Making Michigan’s Elections Run Better

The Michigan Election Reform Alliance has made a number of proposals–from no reason absentee voting to same day registration–that it argues would dramatically improve how elections are run in Michigan.

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After standing in line for up to three hours to cast a vote, it should become obvious that there is a serious need for electoral reform. Even if one excludes the bigger questions–such as the system’s being rigged against third party candidates–there are a number of simple reforms that could be made to make elections run more smoothly.

The Michigan Election Reform Alliance–a group working to improve elections in Michigan–has proposed a host of changes that they argue would help the system. Among their suggestions:

* No reason absentee voting.

* Registration shall be permitted during the day of an election at the local clerk’s office, or, at the clerk’s discretion, at the precinct.

* The current requirement shall be dropped so that first-time voters who register by mail no longer must vote in person.

* Mandate a higher minimum number of voting booth requirements per precinct for general elections — 1 booth per 50 registered voters, providing capacity for 200 voters per hour. The current state requirement of only 1 booth per 300 registered voters, if literally applied, permits only 40 voters per hour.

* Require automatic, random, hand count audits by trained, independent auditors.

* A full recount by hand of the voter verified paper ballots shall be mandated for any race or ballot initiative in which the margin of victory recorded on the first full tabulation of the ballots is 2% or less.

* Rotate which party’s candidate is listed first on the ballot so that each candidate is listed first in an approximately equal number of precincts.

Unfortunately, election reform is an issue that has not gotten much attention. After the problems with elections in 2000 and 2004, most of the discussion centered on increasing the use of technology rather than reforming how elections are conducted.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org