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AS I SEE IT: Make sure votes cast are counted

Eric Barr // Published June 29, 2008 in Kansas City Star
Our country badly needs some major electoral reforms. Here are just a few of the ones with which I hope most people will agree.

•We need to get rid of electronic voting machines. There were many stories in 2004 of people unable to vote because the machines had technical problems.

Even when the machines work, there is no way to verify that the total vote count that they output in the end actually matches what voters entered. The only way to guarantee they match is to have the machines produce paper receipts that are counted as well.

But if we have to count the paper receipts, too, then why do we need the machines in the first place? Is it just so we can count votes faster?

I think people are willing to wait a day or two for results to make sure we get the count right.

•We should get rid of the Electoral College. It was implemented by the founding fathers because they didn’t believe that all citizens could make well-educated choices when they voted. So a few elite citizens in each state were chosen as the electors.

We still have these special electors, but now they pledge to cast their electoral votes for the candidate that wins the popular votes in their states. This creates situations like the one in 2000, when a candidate can win the national popular vote but lose the electoral vote.

There is no reason to retain this antiquated system.The president should be elected through the country’s aggregated popular vote.

Many states are moving in this direction by signing on to the National Popular Vote agreement (see nationalpopularvote.com).

•Election Day should be a holiday. How many of us struggle to fit voting into our normal Tuesday schedule?

People often plan to vote after work and then something else comes up and they do not vote at all.

The United States has one of the worst voter turnouts of democratic countries and this is one major reason why.

Alternatively, many people support holding elections on Veteran’s Day rather than creating a new holiday.

These are only a few of the reforms that would do our country good. For more information on these proposals and others, see the Web site of the national electoral reform organization, Fair Vote (fairvote.org), or watch the movie “Uncounted” (www.uncountedthemovie.com).

The more votes that are cast and get counted in the future, the stronger our democracy will be.

Eric Barr is a member of Kansas City for Ranked Choice Voting. He lives in Kansas City.