|Guest Editorial By Lynn Meadows, Green Party Candidate for Michigan Secretary of State
Monday, November 6, 2006
The United States is one of the world's leading democracies, right? Then why do only 33 out of 172 countries have a smaller percentage of people voting than we do? Usually, fewer than 50% of our eligible voters vote. The average worldwide is 73%. Almost 1/3 of eligible voters aren't even registered to vote! We need to make voting worth people's time and trouble.
First, let's make it easier. Election Day should be a holiday, or a Saturday or Sunday. Absentee ballots should be available for anyone for any reason. Voter registration should be automatic, and could be allowed at the polls on Election Day.
We've all heard about electronic voting machines being corruptible. A paper trail and random manual audits can resolve this. Election-law enforcement needs to be systematized, with procedures to make sure concerns are investigated as soon as they arise.
We need to stop voter repression and intimidation. Long lines, photo-ID requirements, and threats of arrest are just some of the tactics used. Michigan is one of the states where the NAACP will have volunteers monitoring elections. Consider volunteering to help!
Campaign-finance reform is necessary. We need to get the money out of politics. The amount of money being spent on campaigns is outrageous. Several states have adopted publicly funded campaigns for qualified candidates who choose to limit the amounts spent on their campaigns. The voters respect this choice, and often elect these candidates.
We need more voices and more choices. The two-party system is not working. Instant Runoff Voting assures a majority winner and lets you vote for your 1st, 2nd, 3rd choices, etc. -- without worrying about throwing the election to a person you really oppose.
Proportional Representation can bring more points of view and possibilities into our government.
Watching over elections should be a non-partisan job. We've seen partisan conflicts of interest in Ohio and Florida raise questions about the operation of the elections. The Secretary of State should be barred from working on any election campaign -- and should not publicly endorse any candidates.
If you want our democracy to survive, get involved. Call your county clerk, to see how you can become a poll worker (election inspector) -- or your party, and volunteer to be an election challenger, poll watcher or poll greeter. If we want our country to be "of, by and for the people", we need to do our part. Vote and volunteer!