While Australia has a short, campaign season for all seats in both houses of the Australian Parliament, America’s campaign season, especially in regards to presidential elections, but also in regards to congressional and even state legislative and other types of elections, is ridiculously long to the point of being seemingly perpetual, and it needs to be shortened badly. However, at the same time, we must allow the same or greater level of ability of voters to participate in the political process.
Here are some of my ideas for speeding up America’s political process:
- Establish a national primary day for party nominations in federal elections, preferably the Tuesday following the first Monday in September
- Establish a filing deadline for federal races that is four weeks before the national primary for non-incumbents and five weeks before the national primary for incumbents
- Overturn the Citizens United v. FEC U.S. Supreme Court decision by federal constitutional amendment and allow for robust regulations, limits, and restrictions on money in politics
One reason why many voters here in America are burned out by the political process is because campaign season is too long. It’s time to change that.
Granted, it would require amendment(s) to the U.S. Constitution and massive changes in federal and state laws, but America needs a massive overhaul of its election system.
Below are some of my own ideas for fixing America’s antiquated electoral system:
- Drastically increase the size of the U.S. House – There should be one U.S. Representative for every 100,000 residents of the fifty states, rounded up, plus one U.S. Representative with full voting rights each for the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories. This would result in a U.S. House size of 3,086, but it would be more representative of the country than a 435-member House.
- Give the District of Columbia and each U.S. territory one Senator with full voting rights each – This would result in a U.S. Senate size of 106.
- Implement a national popular vote system for electing the President, the Vice President, and major-party presidential and vice-presidential nominees – The Electoral College is an antiquated relic of the 19th century, when it wasn’t easy to report election results for a nationwide race. Ideally, an instant-runoff voting system should be used, in which voters can cast first, second, and third preferences, and second and third preferences can decide an election if no candidate gets a majority of first preferences. For party nominations for president and vice-president, a nationwide semi-partisan primary should be conducted, in which those registered with a political party would be able to choose between candidates running for their party’s nomination and unaffiliated candidates, but those not registered with a party can vote for candidates of any party affiliation, as well as unaffiliated candidates. Political parties that get 1% of the total primary vote send their top vote-getter (instant-runoff would be conducted within each party) to the general election, and any independent candidate who receives 1% of the total primary vote makes the general election ballot. Furthermore, presidential and vice-presidential candidates run as a ticket in both the primary and the general election. In the event that a presidential candidate or a vice-presidential candidate seeking a party nomination lacked a running mate, but won his or her primary, he or she would be paired with the candidate for the other office whose ticket got more votes within the party than any other ticket with a candidate for said other office
- Standardize the electoral calendar nationwide – Here’s how I’d set up the election calendar for regularly-scheduled elections in a two-year electoral cycle:
- Tuesday after first Monday in May of odd-numbered year – Political party leadership elections (closed to party members) and some judicial elections (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
- Tuesday after the first Monday in November of odd-numbered year – County, municipal, and other local elections for the entire country (open to all voters, officially non-partisan)
- Tuesday after the first Monday in May of even-numbered year – Some judicial elections (open to all votes, officially non-partisan)
- Tuesday after the first Monday in September of even-numbered year – Partisan primaries for, depending on the year, President, Vice President, U.S. Congress, state executive positions, and/or state legislature (semi-partisan primary system in place)
- Tuesday after the first Monday of November of even-numbered year – General elections for offices in which nominees were selected in the September primaries
- Use hand-counted paper ballots for all elections, everywhere – Even when an online system is used for some absentee ballots (see below), a printout of the online absentee ballot would be hand-counted at the precinct after the polls close.
- Speed up the absentee and military voting process with an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not part of the World Wide Web – If it’s not possible for an absentee or military absentee ballot to be physically sent to the voter’s home polling place on Election Day, set up an ad hoc, closed-circuit internet system not connected to the World Wide Web or any other existing infrastructure in order to allow the ballots to be scanned, uploaded to the electronic system, and printed out at the polling place so that it can be hand-counted on Election Night.
- There should never be more than 1,000 people per polling place – It is absolutely unacceptable to cram several thousand voters into a single voting place, forcing them to wait in line for several hours.
- Make federal judicial posts directly-elected – For federal district court judgeships, each federal district court would have at least four judgeships, with at least one seat being up for election every year. For federal circuit court appellate judgeships, a similar model to the district courts would be followed. For the U.S. Supreme Court, three associate judgeships would be up for election in years ending in “2”, two associate judgeships in years ending in “5”, three associate judgeships in years ending in “8”, and the Chief Justice’s seat in years ending in “0”.
These are just a few of my own suggestions for making America’s electoral process more efficient.