SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Opinion

November 7, 2012

Column: Get ready for 2016

As I write this, the election is still two days away; as you read it, the dust may already have settled and the presidency entrusted to one of the candidates for the next four years.

Whatever the race is like, a good election is transparent and decisive. May this one be.

And may it provide a little breathing space for us to consider our electoral process before the race for 2016 begins, which will be soon enough.

First: It’s probably time to do away with the Electoral College. The best book I know of on this subject is “Why the Electoral College is Bad for America” by George C. Edwards III, a professor of political science at Texas A&M University. He argues the Electoral College may not have been such a bad idea at the beginning, but the founders would have had a hard time imagining how unsuited its original purposes are for the modern United States.

Edwards’ arguments are cogent and convincing, and they’re couched in his justified reluctance to tinker with the Constitution. Still, he points out that when the Constitution has been amended in the past, often the direction is toward more enfranchisement — of blacks, of women — rather than less, and the abolishment of the Electoral College would enfranchise millions of Democratic voters in Texas and Republican voters in California.

Second: In Mexico, you cannot buy a drink on Election Day — no cervezas, no margaritas, no alcohol of any kind. Believe me, I’ve tried. The presidential election is always held on Sunday, a day when many Mexicans are off work. Furthermore, beginning on the previous Wednesday, campaigning and political advertising are forbidden by law, and polling organizations aren’t allowed to release the results of their polls until after the election.

I’m not holding Mexico up as a paragon of democracy; some of these measures would violate our allegiance to free speech. Still, why not, every four years, make our presidential Election Day a national holiday? Let’s call it National Voting Day.

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