From Tallahassee to Washington D.C. - Election reforms we’d like to see – Part 2
In 2001, in the wake of the Florida 2000 debacle, we passed the Election Reform Act of 2001 | Laws of Florida aimed at preventing what happened from occurring again. While it ensured that the types of ballots at the root of the debacle in Broward and Palm Beach Counties wouldn’t be used again, it didn’t account for the possibility that laws would be broken in the same counties in the future. In part one of today's story on election reforms, I cited eight potential reforms that a solid majority of Americans would like to see happen before the next election cycle.
In this part of the story, we'll get down to specifics.
Election Day registration/voting: 11 States and D.C. allow Election Day voting. Given our existing issues in Florida, this seems like a really bad idea to me as long as we continue to have extended early voting and issues with voters already on roles.
Automatic voter registration once one’s eligible: 8 states and D.C. have enacted this reform, with four more states set to implement it for future elections. This is a terrible idea for election integrity. Based on election cycles turnout averages 18% to 70%. That means 82% to 30% of eligible voters never vote. Having those adults registered presents increased opportunities for fraud by elections officials who are inclined.
Making Election Day a national holiday: I agree with this reform. I’d prefer to see the elimination of early voting and instead take this approach. Again, with early voting comes increased opportunity for errors/issues and fraud. If our collective “job” on Election Day were to vote with the ability for absentee votes where necessary, we’d minimize the potential points of failure.
Automatic eligibility for felons who’ve completed sentences: We just passed that one.
Voter ID requirement: We already have this one in Florida but there are 16 states and D.C. that still don’t.
Automatically removing people who’re ineligible to vote from rolls: Despite this being widely desired there’s no standardized practice that’s free from constant legal scrutiny and ongoing legal challenges. Florida’s used this practice to clean voter rolls but not without constant legal issues. It shouldn’t be that way. You’re either eligible to vote or you’re not. If you’re not you should be taken off, period.
Requiring a paper backup for all votes: Only five states don’t have any type of paper backup but without standardized practices for ballots, even in Florida, there are variances from county to county. Moving to a standardized ballot layout with local questions at the end of ballots, we’d avoid many of our existing “design” issues.
Automatically updating voting databases when one moves: This makes so much sense that it seems rhetorical, yet it doesn’t exist. As an example, I once lived in North Carolina for three months in 2002. I never voted in the state yet was still listed on their voter rolls for the 2016 election. Speaking of the 2016 election, over 2.75 million people were registered in multiple states and thousands voted in multiple states.
There’s a lot to consider and keep in mind as we enter 2019 when it comes to reforms in Florida. Now if we could just get Supervisors of Elections who will follow laws.
Photo by: Joe Skipper/Getty Images