- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 10, 2001

There are a number of studies underway on how we might make voting easier and more reliable, rather than go through another circus like the one in Florida last year. In an effort to increase voter turnout, nonvoters were asked for their recommendations. The suggestions are what you might expect, considering nonvoters tend to be younger, less educated and lower income individuals. I suppose you could call this the “dumb” vote, and it could be why the Democrats fell out of power.

A recent poll taken for the Medill School of Journalism points out a number of facts concerning now-and-then voters and nonvoters. Almost one-third of voters are now-and-then voters. I imagine these are the people who dislike one candidate so much that their vote is not for an individual but rather against the one who upset them. This could be the reason so many candidates like to run down and dirty campaigns to make their opponent seem like the bad guy.

One of the more popular suggestions is to allow voters to use the Internet. Until such time as computer security reaches the point where the Pentagon, corporations and banking institutions are safe from hackers, the Internet should be out of the question. We don't want our next president gaining office because some high school computer nerd put him there. I can't imagine voting by computer would increase turnout, but it definitely would increase the number of incidents where results would be questioned.

Another suggestion is to allow everyone to vote by mail. This might be a way to keep our senior citizens busy during their declining years. We all saw how long it took to review the chad-infected punch cards in Florida. Imagine how many people it would take to handle mail-in votes from the entire country. If we ever do reach that stage, I hope my vote will be postage-free and delivered before the candidate's term is over.

The worst suggestion is to allow voters to vote over a two- or three-day period. I do not want to see the talking heads on network news stumbling around, trying not to name a winner for over 72 hours. A three-day voting span could result in hundreds of retractions by the media. Listening to the radio and watching television for three days of reporting on the election would probably decrease voter turnout by 50 percent. Of course, the last election lasted for about 30 days.

The suggestion to hold elections on the weekend should be tabled forever. Weekends are valuable time and should not be wasted. Also, the separation of church and state comes into play. We don't want people coming out of church and heading for the polls after getting advice from the pastor. Also, many people who wake up on Sunday morning are in no condition to make a decision. While we would all like to see a larger voter turnout, we can take solace in the fact that when it comes to elections, the American people get what they deserve.


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