I would arge election reform is the single most pressing issue facing america. One that unless we act onamericas downward spiral will only get worse.
So, a few suggestions:
Change election day to election week. Many states already have in some form or another- whether early voting or moving partially or fully to mail in balloting. This gives more americans an actual chance to vote- particularly the elderly and the working poor.
End the current primary system. It put’s far too much power in selecting the presidential candidate into the hands of a dew states- states that often do not very well reflect the whole of america. It also gives the candidates too much leeway to say what they think a particular group wants to hear, and change their tune as they move primary to primary. These men and women who would be president should be saying what they mean- not what they think a small subset of voters want to hear.
Public financing of elections. The wealthy individuals and corporations already have too much influence as it is. Let their influence depend on their merit and standing- not their millions. This is not only important in national elections but increasingly important in state and local elections for judges and other positions, as well as state iniatives, where outside interests and national groups can often flood a particular issue or candidate with money. (The republicans have been particularly good at this with state supreme court judges in the past decade or so). A cap of say $1,000 on donations. There is absolutely no reason for an individual or corporation to be able to unleash millions on the election process. Likewise- restrictions on giving to candidates or issues outside of ones state.
Closing campaign finance loopholes. No more dark money. Every donation above, say, $500 must be disclosed online within 48hrs. No more hiding behind “social welfare” and other non-profits that skirt election laws because, according to their filing papers, their main focus isn’t politics.
Instant run-off elections. In some form or another. Essentailly allowing one to rank their vote choices. If one candidate gets a majority- they win. If not, the lowest vote getter is eliminated and the vote from those that voted for them goes to their second choice. This would not only greatly strenthen third parties (and would have changed the result of the 2000 election), but also allows americans to vote their conscience without wasting their vote- and in doing so sends a message by showing how much support a third party candidate really has. It would also serve to allow third party candidates to cross the threshold of votes to receive public financing and greater participation in the election process. (Currently 3rd parties need to receive 5% of the vote to receive public funding and a greater role in the election process- something that is hard to do when people feel they are throwing away their vote).
I’m sure there’s much more that can, and should be done. People like steven colbert and his former FEC lawyer who set up their super-pac to illustrate the many failures of the current system.
But if Americans want to return to a representative government election reform is crucial. To free politicians from the reality of having to focus on raising money rather then doing their job. To free them from the corrupting influence of their backers. To chip away at the strangelehold of the (supposed) two party system.
The choice is, at least in theory- ours and not theirs. And if we don’t do something, and it do it soon, (like oh so many issues) it will be too late.