Thinking Outside the (Ballot) Box
Saint Petersburg, Fla.
While I agree with Jesse Jackson Jr. on all he wrote in the article "For a Voting Rights Amendment," I must say that he's still thinking inside the box on many aspects of voting rights.
What of Instant Run-off Voting, Proportional Representation and methods of allowing every American voter to cast a vote that reflects their true choice, rather than the least worst of the two front-runners? That would be true voting reform, designed not only to address the problems faced by the Democratic Party in the last election but those of the voters who wish to see greater options, as do those in other Western democracies. This would help all voters, whether black, white, purple or Green!
Virginia Beach, Va.
I find it insulting that Jesse Jackson Jr. continues to present the following lies:
1. Old equipment was used at "minority" polls. Not true, and Jackson knows it. The equipment at the polling stations in "minority" areas was, on the whole, much more modern than that used at "majority" polling stations.
2. The statement that "In Florida precincts that were at least four-fifths African-American there were more than three times as many rejected votes (ballots) as in predominantly white precincts, even after accounting for differences in income, education and voting technology" This statement may lead the uneducated to believe that there is a conspriracy afoot to preclude the vote of "minorities" in America. Having dropped that bombshell, Jackson uses the favorite tactic of the left: He neglects to provide any facts to back up the statement and "just moves on," leaving the reader to wonder just what he does mean. As for the rejected ballots, Jackson should be aware that some people simply cannot follow simple directions and require assistance.
I could go on. Jackson seems to feel that only another amendment can solve the problem of so-called voting irregularities. I disagree. Each state in our union is soverign unto itself. In other words, the state legislatures are responsible for their state first and the United States second. This is a fact that many legislators, Jackson included, seems to overlook. Each state is responsible for its own voting rules and regulations and should be left to conduct this business without federal interference. If Jackson has any provable facts that would stand up in a court, he should present them. Let's have some state or federal indictments for voting fraud. Let him chair a committee that can show where and how these crimes were committed. Lets hold the evidence up to the light of day and see if it stands up.
If not, shut up. If you aren't part of the solution, you're the problem.
Walla Walla, Wash.
Representative Jackson makes a strong case for a Voting Rights Amendment. Unfortunately, his proposal for this amendment, HJ Res. 72, would prevent a truly democratic solution because of one clause. The Fourth Section would require states to apportion electors to the candidate who won a majority of the state or district and would bind the electors. This clause raises two problems.
This language would prevent electors from being assigned proportionally to the votes received. Even a district system would not result in a large change. The two states that apportion electoral votes by district still gave all their votes to one of the two major-party candidates last year. A district system, especially in larger states, would give political parties even greater incentive to push through gerrymandered plans that could now not only change the composition of state legislatures and Congress but would likely have an effect on who sits in the White House. A truly democratic voting system would use a proportional allocation system that awards electoral votes based on percentage of the vote received so that if a candidate received two-thirds of the vote, she would receive two-thirds of the electoral votes.
Further, it is simply a bad idea to constitutionally bind electors to candidates. If a true three-way race ever occurred again, like Teddy Roosevelt's run as a Progressive, a majority requirement coupled with a constitutional binding of electors would likely result in the race going to the House of Representatives, where a strong independent candidate who truly was the pick of the American people would likely be written off by the two major parties. A better system would allow consensus building by the candidates after the election. If electors are not bound, a candidate who received fewer electoral votes could give them to another candidate in exchange for a place in a new coalition government. This would be less divisive and encourage parties to work together, something that would be rather refreshing in America's Balkanized politics.
In his comentary "Voting Rights Amendment" Jesse Jackson Jr. writes "There are no "official" results in our presidential campaigns." Of course, the simple answer is that the electoral votes are the official results of our presidential elections. But in fact there is an official accounting of the popular vote for President. Each state sends its official certified results to the National Archive as Certificates of Ascertainment listing the official votes for each candiate for president. Please let Jackson know that the results gave Al Gore a plurality of 540,520 votes: Gore 50,996,582 and George Bush 50,456,062.
Congressman Jackson overlooks a few points. First, no voting system, procedure, or machinery will ever be perfect. Some votes will always be miscounted, erroneously discarded or included, or subject to other innocent mishaps. Perfection in a voting system can be approached, but the costs would be astronomical on a national basis. (And the old question of who guards the guards will still remain.)
Cost brings us to a second point: Statistics. Very, very few of the elections across the nation every year result in recounts, let alone recounts that change the winner. What statistics would Congressman Jackson care to use to prove that a certain dollar value of reformed voting systems and procedures will result in a measurable increase in election "fairness" and insured universal franchise? How much is a guaranteed correctly recorded vote for each voter in each election worth?
A third item: What is the Congressman's real definition of 'One person, one vote?' Should minors be granted the right to vote since federal, state and local elected representatives make laws that affect many aspects of the lives of minors? If Congressman Jackson would limit the age at which a person is entitled to a vote, how is that policy different than any limits on voting eligibility that may be allowed by the current United States Constitution?
Interesting points I would like to hear Congressman Jackson discuss sometime. I believe he is proposing extensive repairs for problems that are neither extensive, nor catastrophic to the Republic.
I e-mail following to you in response to Jesse Jackson Jr.'s insightful article about the failure of the 2000 election. I found this somewhere on the Internet several months ago, and I agree with all my heart that such an amendment should be implemented.
28th Amendment - Right To Vote:
Section 1. Citizens of the United States have the right to vote in primary and general elections for President and Vice President, for electors for President and Vice President, for Representatives and Senators in the Congress, and for executive and legislative officers of their state, district, and local legislatures, and such right shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State.
Section 2. The right of citizens of the United States to vote and to participate in elections on an equal basis shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of political-party affiliation or prior condition of incarceration.
Section 3. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall elect Senators and Representatives in the Congress in such number and such manner as it would be entitled if it were a State.
Section 4. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.