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. Did you vote for Bush?

    If you knew how corrupt the Bush family ties with the Bin Laden family are and you still voted for him, that makes you an accomplice. If you knew he was a liar and approved, it's your fault.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. رأفت طنينه

    Hot article from middle East

    January 3, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Are you freaking kidding?

    No, it's your fault, n'ah n'ah, pffffft. I don't know anyone who voted for that pos.....~! I sure as hell didn't give money to the RNC and never would!

    January 3, 2012 at 8:24 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©


    Buona notte, caro cuore.

    @Did you vote for Bush?:

    I assume that was in answer to my question to Supreme court, but I'm not really sure, because that answer seems unrelated to my quiestion.

    In any case, no, I didn't vote for Bush.
    So I guess I'm in the clear.
    Although your post raises more questions that won't be answered, I presume.

    January 3, 2012 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Brad Bolyard

    We really need to understand this, and please check my sources:

    There will be only 120,000 people who vote in the entire caucus. (Bing Search: Iowa coucus results 2008)

    That is 4% bof the Iowa state population....04% of the US population

    4 one hundreths of the US population is driving: who the leaders are,
    who the failures are
    what issues will fail

    all the months worth of news coverage

    hundredths of the US voters

    Please tell me my numbers are wrong

    January 3, 2012 at 9:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      Concur ....Caucus vote count is a little higher ......maybe 150k...The importance of Iowa is "slightly" exaggerated. Where is this place called Iowa anyway?

      January 4, 2012 at 12:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. hamsta

    still wouldnt matter if u got rid of the electoral college the democrats dont want an identification requirment cuz they would lose their voter base of illegal immigrants.they use the excuse that its not fair to poor people.last time i checked u need identification to cash a welfare check or apply for food stamps.did u know that in new orleans ht is a misdimeanor crime to be outside of ur home as an adult without identification?besides the right to vote is exclusive to citizens with no felonies.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  7. John Clayton

    Polling stations are no longer effective, all voting should be done by mail to make it more convenient. More convenience equals higher voter turnout.

    January 3, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    *The pro: it might help the USPS out...

    *The con: mailmen who don't deliver the mail, but throw it in dumpsters...

    January 3, 2012 at 9:56 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Southern Lady from North Carolina

    Voting day should become a national holiday with all stores and businesses closed. The Republican efforts to demand ID cards does great harm here in the South where many older and poorer voters do not have ID cards but, of course, we know that is exactly why the R's are pushing this. The campaigns should be shorter to avoid voter burn-out. Each candidate should be given a certain length of time on all TV channels to state his case as to why he should be elected president and the minute he starts bashing another candidate, the screen goes blank and his time is up. Decency and honor must be reestablished in the voting process and, hopefully when this happens, a larger voter turnout will happen.

    January 3, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Tom Pernis

    Hey CNN! Where's the story of the American border officer letting in a Canadian with a scanned passport on his IPad? You cover other less impacting stories but when it's US border security you don't mention anything. If it was the Canadian border then you would be all over it. Hypocrits and racists. Go figure why you are all scared and constantly on Level Orange threat!!!

    January 3, 2012 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Joe citizen abroad

    Anyone can vote ahead of time by mail. Apathy and cynicism is the problem, not access. On the apathy front, if voting were treated under the law as a privilege instead of a right, more people would vote. Something always seems more valuable to people when they fear it might be taken away. So we should have a use-it-or-lose-it law on the books. If you miss two consecutive elections, or a total of three elections within a six-year period, you lose it. The only way to get it back would be to pass a routine multiple-choice citizenship test, which could be administered at your nearest local federal building or post office. On the cynicism front, for crying out loud, let's get back to pen and paper and sealed boxes. Hi-tech computer voting devices will just open the system up to charges of hidden fraud. And nobody participates in a system if they're cynical about the system.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©™

    I said it last night, but I can say it in a simpler way: if they're too stupid to understand the value of voting, we're better off without their votes.
    The same thing goes for their getting ID cards.

    January 4, 2012 at 5:20 am | Report abuse |
  13. www.VoteFraud.com

    ...not to mention the value of fraudulently counting votes.

    January 4, 2012 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. hamsta

    @southern lady from north carolina-the reason the dems dont want the identification requirement is because they would lose their voters base (election fraud)of illegal immigrants and felons(the right to vote is exclusive to citizens with felonies)being poor has nothing to do with it.u need id to cash a welfare check or apply for food stamps.in new orleans it is a misdemeanor(crime)to be outside ur home as an adult without identification.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:15 am | Report abuse |
  15. Twit

    You got something toi say, say it. Otherwise quit hounding and shut up.

    January 4, 2012 at 7:26 am | Report abuse |
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