It is clear that Americans consider it very important to vote in order to be an upstanding member of society. Less certain, though, is whether our voting system is on the up and up. With each passing election, evidence mounts that the U.S. electoral process is flawed, and voters are not supposed to notice. It’s elections for dummies — but without one of those yellow guidebooks to explain it all.
A recent Pew Research Center survey finds that 69% of U.S. adults consider voting a civic duty. Only 46% of eligible voters, however, actually bothered to cast a ballot in the 2022 midterms, according to statistics gathered by The Associated Press and the U.S. Elections Project.
As the world’s oldest continuous democracy, the United States should be a natural leader in voter turnout. It is not. Rather, the U.S. ranks 31st among 50 nations surveyed — between Colombia and Greece — according to Pew.
Why such a wide gulf between principle and practice? Citizen participation in the democratic process is certainly a high-minded ideal, but the commitment to principle degrades when it collides with an election system that seems designed to fail.
In Arizona’s Maricopa County, more than 20% of the electronic vote tabulation machines malfunctioned on Election Day. “When we test these machines, that’s part of the process. We go through it for every election,” explained Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates. “And in this particular instance, this is something we didn’t anticipate.” Oops.
In Nevada, hundreds of members of the Culinary Union have been brought in to help “cure” votes, a process of fixing defects like mismatched signatures on mail-in ballots. With unions’ long-standing allegiance to the Democratic Party, there’s nothing that could go wrong, right?
In New Jersey, software flaws rendered voting machines inoperable in four districts, forcing officials to switch to paper ballots. Those
ballots were reported lost in transit to the Mercer County Board of Elections and later found to have been properly delivered. Happily, they were not swiped by a porch pirate but simply had not been logged in.
In some Pennsylvania counties, voters can cast ballots 50 days before Election Day. More than 600,000 early voters had no chance to factor in the mental deficiencies that Democratic Senate candidate and stroke victim John Fetterman displayed in his Oct. 25 debate with Republican Mehmet Oz.
Although all but three states offer some form of early voting, scores of seats in the House of Representatives took days and days to be called. Sadly, the earlier voting starts, the longer it takes to declare the winners.
Simplicity is the key to election integrity. The need for early and mail-in voting could be eliminated for the vast majority of citizens
by making Election Day a national holiday. Absentee ballots should be reserved for those planning to be away on the first Tuesday in November, and for the infirm. Individuals who show up without a valid ID should be turned away — just as they are at the airport, the bank and the liquor store.
Americans have foolishly traded election integrity for complexity, and voters are being treated like dummies.