Let’s Return to Good Old Fashioned Election Day

Let’s Return to Good Old Fashioned Election Day

© David Burton 2023

Elections in America

     The 2022 midterm elections raised several questions regarding issues that threaten the integrity of our electoral system.
     Why can’t states such as California count votes as quickly as Florida does? Why can’t most of the voting take place on Election Day, like it once did? Do new systems, such as ranked-choice voting, undermine the democratic process?
     Our electoral system in several states is already broken. Days after midterm Election Day in 2022, the results from many critical races remained unknown, not because those races were close but because the counting process was - and is - interminable. California is the worst offender, but there are other states, such as Oregon, where the counting and reporting process is – to be kind - sluggish.
     These days, for a fair and highly efficient electoral process, Florida is the gold standard in election management. It’s the third-most-populous state in the country - and along with Texas is one of the fastest-growing. Even so, the 2022 ballots in the Sunshine State were all counted within hours after the polls closed - no fuss and no big court challenges.
     Florida enacted important electoral system reforms after the fiasco of the 2000 presidential election, when its sloppy procedures and badly designed ballots led to protracted litigation and the notorious “hanging chads.” After that, the state cleaned up its act by passing several reform bills.
     Today. in Florida, a mail-in ballot must be received by 7 p.m. on Election Day, period! There’s no controversy over postmarks. The counting of mail-in ballots begins 22 days before Election Day. The count must be posted within 30 minutes after the polls are closed.
     In all too many states, the counting process has become inexcusably slow and - prodded by “temporary” pandemic measures - is growing still slower. In fact, the words “Election Day” are misleading. Voting in some states starts a month or more before Election Day and, given particular mail-in voting rules, doesn’t end until well after “Election Day”.
     The purpose of having an Election Day was and still should be so voters can make decisions about particular candidates and issues at a given time. Early voting distorts the election campaign process!
     Early voting via mail-in should be minimized. Also, states should not send out ballots to one and all, as this invites fraud. Mail-in ballots should have to be specifically requested.
     Simply put, way-too-early voting erodes the democratic election process.[1]

     Throughout the U.S., we have allowed our election process to totally get out of hand. It once was a simple, accurate and timely process – no longer!

     Compare the evolving convoluted election processes here in America with French election law. France’s chief electoral officer was interviewed on television. When asked if there were ever problems with fraud or contested vote counts, he answered “no.” He explained that everyone requiring an absentee ballot must send in a written request and then return the ballot within two weeks of Election Day. Everyone else votes in person, showing a national identity card. There is no such nonsense as “same-day registration,” massive mail-in balloting or late ballot counting. By midnight of Election Day, all results are finalized and certified - the way it once was here in America.[2]

     In 2022, even with COVID largely over – many voters in Michigan, Illinois, Virginia, Minnesota, and several other states were voting well before election day when most states hadn’t even had candidate debates yet.
     Imagine if you had early voting in jury trials, in which some jurors could cast a vote before all the evidence had been presented in court.
     Early voting and mail-in ballots are an abomination. We learned in 2020, the risk of fraud is very real. The National Commission on Federal Election Reform, co-chaired by former presidents Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, noted in 2004 that: “Growing use of absentee voting has turned this area of voting into the most likely opportunity for election fraud. . . . These cases are especially difficult to prosecute, since the misuse of a voter’s ballot or the pressure on voters occurs away from the polling place or any other outside scrutiny. These opportunities for abuse should be contained, not enlarged.”
     Election Day is an iconic American institution and was established for a reason. It deserves to be respected. There should be no early voting. Mail in voting should be limited to legitimate absentee ballots. I am with 80% of Americans who want ballots to be cast on Election Day (except for legitimate absentee balloting) and all votes to be counted on Election Day.[3]

     “Election Night no longer exists.” . . . “Returns are not counted for days. It is intolerable for a modern democracy to wait and wait for all sorts of ballots both cast and counted under radically different and sometimes dubious conditions.”
     Democrats have mastered the arts of massive and unprecedented early, mail-in, and absentee voting. While old-fashioned Republicans count on riling up their voters to show up on Election Day, it is far easier to finesse and control the mail-in ballots than to "get out the vote."
     Until recently, mail-in ballots were largely limited to absentees, such as citizens living abroad, or those instances where citizens were otherwise unable to cast a vote at the polls on Election Day. And Democrats, just like Republicans, relied mainly on “get out the vote” efforts back in those days.
     Though vote-by-mail introduces countless risks to election integrity, Democrats have embraced it for reasons that should be obvious. Prior to the end of the last decade, skepticism about the practice was widespread and bipartisan. The Commission on Federal Election Reform, chaired by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker III, a Democrat and a Republican, suggested in a 2005 report that “Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud.
     The report continued: “Citizens who vote at home, at nursing homes, at the workplace, or in church are more susceptible to pressure, overt and subtle, and to intimidation. Vote buying schemes are more difficult to detect when citizens vote by mail.
     But individual household voter fraud, vote buying, and voter intimidation are just the tip of the iceberg.
     Voters usually have to show identification to vote in person. It’s more difficult to catch fraudulent mail-in voting because of the lack of oversight and ballot custody.
     It should go without saying that ensuring election integrity requires that mail-in voting should be limited to extreme circumstances. It still is unquestionable that vote-by-mail, for months prior to an election, “remains the largest source for potential voter fraud.”
     Perhaps that’s why vote-by-mail in France has been banned since 1975, and voting is done (with few exceptions) by presenting yourself, in person, on Election Day, providing a photo ID along with signature, then casting a paper ballot which is hand-counted. And while that may seem an antiquated process to American progressives, France doesn’t have to wait for days to find out who wins their elections like we do here in America.
     Our inability to know the results of elections on Election Night should be intolerable. Are we supposed to blindly accept the unjustified expectation that the mass proliferation of mail-in voting - long known by both political parties to be the most dangerous avenue toward concealable electoral fraud - is suddenly the safest way an election can be conducted? That is not only insulting, but infuriating.
     The only way to restore faith in American elections is to send “vote-by-mail” into the dustbin of failed American experiments, and to once again make the collective civic engagement of Election Day the national norm. Let’s return to good old fashioned Election Day![4]

     Let me suggest that The United States make one small change to its election process. Instead of holding elections on one day, the second Tuesday in November – a work day and a school day – let’s hold elections on the second weekend in November. That’s right, let’s hold elections over a two-day span of time. Those who can’t vote on Saturday can do so on Sunday – and vice-versa. Why are our elections held in the middle of the week when many - especially lower-income people - can't make it to the polls? And one more thing, let’s make it a requirement that votes be tabulated and election results announced by the end of the following Monday.

     Generally, Saturdays and Sundays are neither work days nor school days for most Americans, so going to the polls would be less of a hardship for many than going on the second Tuesday of the month. In 2012, it was reported that ”138 of 172 democracies vote more that we do in some measure because they vote on the weekends." (Ref. 5) In 2018, it was reported that “America has lower voter turnout in presidential elections than most other developed, democratic nations around the world, ranking 26 out of 32.” (Ref. 6)

     For shame!!!

     America, it’s time to update our election process. The leading democracy in the world should be number 1 in voting, not 138 out of 172, and it should be number 1 in presidential elections voter turnout, not 26 out of 32.

  1. Saving Election Day, Forbes; pge 11, Steve Forbes, December 2022/January 2023.
  2. Want a Smooth Election? Run It the Old-Fashioned Way, Gary R. Layton, Wall Street Journal: Opinion,
    9 November 2022.
  3. Let’s Get Back To Voting On Election Day, https://committeetounleashprosperity.com, 30 September 2022.
  4. Abolish ‘Voting Season’ and Bring Back Election Day, William Sullivan, American Thinker, 12 November 2022.
  5. Vote on the weekend? Government study inconclusive, Paula Reid, CBS NEWS, 12 January 2012.
  6. Why Isn't Election Day a Holiday Or on a Weekend?, Alexandra Hutzle, Newsweek, 6 November 2018.

  5 January 2023 {Article 559; Politics_77}    
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