How do we improve the election process?

Introduced: October 22 2012

If you could change one thing about the U.S. election process, what would it be? (Also, check out our previous dialogue "Before We Even Vote" when the primaries and the SuperPACS were just getting warmed up. http://www.iwdialogue.com/topic/we-even-vote


Note From IWD: "Weigh-Ins" are no longer an active feature on IWD. Our members expressed a preference for longer dialogues. The content of the previous Weigh-Ins remains on the site for your enjoyment and enlightenment. 

Member Responses

IWD members responded to the invitation to improve the election system with enthusiasm.

Suggestions included:


Stop the SuperPacs:

"Elections shouldn't be able to be bought, especially when outside money is used to influence the outcome of local races."


"If the Supreme Court was right in permitting citizens and organizations to give unlimited funds during a campaign, then Congress needs to change the law and change the process. It will take a constitutional amendment, but if elections are at the heart of our democracy, then we need to address the need to get big money OUT!""


Eliminate the advertising:

"Reduce the number of ads overall and do something to discourage negative, exaggerated and misleading ads."


"As the election season heated up and ads for opponents were running back to back, it was almost laughable to see contradictory claims and competing accusations flying back and forth."


Total campaign finance reform:

"It should not cost so much money to run for office and not so much money for voters to make up their minds.

Note from IWD: In a conversation with Tommy Sowers, who ran for Congress in Missouri in 2012, we learned that if he had won the election, the very next day he would have had to start raising money for the next campaign.


From more than one corner we heard: "Give every candidate the same amount of money -- and not that much money! -- and let them decide how to use it to their best advantage."


Improve the debates:

"Develop a better forum where each candidate has the chance -- and the responsibility to fully and directly answer a question."

Note from IWD: Bob Schieffer, moderator of the final of three debates gave his opinion about debates after the fact:

"Instead of three, I'd propose six, with the first one immediately after the political conventions.

It's better to have the candidates sitting at a table together than to have them at podiums or wandering around the stage as in the town hall format. "Starting early and sitting the candidates down face-to-face could change the entire tone of the campaign. An argument with someone you know -- even just a little -- is generally conducted on a higher plane than an argument with a stranger."


Replace the debates with something less confrontational and more informative. For example, an interview conducted by an impartial interviewer who allows the candidate to give a complete answer but doesn't allow him/her to dodge the question.


Reform voter eligibility:

Members expressed two opposite views on voter eligibility. Are there people voting who shouldn't? Or are people who should have the right to vote being kept away?  Some members say it is voter suppression when a state requires voters to have a state-issued ID card; others disagreed. "If we started now and gave people enough warning, needing an ID card isn't unreasonable. After all, people need a license to drive, a license to marry, etc."


Stanardize the voting procedure:

"Why should different states have such wildly different procedures, processes and even equipment? At my polling place, they had two electronic voting machines -- and one was broken. Folks, it only happens once in a great while -- can't we get it right?" 


Rethink the electoral college:

"I'd like see a total reconsidereation of the electoral college. We are the only democracy in the world where the President is not elected by the popular vote."

Note from IWD: Luckly, it didn't happen in 2012, but there was actually a scenario where, with a tie in electoral votes, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives would have chosen the President and the Democrat-controlled Senate would have chosen the Vice President. A Romney-Biden administration.


If you'd like to add your comments to this Weigh-In, please send them to topics@iwdialogue.com.