Wednesday, November 05, 2008

My idea to increase voting rates

Well, this election is over and we voted in very high numbers. Some say it was the highest voter turnout in 40 years and others say it was the highest percentage in 100 years. But this was an especially compelling election with big problems to fix and with a big backlash against a very unpopular President. How do we keep these numbers up?

As I was watching the election coverage last night, I thought about how we divide up the electoral votes for each state and how we divide up the number of representatives each state can send to the House of Representatives. They are both based on the relative populations of the states. That's why the Census is very important that we run every ten years. Each state goes to great lengths to make sure all of its people are counted. But I was thinking that, even with the great turnout we had in this election (about 64% according to some), that means we are dividing up our representation by including 36% of the people who don't even vote. And that's on a record breaking year! If they don't care enough to vote, why should they count in deciding representation? Just because someone is sitting there taking up space shouldn't be a reason to give one state more representation than another. How do we get more people to vote?

My idea is to divide up electoral votes and Representatives to the House based on the number of people that voted in the last national election. Then it would be in everyone's interest to go out and vote. The states would do a much better job of encouraging people to vote and to make voting an easier and more pleasant experience. Another advantage to this would be that the representation would be recalculated more often and be closer to the real number. Right now we're working from data that was calculated during the last census in 2000.

One problem with this would be voting fraud. It would be much more important to guard against this and it would be tougher because the state government might be tempted to encourage it or at least not try as hard to stop it. There would have to be better ways to prevent voting fraud. But I think that is a problem that could be overcome. My idea is kind of like when Major League Baseball decided to make the All Star Game mean something by giving the league that won the game the home field advantage for the World Series. Now the players have an additional reason for playing hard in the game.

Anyway - congratulations Mr. Obama. I think you make a fine President and I will be praying for you and your cabinet.

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