The United States is facing a unique electoral dispute.
On the one hand, the country is facing a generational change. Its population is younger and with more diverse backgrounds (Afro-Americans, Latinos, and women are politically stronger than ever), and that tends to push the country towards democrats. The Biden-Harris ticket (as the Obama-Biden before them) appeals to that strength in diversity.
On the other hand, Trump is a candidate that jeopardies the entire democratic process with unproven remarks on the validity and fairness of the electoral dispute. By doing so, he shows himself as both an unfair player and a sore loser able, and willing to turn the democratic process upside down.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to change the structures of electoral dispute in time to make the November election safe and fair. But, no matter the results, the United States need to make substantial changes in their electoral system.
The three major American electoral deficiencies have their origins at the beginning of the country. If they were ways to control the elections by then, nowadays such a system has become so anachronistic as to put in danger the American democracy.
Reforming the electoral system must deal primarily with three elements: the scope of the vote; the electoral college, an election agency.
The mandatory vote.
Mandatory voting is how Australia votes. The idea is simple. Instead of someone having the right to vote, everyone that is allowed to vote becomes obliged to cast a vote. The right becomes a duty. And although no one likes to be obliged to do something, the consequence of such a duty is the government is obliged to facilitate the most access and the possibility of voting. This one change can arguably stop all the cries of foul voting since everyone will be enlisted and oblige to cast a vote. One person, one vote. That simple.
The right to vote is a feature of liberal democracies, whose first model was the USA, with the American revolution of 1776. However, one needs not to be passionate about history to know that the American revolution was not completely liberal, nor was it profoundly democratic.
The main evidence of this condition was the maintenance of slavery for almost 100 years, and the racial segregation that lasted at least until 1968 (although its consequences remain until today).
‘The right to vote’ is an illusion. In the USA, minorities are not allowed to vote on equal grounds for the major players. On paper, the law allows everyone to be enlisted to vote, but the hard truth is quite the opposite. According to Amanda Shendruk, in 2018, of the 17 states with the highest degree of difficulty in voting, 14 were Republicans, while 10 of the 13 easiest to vote were Democrats.
This division takes place along party lines because Republicans are currently stronger on declining demographic trends, while Democrats are more popular in rising demographic currents.
For democracy, this should be indifferent. Power, in a democracy, must follow the majority, provided that minorities are guaranteed life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and equality of conditions.
In this scenario, the right to vote becomes a barrier to the exercise of democracy because if forbids minority groups to cast votes on equal conditions. The solution of a mandatory vote, which would lead everyone to be registered as a voter, would prevent voters from being excluded.
Ending Electoral College
The second form of anti-democratic control established in the early days of the United States was the electoral college. Its conception is a way of controlling the votes of each region, denying the basic principle of one person, one vote. The Electoral College should be extinguished for majority elections since the voice of each citizen must be expressly computed at the general level.
Voting isn’t hard. Neither are elections, especially the major ones. Everyone casts a vote, all votes are counted, the person with the most votes wins. Easy. One person, one vote. Everyone has a saying.
But the electoral college breaks this logic. All votes of a state in the electoral college goes to the winner, even when he barely won. It is a lawful way of unfairly deciding elections.
Not only the Electoral College is anti-democratic, but it is also a liability on the political system. Frauding a major election is hard. It takes a dictatorship (see Belarus). But, when the election depends on an electoral college, frauds need not be vast and systemic, altering the vote of millions of people. All it takes is targeting the counties and districts most vulnerable. It is doable even if one doesn’t try to fraud the election, being only necessary to target enough voters with fraudulent ads.
An electoral agency
The regional fragmentation of the American electoral system is a strength because it makes large scale abusive measures difficult to implement. Therefore, an increase in electoral participation and the end of the electoral college would be enough for fairer elections.
However, elections are not just systems of choice. They are of the cornerstone of the democratic model. Its importance goes beyond the outcome of each dispute.
The United States then needs a non-partisan and federal electoral agency able to guarantee the right to vote in the fullest. If it does not need to unify all forms of election, it must, at least, guarantee minimum standards for all states, like enough number of voting stations. Most of all: IT MUST COUNT OF ALL VOTES.
The United States is proud to be the largest democracy in the world. However, when looking at their electoral failures, they show themselves as a problematic country that, under Trump’s command, is borderline an authoritarian state.
After the November election, those measures must be taken to American democracy may be effective again.
This post was previously published on Equality Includes You.
If you believe in the work we are doing here at The Good Men Project and want a deeper connection with our community, please join us as a Premium Member, today.
All Premium Members get to view The Good Men Project with NO ADS. Need more info? A complete list of benefits is here.
Photo credit: Unsplash