As a public service to readers, I hereby identify problems and offer my proposals.
These are the problems:
- The state house and senate and congressional districts drawn up every 10 years are gerrymandered in order to help insure re-elections of candidates of the majority party.
- Primary elections, where real winners are selected, can be carried by candidates with less than a majority because so many races have more than just two candidates every six years for the house and every eight years for the senate.
- In West Michigan we have a one-party system in which Republicans are elected simply because they have an “R” in front of their names. In areas near Detroit, the “D” is the key. So too many elections are not competitive and don’t really offer us a choice.
- Former State Rep. Cindy Gamrat exposed a flaw in that she seeks election again as a Republican, yet a sizable majority of her GOP colleagues don’t want her in Lansing.
- Election turnout numbers in what is regarded as the greatest republic in history are abysmal, even embarrassing. We’re lucky to have 30 percent vote in a primary and 60 percent in a general. Too many don’t know and don’t care.
- Elections too often are decided by personalities and marketing and advertising rather than by issues and proposed solutions.
And now here’s what I would do if I were king:
- Let’s follow Oregon’s example and have all voters mail in their selections. The old system of showing up at the polls, waiting in line and having to work around busy work and personal schedules is just too cumbersome. That system was set up when we were mostly an agrarian society. Oregon as a result reported 89% participation in one of its most recent elections.
- Let’s prohibit straight ticket voting by coloring in just one circle. Voters should go through all of the candidates and select every one.
- Let’s have all districts redrawn every 10 years by a panel of five people — two Democrats, two Republicans and one independent both sides agree on. No elected officials should serve on that panel.
- Let’s insist that when someone wins by only a plurality, not a majority, a special post-primary runoff be held between the top two vote-getters on the ballot to decide who will be the party’s standard bearer in the general. Both Gamrat and Todd Courser were elected in 2014 primaries with less than 50 percent of the vote.
- Let’s give all voters a month to do their voting and set a reasonable deadline. Sure it’s more clerical work, but our republic should be worth it.
- Let’s get money out of elections. What we’re doing now is selling our votes to the highest bidders with the slickest marketers.
- Voter fraud? There’s always a chance, but Oregon’s experiment has worked very well.
- Let’s get rid of term limits, a 22-year-old experiment that failed as badly as Prohibition.
I realize in this day and age, it’s more fashionable to reduce the number of elections in the interests of saving money. But when we exalt this nation for being a beacon of freedom, we should put our money where are mouths are and insist a most precious freedom, the right to choose our leaders, should not be compromised, reduced or infringed.