Election Day procedures - time to amend the Constitution?

In the “McCain is forked” thread, a discussion has broken out about Election Day procedures, which are (a) currently controlled at the state/local level, and (b) pretty nonsensical. The fact that there are people out there who would vote but can’t for whatever reason should be a major concern of both parties.

It seems so simple to me (and most people I speak to, including conservatives):

  1. Make Election Day a national holiday, or move it to the weekend.

  2. Extend the hours that the polls are open as much as possible. Maybe 6:00AM to 10:00PM.

Complete side debate: Heck, why not make it 24 hours? It’d be a significant undertaking logistically speaking, but what is more important than electing the leader of the free world? Why not open the polls all over the country for the exact same 24 hour period so polls open and close everywhere at the exact same time. No more calling the election before the left coast gets to vote.

For whatever reason, the objection to any kind of reform in this area comes from Republicans. I know why they object - my question is how they get away with it. There are almost always multiple sides to every argument, but it seems ridiculous that they can get away with arguing that more people voting is a bad thing.

So do we need an amendment to make election procedures a federal mandate? And how can the Republicans resist without looking terrible?

They’ll tell you they are protecting us from fraudulent voting.

Seriously, what the hell, it’s one day every four years we elect the leader of the free world, I think we can get that day off of work.

Why do you think Republicans object?

Hell, I wish there was some way we could make it fool-proof to just vote from home, over the Internet. Isn’t there?

I’d be in favor of a four day voting period and outlaw of touch screen voting. Any system that does not leave a permanent paper record is an invitation for fraud.

A constitutional amendment is not something to be done lightly, nor should it be done for matters of convenience. Too many people on either side of the political spectrum spout off with “We need to amend the Constitution” everytime they get upset about one thing or another.

We do not need to amend the Constitution. This percieved problem is not really a problem at all. The feds have control over certain issues. The states have control over other issues. Working as intended.

Really. You think the current system is hunky-dory. Everybody who wants to vote and is legally registered to vote is able to do so. Interesting.

There isn’t one, and there won’t be one in the foreseeable future, the main reason being that it’s impossible to guarantee secret ballots over the internet (there’s no way to give people uncoerced votes if you can’t control the environment), and the second reason is that it’s very hard to guarantee anonymity AND one-man-one-over both over the internet.

The Current with Anna Maria Tremonti.

The above link is to a CBC radio program that this morning featured a documentary about the Obama/McCain divide in Kenya. In short, those members of Obama’s father’s tribe favour Obama and members of the other tribes do not. Ethnic violence is a growing problem in Kenya and this American election is affecting things in a weird way.

I don’t know, and I’m sorry I don’t but that’s the way it is, how to do the Podcast thing, or if today’s show is already on the CBC site, but I know that people savvier than I will be able to do it, if they are interested.

More on the actual topic of this thread though, there is some discussion here in Canada about working toward online voting. I think it will come, eventually.

But at the very least, the very, very, very least, every vote should have a paper receipt. It’s appalling that isn’t the case.

Do you agree that the constitution needed to be amended when the numerous other amendments that concern ensuring Americans’ right to vote were ratified? I assume you believe that the evidence of problems with our current system is uncompelling? Maybe we should come back to this after we see the lines at the polls tomorrow.

There are a bunch of useful reforms that ought to be adopted, but they don’t require Constitutional amendments.

Perhaps the most beneficial one would be to spread voting over at least a week (already being done to some extent by state adoption of early voting) – it reduces the effectiveness of most vote-suppression tactics (since most targets will still have several days to get the problem corrected) and late-hit smears (either you have to bring your arguments out while there’s still time to rebut them, or else you lose most of the effect because too many people have already voted).

Why not? When the governor in Florida extended early voting hours, someone from the McCain campaign purportedly said that Crist had lost Florida for McCain. What’s to stop unscrupulous people in power from making the rules that benefit their party the most? As I said, the Constitution has been amended over and over to guarantee everyone’s right to vote. Why isn’t it a possibility here?

Making it a holiday wouldn’t require an amendment, would it?
That being said, many retail stores are open on many national holidays, so that alone would not prevent many workers from being disenfranchised. I think Oregon has the right idea: all absentee/vote-by-mail. They get 75%+ registered voters voting and few problems, and no major ones.

Changing election day to a weekend day or making it a holiday wouldn’t work. What about all the people that don’t work Mon-Fri 9-5 kind of jobs? Do you really think that the local hotel, restaurant, auto mechanic, dry cleaner or grocery store is going to close down for this? Heck, I work a Mon-Fri kind of job, and I get 7 holidays. I wouldn’t get an election day off. They just aren’t going to do it.

Of all the people I know that aren’t going to vote, none of them have trouble getting to the polling place. It’s either “I don’t like the options” or “My vote won’t count” or “I don’t care”.

Cleaning up the WAY we vote, so that people aren’t left with visions of Florida in 2004 would do way more to increase voting rates.

As for standardizing voting hours across the country, I’m all for it. My idea would be to open every single polling place at 6AM Eastern time, and close them all at 9pm in Hawaii. Then make it illegal to broadcast any polling info until they all close.

This is a solution in search of a problem. I’m skeptical that there are many (any?) people who wish to vote, but must work a continuous 13-hour day tomorrow (from 6:00 am to 7:00 pm, the hour that polls are open in my state).

ISTM the idea would be that the power of the State be used to command them to do so, or else. Compel them to take the holiday, or to grant every employee one day’s worth mandatory Electoral Leave at some point during the extended-voting period, or to change their shifts on Election Day. It’s what we have here so it’s doable.

Bingo. A national holiday would be great for white collar workers, but the service industry wouldn’t be any better off.

But it wouldn’t necessarily have to be that way. One could work a 10 hour day, have a 1 hour commute (each way), and be caught in traffic on the way home, thus preventing them from getting to the polls before they closed. I’ve certainly worked jobs where being late to go vote is not an excusable absense, and I’ve had those kinds of commutes.

I know there’s plenty of people who commute 100+ miles a day to their jobs in NYC, and I had a coworker who used to do the same for a job in Chicago. So it certainly does happen. Would those people be enough to shift the election? Probably not, but one could argue that the right to vote is one which should be vigorously defended to the point that no one should ever have to endure any kind of difficulty in exercising their right to vote.

Recent thread on the same topic.

The National Holiday thing isn’t really that big of a deal. I’m generally in favor of more National Holidays but I’m not convinced that people are unable to vote because of work requirements. States have early voting and absentee ballots and if you work a service industry job you have plenty of options to get your vote cast before election day. The fact that it’s a work day does not disenfranchise voters, IMHO. However, I would support making it a National Holiday just for the sake of emphasizing how important a day it is. Anything that increases public awareness of voting and it’s importance is worthwhile. The fact that Presidential Election Years are Leap Years works nicely in that people will have the same number of work days in those years, but that’s just novelty.

However I really think that leaving election procedure and policy to the state and local levels is idiotic. States have far too much vested interest in it to be trusted to act objectively and election-to-election changes happen with too little oversight and far to casually. Some of the “technology” out there used to vote is an embarrassment. I think there should be one system out there that all states and all voters use universally. The ballots should be consistent and the distribution of the voting machines should be mandated by federal law in order to prevent local governments from under-serving neighborhoods from the other side of the aisle in a given election cycle.

Also, I think that it should be illegal for Churches to be polling places. They should be restricted to Post Offices, Town Halls, City Offices and Public Schools. There’s is something extraordinary about the fact this goes uncommented on in a country that professes the separation of church and state. The fact that the religion has become politicized and co-opted by the GOP makes it unacceptable that churches be used as polling places.

You forgot tire stores. I once lived in an area where I had to cast my vote in a tire store. Yeah, I had a lot of confidence about that.