Make voting simple again

To no one’s surprise, former President Trump has alleged electoral chicanery in Arizona. 

After high-tech voting machine problems, a 70% increase in early ballots, and a count that stretched on for the better part of a week, the Democratic candidate, Mark Kelly, has come up with the votes needed to defeat his Republican challenger, Blake Masters. 

Former President Trump declared the result a “scam” and called for a do-over.

I’m not here to rule one way or another on the probity of the election process in Arizona. And like many of you (including many Republicans), I’m suffering from a major case of Trump Fatigue Syndrome (TFS).

Here is what I will say:

Our country is currently divided in a way it has not been since 1860—or at least since 1968. Both sides have alternately challenged the trustworthiness of our democratic institutions, including our election system. (Let us not forget that Democrat Stacey Abrams launched a lawsuit after she lost her 2018 bid to become Governor of Georgia.) Public trust in the very fabric of American democracy is at an all-time low.

In such an environment, the optics of a situation like the one that occurred in Arizona invite suspicion, even if everything was actually on the up and up. As I noted in a recent post, the low-tech, simpler election process of my younger years (1970s, 80s, and 90s) mostly avoided problems like the ones that have plagued our recent elections. 

We have made voting far more complicated than it needs to be, with all the mail-in voting, early voting, and computerized ballot machines that are prone to malfunction and (theoretically, at least) manipulation. 

There’s a simpler way. There’s always been a simpler way:

1.) One photo-ID-authorized voter, one vote, in-person, on Election Day.

No mail-in or early voting, without a physician’s certification that the voter is incapable of standing in line to cast their ballot. My grandmother stood in line at the polls on Election Day 2004, at the age of 82. No more than 20% of the population should be casting their votes through mail-in votes or early voting.

2.) Voting should involve the minimal technology necessary.

Which means: no software, no computer chips, no networked voting machines. 

No, I’m not a Luddite. Nor am I a techno-utopian. Sometimes technology makes things simpler, and sometimes technology makes things more complicated. Technology has made voting immeasurably more complicated. 

***

I reiterate: I really don’t know what happened in Arizona, or exactly why it took more than three days to count the votes. (And they’re still counting votes in Nevada.) 

I do know that it shouldn’t have taken so long. Let’s re-simplify our voting system so that, once again, we can have reliable results before midnight on Election Day.