Thursday, November 26, 2020

Fix the system

Michigans voting process is in need of improvement

Extensive reforms at national and local levels must be made to the election process.

Tight elections across the country have caused close inspection of the election process, which has revealed discrepancies that have been ignored in landslide elections, but could have affected the outcome of several close races.

Investigations in Florida have revealed numerous voting discrepancies, such as a ballot - not designed in accordance with Florida law - that might have caused voters to choose Reform Party candidate Pat Buchanan over Vice President Al Gore. There also were reported instances of people being turned away from the polls.

Recent counts have put Texas Gov. George W. Bush ahead of Gore by just a few hundred votes and the winner of Florida will be the nation’s next president.

At the same time, many MSU students claim they were denied the opportunity to vote. Their votes could have affected close Michigan races. State Sen. Mike Rogers, R-Brighton, defeated state Sen. Dianne Byrum, D-Onondaga, by 153 votes in the 8th Congressional District race.

Rogers sponsored a bill - which later became law - that discouraged some students from casting their vote on Election Day. The law, which requires voters to change their voter registration address to that on their driver’s license, was created to help prevent voter fraud and help officials keep easier track of where people are voting.

But while the stated purpose of the law was not to discourage students from voting, it has unfortunately had that effect. Since most students frequently change their address and consider their campus city to be their second address, most have their permanent home address on their driver’s license.

Furthermore, many students were unaware of the law until they were turned away from the East Lansing polls on Election Day. The law complicated the process, especially for students who were voting for the first time and were unfamiliar with the process.

Senate bill 306 was not the only stepping stone for local voters. Students also complained of long lines, unclear directions to their precinct and unhelpful staff at the polls. Some precincts had inaccurate voter records and names were missing in the statewide file of registered voters.

Lansing-area officials should have access to technology that would have enabled them to keep even more accurate records. Better technology would have allowed voters who were turned away because of inaccuracies to be able to vote. Michigan should invest in better record-keeping methods and increase the number of well-trained staff. It may put more stress on the state, but it will hopefully take stress off the voter.

Voters should not have to endure long lines and unqualified staff when they head to the polls. The country should tackle any obstacles that discourage people from heading to the polls and make voting more quick and convenient.

Voting procedures across the country should be updated to keep pace with technology. Punch cards and voting booths are outdated and, as this election has proved, often inaccurate.

Better technology will yield more accurate results, which will prevent other election fiascoes from occurring in the future, and will restore people’s faith in the power and importance of their vote.


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