could gain from election reform
Kansas is once again on the sidelines in a national election. The
presidential race here is a foregone conclusion: George W. Bush will
win the state, and he'll receive all six of its winner-take-all
The votes of Kansas Democrats and third-party members in this
historic contest arguably don't matter, and Republicans' votes are
taken for granted.
That's not just depressing, it's anti-democratic.
Maybe Kansas should take a page from Colorado, which has placed
an initiative on the Nov. 2 ballot to change the state's
winner-take-all electoral system to a proportional allotment based
on the popular vote.
That change, if widely adopted in other electoral
"safe" states, could give Democratic voters a voice in
states like Texas and Kansas and Republicans a voice in states like
New York and California. And it would make politicians work harder
to connect with all voters, not just those in "swing"
Whatever the merits of the Colorado proposal, we hope this
election raises awareness about the need for broader Electoral
College reform and greater voter participation. Some other ideas
Instead of proportional electoral voting, what about dumping the
antiquated Electoral College altogether and replacing it with a
direct vote, perhaps combined with instant runoff voting to ensure
that candidates win a majority rather than a simple plurality of
votes? Instant runoffs also would eliminate the "spoiler"
role of third-party candidates (see fairvote.org for more details on
instant runoff voting).
The present front-loaded primary system should be replaced with a
national primary or rotating regional primary system to allow all
states to have a say in the party selection process. Why should a
few states such as Iowa and New Hampshire have so much clout in
picking our nation's leader?
Address the overwhelming money advantages and unfair
redistricting practices that make most congressional incumbents
nearly unbeatable. It's scandalous that only a few dozen of the 435
House members up for re-election this year face serious challenges.
Make it easier to vote. Kansas Secretary of State Ron Thornburgh
helped fashion a key national election reform law in 2002, which
ushered in new voting machine standards and other improvements, but
it's still too difficult and confusing to vote in this country.
Implement same-day registration, as well as consistent practices on
voter identification requirements and other rules.
As Florida in 2000 showed, America's election process is far from
perfect. Let's continue to find ways to make our voting system more
inclusive and democratic.
For the board, Randy Scholfield