America Votes – Who’s In Charge?

They didn’t learn their lesson 20 years ago, so why would you expect any change now? But the world wonders why Americans can’t figure out a better way to hold an election.

In 2000 Al Gore lost the presidency to George W. Bush after the Supreme Court upheld a decision to not re-count the ballots cast in Florida. Was the count accurate? We’ll never know – the ballots were destroyed. What we do know is that Bush’s brother was Governor of Florida, which may have had some influence on the the process.

Fast forward to 2020. During the election campaign Pennsylvania’s Attorney General, a Democrat, confidently announced that Donald Trump would not win that state. Guess who was on television assuring Americans the counting was being done fairly in Pennsylvania? Do you wonder some people thought the process might be tainted? Or pre-ordained?

When will Americans demand an impartial, non-partisan electoral system that politicians can’t use to personal advantage? (For that matter, when will Americans demand a national election to choose a president? Under the current structure there are 50 separate state elections, conducted under 50 different sets of rules. No wonder the USA is a laughingstock these days.)

In Canada, and other democracies, elections are overseen by a commission that is independent of the political process. The system is not perfect, but it seems so much better than what the Americans use.

For example, American legislators, looking to their own re-election, are constantly engineering the redistribution of their districts to ensure the majority of those living there support their party (easy to figure out as Americans declare themselves as Democrats of Republicans when they register to vote).

In Canada, politicians can make suggestions to Elections Canada when demographics require riding distribution, but they don’t have the final say (except that Parliament approves the new boundaries). Like their American counterparts, Canadian politicians would love to gerrymander their constituencies, but there are too many checks in place to allow that to happen.

In a close or contested race, Canadians trust that there is an impartial agency overseeing things. We don’t question the integrity of the system because it is designed to minimize, if not eliminate, the political.

Are there still voting irregularities? Occasional small ones – but they are recognized for what they are. The loses don’t suggest the election has been stolen. They acknowledge they didn’t persuade the voters to support them.

As I write, Americans are still waiting to find out who has won the presidency. Maybe they’ll know by the time you read this.

Or maybe they won’t – the whole process may be mired in litigation that will last for weeks or months. The peaceful transition of power, the hallmark of a working democracy, seems to be in jeopardy in the USA these days.

An independent federal agency to run national elections would be a good start towards restoring democracy to America. I don’t expect that to happen.

From here it looks like the Republicans and Democrats like the status quo. Each party is afraid any change will give an advantage to the other side.

That the change would be good for the country is irrelevant. Democracy in the United States has reached the point where many politicians, perhaps most, have lost the ability to look beyond their tribe and do something for the good of the country.

Until the American people demand better, the situation will continue to deteriorate. And American elections will get uglier, both campaigns and the voting process.

That saddens me. America was once a “city on a hill,” an example to the rest of the world as to how a democracy should function. Now its politicians and its citizens, working together, have turned it into a joke.

One comment

  1. The system hasn’t changed. Has it? isn’t the system (states running their own local electoral colleges) still the same since Kennedy? Before that?

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