Aug. 9, 2012
Does your vote count? Will you be allowed to vote when you go to your polling station? Are there people who should not be voting in American elections but who are getting away with voting illegally? Finally, if you are allowed to vote, be it by paper ballot or an electronic voting machine, can you be sure that your vote will be recorded accurately?
Questions like these would not have been taken seriously by most Americans prior to the George W. Bush-Al Gore election of 2000, but after the fiasco in Florida, they just won’t go away.
The current American Pundit Writing Assignment, which runs through 11:59 p.m. on Aug. 15, asks writers to weigh in on this important topic:
From concerns about voter fraud to voter disenfranchisement to the reliability of electronic voting machines, the integrity of American elections has become a political issue. What needs to be done to restore the American people's faith in the electoral process?
States began passing voter ID laws in 2003, and since that time, at least 30 states have added laws requiring voters to show some form of ID in order to vote. Proponents believe such measures will prevent voter fraud, but critics say there are not any cases of voter fraud to prevent because the measures already in place ensure than only eligible voters get to cast ballots.
Regardless of one’s belief about the need of voter ID laws, some question if that is even the most pressing problem when it comes to ensuring electoral integrity. Some say it's not ineligible voters casting ballots but eligible voters being turned away for a variety of reasons, none of which can be blamed on the voters themselves.
Controlled studies have shown that about a third of the electronic voting machines in use can be hacked remotely, changing the results to whatever the hacker wants them to be. It is difficult if not impossible to check the accuracy of these voting machines, since much of the software used by the private firms counting the votes is proprietary, leaving elections officials with no choice but to trust the results and the firms that tabulate them.
As if that’s not bad enough, after the 2010 election, some 75 ballots were found floating in the pond at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. They were said to have been stolen by a poll worker and dumped there. He was subsequently arrested and charged with felonies related to the incident.
This week, the primary election in Michigan on Tuesday produced so much confusion and chaos that by midday, the Republican Secretary of State had to contact election officials to clarify her instructions on the “American Citizen” affirmation box she added to the ballot in spite of Republican Gov. Rick Snyder’s veto of such a measure last month.
What do you think when you read about such things? Is it hopeless, or is there a common-sense solution that could solve all these real and potential problems in one fell swoop?
The American Pundit political writing contest wants to know what you think. If you haven’t done so already, and even if you have, consider weighing in on this important topic. By doing so, you’ll give yourself a chance at winning $250 and advancing in the competition for a chance at the $5,000 Grand Prize, but you also have an opportunity to spotlight what you see as the problem and maybe, just maybe, offer some observations that help lead to a solution.
At least one of the two winning entries for the Aug. 1-15 segment will be selected from reports on this topic. The deadline for submitting is 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on Aug. 15.
If you like to write about U.S. politics and Campaign 2012, enter "The American Pundit" competition. Allvoices is awarding four $250 prizes each month between now and November. These monthly winners earn eligibility for the $5,000 grand prize, to be awarded after the November election.
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