, each person will probably find some things he likes and some things he doesn't like, and that is good, for such sparks intelligent debate. Furthermore, I deliberately left out a lot of the reason for WHY I feel this way about many things. I did this to spur people to question or to come up with reasons themselves.


    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    A friendly shout-out to all of these good people, from the Right, the Left and the Middle. I hope very much that you read all 5 opening postings and then comment. This could become one of the best discussions of the year.

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  2. Statistikhengst
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Since the Constitution starts with the Legislative branch, I am going to as well.

    When our Republic was founded, the ratio between Representative and the represented was circa 1 to 31,000. Now, it is 1 to 719,000. That is absolutely ridiculous and I am absolutely sure our founding fathers never intended for things to go this way. If we are to claim to be a Republic based on Representative Democracy, then the one part of government that SHOULD grow with time would be the House of Representatives. After all, it is the part of Government that is supposed to be the closest of all to „we the people“.

    The House of Representatives should have 1,000 Representatives. That is still a ratio of 1 to 313,000 people, ten times as much as in 1789, but still considerably better than today.

    With redistricting done at a national level with a Super-Computer with only three parameters:

    -State borders
    -population
    -geography and „logical connectivity“

    A computer, rather than the statehouses, would set the congressional district boundaries. Race, gender, age, social status and partisan breakdown would play no role in the drawing of congressional boundaries, but geographical obstacles would. For instance, if at all possible, a district would not be drawn with a mountain chain splitting it into two halves. Additionally, Gerrymandering would never ever happen again. And for this reason, the Census should be changed from a once in a decade occurence to always be set to be one year before a Presidential election year. More on this in Election Rules and timelines

    The 1000 representatives would be for all 50 US states, DC AND all US Territories where citizens have been issued a US-Passport, for instance, Puerto Rico and Guam.

    Representative Term: 3 years.
    Requirements: at least 30 years old, US citizenship
    Term limit: 3 terms maximum, maximum 10 years. See: Ticket

    "Ticket"

    Representatives would be elected as a „ticket“, meaning a candidate + an alternate, whose name would be on the ticket, so that if the candidate elected would leave office during his term for any reason, the alternate would assume that Representative's duties. This would eliminate a lot of special elections.

    If a representative were to leave office in his third year and the alternate then takes office, that person could then still run for and win up to 3 terms on his own. But if the Representative were to leave office in the 2nd year of his term and the alternate took office, than that person would only be able to run for 2 terms on his own. Thus, a term limit of 3 terms, but possibly 10 years total.

    You can go to this wikipedia page and see the populations of the states in descending order. If you look at each state's % of the national population and move the decimal place over to the right by one number, then you would see the number of representatives at the current time under this system:

    List of U.S. states and territories by population - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    California, our nation's most populous state, is currently, officially 11.91% of the US population, so it would have 119 of 1000 representatives.

    Wyoming, our nation's least populous state, 61 times smaller than California by population, is 0.18% of the population and would have 2 representatives.

    119 / 2 = a little less than 61. So, the proportion between California and Wyoming would now be correct in terms of representation.


    The reason why there are currently two Senators for all states is based on a compromise reached while writing the constitution so that the smaller states could feel that their interests were not being steamrolled by the larger states. However, if you look at the 1800 census:

    1800 United States Census - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    You will see that Virginia, the most populus state at the time, was only 10 times larger than Delaware, the smallest state. But of the 16 states, 5 of them were very close to each other in size. Now, in 2014, our largest state is 61 times larger than the smallest. That is a disparity that our founding fathers never imagined would happen. Because of the filibuster rule, 41 senators from the 20 smallest states +1 other state, representing 10% of the US population, can bring everything to a complete stillstand. Neither of these two conditions is acceptable. Both of them are damaging our Democracy.

    The US Senate should have 160 Senators.

    I am going to break this down very specifically, according to the 2010 census:

    The top nine states, which currently acount for 50.26% of the US population, would have FIVE Senators apiece (or 45 Senators total):

    California (11.91%)
    Texas (8.04%)
    New York (6.19%)
    Florida (6.01%)
    Illinois (4.10%)
    Pennsylvania (4.06%)
    Ohio (3.69%)
    Michigan (3.16%)
    Georgia (3.10%)

    This is how that 50.26% of our population looks like on a map:

    [​IMG]


    That would be 45 of 160 Senators, or 28.12% of the Senate. But a prerequisite for this would be that a state must at least be 3.0% of the US population. If a state falls under 3.0%, then it loses a Senator in the next cycle.

    Notice again: the nine powerhouse states of the Union, equaling almost exactly 50% of the US population, still only get 28% representation in the Senate.

    125 Senators to go.

    The bottom nineteen states, each of which is under or at 0.90% of the US population, plus DC as well would have TWO Senators apiece (or 40 Senators total):

    Wyoming (0.18%)
    DC (0.19%)
    Vermont (0.20%)
    North Dakota (0.21%)
    Alaska (0.23%)
    South Dakota (0.26%)
    Delaware (0.29%)
    Montana (0.32%)
    Rhode Island (0.34%)
    New Hampshire (0.42%)
    Maine (0.42%)
    Hawaii (0.43%)
    Idaho (0.51%)
    Nebraska (0.58%)
    West Virginia (0.59%)
    New Mexico (0.66%)
    Nevada (0.86%)
    Utah (0.88%)
    Kansas (0.91%)
    Arkansas (0.93%)

    Those 19 states +DC account for 9.41% of the US Population. I will say that again. Those 20 "states" COMBINED account for 9.41% of the US population.

    This is how that 9.41% of our population looks like on a map:

    [​IMG]

    Now, let's compare the top 9 with the bottom 19:

    Ratio in population between the top ten states (combined) and the bottom twenty "states" (combined)

    50.26 / 9.41 = 5.34

    Ratio in number of Senators between the top ten states (combined) and the bottom 19 states (combined):

    45 / 40 = 1.13

    In other words, the top 9 states combined are 5 times larger than the 20 bottom „states“ combined, but in the Senate, they are almost equally represented. In other words, the smaller states still have more electoral firepower, but less than at current time.

    Here is a map of the top 9 + the bottom 20:

    [​IMG]

    Geographically, in terms of land-mass, the two colors look pretty evenly matched (well, the size of Alaska is misrepresented on the map, but anyway....), but the dark red states combined have FIVE times as much population as the gold states.

    That makes 85 out of 160 Senators. The remaining 75 senators come from the remaining 22 states, with either FOUR or THREE Senators, in order of population. It would probably look like this:

    9 States with FOUR Senators (states with between 2% and 3% of the population, circa), totaling 36 senators:

    North Carolina (3.05%)
    New Jersey (2.81%)
    Virginia (2.56%)
    Washington State (2.15%)
    Massachusetts (2.09%)
    Indiana (2.07%)
    Arizona (2.04%)
    Tennessee (2.03%)
    Missouri (1.91%)


    That makes 121 Senators. 39 more to go:


    13 States with THREE Senators (or 39 Senators total):


    Maryland (1.85%)
    Wisconsin (1.82%)
    Minnesota (1.70%)
    Colorado (1.61%)
    Alabama (1.53%)
    South Carolina (1.48%)
    Louisiana (1.45%)
    Kentucky (1.39%
    Oregon (1.22%)
    Oklahoma (1.20%)
    Connecticut (1.14%)
    Iowa (0.97%)
    Mississippi (0.95%)

    Here are how those 22 states look on a map:

    [​IMG]

    Total: 160.

    Here is the complete map of states with 5, 4, 3 or 2 Senators per state:

    [​IMG]

    Now, many arguments could be brought against this, but it actually would increase the chances for the challenging party in a large state to actually pick up a Senate seat or two. In California, a deep blue state, with 5 Senators instead of 2, the Republicans could have a real chance at winning a senate seat or two. Likewise, in Texas, a deep red state, the Democrats could do the same.

    Senate Term: 6 years
    Requirements: at least 37 years old, US citizenship
    Term limits: 2 terms (maximum 15 years)

    Senators would be elected ALL AT ONCE for 6 year terms, with a possible 3 year extension, depending upon the presidency. There should be no more staggering of the Senate into A, B and C cycles.

    Like US-Representatives, Senators would be elected as a "ticket" for each seat. See „ticket“ above. This means that for every Senate seat, two names would be on the ballot for each party: one for the candidate and one for the designated alternate, so that, should the candidate, if he wins, leave office for any reason before the end of his term, the alternate would finish out the term and thus eliminate the need for a special election. So, the same reasoning used for the House of Representatives in terms of maximum of years in office applies here as well, but there is an addition reason found under the EXECUTIVE.

    "National Senators"​


    The US Senate should be enhanced by all former US Presidents and Vice-Presidents still living, who, without election, can become NATIONAL SENATORS upon leaving office until their death. This service, however, would be voluntary. In the last 60 years, at any one given time, we have had no more than 5 former presidents and 5 former Vice-Presidents living, so the Senate, officially at 160, could theoretically be 170. NATIONAL SENATORS would be eligible to vote on any issues that come forth in the Senate, but they would not be allowed committee seats. National Senators would also serve as electors in the so-called Electoral College, and would have the right to cast their electoral vote according to their conscience, but they would likely be very, very inclined to cast their electoral vote for the winner of the National Popular Vote, since they would be considered NATIONAL SENATORS. More about this under: the Executive.


    I would expect that we could have a lively discussion as to why I propose this idea.
     
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  3. Statistikhengst
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    The Executive:

    Presidential / Vice-Presidential Term: 6 years
    Requirements: at least 40 years old, US citizenship, if naturalized, must be US citizen at least 20 years before Inauguration day.
    Term limit: 1 term, with a possible 3 year extension (maximum 9 years)
    Special Condictions: ticket-flip allowed.

    The President and Vice-President of the United States should be elected for a SIX year term. The National general election would of course coincide with the election of the ENTIRE Senate of 160 Senators and the Entire House of Representatives, with 1,000 Representatives. Also, all State gubernatorial races would be decided in the same election, for Governorships/Lt. Governorships would all be 6 year terms as well.

    The President and the Vice-President would be elected by winning a majority of the so-called „Electoral College“, which would be 1180 electors. Magic number: 591

    But wait, you say, the HOR would have 1,000 members and the Senate has 160. That only makes 1,160. But in each cycle, there would be a certain number of NATIONAL SENATORS also in the mix (described above, in the SENATE) and added to that number would be the number of „automatic electors“ that would bring the number to 1180. Those electors would be electronic electors.

    Example:

    The Senate has 160 members, and let's say that 3 living former presidents and 4 living former Vice Presidents have decided to serve as National Senators. That brings the Senate, officially, to 167. The remaining 13 electors would be electronic, and would automatically be cast for the winner of the national popular vote. In this way, the chance of an „electoral backfire“ would be zero. Also, the National Senators, by law, would be required to indicate their decision within one half hour after the final polls have closed in Alaska on election night, so that in the case of an incredibly tight race, there would be no last minute jockeying for the electoral vote of a National Senator.

    Though a President and his Vice-President serve only one term, there is the possibility of a term-extension, and here is where this all gets very interesting.

    PRESIDENTIAL EXTENSION

    In the fifth year of a six-year presidential term, by the end of June, the sitting president decides whether or not to apply for a „confirmation election“ in November of that year. The confirmation election is a straight up and down vote of confidence/no-confidence in the Presidential ticket currently governing.

    -There would be no opposition candidates on the ballot.
    -There would be a 62% hurdle for the sitting president to overcome. Should the President win 62% of the vote in the confirmation election, then his term would be automatically extended for another three years. If not, then the standard presidential election would take place in the sixth year of his term.

    But this also has other implications: if a Presidential ticket gets 62% of the vote and an extended term, then automatically, by law, all Senators serving at that time would also get the same extension. And, all governorships would also be extended by three years as well. So, the voters, in voting to extend the President's term, would also be saying that they want the status quo the way it is.

    TWO EXAMPLES

    Example 1:

    John Doe is elected in 2024 and inaugurated on January 20th, 2025. His term is for six years, until January 20th, 2031.

    In June of 2029, he makes the application for an confirmation election and wins 62.8% of the vote. He then serves out the rest of his term until January 20th, 2031 and on that day, is inaugurated for 3 more years, until January 20, 2034, which means that the next presidential election would take place in November of 2033. But the elections for the House of Representatives would still take place in November of 2030. The Senate would also hang onto the results of the Presidential confirmation election: if he wins, then they get to stay on another three years. Ditto for the Governors.

    Example 2:

    John Doe is elected in 2024 and inaugurated on January 20th, 2025. His term is for six years, until January 20th, 2031. In June of 2029, he makes the application for an confirmation election and wins only 54% of the vote and therefore does not pass the 62% hurdle. This means that his term ends on January 20th, 2031 and the regularly scheduled presidential election of 2030 would take place. And of course, he is not eligible to be on the ballot for President.

    Why 62%?

    Well, no President in our history has won with more than 61.04% of the popular vote. If a President is so well loved and the approval of him is so high so that it looks like a massive landslide for him anyway, then it saves the opposition time and money to prepare for the next open election. Plus, with the bar set that high, any president who scores 62% deserves to have the Senate that was elected with him stay with him.

    Conversely, a President who had not been doing well during his term and can read the tea-leaves telling him that he would do poorly in a confirmation election would probably not even try. All of these things would force a President to concentrate on governing and not just winning a re-election, because in a confirmation election, the only person a President is running against is himself.

    What this all means is also less campaigning and more governing.

    "Ticket-Flipping"

    So, a president can only serve one term, but what if it were to work out that the sitting Vice President were to be doing an extremely competent job and would be thinking about a run on his own? Remember, this has happened already in our history in 1940 (John Nance Garner, unsucessfully for the nomination against FDR), 1960 (Nixon), 1988 (Bush 43) and 2000 (Gore). Though a President can only serve one term as president, it WOULD be allowable for the ticket to flip.

    Let's use Ronald Reagan, one of our most popular presidents of all time, as an example:

    Under this system, Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush would have won a six year term. Reagan, seeing only a slight chance of cracking 62% ( I think he would have made 62% in such a confirmation election, myself), elects to not apply for the confirmation election, but in talks with his Vice-President, the two decide to flip the ticket for the next general election: Bush / Reagan. In this way, Reagan could have served 6 years as president and 6 years as Vice-President. And Bush would have served 6 years as Vice-President and 6 years as President.

    What would that do for us? Well, it would make the candidates and the voters take a much harder look at the Vice-Presidential candidates, realizing that a potential president needs to be within that person. And the whole thing would make voters take it more seriously, for they would be voting in a person for not four, but rather, six years.

    With this system, there is a national election every three years (House of Representatives), and the presidential elections either every six years, with an occasional 3 year jump. This gives the nation more than one extra year of calm between elections, something I think we sorely need.

    More on this in the rules section.
     
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  4. Statistikhengst
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    The Judicial

    Term: 18 years (24 years for the Chief Justice)
    Requirements: 40 years old, US citizen
    Term limit: 1 term

    The Supreme Court should be expanded to 15 justices + 2 alternates. Majority vote: 8, abstentions not allowed under any circumstance. For this reason, a 16th and 17th alternate judge would also be elected to decide on a case where a judge would decide to abstain, and they would rule in his stead. This would mean that ALL SC cases would have a vote of 15 voices, without exception. No 15 voices, no ruling, that simple.

    Supreme Court Justices, other than the Chief justice, would be allowed to serve a maximum of 18 years, or possibly, 3 presidential terms. The Chief justice would be allowed to serve a maximum of 24 years, or possibly four presidential terms.

    Supreme Court judges would be elected, but through a system of lists and then an election. Supreme Court judges would no longer be appointed by the President, nor would they be confirmed by the US Senate.

    Someone wanting to be a judge would need to apply. His credentials would then go through a House committee, a Senate committee and then a Presidential committee.

    A final list of 60 names would be provided for election day, the voters would select 15 of the 60 names (maximum) and the top 15 vote getters would be elected. Numbers 16 and 17 would be alternate judges. However, the sitting president would get to decide which justice would be the Chief Justice out of those elected to the Supreme Court, and that appointment would be approved by the US Senate. Should a justice leave before the end of his term for any reason, then the next highest vote-getter on the list (that would be nr. 16, for starters) would assume the position.

    Judges would be elected in the MIDDLE of a presidential term, in other words, in the election for the House of Representatives. This means that elected Supreme Court justices would likely straddle the terms of two or three presidents.

    I would like to note that many nations elect their judges, rather than appointing them.
     
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Election Rules and timelines.


    Primary elections:

    -The nation is divided into 5 geographic zones. Each zone has it's primary all on the same day. Zones such as:

    -The Northeast /Acela States
    -The South
    -The Midwest
    -The Breadbasket and Big Sky States
    -The West Coast and beyond.

    Here would be one possible, and very logical map:

    [​IMG]


    -The order of the zones is determined by a lottery ball machine, just like the one used for the lotto. 5 balls go into the machine, the first one that comes out with the zone name on it is the zone that holds the first of 5 -and only 5- primary Tuesdays, and so forth. The lottery will be drawn on New Years's day of election year. Each state gets to decide whether primary or caucus, but they will be held for that zone on that day. No „first in the nation“ states any more. In this way, the candidates themselves do not know until New Years Day where to sink in their money, anyway, so instead of patronizing one region in order to get the upper hand, they stick to their general message and apply it to the ENTIRE nation.

    -All pacs, polling and advertising for candidates would be illegal until New Years Day of election year.

    -Primary 1: the third tuesday of February
    -Primary 2: the first Tuesday of March
    -Primary 3: the third Tuesday of March.

    -Then, there is a one month break between the 3rd and fourth primary.

    -Primary 4: the third Tuesday in April.
    -Primary 5: the first Tuesday in May.

    And a make-up date for any primaries cancelled due to inclement weather anywhere in the USA, and also for any run-offs, would be on the third Tuesday of May. Polling times and such: see: General Election

    The National Conventions for all Parties would be held in June and must be completed by July 1st.

    General Election:

    The month of July and the first three weeks of August would be open for General Election fundraising. Official begin of the general election season: Labor Day.

    Election Day: First Sunday in November, from 06:00 am till 9:30 pm for all time-zones, without exception. Early voting for all 50 states plus DC allowed for 21 days until election day. For states that do mail-in voting, 9:30 pm would be the cutoff for mail delivery. Provisional ballots allowed for all 50 states plus DC. Overseas and military ballots must be time-stamped by 9:30 PM EDT and must be turned in within 5 days of the election.

    -Voter ID, a uniform form of ID used throughout the USA, also required to vote in all 50 states plus DC would be required.

    -Automatic voter registration for all citizens when they reach the age of 18, with notification of such and information about polling place per postcard. The ID card for voting would be an exact duplicate of the first page of an American Passport, which means when you get a voter ID, it is easy to also apply for your passport at the same time and all of these things can be processed at BMV or SOS offices throughout the land. Oregon is currently the first state in the Union to seriously consider automatic voter registration, starting next year.

    -The same Super-computer that did the redistricting also does a computation as to how many voting machines and precincts are necessary in order to get voting done by 9:30 pm and basta, done!

    -Exit polling for all 50 states plus DC becomes mandatory for all national elections. Exit polling results are first allowed to be broadcast after the polls close in Alaska.

    -The Networks would be forbidden to make any state calls until at least 45 minutes after poll closings and at least 25% of ballots from that state have been counted - and - the exit polling shows at least a +7 margin for the same candidate who is winning in the actual ballot count. This means that the first calls of the night, starting for all states in the Eastern Time zone, would be at 10:15 PM, and not one minute earlier. States that straddle two time zones would close in the time zone that is the most westerly of the two.

    -National Popular vote running tallies would also not be published until at least 25% of the nation has reported in.

    This methodology, though it may seem boring and lets us have less suspense, allows for the process to be done more quietly. In the event of a big win for someone, where the call for President usually happens around 11 pm, it would only be delayed until 1 or 2 am EDT.

    For every single race in the nation, any margin under +0.5% would mean an automatic recount, without exception, but only once all provisional and absentee and overseas ballots are accounted for. Any candidate can also request a recount from between +0.5% and +1.0%, but then he must pay for it.

    Due date for every state to submit final canvasses from the General election: Second Sunday in December, exactly 5 weeks after the election.

    The electors would still meet in their respective states, but law would dictate that they must vote for the winner of the vote in their state, and in order to ensure that there are no „faithless electors“, the final slate of electors will be electronic across the board. So, the elector signing ceremonies would be mere formalities.

    All of these suggestions of mine would make elections cleaner, fairer and more sane. It would eliminate a huge part of the money chase for election and would destroy the permanent election cycles that we are now suffering.

    If you are going to elect someone to do a job as a public servant, then you also have to give him time to actually do the job without having to be torn to pieces by a crazy, hodge-podge election process that has grown into a veritable monster.
     
    • Agree Agree x 1
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2014
  6. gallantwarrior
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    gallantwarrior Gold Member

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    The "fix" is so simple, it's painful. Given our technology, one-person, one-vote should be the way to go. Each registered voter is issued a one-time only access password. After they have presented appropriate identification proving their bona fides, they may then use that password to cast their vote. This prevents others from "buying" passwords to tip the vote. Once a password has been used, it is no longer valid. The reason for an electoral college is long gone.
     
  7. G.T.
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    G.T. Diamond Member

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    Attach an online Vote with the Social Security number.

    Only allow the Voter to vote once.

    Allow appeals and investigations if a Voter claims they did not Vote, when their SS# was indeed used.
     
  8. BDBoop
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    BDBoop BANNED

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    Did you two actually read everything he said, or just knee-jerk a response. I'm curious.
     
    • Thank You! Thank You! x 1
  9. Statistikhengst
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Absolutely an option. But I wrote about a lot more than that.
     
  10. Statistikhengst
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    Statistikhengst תיקון עולם, this will never end Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Also an option, although, technically, the law prohibits the use of SSN for anything other than SS.

    But there is a lot more in the entire OP, spread out over five postings, than just this point.
     

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