Opinion | Election Reform: Here Are Some Ideas

To the Editor:

Re “Let’s Ensure This Never Happens Again” (Sunday Review, Jan. 10):

In the aftermath of the Capitol riot, Beverly Gage and Emily Bazelon offer a broad range of ideas for “fixing what ails” our elections, with one gobsmacking omission: Nowhere do they touch upon the restoration of public, observable vote-counting.

It was primarily the lack of transparency of our computerized voting process that gave oxygen to Team Trump’s bad-faith attacks on that process. Defenders of the shield were quick to circle the wagons and declare the 2020 election “the most secure in our history.” But such declarations do not make it so.

What would make it so is nothing less than a first count of hand-marked ballots by humans working in multi-partisan teams observable to the public.

All the reforms Ms. Gage and Ms. Bazelon put forth would be beneficial. But without the de-computerization now adopted by many of our fellow advanced democracies, every idea they propose will fall short of the goal that election results be trusted and accepted by winners and losers alike so that the trauma of the 2020 election will not be repeated.

Jonathan D. Simon
Felton, Calif.
The writer is the author of “CODE RED: Computerized Elections and the War on American Democracy.”

To the Editor:

Beverly Gage and Emily Bazelon propose a number of remedies for certain aspects of our electoral system. We believe that an essential additional corrective measure is evaluating the mental health and psychological stability of presidential candidates before the primary voting process.

It is highly probable that if three commonly used and reliable psychological assessment evaluations (Rorschach Inkblot Test, Thematic Apperception Test and Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2) had been administered to Donald Trump when he was a candidate, his now manifestly evident mental aberrations would have been discovered.

Now is a most advantageous time to correct this significant and potentially dangerous omission in the presidential candidate vetting protocol.

C. William Kaiser
David E. Creasey
The writers are retired from Harvard Medical School. Dr. Kaiser was an assistant professor of surgery, and Dr. Creasey was a clinical instructor in psychiatry.

To the Editor:

There are two additional fixes that need to be added: making money less central to politics, and devising a way to protect the public from the unqualified and incapable from running in the first place.

The first requires campaigns to be paid for by government, for political messages to be fact-based and subject to libel/defamation suits, and for Citizens United to be overturned.

The second requires that some independent assessment be shared of a candidate’s qualification to run and evidence of a grasp of what the job entails. A nonpartisan credentialing commission could be instituted.

Adding these would give candidates more time to address policy and free the public to have greater confidence that whoever gets in office has, at least, a basic understanding of what is required.

If we fix the structure, minimize money and protect the public from the charlatan or the incompetent, we might have a chance of ensuring stability.

Greg Rathjen
Milton, Ga.

To the Editor:

This article put forth some good ideas to improve our voting system. But one crucial change was overlooked: Change Election Day to a Sunday, as in most European countries.

How do we expect people to leave work or school or other weekday activities in order to go cast a ballot? Voting on Sunday would turn the day into a holiday, rather than an arduous patriotic task.

Joan Z. Shore
Paris

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