Our election system could be less frustrating


(Portland) Commercial Review

For many, there was probably a sigh of relief.

That sigh came not because of who won — this editorial is being written on the afternoon of Election Day — but rather because the seemingly everlasting presidential election season is finally over.

If there’s one thing that becomes clearer and clearer its that we have to do something to improve the system.

Here are a few suggestions:

Shorten the process. In local and state elections, we manage to limit it to a year. In Indiana, filing starts in January, the primary (typically) is in May, the general election is in November. That’s it. But when it comes to president, the ever-lengthening process stretches almost two full years. We go through candidate announcements and debates for a year or more leading up to the primaries, then go through it again with the general election. The result is that by the time it’s over we’re all sick of hearing from all of the candidates, regardless of where we fall on the political spectrum.

Eliminate taxpayer support of primaries. Our tax dollars should not be used to run primaries for political parties. Let the Republicans and Democrats run their own selection process. (This is what the conventions used to be.) It would serve a few purposes, including creating a more level playing field for all parties, not just the big-money two.

Implement ranked-choice voting. This system would let voters rank their choices in order of preference. For instance, in Indiana, a voter would have been able to name Libertarian Donald Rainwater as their first choice, Republican Eric Holcomb as their second and Democrat Woody Myers as their third, for example. The winner must have more than 50% of the votes. If there is no winner on the first count, the lowest-ranked candidate is removed and the results tabulated again, and so on. This system would allow voters to choose a third-party candidate, like Rainwater, or a Green Party candidate, or an independent, without feeling their vote would be “wasted.”

Restrict the amount of money involved in elections. One of the biggest challenges third-party candidates have in breaking through is financial. This year, about $14 billion was spent in presidential and Congressional races. Those numbers are staggering and make it nearly impossible for anyone who isn’t on the ballot as a Republican or Democrat to have even a glimmer of hope. Enacting some spending limits would even the playing field and allow for more than just the two most well-established parties to have their voices heard.

There is much to be proud of in regard to this country’s elections. But they can always be better.

These steps would help make for a more fair, less frustrating process.

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