One Person/ One Vote…no exceptions

You would think that everyone in a democracy, whatever their various political perspectives, would agree that free, unfettered access to the ballot box is a fundamental right, and that we can all  unite on that. Incredibly lots of political operatives and machine politicians spend huge amounts of time and money suppressing the vote—making registration tough or impossible, disenfranchising citizens with a criminal record, sending around false information about polling places, and more. This is why the electorate has always looked remarkably different from the citizenry, why presidential elections in particular are decided by a minority, and it’s why the voting booth  has been a site of struggle for over 200 years.

A robust and participatory democracy would mean that  every citizen could find a good reason to vote and would be assured that exercising the vote, a fundamental human and civil right, is an open and easy process which is visible and accessible. Every vote would count and every citizen could vote. Access to the ballot has been a long and hard-fought process, but full enfranchisement and unimpaired access is still far from a reality.

Full enfranchisement includes allowing former and current inmates to cast their ballots in local, state, and federal elections. Other countries do this. Incarcerated persons are still citizens; half a million incarcerated people are released each year, and they have a stake in the political process. Easy same day registration means that even demanding work schedules and family responsibilities will not impede access to the ballot. Campaign finance reform and public funding of political campaigns would allow someone who is not a millionaire to run for public office, and would blunt the influence of rich benefactors. The Electoral College is a living legacy of slavery and must be overturned in favor of a National Popular Vote. And instant run-off voting, in which voters rank their choices and it takes a majority rather than a plurality to win, can begin to break the strangle-hold of big party machines.

These changes would be baby steps toward making every vote count.

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39 Responses to One Person/ One Vote…no exceptions

  1. Washington says:

    billayers:

    I’ll tell you what I think. If the electoral college is made obsolete then the race for President will be in the battleground cities of LA and NY. It could lead to greater disenfranchisement than you suggest the current system does. What about rural areas at that point? Some may argue the electoral college enhances the minority vote in battleground swing states which in this race helps Barack Obama.

    As for letting felons vote; there are all types of felons. I’ve met people who were gangsters and others who’ve been in gun fights with the Hell’s Angels. All of them had some sort of code they lived by more so than others and weren’t bad… if they liked you.

    Take this case: In a neighboring town where I live a person killed a married couple along with their three children. All three were bludgeoned to death; ages 13, 10, and 6. Letting this person have his voting rights is suggesting he is my equal as a citizen. There are certain standards for being human and deserving of human rights.

    http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20080408/NEWS05/804080326

  2. agnesmoorehead says:

    Washington, your post regarding the electoral college makes exquisite sense.

  3. Drew says:

    Interesting post.

    I do have to wonder why we give voting rights to everyone. I agree, for example, that homeless people should have the right to vote, but based on stats, many are unable to hold jobs due to mental illness, etc. If we give the right to vote, like ACORN and Ohio helped in doing, to people without permament shelter, does that not affect the outcome of the votes? Would we allow a mentally ill person to represent themselves in a court of law? Probably not. So why should we allow them to exercise their constitutional right to vote?

    I am well aware of the discrimination that comes with excluded certain people the right to vote. But I do think we need a shift in this country where our voters are REQUIRED to research the issues and make an educated decision based on that research instead of whatever celebrity reason they want.

    Once upon a time we had a nation of folks who read the morning paper, paid attention to their local politics, and voted based on those facts. Now we have people voting to “make history” not based on the issues the person represents, but on the slogan of generic change. But I digress.

    Just a thought.

  4. Bernie says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Bill, on the idea of doing away with the electoral college. However, I draw the line at allowing the likes of Charles Manson to have voice in who runs this country. In the same vein, do we then allow the mentally ill the right to vote? And, you may know this better than I, Bill, but aren’t the vast majority of the homeless mentally ill to some degree?

    I do agree that once a felon has paid his debt to society his/her voting rights ought to be restored.

    Same Day Registration is simply an invitation to commit fraud and you know it, Bill. It certainly doesn’t add credibility to the decision making process of the individual who doesn’t have the foresight to register 30 before the election he or she wishes to vote in. I mean in addition to “one man one vote” you are for an INFORMED electorate aren’t you, Bill?

  5. Dana says:

    Bill Ayres is an insect. Someone needs to STEP on this piece of **** next time he crawls out from under a rock.

  6. Linda says:

    I’m just a Plain-Jane citizen here. No special insights into the political world. But I believe I do have common sense, and I don’t think Bill Ayers is any more dangerous than the people walking the streets today. The media can really get people inflamed with just bits and pieces and not the whole story of anything.

    I don’t know if there’ll ever be a solution to what America has become. I lived nearly 60 years so far and I mourn the fact that so morality, decency, and common sense are qualities so hard to find. Kids are not taught rudimentary skills in school and their homelives are in turmoil while parents are too busy to pay proper attention to their “formative” years.

    I’ll read Bill Ayers’ book while remembering the Vietnam era. That’s all, just remembering. It’s over, folks. Let’s move on and make changes to benefit the world today.

    We all need to do whatever you can individually. We all need to stop fighting over past issues, stop muddying the waters with rhetoric meant to confuse everyone so nothing can be accomplished that’s good and worthwhile in this world. America has made a complicated mess for us to live in. How to clean it up? If everyone puts their heads together, uses some wisdom and common sense with the technology available today – maybe it’ll happen.

    I just don’t feel much hope anymore.

  7. Jason Royal says:

    Sure, everyone should be able to vote. Provided safeguards are in place that they are only voting once and are not illegal aliens and felons. Sorry, those people should not vote. A child molester should not vote along with murderers and thieves. I would also add domestic terrorists to that list as well. Currently, we have a system that is rife with voter fraud and corruption. Contrary to popular opinion on this site, it is the democrats that are aiding this corruption with organizations such as Acorn. So, if corrupt citizens are voting often on election day is it really a democracy? If the media supports one candidate over another is that democracy? Our nation is moving so far away from the principles of the republic is was founded on. How sad it is that the only people that they place in front of us for candidates are career millionaire politicians. You all believe that you actually have a choice on election day! Was Barrack the best man we Americans can put forth, the guy who wrote a lot of books and voted present without a stand on a single issue, a man of no courage, no military service. Yet here we are…….. My fellow americans I have to say that my allegiance is no longer to the government but to the U.S. Army. I view the politicians as corrupt self-serving individuals much like the politicians of Rome. If only my commanders would ask us to cross the Rubicon.

  8. joe dan says:

    to the people in this blog. john the baptist was murderer himself. forgiven by God. turned into an apostle by Jesus. and now sits happily in heaven. mr. bill ayers like all of us in this simple society have done things less desirable. (not up to us to judge). now. 1 person, 1 vote, no electoral college. ahhhh what a dream.

  9. Shana says:

    First of all, those here to call Prof. Ayers awful names and hurl cyber poison, get over yourselves and admit that if not for Barack Obama’s candidacy, Ayers’ name would be known mostly in academic circles and among the civic advocacy groups of Chicago. He’s been living a productive life, going about his business for a long time now and had his name not been dragged into the campaign, precious few of you currently screaming for his head would have even been aware of him.

    Now, on to the actual topic at hand.
    I agree with the concept of the incarcerated still being citizens, and thus still having a right to vote- my question might seem odd and possibly even frivolous, but bear with me- Where would a current inmate register? Would they be deemed to be residents of the precinct in which the jail or prison is located or would they file absentee at their home of record (assuming they have one)?

    This could be a serious issue if inmates ARE finally restored to the rolls because it would obviously impact the distribution of votes if the prison location determined the precinct and that could create an inherent problem if the number of inmates were near, or as in some areas, exceeded the number of unincarcerated voters.

    I’m all for it, but don’t want to see the needs and views of locals overshadowed by the implementation.

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