I had lunch with a big wig Republican this week who asked me: “have you ever seen an election season this quiet?” My answer was simply “no.” He has seen WAY more elections than I have, and his answer to his own question was also “no.” The calm worries me. It worries me because I expect voter turnout to be embarrassing this year. But then in my opinion, voter turnout is embarrassing every year and it is way past time to do something about it.
Leave it to the Contrarian. I have a crazy solution to this “problem” that I believe is worth discussing. And to those who will quietly scoff, low voter turnout absolutely is a problem. My psychopathic idea is…drum roll…Internet voting.
I am tired of hearing about voter ID laws and the political reasons to be for or against them. I am tired of the weather having an effect on our outcomes. I am tired of turnout only surging when people are pissed off. It is time to do what we can to drive turnout above ninety percent every year. It can be done. And our outcomes will result in a government that more accurately reflects the people for which it governs. Like it or not.
So why do I think it is so simple? Because almost everything else we do in our society is now being done on the Internet. If my mortgage company, the BMV, AT&T, Amazon, airlines, etc. can figure out a way to conduct complicated business transactions via the Internet, our government can figure out a way to make it easy for apathetic people to vote. I think it is silly that we have used technology in so many ways to improve government processes except this one. In this case, voting is almost exactly as inconvenient for the voter as it was when I first voted in 1985. Do your own math there.
Are there new voting machines? Yes. Have we spent a small fortune on them over the years? Yes. Do we still have to go to an illogical place in a twelve hour window and wait in line to use these “modern” and unquestionably accurate adding machines? (Oh wait, humans are still involved so forget about that accuracy thing). And does it take exactly the same amount of time as it always has? In my voting life, the answer is again, yes.
Don’t waste time pointing fingers at internet breaches. No one should pat themselves on the back for the revolutionary “early voting” system that is being used. Don’t debate who has Internet access and who doesn’t–since more people have a smartphone than have transportation to the polls. Just quit fighting it. The way we do it now sucks.
We can do better than this. It’s embarrassing that we haven’t. It’s shameful that there isn’t a movement to even try. It would be great to see someone, or a group of someones make a real commitment to truly modernize the way our elections operate.
The people in charge of operating our government have a responsibility to do what they can to involve the people they serve. I did it when I served and it wasn’t all that hard. It was merely a decision that was made, a memo that followed, and ultimately the establishment of a mindset of public servants. The key part of that chain of events was THE DECISION.
So get on with it. And to my partisan friends, which party wins when 92% of Americans, or Hoosiers, or Old North Siders vote?
The right one.