Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ideas to improve voting, elections
Voters cast their ballots November 4, 2008, at Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia.
January 3rd, 2012
05:47 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: 10 ideas to improve voting, elections

Editor's note: Overheard on CNN.com is a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community. If you voted in the Iowa caucuses, tell us your story on CNN iReport. Or put yourself on video and share your insights on the GOP race, and participate in the comments area below.

Readers found a CNN opinion piece about why we vote on Tuesdays (hint: a horse and buggy are involved) and took it all one step further, coming up with creative ideas for how to improve the voting system in the United States.

Why vote on Tuesdays? No good reason

Our question for you: If you could run an election however you wanted, what changes would you make and why? Here's a few ideas readers were sharing. Let us know what you think.

1. Change the voting day: The argument several readers made was that people have trouble voting during the week, so having a designated day off would make voting easier. They batted around ideas including having a designated holiday and voting during the weekend. Many said a holiday is the best way:

EDYVAN: "The day for General Election should be a national holiday. The primaries should be a state holiday."

MeAgain2000: "I agree with you, and I believe that it should be on a weekday and not inside a weekend."

msacks: "I've been so turned off by our political process, the idea of having a holiday for elections makes me sick."

But a few suggested weekends, too.

Germgaz2: "Nobody in Europe votes on a weekday. Most voting is held on a Sunday. Percentage of turn out is much higher than in the USA."

2. Rethink the electoral college: Some of the commenters said they were disheartened by the possibility that the electoral college would change the weight of their vote. Readers wondered whether a popular vote would be more fair or would give more populous states too much power.

ChipsAreGood: "We should also do away with the electoral college and decide elections based on the popular vote. A person's vote shouldn't be meaningless just because they live in a red or blue state."

mtiger: "Meaningless? if you go to a popular vote then Half of California will dwarf ALL OF 15 states and DC ... New Mexico West Virginia Nebraska Idaho Hawaii Maine New Hampshire Rhode Island Montana Delaware South Dakota Alaska North Dakota Vermont Washington, DC Wyoming ... and if half of Texas votes, take out ALL OF Arkansas Kansas Utah Nevada. Popular vote is awful. Electoral votes give strength to the weaker states."

msacks: "mtiger, why should states with less people yield more power over the populous states? How does that make any sense?"

tmac18: "A person in a small state's vote should not count more than someone who is from a larger state's vote."

WWWYKI: "So what you are saying is that you want the Country to be ran by California and Texas? Death couldn't come fast enough!"

3. Change the primary system: Is it too long and drawn out? Should everyone vote at once?

organically: "All 50 states should hold their primary on the same day! This will eliminate many problems associated with our election process. Why should someone drop out because they finished in 4th place in Iowa? What about where someone finishes in the other 49 states? Iowa makes no sense."

ShaunaDye: "The primary/caucus system allows for lesser known, poorer candidates to have a chance to share their message with the American people and gain support for their ideas over time. If there was a national primary, only those with a ton of cash and a nationally recognized name could become president."

Guest: "Okay and while we are at it, the primaries and that system need to be updated also! Give them 6 weeks to campaign, primaries all on 1 day. Boom! In 2008, by the time I got to vote in the primary, McCain already had it in the bag."

4. Make elections last longer than one day: Why have an election that is only one day? Would having a week-long election give more people a chance to vote? Or is there maybe another reason why people aren't going to the polls?

syd113: "Is there any reason it needs to be all done in a single day? If you really want to maximize turnout, hold it over ta couple of days (fri-sat for example). Kids would mostly be in school or daycare during the week so parents can get away, but the weekend's available for people who can't easily get away from their work responsibilities."

KootieBird: " I don't think it's a matter of what day we set aside for voting. I think it's more a matter of people feeling like their vote doesn't make a difference, that elections are rigged, and that there really aren't honest, hard-working politicians who care about the people to vote for."

5. A few, um, incentives: Some people think there isn't much that can be done.

unafilliated: "Our voting system doesn't need to be 'fixed.' Not the day, not the manner, not the counting. This culture of 'I have an idea that solves everything' has also been tried to 'fix' our schools, putting massive pressure on public schools with basically no results, because in the end, the most important factor is the lazy kids and apathetic parents. If you really want to boost voter turnout, offer free booze and tats. I guarantee you that you'll see people turn out that have never voted before... even if you do it on Tuesday."

6. Allow voting online or by mail: Readers wonder whether it's time to make it easier for people to vote without actually going to a polling place.

lamarjones: "Damn it, figure out how to let me vote online. For those of you who still live in '85, that is your deal. Not mine."

mike3316: "Suuurrre.... online voting. Our votes will be safe and secure, because nothing EVER gets hacked on line. lol"

A few commenters mentioned mail-in voting as a model for successful remote polling.

BandonWind: "Apparently this author doesn't know about vote-by-mail, which we have been doing here in Oregon for YEARS (as well as other states). It is such a simple process, no rush for time, don't have to go anywhere or battle weather, and fraud is minimal since signatures are verified. Learn about it and you will become a fan, and probably start voting. We also register to vote by mail."

Seola1: "Not all states allow that. There are some states where you have to show up in person or with a doctor's note basically."

Some pointed out that early voting is already a reality for many people.

djcarter66: "Unless only I live in the modern age or am totally missing something most states have early voting. You can vote about a month or so before the election. One of our voting places used even be in the mall (although they might have moved that place). Now we usually go to the library or city hall."

7. Tweak the winner-takes-all system: One reader suggested a graduated election system whereby the "losers" would have representation.

IndyJim1969: "Plenty of people voted last year. If you recall, it was the second largest turnover in party history in the last 100 years. Unless you were upset with that outcome, why would you be worried about it? If we wanted more participation, we should look at changing the winner takes all system we have in place right now. If the election goes as:

Candidate A 38 percent of the vote
Candidate B 35 percent of the vote
Candidate C 20 percent of the vote
Candidate D 7 percent of the vote

Then the net results are that only people who supported Candidate A get a voice in the congress. 62 percent of Americans who voted are without a voice. That is why I would like to see the Senate remain as is, but the House of Representatives be a proportional representation system. Even the green party with 7 percent of the vote gets 7 percent of its candidates seated in congress. As it is now, candidates are so pre formed and cookie cuttered by the time they get in power they have bought and sold their soul 10 times."

8. Manage the money: Many readers said they thought elections have become too much about money and lobbying.

jedclampet1: " 'Operating system of the country is broken' - Well then, we need to boot or re-boot, send the non-working members to quarentine, and prevent infection by lobbyists and special interests by means of a political 'firewall.' Until we repair the 'files' we elect, it matters not what day we vote on."

9. Open up voting: A few commenters complained about the party system, and one suggested allowing people to vote for more than one candidate.

Paganguy: "The problem is not the day of the week. This voting system is divisive. 'If you ar not for me, you are against me.' On the other hand if you could vote for more than one of the listed candidates the process would pull people together. We already practice this when voting for judges. This would be a fault-less voting; all marks on the ballot counts. The candidate with the most votes win."

10. Ensure that people vote: Perhaps more should be done to encourage people to go to the polls, this commenter says.

lgny: "By contrast, in Montreal, the agency responsible for voter registration goes out throughout the city to assure that everyone is registered and that those unable to vote in person have filed for absentee ballots. They even visit nursing homes and other places where voters can't get to the polls. In the States, we really don't work very hard to make it easy to vote."

Now that Iowa's headed to the polls, there's clearly a spirited readership out there waiting to see what happens during election season. What do you think of these voting ideas, as well as the candidates? We'd love to hear your ideas for the future of polling.

Join the conversation about the 2012 election in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or share your opinion on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Elections • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. MAC

    Obama has the leadership skills of a Commander that I would not even follow to the head (bathroom) if I had to go. He is a Liberal Elitest Ideologe that will push this country towards European Style Socialism where the government takes most of the workers money and takes care of everyone. I'l tell you this I would rather my Doctor get paid very well like here in the US than like they are in Europe in socialist and communist countries. They deserve better pay than any lawyer in this country does.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Brian

    I have noticed that most countries have their elections on the weekend so that working people can vote more easily. For some reason working people don't count in this country. There is a history behind this. At one time to vote in this country you had to be a white male landowner.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  3. MAC

    All those that vote for Obama need to understand it is our children and grandchildren and their children and grandchildren who have to pay the 15 trillion in debt and the 26 trillion in debt that Obama's 10 year plan is creating. This is lunacy!!!!!

    January 4, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  4. SeeSome

    The order of the primary states should be changed for each presidential election. There's no reason why Iowa and NH should always be first except their own state pride. Divide the U.S. into four regions, then randomly select one state from each region to be first four primary states (order determined by draw). Each of those four states would then be ineligible to be a first primary state in the next general election. Force candidates to have to learn about the issues in different parts of the country.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  5. MAC

    I'll tell you right now, I would not want California or New York telling the rest of the country how the countries money should be spent. Both of them have high taxes and big debt and are full of extremist.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  6. rell87

    WHy would you want to improve voter turnout? The vast majority of Americans pay No attention to politics and current events. None, Nadda, Zero. They are completely ignorant about the issues, the candidates and the proicess. Why would you want them to vote?

    Stupid voters lead to stupid results. If anything we should be discouraging the ignorant from voting.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Jimbo

    If elections were on the weekends I would not vote, what a waste of a perfectly good weekend. Like I'm going to give up a good fishing or snowboarding activity to go stand in line and vote for some egotistical politicians that won't make my life any better, get real.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:17 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hinxy

    How about one 6 year term for president? No waiting until 2nd term to get things done.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mercyme


    January 4, 2012 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Taty

    ronnie you need to quit smoking pot. Civics class is where you need to be a full time sutednt because you certainly must have failed it. You need to go read KRS and see what it says in 61.365The following persons who are employed by the federal government as law enforcement or investigative officers who have the power of arrest and who are residents of the Commonwealth of Kentucky shall be deemed peace officers and shall have the SAME powers and duties of any other peace officer in the Commonwealth, except that they shall not be required to serve process unless permitted to do so by their respective agencies:1) FBI special agents;2) US Secret Service special agents;3) United States Marshal's service deputies;4) DEA special agents;5) Burea of ATF special agents;6) US forest service special agents and law enforcement officers;7) Special agents and law enforcement officers of the Office of the Inspector General of the USDA; US Customs Service special agents; and9) US National Park Service law enforcement rangers.They have law enforcement powers under the laws of the Commonwealth and they DON'T have to ask the sheriff's permission.

    April 22, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
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