A True Democracy

On the 58th anniversary of Bloody Sunday, President Biden signed an executive order to “make it easier for eligible voters to register to vote and improve access to voting.”  The House recently passed H.R. 1 that would increase voter turnout by having national election standards.  At the same time, GOP controlled state legislatures are trying to restrict registration and voting. 

America has always been an imperfect democracy, from the days of the Founding Fathers to today.  Our history is in part the struggle to create a more perfect democracy.  First European American men got the right to vote and thus full citizenship.  Women won the right to vote in 1920, but have yet to win the presidency.  A century of Jim Crow ended in my lifetime with the voting and civil rights laws of the mid 1960’s, soon after Selma’s Bloody Sunday.  

Conservatives have always opposed the expansion of voting rights to include all citizens.  They are yet again trying to make it harder to register and vote.  It is a more subtle Jim Crow that could be called James Crow.  But the purpose is the same, which is to deprive eligible citizens of the ability to exercise their right to vote, so that the minority can rule the majority.  Conservative judges might uphold James Crow, like they once did Jim Crow, much to their historical shame.  

Instead of making it harder to vote, we should be making it easier to vote.  The goal of election officials should be high voter turnout, ideally with over 90% of eligible citizens voting.  In most elections around half turn out to vote, which means that only about a quarter of citizens voted for the election’s winner.  In 2020, voter turnout was the highest in a long time in part because of pandemic related innovations like voting by mail, drop boxes and early voting.

The legitimacy of the 2020 election is questioned by some, despite sixty court rulings and various recounts.  The 2016 election was questioned by Democrats because usually reliable exit polls showed Hillary winning both the national vote and the electoral college, but the official count was different.  The 2004 election had machines flipping votes, while the 2000 election had butterfly ballots, chads and a narrowing lead of only 500 votes before the counting was stopped.

Election officials should be non-partisan civil servants.  The secretary of state and other election officials should not be involved in political campaigns, which is an obvious conflict of interest.  Imagine if the referees supported one of the teams, that would not be a fair game.  Election decisions, voter purges and counting the votes should not be partisan.

Voting machine software should be analyzed by election officials, with the machines tested before the election and audited afterwards.  There should be a paper printout for recounts.  

Adult American citizens should be automatically registered to vote.  Babies could be pre-registered.  When you change your address with the post office, your registration changes too. 

An American Parliament alongside Congress would have many parties and high turnout.  Election Day could be a half-day federal holiday so that everyone has enough time to vote.  America should increase voter turnout to reach the 90% level of a true Democracy!

Robert Raven

Robert Raven grew up on three continents, but he's lived in the SF Bay Area for forty years. He is a retired high school teacher, with a BA in Government and a MA in History. He has been an advocate all of his adult life on various national and local issues.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. J

    Very scary what Republicans are doing to limit voting and voting rights especially leading up to 2022 election. We all have to jump back to it and get active again after taking a bit of a Biden rest trying to recover from four years of the tumultuous unrest in and assault on democracy coming daily from the previous person occupying the white house

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