Up until the Supreme Court gave us George W. Bush as President, I didn’t give the process of voting much thought. I assumed it was fair and uncorrupted—with one exception.

In 1960, I was living outside of Chicago and thrilled to vote for JFK. At the time, there was a rumor that Mayor Daley had “made sure” that Kennedy carried the state. I’m ashamed to admit, election corruption—alleged or real—didn’t bother me back then since I despised Nixon. And sadly, the last time I thought a president had something to say that actually mattered and wasn’t a campaign promise quickly forgotten once they took office. JFK’s creating the Peace Corps was enough promise kept for me and the model for the residency that took me to Kenya in 1981.

Like Abraham Lincoln (from the quote above), I agree that elections belong to the people and not to mainstream media, billionaires, television ads, or political operatives. We’re told that if we don’t like our current leadership, we should vote them out of office. Easier said than done if we are denied seeing all of the candidates and can’t hear what they stand for and promise.

I’d like to decide for myself, from a complete list of choices, who I want to vote for at the city/county/state and federal levels. I think we deserve that, whatever our political preferences.

PG-13

My concern is more than the above, but it is related to voting. Like many Americans, I want to be treated like an adult, not like a child whose choice is limited to something akin to PG-13 movies.

Sadly, there’s more censoring and protection by mainstream media than I can stand these days. Here are a few fairly recent examples of what I mean: the networks only showing Israel’s presentation before the International Court of Justice, not South Africa’s. And another: “We don’t think it would be good for you to see Trump’s Iowa acceptance speech” and probably all of those to come. Will they shield us from Biden’s too? I doubt it. Why did we only see the film of demonstrators shaking the fence in front of the White House several months ago? Why not an overhead shot of the 400,000 Americans nonviolently asking for the killing of Palestinian women and children to stop.

You wouldn’t know that hundreds-of-thousands of farmers across Europe are protesting against various unfair measures being introduced by their governments. Is this really about emission targets and climate change or something more sinister? Why aren’t we seeing this? Maybe it’s too risky to show Americans how when you’ve had enough of something you might just gather together and protest. You might even create a populist movement and “throw the bums out.”

I want the American people to wake up and put a stop to being treated like sheep, by the two political parties and their billionaire funders, like border collies, shoving us in their preferred direction.

I wish that The League of Women Voters still ran the presidential and vice-presidential debates. I wish anyone who wanted to run as a Democrat, Republican, Green, Independent or Any Other Name party appeared on the ballot and on the debate stage answering tough questions. I wish the debates were informative and not another way to bring revenue to the networks off the backs of the American voters.

You might say I’ve been bellyaching long enough and it’s time to “put up or shut up.” So here are my humble solutions to what I see as a forthcoming voting crisis. And it really is a crisis—under/over counted ballots, electronic voting machines that can be tampered with, billionaires like Mark Zuckerberg and George Soros mucking about, and making it so damn hard to vote (moving polling places, etc.) that many people simply give up. If I were in charge here’s what I would do:

  • Create a national voting holiday. Make it a paid one like all of the others. Companies would be required (facing huge fines and civic penalties) to give that day or enough of that day off for everyone to vote. The website link at the end shows the current status of what states do to support voting—or not.
  • Transparency like we haven’t seen in decades—at every step.
  • Require a simple photo ID to vote as a legal citizen, register (one woman/man, one vote), and no party registration. You’re good to go!
  • Organize supportive groups to help those who have difficulty for any reason to get to the polls. Local buses are free! And if we take PAPER ballots into institutions or other facilities, the process is observed, secured, and delivered to the appropriate precinct.
  • We vote with paper ballots, step into the booth, draw the curtain, and take an official pen provided and mark X in your choices (no hanging chads). They are all there – everyone and all parties are on the list. None of this having to declare who you’re voting for in front of people working at the polls or hovering outside.
  • You take your ballot and deposit it in a locked box, thank the workers, go home, enjoy the rest of the day to celebrate democracy, and wait for the results.
  • The ballots are opened under observation – official observers like The League of Women Voters and others. They are counted, sealed, delivered to a central location, and the results announced as appropriate in time and place. None of these steps are without observers—the way President Carter led a team in many countries.

Nothing but our current amped up, divided country will remain unless we open our eyes and our minds to all sides, not just the PG-13, highly censored versions. Let’s not make a mockery of democracy.

Those are my concerns and suggestions. What are yours?

What did I miss?

P.S.

Various so-called “pro-democracy” groups are reported to be gearing up for the 2024 election. According to documents provided to and verified by Matt Taibbi, they are taking aim at third party candidates. Here is their game plan: “Through every channel we have—to their donors, their friends, the press, everyone should send this message: if you have one fingernail clipping of a skeleton in your closet, we will find it. We’re going to come at you with every gun we can possibly find. We didn’t do that with Jill Stein or Gary Johnson. We should have. We will not make that mistake again.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr’s campaign is well-funded and seems like a third-party threat. The No Labels party (so far without a presidential candidate) is also well-funded, already on 14 state ballots and trying for 18 more. No Labels is enough of a threat that in May 2023, Maine Secretary of State, Shenna Bellows, the same person who invalidated Trump from Maine’s ballot, sent an official letter to more than 6,500 Maine citizens who registered to join the No Labels party. She claimed that organizers had confused these voters (more PG-13) and invited them to switch their registration back to some other party. Essentially, she asked everyone who registered for No Labels, “Are you sure? Are you sure this is what you want to do?”  Other than voter interference and/or intimidation, what would you call this?

https://www.lgbtmap.org/democracy-maps/election_day_holiday_paid_time_off_to_vote

Photo credits: Ballot box – Element 5, polling station – steve-houghton-burmett, sheep – andrea-lightfoot, closed eyes – jan-canty.