Friday, August 16, 2019

Enhancing Democracy in the United States of America Essay

Democracy: â€Å"1 a: government by the people ; especially : rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections 2: a political unit that has a democratic government† (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary) With the 2008 elections fast approaching, and a highly fueled and hotly contested primary and general election campaign waning, the public is forced to consider the problems and opportunities in the American democratic system. Is there something wrong with the democratic system in the United States of America? If so, what? If there is a problem with democracy in America, what is it and how can it be fixed? The United States of America was born of an act of legislation designed to promote democracy. The United States has developed into a world superpower by enacting and enforcing legislation designed to enhance democracy. Today, legislation is passed by elected officials who then vote in national, state, and local legislative assemblies. In other words, voting and the electoral system, is the catalyst for maintaining democracy. The United States can improve democracy by improving the voting system that facilitates the democratic process. Federally mandated voter registration Today, many men are the beneficiaries of laws enacted giving their mothers the right to vote. All ethnic minorities are the beneficiaries of laws enacted giving African-Americans the right to vote. Voter registration is still optional, and considered a privilege. But now is the time to make voter registration a responsibility of all American citizens. Voter registration should be treated like Selective Service registration, a must for those who wish to receive any other benefits of citizenship including financial aid and government employment. It is not difficult to keep track of eligible voters, especially in this information age where all children are issued a social security number at birth. This process can be as simple as using the existing social security system to send registrations to those who have reached their 18th birthday and maintaining a national database similar to the social security and selective service rolls. Enforcement can be as simple as cross referencing social security numbers for registration upon application for jobs, financial aid, and public assistance. Compliance can be mandated by withholding benefits pending registration. This is a minimal effort and may not increase voter participation. But this registration plan could eliminate most existing barriers to voter registration. Federal authority over state and local elections This idea expands on the idea of the federal registration system. The Federal Elections Commission already exists. With electronic voting and reporting, federal authorities should require that all state and local elections comply with the same guidelines as national elections. This would work by applying residency requirements to both congressional elections and local elections. In other words, a person registered, residing, receiving benefits in Idaho cannot register to vote in local elections in Columbus, Georgia. This simply uses the wealth of electronic information captured on citizens to manage voting. This system would have to also account for citizens with multiple residences by requiring that everyone declare a primary residence which would be the location for their voting. If they know that they will be in a secondary residence at election time, the registration system should allow them to easily request absentee balloting which could be completed by mail or turned in at a local agency of the federal board of election. Citizen assemblies control re-districting activities Legislative assemblies and committees currently control political re-disctricting plans. In other words, elected officials decide when and how (and if) voters want, need, and get additional elected officials. Rapid economic development causes some districts to grow and change materially and demographically such that a single elected official cannot effectively serve the interests of the entire district. In that case citizens should have the right to send a message, at the voting booth, that they need additional representation. A citizen assembly should bring together elected and public officials, urban and economic planners, and affected citizens together to draw districting plans that represent the interests of all parties without compromising a sitting official’s position or ignoring a constituent’s special needs. A series of re-districting alternatives can be placed on the ballot for voters to decide. Voter responsibility education Schools should be required to include a course that teaches voting rights and responsibility as part of a social studies, American government, and civics curriculum. This course should be repeated at the university level to account for foreign students that will eventually become United States citizens. For older Americans who are beyond the educational system and for older immigrants, community based programs should be implemented that instill that voter registration is a responsibility of citzenship, not just an optional right or privilege. Tax deductible campaign donations Public financing for campaigns is generally not a tangible benefit for lower income voters. Many may see public financing as a way for candidates who do not have their interests in mind to advance their campaigns. Allowing federal and local tax deductions for small campaign donations can help to decrease feelings of disenfranchisement of lower income voters. They have the opportunity to directly support the candidate or issue of choice, and receive a ture public benefit (both the donation and the deduction). This could replace the current system and be managed at the federal level as well. Conclusion The United States can enhance democracy by modifying its election system. By placing activities such as deciding on political districts and adding value to campaign donations, voters are enfranchised in a greater way. Education makes citizens understand the benefits of voting. Consolidating the registration and polling makes the system as fair and not subject to less error. References democracy. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from http://www. merriam-webster. com/dictionary/democracy Gerkin, H. , et al. (2006). Six Ways to Reform Democracy. Boston Review, September/October 2006. Retrieved October 13, 2008, from http://bostonreview. net/BR31. 5/gerken. php

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