Friday, January 9, 2009

Election Reform, Now More Than Ever


The past four decades (since the social upheaval of the late 1960's) have
seen the most dramatic changes in American governance since the Founding of
our Republic. Suffice it to say, the central government has:

- taken Constitutional authorities from State governments
(endangered species, wetlands, marine mammals, etc.);

- taken Constitutional private property rights from citizens
("taking" without compensation, taking for non-public purposes, etc.);

- eliminated renewable natural resource management, access, and use
on millions of acres of formerly "public" lands reserved for such
management, access, and use (Wilderness, Roadless, Parks, EIS requirements,

- created a growing list of Constitutional rights eliminations such
as gun control, ammunition registry, sex and race preferences, and animal
uses by owners from horse slaughter to gamefowl possession and use;

- invented and grown budget-busting "entitlements" such as national
health care, "bailouts", and other such "assistance" to "targeted" groups
and individuals.

I have written extensively about many of the hidden agendas and reasons for
this shift from our historic Constitutional governmental structure of
separation of powers and limited government to an all-powerful central
government structure that we were formed to avoid. For instance, I am
convinced that the popular election of US Senators as a result of a
Constitutional Amendment in 1913 is something that should be reversed by
repealing that Amendment and restoring the appointment of US Senators by
State Legislatures. See my article Post Check on Liberty - The US Senate at .

The foregoing is intended to set the stage for my concern about the
accelerating corruption and decay of the election system in the United

I write this from Minnesota, two months after the recent national election,
two days after the legal challenge by Senator Coleman to the US Senate
recount in Minnesota, and several days into the debacle of the Illinois
Governor and Senator appointee versus the US Senators of their own party
about acceptance into that aristocratic and exclusive club called the US

Elections have never been as close or as bitterly divisive as they have been
in the past eight years. Remember the Bush/Gore fight over "chads" and
excluding the votes of servicemen on active duty? Remember the bitterness
over the results of that election? Remember the "Red/Blue" map that
demonstrated the clear divide between the rural and urban voters? Remember
the Palm Beach "Vote counters" holding up ballots to the light so that they
could pronounce the choice of the voter? Remember how the Florida vote
revolved around the urban vote near Miami and how they were a majority
Democrat electorate under a long-standing Democrat urban "machine" rule ran
the recount? I remember watching it from Virginia (my home at the time) and
marveling at the hatred it spawned for President Bush.

Today I live in Minnesota and I have watched the Coleman/Franken election
and recount spawn more bitterness and national cynicism about the
reliability of our electoral system. Like Florida, the Minnesota recount is
under an elected partisan official that "has a dog in the fight". In fact,
our Secretary of State is a particularly partisan politician with a history
of being a "community organizer" for ACORN. Like Florida, the "changes" and
"discoveries" in the recount come from the urban enclaves of the Twin Cities
and Duluth where Democrat urban "machine" rule is the norm. Paper ballots
are found in trunks, paper ballots are duplicated and likely counted twice,
and many precincts report more ballots than they have registered voters to
cast ballots. Paper ballots on which voters write things like
"Frankenstein" are credited to Franken and the equivalent of the wise
Florida "Vote counters" in Palm Beach interpret ballots that were formerly
disqualified. The level of bitterness, cynicism, and disgust grows with the
length of the chicanery evident to all.

Minnesotans pride themselves on being "progressive" and "honest". They are
however, human and their human systems have human failings that are found in
all States. A fair look at the Minnesota election process in the context of
the Florida debacle 8 years ago, the Illinois process for replacing Senator
and now President-elect Obama, and the replacement of Senator Clinton in New
York can suggest positive election changes in this period of social
turbulence, economic strife, and governmental challenges of immense
proportions. Such change is needed to stifle the growing perception that
elections can be "stolen" and that elected officials are merely powerful
persons that control the electoral processes. One need look no further than
recent "elections" in countries as diverse as Venezuela, Zimbabwe, and
Russia to witness the public cynicism resulting from predetermined elections
and one-party central governance. Consider as well, the complete absence of
any State's rights or actual States for that matter as well as the absence
of any guaranteed individual "rights" not subject to government whim at any
moment in such countries.

Many other factors are feeding this divisiveness and cynicism. American
politics are being "Balkanized" by race and sex classifications: for
instance, a "black" Senate seat in Illinois and a "woman's" Senate seat in
New York are spoken of openly. Urban/rural issues such as gun control,
ammunition registry, endangered species, Wilderness, and Fire control added
to social issues such as abortion, euthanasia, and animal use are further
dividing us. Religious issues are increasingly pitting us one against the
other from investigating terrorism to any public recognition of the
existence of God in schools, on money, or even in Inaugural Addresses. For
all these reasons and more, confidence in the electoral process is needed
now more than ever.

Here some recommendations for State, local, and national officials regarding
the electoral process:

1. Minimize paper ballots wherever possible. I voted for years in Virginia
on a machine. I could not write "Frankenstein" on it and it would not
register my vote if I marked any more than the "Vote for One" or "Vote for
#" said. Therefore there is no opportunity for some government or party
partisan to "interpret" my vote or any other vote.

2. Make "absentee" ballots available ONLY to those who can show an
unavoidable reason for not being able to vote on Election Day such as
members of the Armed Forces on active duty. Absentee ballots should be
issued by a process of application to a Local Precinct or County in
cooperation with a State Office that receives and then counts the absentee
ballots. Minimizing absentee ballots is a laudable end because it minimizes
the opportunity for chicanery. Voting is a serious right and while it
remains available to all, it is in the public interest to manage it

3. Appeals of close elections should be tightly regulated. The percentage of
closeness or number of votes difference that trigger a recount should be set
by the State Legislature and followed scrupulously.

4. Oversight of recounts should NOT fall to an elected official or an
appointee of a partisan elected official. An appointment made at the time a
recount is triggered should be made by some official such as a State Judge
or State Supreme Court Judge. It should be made under a clear legislative
mandate to avoid a partisan slant to the recount. I say "judge" because they
are usually the least politically partisan government officials in the
State: politically partisan "overseers" whether elected or appointed by a
partisan politician invite chicanery and cynical expectations. (Note, my
Minnesota paper recently showed a picture of Coleman and Franken's attorneys
standing by a table where two ladies identified as "employees of the
Secretary of State" "counted ballots". As an old bureaucrat I wondered
about the two ladies - Who "hired" them"? Who gives them a "Bonus"? Who
promotes them? Who writes their job recommendations? Who do they please by
finding Franken votes (the Secretary of State is the activist official
referred to earlier in this article)? Who do they "disappoint" when they
find Coleman votes? The answer to all these questions, of course, is the
"Secretary of State", their boss. This is not meant to impugn him or them
personally but to mention the all-too-human factors at play here. Such
State employees for a recount effort could be taken from a cross-section of
State agencies under legislative authority in authorizing legislation. The
object of a recount should be fair depiction of the vote, NOT partisan

5. Consideration should be given to requiring an immediate subsequent
election if the difference is extremely close as in Minnesota recently.
Cost comparisons of an election to a recount are irrelevant when the
credibility of our electoral process and the integrity of government itself
are at stake.

6. Replacement of US Congressmen is best done by State Governor appointment
since it is a shorter term (2 years) than Senators and popular election can
therefore soon fill the vacancy on a more permanent basis. Replacement of
US Senators is best done by a vote and appointment OF THE STATE LEGISLATURE
since each State has two Senators in Washington TO PRIMARILY REPRESENT STATE
INTERESTS, (not international or personal interests, as they conduct
national affairs). The State Legislature is the best expression of State
interests and the best source of accountability (their own reelection) for
otherwise untouchable and powerful lifetime US Senators that represent
interests that diminish State powers and citizen rights while helping
(monetarily and publicity-wise) to keep the Senator in office.

These recommendations for all States are offered in line with the best
interest of the country and THE STATES THEMSELVES. As the central
government grows and State governments become more subservient and as US
Senators no longer protect the rights of State governments, there is a
growing hue and cry to "get rid of the Electoral College". "Who needs an
Electoral College, anyway?" Why don't we elect the President?" "The
Electoral College is outdated and antiquated." "The Electoral College
stands in the way of "democracy".

The Electoral College is an electoral necessity if we are to preserve
Constitutional government. I is a very important underpinning of States'
rights and indeed the very existence of the States themselves. If the
States continue to dwindle and concurrently lose the authority to elect the
President how much longer can they be relevant? Why call us the "United
States" if the States are merely sub-contractors and rubber stamps for an
all-powerful central government (like Putin decreed in Russia)? Who will
protect rural Americans? Who will fight for Constitutional government and
Constitutional limits on Federal actions?

Electoral reform is a big part of this equation. Every day that goes by
without reform takes us all one day closer to an all powerful and
uncontrollable central government that all of us will ultimately fear and be
oppressed by. Electoral reform is needed now more than ever.

Jim Beers

8 January 2009

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