Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Modest Proposals for Balloting Improvements

However we voted this year, I think we can agree the process is too clumsy. I have a few suggestions!

Improving how the actual election decision is scored [Electoral College, popular vote, IRV, or something else (..."one dollar one vote: put your money where your mouth is!"...)] would require an interstate pact or constitutional amendment, but reforming the balloting process, from voter registration to ballot collection, could be a simple business system development problem.

If we were to treat elections as Just Another Business system, we would observe that USA, Inc. already has a database that includes everyone eligible to vote: the Social Security System. Sending out an annual or even a bimonthly mailing to everyone making the citizenship and birth date cut would be trivial; there is no real need to make people register.

Mailing a ballot tuned to the address of residence would be mildly complicated but doable. On the federal level, there would be only 535 variations and they're tied to ZIP code. State ballots are more complicated and perhaps should be a separate process, with optional state buy-in.

To reduce the task of processing 200 million ballots mailed on November 1st, we would use a system well-tested in corporate governance: you cast your vote anytime you want, well in advance, but if you change your mind, you submit another ballot. Only your most recent ballot is counted.

What else? I suppose biometric identify validation would help, probably a place to put your thumbprint or a lick-and-stick saliva ID.

I also propose a modest tax break for all who actually submit a ballot. The $3 Presidential Election Fund is obsolete; let's make it a $25 "I Voted" checkoff instead!

Run it all through some nonpartisan civil service drones, or maybe the Post Office would be better, since they're expert at mass processing of paper.

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