Friday, November 9, 2018

Four fixes for what ails America

Catherine Rampell offers [Four big-picture principles for making our democracy work better] (Washington Post & Daily Star). Following is Scriber’s short version.

Candidates should compete on ideas, not on how effectively they block their opponents’ voters from casting ballots.

Normally, in a democracy, this goes without saying. Yet it’s not so obvious in the United States anymore.

From Florida to North Dakota, elected officials seem to increasingly view elections not as a way to tabulate public preferences, but rather as a tool for forcing their own preferences upon the public.

They’ve done this by introducing hundreds of measures making it harder for citizens to vote, using as an excuse the imagined scourge of voter fraud. Such policies include restrictions on voter registration, cuts to early voting hours, closed polling locations in minority neighborhoods and voter-roll purges.

And lately — whether because of who holds the White House, or because of the Supreme Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act — the suppression has become especially flagrant.

… we should care about voter suppression or manipulation policies even if an election result is likely to be unanimous. Efforts to rig the system dilute confidence in the electoral process, and in government more broadly.

Rampell proposes these fixes.

(1) You shouldn’t be able to count the ballots for a race in which you’re running. … running elections should not be the job of politicians, period.
(2) Voting, and voter registration, should be easy.
(3) Voters should pick their representatives. Representatives should not pick their voters.
(4) There should be stronger repercussions when officials try to rig the system.

I get it: We’re a divided country. But having good election hygiene is not a liberal or a conservative goal. It’s about making sure our democracy remains democratic.

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