American electoral system witnessed a ruthless test in the American presidential election that took place in the year 2000. It was a rare political Ordeal and Supreme Court intervened into the contemporary circumstance. American electoral system required a change due to such situation and the American policy makers decided to improve the current electoral process. Numerous electoral reforms are introduced in the electoral system since 2000, and a number of other reforms are waiting to be introduced in the future according to the changing circumstances. This paper intends to discuss the American electoral system and further discusses the reforms that are required in order to strengthen the American democracy.
United States of America is one of the most developed democracies of the world. The nation recognizes the democratic value as per the constitutional provisions, made by its constitution makers. The electoral process of American democracy is very advanced and provides a healthy setup for the nation. People of America along with the policy makers of the nation faced a bizarre situation in the presidential elections of the year 2000. People, from various sections of the society, raised voices to strengthen the electoral process in order to avoid any such situation in the future. A number of steps are yet to be taken that will ensure a healthy electoral process.
The situation that took place in the year 2000 suggested American policy makers to enact a number of electoral reforms and to implement them in order to make the electoral system more effective. Congress, federal election commission and states must take every step to make the electoral process smoothly functioning. All the concerned parties must make every effort to ensure maximum participation of voters in the electoral process of the United States of America. These steps should be taken in order to strengthen the democratic setup and electoral system of the America.
The federal and state agencies, as well as officials, should make a strategic partnership in order to strengthen the democratic setup. Currently, the situation is vague, and there is some confusion regarding the jurisdiction of state and federal agencies. It has been observed in a number of instances that these agencies do not co-operate each other. There should be an integrated system wherein the federal agencies must take necessary steps once they receive crucial inputs from the state authorities.
Federal election commission monitors and looks after all the election affairs of the nation. Federal election commission should monitor and execute the election process with the help of the states. States can help the federal election commission in collecting various significant data, identity verification, and also in maintaining an error free voter list. A national standard should be made to rectify all other issues that affect the electoral process in a significant manner. There should also be a clear distribution of responsibilities between federal and state agencies that play a bigger role in elections.
Funding is a big constraint that may affect the electoral process. Ample funding should be given to the election commission in order to execute all the reforms and steps that are required for a better electoral system. Funding is the main factor that assures purchasing of new voting machines, electoral equipments, training of poll workers, voter training and education. Congress should provide ample funding to the federal election commission, and there should be a clear power to the concerned authority in regards of spending the allocated fund.
Enforcing voting rights
National voter registration act 1993 and other laws that deal with this issue must be strictly enforced to ensure bigger voter turnouts. The commission is responsible for listing names of all the people who are eligible to vote. Federal election commission and all responsible election officials must ensure participation of every listed voter. There should be a cooperative process to ensure maximum turn out of voters. The officials should monitor that the voting takes place through the prescribed processes.
Proper monitoring and deployment of staffs is required in order to ensure fair voting. The federal election commission should ensure that there is no any inconsistency in the voting, and no one should be allowed to manipulate voters by the use of money, power or by using any other influence. Technology should be utilized to ensure a fair election. All the complaints and appeal of voters must be attended and entertained by the concerned officials in a speedy manner.
Arrangement of Provisional ballots
Although the federal election commission has made provisions to ensure voter registrations and voter turnouts in the most effective way but there should be an effective system to ensure participation of every voter in the electoral system. There are many individuals who visit and shift from one place to another, due to job and other obligations. They also have the right to vote for their candidates in the elections. Federal election commission should make provisions to ensure their vote in the elections.
There should be a provision of Voting by mail, internet voting and by other special provisions in some cases. Absent voting and early voting should also be implemented in every state in order to empower the voters. Other effective steps should be taken by the federal election commission to arrange and facilitate disabled voters and those who cannot afford to visit any polling booth by themselves. The focus should be to pull each and every voter from their houses and make tem cast their vote.
Check List for Elections Activities
Election officers at state level are responsible to ensure voting rights of all individuals. They also ensure that local officers working at different levels have sufficient resources to organize and conducted elections in most effective manner. Local officials are required to ensure efficient operation in terms of voter registration. Efficient operation protects individuals against discriminations such as race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, and disability. All people should receive the opportunity to vote.
All election officials should develop a check list of tasks that are required to execute. Responsibility of multiple tasks often diverts attention only to important tasks. Thereby, Federal government should develop standards that are essential to followed by all state officials. However, state government should be allowed to make changes according to the local needs of the state. Election officials working at local level should ensure that all standards are fulfilled and tasks mentioned in the check list are performed.
Checklist can also function as a measurement tool to access the performance of election officials. Performance of each official can be measure against the established goals. Use of check list not only increases the accuracy and efficiency of the election process, but also increases the accountability of each officer towards transparent election. The checklist provides detail on step by step processes that need to perform in given timeframe, and to ensure the completion of all processes within time.
Major elements of the checklist are compliance of general civil rights, accessibility of polling booths, registration of all eligible voters, maintenance of the list, verification of all voters on the voting day, use of provisional ballots, monitoring system, ballot design, and training of poll workers along with election officials.
Certification of Election Results
Declaration of the election results at an early stage gives space for speculation and creates confusion. Government should provide a period of some days to certify the election results. It is important to avoid media speculations. Federal election commission should take care of this aspect during the elections. Any scope of speculations and manipulations should not be left in a healthy electoral process.
Responsibilities of Political parties
In a democratic system, only one body like federal election commission cannot be made responsible for the improved electoral process and fair election process; other parties, including the political parties, is related to the democratic setup of the nation is responsible for the electoral system. Political parties should not try to allure voters by making false promises. They should not even try to divide voters on the basis of region, religion and other factors. Every political party and candidate should try to fight on issues instead of manipulating votes for their interest. To ensure a fair electoral process and ensuring the interest of the nation, future and the democratic setup is the duty of political parties.
Voters also have a responsibility to participate and strengthen the electoral process. They should come out of their house and vote because it is their vote that elects governments. Every individual should vote, considering it as their legal, as well as moral duty, even if the government does not enforce laws like essential voting. Voters are the backbone of a democratic system and a democracy cannot function if voters do not show highest concern in electing their governments.
Having observed the abovementioned succinct analysis of the subject, it can be concluded that electoral system of the America needs to be strengthened. A lot has been done, but some more significant steps are required in order to fulfill the emerging demands of the American democracy. The whole election process needs an intervention of the policy makers and the same should be immediately rectified in order to reinforcing the electoral system of the United States of America. If all the above mentioned steps are fulfilled, the United States can expect an improved and exemplary electoral process that may inspire other democracies of the world.
Maisel, S. L., & Brewer, M. D. Parties and Elections in America: The Electoral Process. Lanham, Marylad : Rowman & Littlefield, 2010.
Thompson, Dennis F. Just Elections: Creating a Fair Electoral Process in the United States. USA: University of Chicago Press, 2009.