Friday, November 08, 2013
Let's Fix the System
Let's have a poll: what do you think is the biggest obstacle to getting any of these suggestions passed? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?
Joe Nocera's Blog
November 7, 2013, 5:18 pm
Fixing the System: Your Turn
In my last column I asked readers for their best ideas about how to fix the political and electoral system. Here’s a sampling of the responses. Thanks to everyone who participated.
Why not just make Election Day a holiday?
Provide free public transportation to polls. Increase “no pamphleting” radius around polling places.
We can bank and pay our taxes online, why oh why can’t we build a system to safely vote online?
The city of Albuquerque has computer voting. It allows residents to vote at any polling place in the city, be it near home, work or the shopping mall. This removes the main inconvenience of having elections on Tuesday.
In the 1960s, Frank Stanton, the president of CBS for more than 25 years, proposed a 24-hour voting period. The polls would close simultaneously country-wide.
Limit the time for campaigning to eight weeks. This would allow politicians to focus on the work they were elected to do and decrease the amount of money spent campaigning.
Confine radio, TV and Internet campaign ads to the candidates themselves speaking directly on-camera or on-air, stating their positions and policies. It would help to level the playing field for less well-financed candidates who lack the resources to buy the best advertising as opposed to having the best ideas.
What if during election season, every day a 30-minute prime time block was allocated to the candidates on a rotating basis across the major networks? No produced ads, just the candidate and a camera given the time to discuss what s/he finds most important?
Everyone must be registered to vote in order to receive any check from the government and in order to obtain a driver’s license or government-issued ID.
—William M. Pinzler
When a person turns 18, he or she should automatically become a registered voter.
We really need a third party. More than ever, just watching these two parties function, appeasing the extreme elements of each, is why both parties have ceased to function. The new party could be those who are in the center. If allowed to flourish, it could be the largest of the three parties.
One date for all the primaries. Why should Iowa and New Hampshire decide who will be the nominee while the “late” states are totally irrelevant?
Make voting mandatory.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
100 percent public financing of campaigns with no contributions allowed from anybody. Campaign contributions are akin to corruption or bribery.
I believe that candidates should only be able to accept money from individuals who can vote for them in an election. No corporate or union money or PAC money.
Nothing will make any difference until two things happen: Overturn Citizens United and restore majority rule.
To end gerrymandering, we should use ZIP codes. Each district should include a certain number of ZIP codes, depending on number of residents.
Make the popular vote the basis for the distribution of seats in Congress. Then, if the number of directly elected candidates of one party amounts to a higher percentage than the popular vote suggests it deserves, add additional seats from the other party to restore proportionality.
A period of 10 years should be mandated before a congressperson, high level staffer or cabinet member can apply for a job in the lobbying or influence-peddling industry.
End the electoral college. Nationwide popular vote instead. Right now only 10 “battleground states” even count at all. Why should anyone in the other states even bother to vote?
Not term limits but non-consecutive terms. Seven years for senators, four years for congress, with the incumbent only running for re-election after sitting out the next election cycle. This precludes the perpetual electioneering that presently permeates the landscape.
Term limits are a must. Eight years in the house and 12 in the senate. Stop the pension-for-life perk for senators and representatives. Do not allow members of the House and Senate to have a different health care plan than their constituents.
I propose that we triple the number of congressmen/congresswomen and require that they live in their home districts. Voting can be done by teleconference. This combined with the elimination of gerrymandering will dilute the effect of money and encourage normal people to run for office.
Eliminate the Senate and make the President’s term eight years with no reelection. Have one legislative body which is truly representative of the people and regions.
Many states make it very difficult for citizens to get their names on the ballot. Change that system so that a potential candidate does not require the support of a party and a phalanx of lawyers and experts just to get on the ballot, and we might start seeing more people running for office.
—David M. Harris
Mandate a rotating system for committee chairs in Congress. This would prevent representatives/senators with seniority from accumulating and wielding disproportionate power and influence and would open the avenues to move bills through the system.
—Gabriel E. Yankowitz
I would propose an age limit for Supreme Court justices rather than a term limit. Seventy would be old enough. We don’t need a bunch of doddering old fools interpreting national laws.
Add four more seats to the Supreme Court, two nominated by each party. These and all confirmations require two-thirds approval. This will encourage more moderate nominees. Require a two-thirds vote for all Supreme Court decisions.
—Richard D. Hyman
For each level of government, all statements, claims and election attacks must be cleared by a nonpartisan fact checker. Purposefully misleading with false information is not public service.
Doctors and lawyers have to take and pass board exams. Why not politicians who seek election on a national level?
Every voter gets a lottery ticket, either from a state-run lottery or from a special “Vote!” lottery based on a small percent of the “get-out-the-vote” budget (or other scheme). This will encourage participation from people who ordinarily feel their vote doesn’t count or feel that voting is a waste of their time.
A $100 refundable tax credit for donations. With 50 percent participation, this would raise $7 billion per year ($14 billion per federal election). That would completely swamp special-interest and billionaire money.
Have negative votes, not just the customary positive votes. In other words, voters could vote against a candidate, not just for a candidate. The number of negative votes would be subtracted from the number of positive votes. A candidate could theoretically receive a vote tally that is less than zero. This negative vote scheme would assume greatest significance in situations where there are more than two candidates.
—Michael N. Alexander
Eliminate voting altogether. However, continue fundraising. The one who raises the most money by Election Day wins. This eliminates the folly that the individual counts. And it may wake us up enough to do something about it.