With all the new revelations coming at us regarding the extent of the Russian hack of the 2016 election, it seems to me this is the time to address our flawed voting system. It is time to insure that every vote counts.
You may recall the uproar during the primaries when thousands of newly registered voters showed up in Arizona only to find out they weren’t on the rolls. At the time, supporters of Bernie Sanders screamed that it was Hillary Clinton who had masterminded the nefarious plot. On the face of it, it’s a silly accusation, since the registrar of voters in Arizona is a Republican. Clinton Democrats blamed the Republicans. Now, in light of recent findings, it looks more and more feasible that the loss of those voters from the rolls was the result of a Russian hack on the voter rolls. It remains to be seen if actual voting machines were compromised. We do know that Russian hackers tried their best to affect those machines.
So now there is talk of computers with paper trails. But you know? Computer data can be changed at the drop of a hat. So now I’m going to say something that, quite frankly, I can’t believe I’m going to say. I agree with something Donald Trump said.
Prior to taking office he was interviewed about cyber security; and, though this statement doesn’t address the hack of voting data, it does hold a kernel of truth.
From The Hill on December 31, 2016:
President-elect Donald Trump told reporters on Saturday that messages “should be sent via courier like in the old days” to ensure security.
“It’s very important, if you have something really important, write it out and have it delivered by courier, the old fashioned way because I’ll tell you what, no computer is safe,” Trump responded when asked about the importance of cyber security, according to pool reporters.
“I don’t care what they say, no computer is safe. I have a boy who’s 10 years old, he can do anything with a computer. You want something to really go without detection, write it out and have it sent by courier,” Trump reiterated.
I personally can’t speak to diplomatic pouches, having zero experience in that area. However, as a voter, I want to make sure that my vote – and everyone’s vote, even if it is different from mine – counts. So here is what I would like to see happen in this country – at least until we can devise a way to keep our systems safe. With the expanding expertise in the cyber world, I don’t know if that is even a remote possibility.
I would like to see automatic registration of all voters upon achieving their 18th birthday. 8 states and the District of Columbia have already implemented automatic registration and 32 other states have introduced legislation to that effect this year. Automatic registration would result in higher voter turnout because anything that’s made easier is certain to have a positive effect.
I would also like to see vote by mail available in every election. I know there are some people who prefer to go to the polls to exercise their right to vote and that’s fine. I am not one of them. I really like the mail-in ballot and have been voting that way for years. If the weather sucks or if you’re sick or if the car breaks down and you’re unable to get to the polls, no problem!
I think it would be a great idea to require people to vote and fine them if they don’t. The fines wouldn’t have to be egregious, but it would provide an incentive for people to exercise the right that countless Americans have fought and died to preserve. 22 countries have mandatory voting, and people aren’t rioting in the streets. It would be especially productive in mid-term elections, where people stay home from the polls in droves.
Here’s where I take the aforementioned cue from Trump – oh how I hate writing that – and use the old-fashioned method of hand counting votes. Teams of non-partisan people should be assembled to perform the task. Yes, it takes longer. Yes, it is more expensive. But given the importance of a vote than can be relied upon, I think it is the only solution that makes sense.
These are not radical ideas. They are common sense measures that would go a long way in preserving our democracy and insuring that the voices of all voters are heard.
After the vote? Well, there are other issues that need to be addressed, including extreme partisan political gerrymandering and the abolition of the outdated Electoral College that did not live up to its intended purpose in the last presidential election.