The torchbearer of democracy, Unites States appears to have a well-defined election process. It includes key elections such as US Presidential election and elections for the US Senate and US House of Representatives. US elections in the past two decades have been quite acrimonious and full of controversies.
There have been charges and counter-charges of rigging and even involvement of foreign players such as China and Russia. Nothing is proven till date, but it is apparent that US election process has problems that need to be resolved. Here is a look at some key flaws in US election process, which future leaders should try to fix during their term.
Electoral College – Imagine a candidate holding the highest office, even when he has fewer votes than the rival candidate. This is unimaginable, but that is exactly what happened in 2000 (George W Bush) and 2016 (Donald Trump). This anomaly is due to the archaic Electoral College system, wherein more power goes to slave states. A candidate can be president with 270 state electoral votes, even when they may not have the highest votes nationwide. This old system undermines the basic tenets of democracy, where every vote has equal weightage.
Voting without identification – States are allowed to create their own rules regarding how elections will be conducted in their state. In several states, there is no requirement to show personal identification to cast one’s vote. Voters can just walk in to cast their votes without the need to carry identification like driver’s license, etc. Allowing voters to vote without identification can be problematic, as even people without voting rights can cast their vote.
Postal ballots – There have been various allegations of fraud and even fake news related to the postal ballot voting system in United States. While postal ballot helps reduce election cost and increase voter turnout, it may be possible to influence the elections. Some states don’t even verify the signature on the ballot envelope, which is something that can be misused. Moreover, in states that verify signature, checks done by election staff is prone to human error and misjudgment. Postal ballot system, when used extensively, also delays the counting and announcement of election results.
Campaign finance – With millions of dollars spent on election campaigns, it is easier to influence voters. This is even more relevant in the age of social media, where ads can directly target potential voters. Election campaigns definitely need funding, but when too much money is floating around, it can have a biased influence on voters.
Gerrymandering – It is common for the party in power to change the electoral boundaries in a way that will work in their favor. Both Democrats and Republicans have been doing this over the years. Gerrymandering is a problem, as it results in unfair voter representation.