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. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I don't think anything needs to be changed.
    It's not much trouble to vote as it is now. If one isn't willing to put this little energy into casting a vote, it probably wouldn't mean enough to him to consider the candidates and propositions thoroughly.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  2. banasy©

    1) How about this: if one doesn't vote, one gives up the right to b!tch and moan about what's going on in the government.

    2) Re: the Montreal idea:
    Well and good, but isn't that forcing someone to vote?
    Exercise your right to vote; conversely, people exercise their right *not* to. Penalty? See #1).

    January 3, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • lgny

      Nothing is forced. It's getting out to encourage the vote and facilitating it.

      One more example: In many states you have to file for absentee ballot several weeks in advance. I've known business people who could not vote because a last-minute business trip came up that caused them to be away on election day AND it was too late to file for absentee ballot.

      January 4, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  3. 11.) Salamandering

    They forgot to mention how to improve voting by making voter districts resemble salamanders on a map.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Supreme Court

    1.) How about this. If a Supreme Court Justice abstains, he/she should never be allowed to talk about it ever again. .Excercise your right to vote. Penalty? Makes you an accomplice.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kent whites

    Do away with the electoral college, popular vote period. The days of the electorate being too ignorant to vote for who they believe in are 100 years in the past. Perhaps if the citizens actually saw their votes count they would be more inspired to vote, take an active part in government, and therefore assume responsibility for the actions of the government. The way it is now creates a victim mentality, that no matter how we vote it has little or no effect on the outcome. Perhaps it is only the career politicians that benefit from the antiquated electoral college. If your argument is that some states are more populated than others, do the people that live in those states not have an equal vote?

    January 3, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    Keep the electoral college.
    This country was not founded by fools.

    January 3, 2012 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  7. banasy©

    @Supreme court:

    Makes who an accomplice?

    January 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Valin

    Get rid of the electoral collage. It was set up to make the smaller states join the country.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:09 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tamsyn

    Supreme court, HAHAHAHAHAHA! That's great! Oh, you weren't SERIOUS, were you?

    January 3, 2012 at 7:11 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Supreme Court

    @Kent. Good points. We should have a truly free popular election right out in the open like Canada does. Voting districts with boundary lines that are constantly changing and the electoral college only complicate a simple task and make-way for fraud.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. 12.) www.VoteFraud.org

    Vote fraud. Yes, it does in fact occur. Boycott voting. Our electoral process is more corrupt than Wall-Street and we're protesting those crooks, are we not? Visit http://www.votefraud.org and get informed.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  12. banasy©


    Oh, boy.

    January 3, 2012 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    Supreme court:

    Makes *who* an accomplice?

    January 3, 2012 at 7:54 pm | Report abuse |
  14. رأفت طنينه

    Visit http://www.rafatnet.wordpress.com

    January 3, 2012 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    You worry about it. I'm going to sleep.
    Thinking became unpopular a long time ago here.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Report abuse |
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