Here at Action NC we're taking a close look at the work we did this election season. Along with other progressive partners, we did increase turnout of infrequent mid-term voters. As we make plans to ensure we do it bigger and better next time around, we want to hear your thoughts about increasing voter participation among those whose values are progressive, but who too often sit the mid-terms out. Based on internal conversations as well as conversations with some of you, we have some thoughts on how we do this. Take a moment to review these ideas and let us know if they are good, bad, important, easy, or impractical. You can even suggest some of your own. This is a challenge we all must meet together, and your input is valuable.
1. Establish a non-partisan redistricting commission.
Electing one district representative at a time requires periodic redrawing of lines to account for shifts in population. In many states, redistricting is a blatantly political exercise in which the ruling party manipulates the lines so as to guarantee its continued supremacy. One solution is to have the district lines drawn by independent, nonpartisan commissions driven by criteria like keeping districts compact, respecting geographic boundaries, and enhancing competition.
2. Have non-partisan officials administer elections.
Without nonpartisan election managers, the outcomes of elections will always be open to conflict-of-interest questions. In addition, many current election officials are ignorant of the technology of voting equipment, or even how to run elections. Election administrators should be well-trained professional civil servants who know how to make electoral processes transparent and secure.
3. Get the big money out of elections.
With political campaigns largely financed by private sources, the views of those with the most money are disproportionately heard. Public financing of elections could open up an increasingly brain-dead political debate, and widen the narrowing spectrum of political ideas. One promising new approach is mandating free airtime for candidates. Broadcast media is the greatest expense of any candidate's campaign, yet providing free airtime would cost the taxpayers nothing.
4. Make voting easier
Voting on the first Tuesday in November in the middle of a busy workweek is not a requirement of the U.S. Constitution. It's just a tradition dating from the 1840s, when President James Polk changed the date to make it easier for farmers to vote. But states and local governments need not wait for the feds to make a change. In odd-numbered years when only local races are on the ballot, local jurisdictions can hold elections on any day they wish. And in non-presidential election years, states can do the same, or even make Election Day a state holiday.
5. Make elections about the issue not the candidates.
When the focus of the election is on the candidates, the issues that impact voters everyday get glossed over. Making it about the issues enables us to hold candidates to the fire about where they stand on the issues.
*This is about generating healthy conversation. Please be civil in your responses to others.