Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election "Day" is an Outdated concept

Why do we have an election "day"?  I was thinking about this today while I stood in line to vote.  In the age of on-demand rentals, super sonic jets, and email on our mobile phones... why does it take 2, 4, even 6 years to change our minds on who should be running our country?  If my representative votes differently than he or she promised, I should have the ability to instantly register my displeasure.

In my opinion, election "day" and "lame duck" sessions are a holdover from a time before phones, computers, and interstate highways.  Back then ballots had to be hand-counted, and the winners had to travel via horse & buggy to get to Washington.  Of course it would be impractical to have elections more than once every few years.  However, in the digital age, we are no longer under the same restrictions as our forefathers.

Here is what I'm thinking:  (As I only thought of this today, I haven't completely thought through all the problems, but everything I'm proposing is completely feasible with today's technology.)  Let's just take the house of representatives to start:  In each district, everybody votes for whoever they want to be their representative.  At the end of the month, the votes are tallied and whoever gets the most votes(even if it's not over 50%) gets to be in congress.  Now, let's say 15 days later that person breaks several campaign promises.  I just go down to my election headquarters (during any weekday) and change my vote to somebody else.  If enough people change their vote, then at the end of the month, there will be a new congressman from that district.  Now that's a responsive democracy.

This has ancillary benefits too.  It could severely weaken the two-party system we have in the United States.  If there's a viable third party candidate you will know at the end of each day.  Because there's no reason the tallies can't be updated every day and reported online.  Congressman could instantly be notified when they're losing support.  At that point they either have to try and change their constituents' minds, or change their own vote.
Some might decry this because it would mean politicians would be in constant "campaign" mode.  To that I say, GOOD!  With each and every vote, congressman would have to think long and hard about what the people of their district want.

Another problem some might have is so-called "continuity".  A constantly changing congress might mean nothing gets done.  I disagree, I think more would get done.  Because when you have only a month to prove yourself, you aren't going to wait around.

Some might argue the opposite.  Too many things would get done in an ever shifting congress.  Again, I disagree.  Only the things that voters want would get done because congressman would know they have to face the voters everyday.  If voters do something that congress doesn't like, it'll probably only be about a month or two before it gets repealed as congressman are replaced.

In the end, I think the consistency of the system would probably surprise most people.  As the best get in, they would stay and would likely only get voted out when they start taking their constituents for granted.  I'm willing to bet that month-to-month districts would be fairly stable with only a few getting voted out.

I'm not saying this would be the absolute best way, but give me a break.  It's only my first time completely re-inventing democracy for the digital age.  If you got a better idea, let me know in the comments.
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