Why Are Our Elections Such a Mess?

Let’s not beat around the bush: the elections during this primary season have been a mess.

New York

Oh, New York, where do we even start? Because New York is a closed primary state, a lot of unaffiliated voters were frustrated to learn that they weren’t able to cast a ballot for either a Democratic or Republican presidential candidate. The deadline for registering with a party was back in October, which, incidentally, was far before the media had uttered two peeps about candidates like Bernie Sanders or John Kasich.

It’d be easier to argue that “rules are rules!” if the government were able to follow its own rules. Instead, Brooklyn somehow purged over 100,000 voters from its system, and election officials are unable to offer a satisfactory answer for how this could happen.

Other precincts did not have designated polling locations open as scheduled, or had voters listed to vote at the wrong locations. Purged and confused voters were able to sign either provisional or affidavit ballots to keep the lines moving, but those have not been included in the official voting tallies.

Dont Forget Arizona

Does any of that sound familiar? Ah, probably because it happened just a month prior in Arizona as well. Maricopa County only opened 60 of its 200 polling locations, causing five hour lines. Rather than taking accountability, the County Recorder initially blamed the voters themselves for standing in the line.

Since Arizona is a closed primary state, many voters raced to switch their party affiliations before the deadline, and similarly had problems at the polls anyway. Apparently, the government was too backlogged to process everyone in time, leaving voters unable to cast their ballots.

Investigations

Both states have called for investigations into some of the “irregularities” that plagued their primaries. Looking into the situation is appropriate, but there shouldn’t have to be investigations in the first place. It should be readily apparent what went wrong, and if underlying, undetected problems don’t get noticed until it’s too late, then the system needs to be modified.

States Arent Learning From Each Other

You’d think that states that hold their votes later in the primary season would want to avoid getting egg on their metaphorical face, but that’s not often the case. For example, Rhode Island announced plans to use just 144 of its 419 polling locations for its primary.

Sure, most states don’t use the same number of sites for primary votes than in the general election, but that number is down significantly from the 2008 primaries, despite higher voter turnout expected. It also shouldn’t make anyone feel better that Rhode Island’s director of the Board of Elections is currently suspended without pay for “job performance issues.”

Expenses

States will typically justify reducing the number of polling locations, volunteers and machines as means to cut costs.

Guess what? We’re not running a bargain basement democracy here. At a time when candidates are raising unprecedented levels of money for their campaigns, we should be able to afford to count the votes in a legitimate manner.

You know what we should be willing to pay to run elections? Whatever it costs to run these elections fairly, legitimately and smoothly. Cutting corners on election expenses is tantamount to cutting corners on democracy itself.

Besides, paying the money up front is better than having to spend it later on lawsuits of people demanding to know why they were deprived of their constitutional rights.

America Is Literally Last in Election Integrity

We like to talk a big game on the international level about how terrific our democratic system is, even attempting to facilitate elections in foreign countries. However, it seems if anything, we should be looking to other nations for examples on how to run a better democracy.

The Electoral Integrity Project (EPI) evaluated all western democracies to see how they stacked up against each other. Out of 23 countries, the United States ranked dead last. In addition to the series of errors that plagued the 2012/2014 elections, the EPI also factored in the U.S.’s rampant gerrymandering, lax campaign finance rules, the rate at which voters are registered incorrectly and a system designed to shut out third party candidates.

Conclusions

America really has no business bragging about what a great democracy it is when these kinds of issues persist. Any obstacles that make voting impossible or even difficult are a disgrace to our system.

This country has been voting for centuries – there’s no excuse for having this many errors. Moreover, the fact that the same errors keep popping up suggests that the powers that be don’t particularly care about getting voting right.

Americans are increasingly feeling that our current form of democracy doesn’t “work.” If the government still can’t even get voting to work on a very technical level, how are citizens going to maintain faith in democracy on the whole?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

86 comments

natasha p
Past Member 8 months ago

ty

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Sue H
Sue H8 months ago

2018....no progress.

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Chrissie R
Chrissie R8 months ago

Don't blame the people who don't register and don't bother to vote....

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Danuta W
Danuta W8 months ago

Thank you for sharing

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william Miller
william Miller2 years ago

thanks

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Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Elaine Bauer
Elaine Bauer2 years ago

This convoluted primary system disenfranchises a major part of the electorate. This Drummph is THE Rep. candidate, and half the states haven't had any say at all! Clinton and T. have been anointed; what "choice" are we left with? Democracy?!? HA!

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Miriam Site issues

Thank you very much for sharing!

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Marie W.
Marie W2 years ago

Money and a disinterested uninformed populace.

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Bob P.
Bob P2 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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