PROPOSED REFORMS TO THE AMERICAN ELECTORAL SYSTEM

Thanks to all who contributed.  Below is a summation of the comments received organized by topic.  We will post a poll allowing you to rank the importance of each identified problem.

Money

  • Corrupting influence of money
  • Cost of running for office limits the number of people able to participate
  • Inability of individuals to have influence equal with corporations, unions, special interest groups
  • FEC is partisan and ineffective
  • Inability of the public to determine in a routine and timely manner which individuals/groups/corporations are funding which candidates/campaigns
  • There is no place for “dark” money in political campaigns
  • Amount of time required to raise vast amounts of money limits the time congresspeople can spend on constituent issues

Media

  • Corrupting influence of money (e.g. In campaign years, large media companies, especially those owning TV stations, get 12% of their income from ads.)
  • As media companies are for-profit they have tended to the gin up entertainment aspects of the campaign to increase viewership rather than concentrate on substantive or illuminating reporting
  • Debate Format
    • Too little time given for thoughtful answers
    • Too little time given to examination of issues of general interest (e.g. national security, economics, social issues, etc.) and too much time given to the ‘news’ of the day.
    • Networks have not been good moderators.
    • Reporters need to have access to candidates.  Some journalists appear to be overcautious in what and how they report about campaigns in order to maintain their access.
  • Networks/Broadcasters should be required to clearly identify each of their programs as news, commentary and/or entertainment.  News programs should include accurate who, what, where, why and when and should not include commentary from pundits, focus groups, etc.
  • Global perspectives and news would be welcomed by many commenters

Gerrymandering

  • All comments received on this were against gerrymandering.  The solutions to the problem, however, were varied.  When we get to solution building this should make for an interesting discussion.
  • Leaves many with feeling that individual votes don’t count thereby reducing interest in government/voting.

Electoral College

Electoral College should not decide elections.  Popular vote should decide elections.

Primary Process

  • Scheduling of primaries gives outsized importance to some states over others
  • Primary process is overcomplicated and too lengthy

Voting Rights

  • Re-enfranchise individuals who have served time in prison upon their release.
  • All citizens should have an equal right to vote regardless of the State in which they reside.  Therefore, States should not have the right to pass laws that will have the effect of disenfranchising any groups.

Congress

  • While making about 3 times the median U.S. income, Congresspersons work about half the number of days (e.g. most people work 240 days per year while the House worked only 111 days in 2016)
  • There is a lack of congeniality and politeness interfering with Congress’ ability to do its job and which disrespects the public and U.S. institutions.
  • Even when congresspeople return to their state/district they fail to meet with constituents.  Instead, constituent issues are heard by local staff and hopefully, conveyed.
  • Congress is permitting too much industry input into legislation up to the point of allowing lobbyists to write legislation.
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