What I don’t understand is why we don’t have a national primary for president instead of having the candidates run this gauntlet, state by state, with the winner frequently being the one with the deepest pockets. It would seem with all the advantages of this information age we now live in that an effort to adapt to the times would better serve the public and the process. Change as we know comes slowly, especially in Washington and our state capitals where every issue is viewed as a political advantage or disadvantage. Any change to the system or process could well be many more election cycles in the future as election officials seek to correct what they deem to be inequities in the process.
For example, in Virginia, only two Republican candidates, Romney and Paul, secured enough signatures to get on the ballot. While the others pursue legal challenges to get on the ballot, the Virginia Republican party is requiring what they call a loyalty oath. The state's Board of Elections approved the proposal last week. Going forward, voters who arrive at polling sites in March will be required to sign the following statement: “I, the undersigned, pledge that I intend to support the nominee of the Republican Party for president.” I guess if you don’t sign you won’t be permitted to vote.
In Michigan, two new proposals are currently before the Senate. One calls for state certification and training of third party agencies before registering voters. The other calls for requiring photo identification for in-person and absentee voting. Opponents claim the new requirements will add additional stress and undue hardship on voter rights and discriminate against minority groups.
Voting in a democracy should be a simple process with majority ruling the day. Minority issues need to be addressed, but as a nation we need to find solutions to our toughest problems much quicker without haggling over common sense issues and allowing the system to be manipulated by those currently in power. Clearly, in Virginia, the courts will open the door to other candidates and if the loyalty oath is allowed to stand, it’s only a silly attempt to try to keep non-party members from participating in the primary. But since it is not enforceable, and anybody who breaks the pledge will face no punishment, it’s really of little value. The Michigan Laws, despite heavy opposition, are similar to what other states have already enacted and common sense would suggest need to be improved to ensure voting accuracy. But both speak to the difficulties our democracy faces in attempting to improve or update the process. So, for now, we have 44 more weeks of, at times, an agonizing process as we go about electing a new chief executive or re-electing the current one.
Dan Alexander is publisher and CEO of Denton Publications. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.