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It’s time to revamp the election process

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The presidential election is over, thank God. I’m ready for a much-needed break in what has become a three year, eight month presidential campaign of non-stop poll results, candidate bashing, negatively and general goofiness everywhere.

There is no question that this year’s election was the worst in my memory, which dates back to 1968 and the Nixon-Humphrey race. Never before have Americans been left with two choices that were universally despised by most people. It’s a symbol of just how divided our country has become.

At the church I was attending a few weeks before the election, the pastor scolded people for complaining about the choices they had in candidates. He noted that 90 percent of evangelicals sat out the primaries. What do you expect?, he asked.

That was an unfair generalization. Most people would have probably voted for other candidates, if they were given the opportunity. However, the election process is hopelessly broken and desperately in need of an overhaul.

First, it is wrong that the voters of Iowa and New Hampshire get to select the candidates for the rest of the nation to support.  There is a lot of hype and energy expended leading up to those two contests. And whenever someone loses, the media pounces on that person to drop out of the race.

Certainly after Super Tuesday, when citizens from a dozen or so states go to the polls about four weeks into the election cycle, the candidates the rest of the country can vote to support dwindle to a couple. We have 28 percent of the states selecting candidates for the remaining 72 percent.

Even then, the processed is rigged. People don’t vote for a candidate, they vote for delegates to a political convention where, as we saw this year, that doesn’t really matter. The delegates “vote their conscience” and support the candidate who promises them the most or, in some cases, buys them off.

Let’s not forget about the role “super delegates” play in the nominating conventions. These jokers aren’t even elected, they are appointed by the party apparatus – and their votes for a particular candidate can be locked up before the primary election in a state even takes place.

Then there is the “winner take all” Electoral College in which the winner of a state’s popular vote grabs 100 percent of the delegates to the Electoral College that actually determines who becomes the next president. In the past 16 years, we have seen two elections where someone lost the popular vote, but was “elected” president thanks to the Electoral College process.

Many people think the system is rigged to support the powerful, and this year’s election proved the point. It’s time to apply some easy fixes to the election process.

First, term limits must be applied across the board. Nobody should serve in any elected position more than 12 years – that includes local, state and federal offices. The idea of career politicians was unheard of when our Constitution was created.

Our founders always assumed people would come together for a few weeks to “do the people’s business,” then return to their farms, jobs and companies to live under the laws they passed.

The fastest way to end political corruption is to prevent people from attaining too much power. You served a total of 12 years on the city council, state assembly and U.S. Senate, then thank you for your service. Now go out and get a real job and step aside to let someone else represent voters.

Second, there has to be a national primary day 60 days before the general election. Do away with all the nonsense associated with political conventions, and give power back to the people.

Then, the top two votegetters in the primary – regardless of party — move on to the general election. We could have two Republicrats or two Demoplicans on the ballot or even an independent or third-party candidate. Some states already do this for state and local elections.

To incentivize participation in the primary elections, if any candidate other than for president gets 50.1 percent of the vote, the election is over and that candidate takes the office.

For presidential elections, we need to retain an Electoral College component; otherwise people could simply campaign in America’s Top 25 counties and garner nearly all of the 60 million votes to win a presidential election.

The blue areas in the map above shows where half the nation’s population lives. Is it fair to all Americans to give the residents of a few big cities power to control the destiny of the rest of the country?

The Electoral College gives each state as many electors as the combined total of U.S. senators and representatives to which the state is entitled. But, the current system generally gives a state 100 percent of the total delegates based solely on total popular vote.

A better system would be to adopt an approach used by Maine and Nebraska where they select one elector per congressional district based on popular vote, and the two remaining statewide electors based on total popular vote.

Next, let’s ensure that one person gets one vote by insisting that everyone present identification before being handed a ballot. Identification is needed for a plethora of daily activities, which is why people have IDs in the first place. Elections should be no different.

To ensure that vote totals can’t be tampered with, I think the entire country should adopt the approach used in the small Wisconsin town I lived eight years ago. Each person was handed a paper ballot and they marked their choices for candidate by darkening a circle.

Then, to make counting faster, the ballots were scanned into a machine. However, the paper ballots were retained so spot checks could be done to ensure accuracy and to prove the vote totals in the event of a recount.

Finally, regardless of what pundits say about “vetting” candidates, the entire presidential election can be wrapped up from start to finish in eight months – six months of campaigning before the primary and two months for the general election.

We expect absolute perfection from presidential candidates and demand that everything from their third grade reading scores, latest proctology exam, income taxes for 10 years, evaluation by high school dating partners, and statements made 30 years earlier all be analyzed to death under the guise of “vetting” a candidate.

You wonder why we wound up with two bad candidates for president. Who in their right mind would want the job? What normal person would subject their families, their business and their personal history to the scrutiny of a presidential campaign? Anyone who would, should be immediately suspect and evaluated for mental illness.

Every person reading this post has skeletons in their closets, have said stupid things they wish they could take back, and done even dumber things they truly regret. I can point to several major live-changing events that resulted in a completely different worldview than I held previously – getting married, becoming a father, becoming a Christian and owning a business.

What I did or said prior to those events offers little insight into my thinking in 2016. Why should we expect a presidential candidate to defend or affirm things he or she has said or did more than 15 years ago?

The election system in America is badly broken and needs to be overhauled. Can we count on currently elected people in positions of power to make the changes? I’m not going to hold my breath.

That’s why we need to utilize the protection against power strongholds written into the U.S. Constitution by our brilliant founders and convene a Constitutional Convention soon.

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Greg Gerber

A native of Wisconsin who moved to Arizona in 2009, Greg Gerber is a DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three grown daughters. He worked as a journalist for many years before pursuing a career as a faith-based writer, author, coach and speaker. Greg is the author of Pornocide: How Lust is Killing Your Faith, Stealing Your Joy and Destroying Your Life.

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