Gerry Connolly Proposes Election Reforms

U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly has proposed a bill to address the issue of people waiting hours in line to vote on Election Day.

This bill authorizes a federal program to award grants based on how well states can improve access to the polls in at least nine specific ways, including:

Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;

Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;

Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;

Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;

Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;

Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;

Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county officials and volunteers;

Auditing and reducing waiting times at polling stations; and

Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.

Let’s go through these items one by one.

1.  Providing flexible registration opportunities, including same-day registration;

BAD IDEA – If you couldn’t be bothered to register to vote before Election Day, then you’re not taking your civic responsibility seriously.  We’ve got “motor voter,” voter registration forms available at post offices, libraries and other public buildings.  You can download voter registration forms from the Internet.  There is no reasonable excuse that someone could not register before actually showing up at the polls to vote.  If you think the lines were bad this time, how bad would they be if you have a bunch of people who had to first REGISTER on site and be verified as eligible?  Not to mention the huge opportunity this would create for wholesale voter fraud (unless he agrees to voters having to dip their fingers in indelible purple ink like they did in Iraq so no one can vote twice — I’d love to hear the arguments against that.)

2.  Providing early voting, at a minimum of 9 of the 10 calendar days preceding an election;

BAD IDEA – It is called Election DAY, not Election WEEK or Election MONTH.  I don’t have a problem with people casting an absetee ballot (or even an in-person absentee ballot), but this move towards early voting is just plain silly as those casting such votes are doing so without the benefit of witnessing the entire election campaign unfold.  People around the world wait for hours to cast their ballots out of a sense of pride on their countries’ election days.  It used to be viewed in the U.S. that waiting to vote ON ELECTION DAY was one of the few communal events that we shared with our friends and neighbors.  We’re losing that.

3.  Providing absentee voting, including no-excuse absentee voting;

GOOD IDEA – As I stated above, I have no problem with this.  Every eligible voter should be able to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice.

4.  Providing assistance to voters who do not speak English as a primary language;

BAD IDEA – What languages would states and counties be required to provide assistance with?  It may surprise Mr. Connolly that in many Prince William County Schools students who are in the ESOL program are not Spanish speakers, but many are Arabic or from African nations.  Once you do it for one group, you’d have to do it for all of them and there are currently just over 6,000 spoken languages in the world today.  If people are in America and voting (meaning they must be citizens), then they should at least understand enough English to be able to cast a ballot.  If they need help, they should ask a family member or friend to review with them a sample ballot before they head to the polls.

5.  Providing assistance to voters with disabilities, including visual impairment;

GOOD IDEA – Once again, every eligible voter should be able to cast a ballot for the candidates of their choice — so long as the votes are actually cast for the candidates of that voter’s choice.

6.  Providing effective access to voting for members of the armed services;

GOOD IDEA – For those men and women fighting to protect our liberties, we should do everything we can to ensure that they can exercise this most cherished liberty themselves.  Reports that many service members did not receive the absentee ballots that they requested for the 2012 presidential election is very troubling.

7.  Providing formal training of election officials, including State and county officials and volunteers;

GOOD IDEA – No matter where a voter casts his or her ballot in a state, it should be roughly the same experience.  There should be consistency in the process that will give voters confidence in the results.

8.  Auditing and reducing waiting times at polling stations;

GOOD IDEA – If we can reduce wait-times in supermarket check-out lines by auditing how many people are waiting and adjusting accordingly, there is no reason why we can’t apply such private sector lessons to speeding up things on Election Day for voters at the polls.

9.  Creating contingency plans for voting in the event of a natural or other disaster.

GOOD IDEA – Hurricane Sandy showed us that this is a necessity.  Just as contingency plans must be put in place for other activities, there should be ones in place for voting as well.  I do not believe that should include moving the date of an election unless it is a cataclysm of epic proportions and even then that should only be done for elections at the state or local level.  At the presidential level, the Electoral College is the bulwark against emergencies and other national disasters disproportionately impacting the outcome.

So, there you have it.  In principle, Connolly’s bill has 6 areas where conservatives and liberals should be able to agree.  Not a bad place to start from.

A Counter-Proposal To Those Wanting The Popular Vote To Elect The President

Prior to the presidential election, a number of people once again made noise about junking the Electoral College in favor of electing the president by national popular vote.  If anything, the magnitude of damage and devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy should offer them pause on this.  All it takes is one natural disaster hitting a populated region like the Northeast to impact the outcome of the presidential election if it is decided by the national popular vote.  Due to demographics and geography, such a disaster would more likely negatively impact the Democratic candidate (hurricane hitting NY/NJ, earthquake hitting CA, etc.)  By the way,the FEMA offices in NJ are closed today [heck of a job, Barry] because of the incoming Nor’easter.  (It’s now snowing in Atlantic City and Ocean City.)

I’d like to put forward a counter-proposal that somewhat addresses what they are trying to accomplish while protecting voters from such scenarios as those painted above.  The great thing is that this proposal is already in effect in two states, Maine and Nebraska, and has been around for quite some time.  Award Electoral College votes by congressional district.

In those two states, whichever presidential candidate carries a congressional district picks up the vote from that district.  Whoever wins statewide picks up the two at-large votes.

We saw the two candidates for president this year focus heavily on Virginia, Florida, Ohio, North Carolina, and a handful of other so-called “swing states.”  As a result, large swaths of America are ignored.  That wouldn’t be the case if a Republican could pick up electoral votes in Upstate New York or a Democrat could do so in urban areas of Texas.

If this method were in place in Virginia for the 2012 election, Obama would have picked up the two at-large votes and votes in the congressional districts that he carried while Romney would have picked up the rest.

Right now, Obama has carried 25 states and Romney 24 with Florida still up for grabs.  Makes you wonder, given that the GOP has maintained its House majority, if Romney might have emerged the winner if this system were in place in all 50 states.

So I’d like to suggest to Virginia legislators to change the method by which the commonwealth’s electoral votes are awarded from winner take all to the district-based method.  If we’re going to be a target swing state from now on anyway, we may as well make it worth the while for both candidates.

2012 Election Predictions

Now is the time to put it on the line and make your predictions.  Here’s mine for the presidential:

We’ll know by around 10 p.m. tomorrow night if this scenario will play out once we have a good idea on how the Virginia (polls close at 7 p.m.) and Ohio (polls close at 7:30 p.m.) returns are going.  I’d pay close attention to what Michael Barone, the author of the Almanac of American Politics, has to say about swing counties and precincts in both states for your first clues.  (Barone should be part of the FOX News Channel team.)  I think Virginia will be called by 9:30 for both Mitt Romney and George Allen (I’d look for Romney to have a slightly larger margin than Allen, a reversal from earlier this fall as Romney has picked up support from Kaine supporters in Northern VA.)  The Virginia house delegation will remain unchanged.  Ohio will be closer than Virginia, but Romney will pull out a victory there without a messy recount.  When the first “blue” state falls to Romney — whether it be Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania — it will be the start of a very long night for Democrats nationally.

UPDATE:  The Washington Post has apparently realized that their current polling methodology is flawed and is trying out a new one.

According to The Washington Post Chia Pets, Mitt Romney is in the lead. Who do you think will win the election? http://wapo.st/U4wdjn

Virtucon’s Current Electoral College Map Projections

Here’s where we see the current landscape of the 2012 electoral map using RealClearPolitics “Create Your Own Map” program.  The way I see this race now, Romney is at 244 and Obama is at 201 in the Electoral College. I have not changed any states to “Toss-Up” status here from the most current Real Clear Politics map, but have assigned a few toss-ups where I think they are leaning based upon recent polls (specifically Colorado, Florida, and North Carolina.)That puts Romney just 26 Electoral College votes away from victory.  If you were to give the traditional Democratic states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin to Obama, that adds 46 to his total, putting him at 247 and just 23 votes away.  That leaves Virginia, Ohio, Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire on the table.  Based upon recent polling (both public and internal), I believe Virginia will ultimately swing towards Romney.  An Ohio victory for Romney would seal the deal, but he could still cobble together a victory by carrying Nevada, Iowa and New Hampshire.

2012 Electoral College Nightmare Scenario

 

You think 2000 was bad when the popular vote winner lost the Electoral College vote and citizens unfamiliar with the Constitution were angered, wait and see what happens if this plays out…

Only twice has the Electoral College not produced a winner — 1800 and 1824 — and the House of Representatives selected Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams respectively in those years (not bad choices.)  Can you imagine the reaction of the ObamaPhone Lady and others like her if this happened?

Each state delegation in the House would cast one vote and whichever party holds the majority of seats from that state would determine which presidential candidate.  There are currently 33 states with GOP majority delegations.  The rest are either Democrat majority or split evenly between the two parties.  It is clear that under virtually any scenario that the House would elect Mitt Romney as president.

The Senate operates differently and each senator gets a vote, so whoever gets 51 votes would be Vice President.

Ultimately, I hope this does not come to pass and I still believe, especially after last night’s debate, that Romney will carry Ohio, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, making it a decisive victory.

 

WashPo Lays Out Path For Romney To Reach 270 EVs

In a piece titled, “Romney’s bright electoral landscape,” WashPo’s Jennifer Rubin details Mitt Romney’s path to reaching 270 Electoral Votes and winning the presidency. All he needs is to do better than McCain in ’08 — he can even do worse than Bush in ’04.

Rubin starts Romney out at 170 EVs where he currently stands at RealClearPolitics and builds from there:

To get 100 more and seize the presidency, Romney only needs some states that routinely went Republican before the 2008 race (Nevada, Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Virginia) and needs to hold on to a few that Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) managed to win (Arizona, Missouri). This gets Romney to 273.

In other words, Romney doesn’t need to win (but he might) in New Hampshire or New Mexico. He would love to, but isn’t required to, break through in states like Pennsylvania, Iowa, Wisconsin or Michigan. (The first and last would seem the most likely.)