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. AR

    We don't even need a new national holiday – we already have Veterans Day Nov. 11. What better way to honor their sacrifice for our freedom than to exercise our franchise and VOTE?

    January 4, 2012 at 8:04 am | Report abuse |
  2. ronvan

    CATCH 22!! Week day? Holiday pay? To many holidays already. Companies raising cain about having to pay employees not at work, and on and on. Week end? Yelling that "it is my day off", and on and on. Keep poles open longer, I.E. til 10PM, let people off from work, 2hrs. early.

    January 4, 2012 at 8:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. eachvotecount

    Popular vote wins state, wins national election. Electorial college is obsolete.

    Photo id's and proof of citizenship and legal status to vote (no criminals)

    Bar PACs and orher special interest groups from voting sites. Remember black panthers at Philly voting site.

    January 4, 2012 at 9:41 am | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    I totally agree with Kent Whites post yesterday. We should go 2 popular vote only! By the people, of the people and for the people! Delegates can & are being bought! And although you are right Joey, this country was NOT founded by fools, it is run by them

    January 4, 2012 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. chrissy

    @ hamsta, for all your ranting and raving about democrats and social programs, im betting if your not already taking advantage of those programs, and i think you are cuz you know alot about em, but if not im sure in you were in need, you wouldnt hesitate!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. chrissy

    i meant *if* u were in need. And as for the dems wanting no id requirement so illegals can vote, thats just stupid and prejudiced thinking!!! You have to register to vote, and when you do you have to show all kinds of identification! Go back to school!

    January 4, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  7. Thomas

    Here is an idea: Have the state with the most people (California) have its primary first. Why should some little state lost in the middle of a cornfield have a disproportionate influence in the election for president?

    January 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. vote

    Voter turnout will get even lower on a weekend. Everyone will be taking care of personal matters and going out of town.
    A national holiday brings down GDP and makes the economy worse; we should just leave things alone.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Paul

    Elections need a major overhaul. 1. Cut the time for campaigning so it doesn't take away from their real job, 2. Voting on the same day, 3. Limit "hidden" groups from funding ads, 3. Totally eliminate corporate donations, The last point is the most important as big money is running this country.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Zachmann

    Just make voting a three day event, where one of the days is a holiday, eg. have voting be Mon – Wed with Tues as the holiday. We have less holidays than many nations as it stands. All the time you hear that "this is the greatest democracy" and our voter turn out is low. I remember when I worked retail and tried to leave to vote, I was not allowed to, even though I attempted to clear it ahead of time and offered to do it unpaid. But really, what does it matter, it is all fixed and the politicians paid for.

    January 4, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Evan

    I like the Idea of voting over 3 days, the house should be elected by proportional representation not direct representation (that will end the 2 party system, and safe districts), the electoral system should change as well, also we must limit the advertising for campaigns to one month before a primary and 3 months before a general election (that will greatly limit the amount of money needed to run for office thus getting rid of much of the corruption and special interest influence. Most of all people have to care about how the nation is governed, that is the point of democracy. The level apathy in this country about politics and voting is so amazing to me. If you have ever tried to get people registered to vote you know what i am talking about. That starts with education, and an over all cultural shift. Also politics should no longer be a taboo subject to bring up in public because it is part of the public discourse, we should listen to each other and not devolve to stupid talking points. This is what should happen, but im not holding my breath.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Who cares about voter turnout

    Who cares if people show up to vote? If people don't care enough to make it to the polls or get an absentee ballot, my guess is they haven't cared enough to learn anything about the candidates and they are only voting based on party. Why would we want people like that voting on the future of our nation?

    January 4, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Jamie

    The system is not fixable, cancer has spread throughout and made the whole country inoperable. Voting is a joke, we have no say in what goes on in this country. Why would anyone think otherwise? Are we a nation of morons, lemmings, and sheep? Why offer suggestions to fix the voting system? The voting system doesn't matter. At all. The president doesn't make any decisions, congress doesn't make any decisions. No one that has ever been elected makes any decisions. These people are just figureheads, offering up trivial solutions, just enough to keep that hope alive in every one of you. Just enough to keep the lot of you voting. But they aren't in charge. They were bought out hundreds of years ago. You want to know who owns this country? Follow the money. Our leaders are the worst kind of criminals, they smile, they pander, they make you think they're just like you. They are nothing like us. They are a part of a party that we aren't invited to. There is no hope. Stop voting. Start thinking outside the box.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matt

      Where is the LIKE button around here?

      I haven't started anything *official* but I'm starting my own campaign. Don't Vote in 2012!

      January 4, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. DavidH

    Rather than proportional representation, I would opt for preference voting with instant runoff as an alternative to the current winner-take-all system. The winning candidate would have to have a majority of the vote, possibly after eliminating the least popular candidates through instant run-off process. This would end the spoiler effect which discourages voting outside the two-party system.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
  15. LarryB

    Ballots should make no references to party affiliation. Force the voters to get off their duffs and actually learn something about the candidates, rather than taking the lazy way out and voting a straight party ticket.

    January 4, 2012 at 1:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Clayton

      Yes. This is probably the simplest and most sensible change to make. Force people to vote for the candidate, not for the letter in between the parentheses.

      January 4, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Publius Novus

      Why? It is very important to me to know party affiliation.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • LarryB

      There are quite a few ideas here with merit. Too bad the politicians in the D & R parties like the status quo just fine, and aren't likely to bother considering any of them.....
      One other thing I would do away with is gerrymandering. If these clowns showed as much interest in the health of the nation as they do in redrawing district boundaries every time their party assumed a majority, we'd be in great shape.
      Frankly, I would go as far as banning both of the major parties, similar to Germany's abolishment of the Nazi Party following WWII. Most would probably consider that rather drastic.

      January 4, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
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