It always amazes me that whenever I walk into a polling station it feels like I’m time traveling back into the 1970s when I was first able to cast a ballot in an election. When it comes to voting in the United States, apparently nothing has changed in the last 40 years…not even the machines…or the tables or chairs or buildings or the people inside. They too all seem to be about 40 years older than they were when I first encountered them back in the day.
What gives? How come everything else in the world has become modernized and electrified and computerized to the point where it can be accessed with a hand held device and the point of a finger tip, but not voting. And now in certain states they are making it even harder for people to get to the polling stations, requiring them to wait on longer lines and making it more difficult for people to prove who they are…in person!
And all the while still asking us to push a button on an old machine, or punch a card, or mark a paper ballot and drop it in a box…and all because there supposedly just isn’t any other safe way to do it… for after all what could be a safer and more accurate way to count votes in an election than by having people count paper ballots by hand or reading numbers from machines and then adding them up together and then handing them over to other people who continue to do the same. Did you ever play telephone? It seems to me that that is how archaic our voting system is.
Are we living in the 21st century or am I just dreaming? Is this the age of the iPad and smart phone and Ebay and Etrade and E banking and computerized, drone warfare? Or isn’t it?
Can we at least start to modernize our voting system in what most Americans seem to agree is the greatest democracy in the free world so that each and every one of our citizens, of voting age, can vote in a timely, safe, quick and easy manner? I know it can be done because it is the 21st century and voting should be convenient, computerized, simple and secure…just like on-line shopping for crying out loud.
There are 118 electoral democracies in the world and all but 11 of them guarantee their citizens the “right to vote” within their nation’s constitution.
Amazingly, The United States, is one of those 11 democracies that does not guarantee its citizens the right to vote within its own constitution. When the country was founded, the U.S. Constitution did not define who could vote and ironically the United States, while always helping and encouraging new democracies to include the guaranteed right to vote for all citizens in their constitutions, has never adopted an amendment that afforded such a right to its own.
In 2005 the United States helped Iraq to write its new constitution which included the declaration that Iraqi citizens, both men and women, would have the right to vote. And now in Afghanistan thanks to the U.S. all citizens are also guaranteed the right to elect and be elected. When the U.S. army occupied Japan after World War II we helped them to write a constitution guaranteeing “Universal adult suffrage” and in Germany after that same war the new German constitution was written to include the phrase, “Any person who has attained the age of 18 shall be entitled to vote.”
Yet here in the United States Over 30 states recently passed new and more prohibitive voter ID laws in efforts to supposedly thwart voter ID fraud when there have only been 31 recorded incidents of identity impersonation since 2000… out of over 1 billion votes cast! Fox News just recently reported that Colorado had just passed a law allowing voters to print ballots on their own home printers so that they could then vote as many times as they would like, making voter fraud a certainty in the Mountain State. Can you believe it? Well, you might but you shouldn’t because it was a completely false and erroneous story that Fox News made up and had Meagan Kelly deliver with a straight face! I kid you not! You can Google it!
So what’s the deal? Why are so many political forces trying to scare, deceive and suppress the American electorate? And Why doesn’t the United States pass a constitutional amendment simply and explicitly guaranteeing all of its citizens the right to vote? Was this a right that our forefathers overlooked or was there method in their mistake by accidentally on purpose creating an escape clause that might come in handy someday when say a Congressman’s approval rate was at 9 percent while at the same time their reelection rate was over 90 percent?
How are those statistics in any way shape or form indicative of a democratic and representative form of government for the “Greatest democracy the world has ever seen”?
So get out and vote! Vote early and…don’t go home until you get to cast your ballot. Punch that chad! Push that chit! Mark that space! Pull that lever! Circle that name! And vote for people who want to live and work in the 21st century with the rest of us and who want to help us modernize our nation and join the other 107 “real electoral democracies” in our world.