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My View: Election reform is needed now


Recent CNN and other polls identify a majority of voting Americans don’t like or trust Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump nor Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.

Adding to this sentiment was the recent Wikileaks release of Democatic National Committee emails showing an attempt to undermine Bernie Sanders’ campaign against Clinton.

The public wants change. Already large percentages have indicated they will vote for a candidate they don’t like because they think the other principal candidate is worse. And many who would vote for a third party are hesitant because of fears raised by the Democrats and GOP. Also, because the two major political parties largely control the Presidential Debate Commission, third-party candidates will be restricted from participating.

Additionally, according to the Huffington Post, the Democrats and GOP will likely spend a total of $5 billion during this presidential campaign.

What needs to be done to reform the election process:

1. Initiate campaign finance reform. The elections of 2016 (both presidential and local campaigns) will involve upward of $8 billion according to estimates. Such money should be put to more constructive use instead of manipulative campaign ads. Bernie Sanders was the principal advocate for campaign finance reform, but he didn’t use PAC money (and he lost). The Democrats and GOP’s use of big money raises concerns about the potential for influence peddling.

2. Get rid of the Electoral College. Whether you call the U.S. a republic or a representative form of democracy, it is not a direct democracy as long as popular vote does not elect the president. According to Wikipedia there have been four times where popular vote favored one candidate, but the electoral vote went to the candidate with a lower popular vote. Most recently this happened in 2000. Al Gore had over a half-million more votes than George W. Bush, but the Electoral College coupled with election discrepancies in Florida gave the election to Bush.

Also frustrating is that the Electoral College does not operate consistently. Most states give electoral votes on a winner-take-all basis, but a few do not. Likewise, the electors are not totally obligated to vote for the candidate who supposedly gains their vote. For this, some states have laws preventing “faithless electors” but others don’t. Nowhere else in the world is this type of election system used.

3. Provide nationwide election consistency that includes the primaries. There should not be 50 different states handling elections, especially federal elections, 50 different ways. This is wasteful, inconsistent and has the potential for hacking. Get rid of primary caucuses as they do not provide all voters with equal voting access. Use standardized methods for voting so as to eliminate such inconsistencies as “hanging chads” and ID issues. All citizens should have equal access to voting, whether it be in person or vote by mail.

4. Promote election information reforms that benefit third parties, not just those with big money. Allow all candidates to participate in initial debates. The voting public deserves more choice in elections and less “dog and pony” shows in debates.

5. In Portland, get rid of the antiquated and wasteful commission form of government and initiate election of City Council members by district. Every large city in the nation elects council members by district, except Portland. And if Steve Novick is re-elected, there will not be any member of the City Council who lives east of the river to represent the needs for growth and improvements to the east side.

The current American election process with its obscene spending and bias for the Democrats and Republican candidates is shameful. There should be a better way. Bill MacKenzie’s Sept. 27 My View on voting for “option C” is right on. What I hope happens is one of the third-party candidates earns enough electoral votes so that neither Clinton nor Trump receives the 270 electoral votes required for president. (If Sanders hadn’t thrown in the towel, he could have done this.) That sends the election to Congress.

Can you imagine the chaos that will ensue? And that may be the only way we’ll ever see Congress initiate election reform. In any event, it’s about time.

David Krogh of Southeast Portland is a

retired land-use planner. He is a part-time consultant and does planning-related

writing and volunteer work. Email:

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