It was clear long before 2016 that our country needs election reform. Our federal elections are too long, too expensive, and focus on the wrong issues. The following is a list of policies to be debated or adopted to get better candidates running for public office.
- Make Election Day a national holiday. This is a no brainer. We should celebrate the one thing that unites us all-that we are Americans- and give the country a day off to celebrate. It also gives citizens all day to vote in person if they don’t want to vote by mail. Hopefully this increases voter turnout.
- Give Americans the choice to vote by mail or in person. The key is to have a paper ballot trail in every state to review if the results are suspect. Voting by mail is cheaper and has a paper trail, but there’s nothing more patriotic than showing up in person and voting with your neighbors.
- Abolish the Electoral College. It is undemocratic. The Electoral College favors the small states too much and the electors don’t do their job protecting democracy. The positive is the most popular candidate always wins. The negative is without the Electoral College we could find ourselves with three or more parties and no presidential candidates will receive a majority of votes. This creates a lack of a mandate for governing. This also requires a constitutional amendment.
- Congressional Term Limits. I believe most representatives have good intentions when entering politics. I also think the cost of running for re-election is so high that it causes our leaders to compromise their values to hold onto that office. So I propose 5 term limits for the U.S. House (10 years total) and 2 terms in the U.S. Senate (12 years total). Requires a constitutional amendment.
- Shorten the campaign season. Campaigns are long and expensive. Begin the primaries in June and wrap them up by the end of July. The political conventions would be held in August, and the debates in September and October. Six months of campaigning is less expensive and less draining than the year and half of campaigning we have now.
- Free media coverage and limited campaign costs. Free mailing for general election candidates, and free but equal advertising time on local television. Public policy debates will air on television channels or they will be fined/and or have their license revoked.
- Revoke Citizens United. This Supreme Court decision determined that campaign contributions equal free speech and therefore we cannot have transparency or limits about who is donating money to politicians. At the very least we need disclosure so we know our leaders aren’t compromised.
- Reduce horse race coverage. The corporate media spends too much time on the “horse race” coverage of presidential candidates and not enough on their policy positions. Unfortunately, campaign coverage gets higher ratings than stories about public policy. I don’t believe in restricting the press, but I think their priorities are misguided.
I think these ideas are a good beginning for a debate on improving our election system.