November may be a dreary month, but I always feel energized by the essay opportunities it provides. After all, in the drabbest month, making a list of things to be grateful for lifts spirits.
There is also the voting thing, which has become fraught with dissension and shows no sign of shifting back to the middle ground. And I serve as a poll worker, so training, which is now obligatory for volunteers in Ohio, demonstrates that even in a non-partisan environment, tension reveals itself. Several people in my training group expressed concern about the automatic polling machines and what they reveal about each voter. The answer is NOTHING. The machines simply tally the votes. They do not identify the ballot caster nor do they reveal the voter’s ideological preferences. Polling stations are set up to be non-partisan. Any discussion of issues or parties is forbidden.
In our country, the right to vote is installed in our Constitution and instilled in our patriotism. Would that this were true for all citizens, for this is a sacred rite, one we should never take for granted. Yet the lies about and concerns with the voting process persist. So, how have we gotten here?
Seeds of doubt, once planted, grow even in the stoniest ground. Generally-reasonable people begin to spout the rhetoric of conspiracists. The level of mis- and dis-information rises like the tide. Unfortunately, the distrust never seems to ebb. I have heard people I believed were rational spout the most absurd untruths with vehemence and fist-waving conviction. Scary stuff, actually.
Were I to have any influence or power in this volatile area, I would suggest the following changes:
1. Campaigning would be permitted for only six weeks prior to Election Day. This would reduce our exposure to the interminable nasty viral ads on any media platform, the dunning for campaign donations, and the bloated signage along the roadways and in yards.
2. The money spent angling for power is obscene. To prevent the excesses of wealth, the drive to buy power, a dollar amount would be set. No PACs would be permitted to obscure donors and claim legitimacy.
3. Negative ads would be outlawed. So would falsehoods, lies, and distorted truths. If it isn’t a fact, you can’t twist it to make it so.
4. Voting Day would be a national holiday and I might even like to make it a requirement, but I know that would never fly!
5. Ballots would include a bubble for NONE OF THE ABOVE. If no candidate receives 50% of the vote, they leave the stage or have a runoff with the other highest-percentage candidate.
Hah! you say. Not possible. I know, but a writer is tasked with dreaming. There is plenty of dystopian work out there to scare the wits out of the most stable personality. How about we start a new trend? Opinions are welcome. Rants are NOT! 😉