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I don't know if this is the perfect timing for my (first ever) diary, but with the actual election now less than 48 hours away my attention is on the voting process - and the fact that my #1 hope for an Obama led administration, more than the economy, more than the war, more than anything, is to improve the voting process so that citizens can rightly expect a fair outcome. I'm curious for feedback on a couple suggestions for how the registration and voting process could be simplified and could become more insulated from potential fraud:

1. Vote By Social Security Number

So much of the suppression and fraud takes place at the ID/eligibility level. Do you have the right ID with you, is your name spelled correctly on the roll sheet, is your listed address current or are you at the wrong polling location? This is the 21st Century, folks. Why not go to the following system:

To register as an eligible voter, you go to any department of justice, show ID proving you are at least 18 years of age, and register your Social Security Number (along with your name) in the state's voter database and you are now eligible to vote once, in any election, anywhere in the state. To ensure that voters submit their own Social Security Number, registered voters could be mailed a voter card, showing their name and Social Security Number, to take to the polls on Election Day (or voters can be asked to bring their Social Security card, which serves the same function).

When you show up to vote on Election Day, your Social Security Number is entered into the system, first confirming that you have not yet voted, and then confirming that you are now voting in that state - this ensures that no one can vote twice (and that only living people can vote), and makes it unnecessary for every precinct to have an exact updated list of who lives in the precinct - because you can actually vote anywhere in the state where you live. Absentee ballots can easily be set up with a place for you to confirm your Social Security Number (to be entered into the data base so you cannot show up and vote in person).

If you move across state lines, you have to re-register your Social Security Number in your new home state, and when the department of justice adds your Social Security Number to a state database it is automatically deleted from any of the other 49 states. Laws about how soon before an election you can move to another state and vote can be the same as they are now - this issue is not impacted by going to a "Social Security Number" instead of "precinct roll sheet" system.

2. Who Can Vote?

KISS: Keep It Simple, Stupid. Anyone over 18 should be eligible to vote, period, as long as they have put themselves into the "eligible voter" data base. Alcoholics are allowed to vote, bad parents are allowed to vote, liars are allowed to vote - heck, they're even all allowed to be President of the United States - so why not convicted felons, too, if it allows us to stop purging voters from the rolls for reasons besides you're too young or you never registered? Just let people vote; it's a constitutional right.


I don't know if these exact ideas are the answer, because people aiming to perpetuate fraud will always find a way. What I do know is that one of my very biggest hopes for an Obama presidency is to take back voters' rights and to enact laws that will make it far more difficult for votes to be purged, suppressed, changed, or not counted. It is the hill I want to die on, because our right to vote is that important.

Originally posted to Nicobama on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 05:44 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  And... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    burrow owl, justCal, Statusquomustgo

    vote on Saturday and/or Sunday.  Or make election day a holiday!

    Rick

    "If you haven't any vices, I'll bet you've got some damn annoying virtues." - Unknown

    by NJRick on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 05:48:21 PM PST

  •  no on the ssn (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Statusquomustgo, Judge Moonbox, rfall

    asking for major widespread real fraud by putting it everywhere like that.

    The people who objected to the SSN originally and wrote the law so that it legally could NOT be used as ID had this in mind..not that this has lasted.

    The reality is that there is little fraud going on in this way.  The problem is partisan election officials and voter suppression, none of which would be solved by this.

    "you have the right to your own opinion. You do not have the right to your own facts" -Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    by SteveP on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 05:53:54 PM PST

    •  SSNs are already everywhere. (0+ / 0-)

      The benefit of a simplified system like the diarists' outweighs the slim marginal increase in identity theft risk.

      You should be ashamed! Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now! - Ivy Frye, assistant to Gov. Palin

      by burrow owl on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 06:20:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I originally put "fingerprints" instead of SSN (0+ / 0-)

      but decided that anything electronic is more susceptible to fraud than anything not electronic. But it seems to me as if anything that makes it easier for someone who is eligible to show up and say "OK I want to vote now" is helping to solve voter suppression.

  •  There have to be some ineligible exceptions. (0+ / 0-)

    The ban on felons is too broad, but nobody still on parole should be allowed to vote.

    And murederers should lose their vote permanently. You take away someone else's vote, by murdering them, you should lose yours.

    Show me that river...

    by luckyoldsun on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 05:58:11 PM PST

    •  I dunno - don't forget there are plenty of (0+ / 0-)

      convicted murderers who turned out to be...innocent. Most of them...not white! Just let people vote. Murderers aren't exactly prioritizing voting in their lives, nor are they exactly a group likely to swing an election.

      •  False convictions?.... (0+ / 0-)

        That's normally raised as an argument against the death penalty--and it's a powerful argument there.

        But to raise false convictions as a reason not to take away a convicted murderer's voting rights?? That's a new one. Obviously, if a person is later shown to be innocent, his conviction should be overturned and his freedom--and voting rights--restored.

        It's a matter of principle, whether or not it swings the election: You take somebody's life (and their vote!), you should not be able to vote yourself. Ever.

        Show me that river...

        by luckyoldsun on Mon Nov 03, 2008 at 11:49:03 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  It's ultimately the states' calls. (0+ / 0-)

      eom

      You should be ashamed! Stop blogging. Stop blogging right now! - Ivy Frye, assistant to Gov. Palin

      by burrow owl on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 06:20:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  No one should wait more than.... (0+ / 0-)

    twenty minutes to vote and this should be the law of the land.

  •  I'm sorry but (0+ / 0-)

    I'm totally okay with felons not being allowed to vote.  Think of it as a added slap on the wrist.  I've known since I was in 3rd grade that felons can't vote.  I'm good with that.  Don't like it? Don't commit a felony.  TADA keep your voting rights.

  •  If he wins, pick off low-hanging fruit first (0+ / 0-)

    Remember how Clinton blew the honeymoon with gays in the military and health care?

    Or more recently and more locally for me, how Governor Deval Patrick of Massachusetts splurged on Cadillacs, drapes, and inauguration parties, while not really accomplishing anything, and thus blowing his mandate for change.

    Obama, assuming he wins, needs to build some solid wins to give him a base of good will from which he can launch more long-lasting, and potentially more important change.  I would like to see him start off with the green jobs package, wind-down of the Iraq occupation, and appointment of special prosecutors, in addition to the re-regulation of the financial industry.

    John McCain: dishonorable liar, national disgrace.

    by Lexpression on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 06:40:53 PM PST

  •  How Other Countries Do It (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    pelagicray

    I held a couple of fundraiser dinners in my house for Obama.  At one of the dinners we had a bunch of Europeans who couldn't vote but liked our food.  They were astounded at the inefficiency of our election process... sort of like watching a Banana Republic.

    In Denmark, everyone has a National Identity card that lists their name, address, etc.  It's used like a combination of our Social Security, Medicare, and Passport Numbers.  When you move, you change your address in one place, and your current address is on file.  When an election comes up, you get a ballot in the mail and fill it out.  There's no muss, no fuss, and it'a all handled quite reliably.

    India on the other hand recently had an election where 1 billion people voted using open source voting software running on dirt cheap PCs.  It's secure because the software is open source, thoroughly tested and transparent.

    It just seems funny that the country that invented Silicon Valley can't manage to count a few votes without massive problems.

    •  Great example of what I was trying to get at (0+ / 0-)

      In this age of technology, it should not be difficult to make a system that is both simple and efficient. Ours is not!

    •  Brazil held mayoral elections October fifth, (0+ / 0-)

      a Sunday, using voting machines with satellite uplink for tally in remote areas. There too is the national ID card we do not like. As neat as the machines are there is still a question about their integrity. That should not take away from the concept though. Electronic voting does not have to be so subject to gaming as it could be in Brazil and most probably here.

      See:

      All-Digital Voting Keeps Polls Pulsing in Brazil

      voting machine

      I have reservations about national ID, but I have a passport and even though I know the law limits the Feds' use of SSN it seems the law has no application at all in medicine and all sorts of other areas. We have probably reached a time where we should just admit the SSN cat is far, far outside the bag and secure it better with technology while using it for important civic functions such as voting.

      Yes, "Papers!" and national ID has a ring of Gestapo; however, in many ways the citizens of some EU countries with national ID have more privacy protection that we. It is a debate we need to have and that should include enforceable national voting standards with teeth. It is high time some county clerk or election official denying a citizen a vote in bad faith become a convicted felon, not just another official watching taxpayers pay a fine for them.

      The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

      by pelagicray on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 08:31:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Worth a read. (0+ / 0-)

    Washington Post piece in today's opinion section:

    Voting Shouldn't Be a Game of Chance

    What a mess. This one is incredible:

    The government contractor didn't mail out ballots in time. It happens -- in Denver this year, 18,055 ballots went undelivered. Lose a turn. Call the county to see whether you can vote on Tuesday. (If you're overseas, forget it.)

    The only foes that threaten America are the enemies at home, and those are ignorance, superstition, and incompetence. [Elbert Hubbard]

    by pelagicray on Sun Nov 02, 2008 at 09:02:00 PM PST

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