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. John Prock

    Direct referedum on all issues. Bypass politics, Congress, the President, the entire primary process, and the electoral college. We only have representative democracy because of the lack of communication when the country was founded.

    January 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Report abuse |
    • SherwoodOR

      Nobody who reads the comments on CNN articles could possibly support this idea.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. b0z0

    How about: You can't vote if you're on gov. assistance

    January 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • NOT MY CHAIR

      that would eliminate the vast majority of people that could vote.

      January 4, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • steve harnack

      Would that include the entire workforce of corporations that get government assistance?

      January 4, 2012 at 3:40 pm | Report abuse |
  3. KIm , Dodge City, Kansas

    As long as the media is allowed to sell political air time, and candidates are not all restricted to the same campaign budgets, the mythical fair and representative voting system will never be a attainable. We would be better off fixing the scandlous way Congress operates, install a simple "single item on a bill" rule, and out-law lobbying.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. NOT MY CHAIR

    i agree with moving election day to a weekend or having a holiday for it. i also agree with getting rid of the electoral college, its such a joke! if there were no electoral college we would have not been in the mess we are in today (bush would not have been president). with the electoral college voting in some states really does not matter because you know what way they are going to end up going and that is not right. every single American citizens vote should matter no matter where you are from

    January 4, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JOE

    These primaries are worthless. President Obama is gointo to take all 50 states.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. achigurh

    Everyone is fed up with the system. Most of us with half a brain who don't have our heads buried in facebook or playstation/xbox all day know the system is rigged and corporations/lobbyists run the country. It doesn't matter who you vote for, they're all crooks, bought and paid for in some way. It seems like you're voting for the lesser of evils, not for someone who actually cares about the country and wants to do the right thing. Politicians could care less...hell, they get a great pension and a cadillac health plan for life, why would they care if social security, medicare, and medicaid all go broke? The system is screwed and will only get worse, it's too corrupt to fix. Wait until you see what all that money you saved for retirement buys you in 30 years after inflation...they can't stop printing money and there's no end in sight to our deficit/debt. The people we have voted for have slowly destroyed our country.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • glyder

      however,some want a new and corrupt system.i say we divide this country.

      January 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rick R.

    Require voter ID, as many states already require.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  8. SherwoodOR

    Want to increase turnout in federal elections? Exchange a voted ballot for a chit good for $25 off your federal income tax.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jack in CO

    1.) Enable voting by US mail in every state, from 30 days prior.
    2.) Have state electoral votes reflect the state popular vote; no more winner take all.
    3.) Vote for a 1st place, 2nd place, and 3rd place candidate; minimize need for runoff voting.
    4.) Remove all 'outside' money for campaigning; all candidates get the same amount of money to campaign with, same amount of airtime.
    5.) Make politicians use the systems they create (social security, medicare, etc.); no preferential treatment.
    6.) Allow ex-felons to vote.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  10. David Libman

    I agree with those who suggest eliminating the electoral college. The states get equal representation in the national government by virtue of 2 United States Senators for every state regardless of population. The president should represent all the people and if this means that California, New York, Illinois, Pennsylvania, etc. have more influence on the election of the President than Montana, North Dakota and Arizons, then so be it.

    January 4, 2012 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  11. blaqb0x

    Don't forget to Google +1 the top search term when Googling "Santorum"

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

    Very nice but – are you all aware that the GOP is doing its best, state by state, to make voting more difficult – under the ruse of "protecting the vote"?

    January 4, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Kammy

    I think we should have an "American Idol" type election. The candidates have to "perform" in front of a panel; give their views, goals, positions, etc. The panel should be comprised of past politicians, political scholars and such, from each party. If you convince them you should be "America's Next President" then you're it...if not, then you hear a big buzzer, you are voted off the island, eliminated.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Paul

    Anyone who plans on voting for Obama in 2012 is a complete idiot. He has spend $3 trillion in 3 years. More than 8 years of GW Bush, 8 years of Clinton and 4 years of Bush 41 COMBINED. This man is reckless and the middle class has suffered under this administration more than at any time in recent history. Earning power is down ten percent, real unemployment numbers are in the high teens (17%-19%) and Civil Liberties are being erased at a rapid pace. Four more years of Obama will be the demise of the United States.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Scott

      Paul, thank you for showing us that in the right light, even a lie can be the truth if you really believe...

      January 4, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      Oh, but the country flourished under 8 years of the Bush regime, right?
      I'm voting for Obama and with no hesitation.
      He's better than anything the Party of No has to offer.

      January 4, 2012 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • bob

      paul:which COMPLETE IDIOT republican should we choose to make it Better?

      January 4, 2012 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • JIm

      Right on Paul – Making firends....Frankly all candiates and their respective parties are all jackwagons and are not looking to help us without ensuring it helps their position. Get over your your belief that the voting system in America works or is fair.

      January 4, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • waterman

      Nice try to write shift the cost of Bush wars, Bush recession, Bush tax cuts, and Bush stimulus package to Obama.

      January 4, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • TomFoolery

      My goodness are you ever misinformed. In every way. Your numbers are wrong. Your assignment of blame is wrong. Your idea of a solution is wrong. Why live in reality, though?

      I think you were reaching for how much was added to the debt, but you are sadly mistaken there as well. Even not counting inflation, George W. Bush alone added more to the debt than Obama has, let alone both Bushes and Clinton combined. Also, it's the Congress that spends the money, not the president.

      January 4, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • boole

      TomFoolery – without taking sides – how can you say "George W. Bush alone added more to the debt than Obama has...", and then in the next sentence say "Also, it's Congress that spends the money, not the president." The only logical conclusion is George W. Bush is the Congress?

      January 4, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Steve

    Why should I vote my choices at the polls are puppet of thier party. Oh boy choose thief A or Cook B.

    I think congressional representation should be like Jury Duty you get letter and you serve 2-4 years. 90% of politicians are Lawyers – that is the problem. Why can't average hard working Americans have a REAL say in what effects them.

    January 4, 2012 at 4:11 pm | Report abuse |
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