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Ross: The simple and necessary solution for fixing our elections

Ballots being tallied on Election Day in November 2020. (Getty Images)

Earlier this week, I said if anyone had ideas for how elections could be reformed so that both parties would respect the result, please share it. I received a suggestion from listener Gary that I like a lot.

He suggested a five-step process:

  1. Collect all of the ballots
  2. Validate the ballots
  3. Count the ballots
  4. Certify the vote
  5. Release the results

Sounds obvious … except it’s the opposite of what we do. What we do now is release piecemeal results, which we then start second-guessing, and then the parties start suing based on who they wanted to win.

We pretend it’s a horse race when, in fact, the race is over. All we’re really rooting for is the arithmetic, which is ridiculous.

Gary is saying you do all the validating before totaling everything up, so that you don’t have people claiming fraud just because they lost. When the fraudulent votes in every state have been ruthlessly disqualified, then all the states announce the results, and we salute the winner.

But Dave, you say, we’d be waiting forever. Yes, so here’s my variation on Gary’s idea: Make Election Day the absolute deadline for accepting votes, but in return, we get to vote as early as we want to, so there’s no excuse for missing an election.

Everybody would get a ballot with a unique barcode, and we can sign and cast that ballot as early as we like. That leaves plenty of time for serious signature checks and fraud investigations. It would also dilute the impact of October surprises. If you wait until the last few days or lose your authorized ballot? You can still vote, but it has to be in person, and your ID has to check out, so there’s no question of fraud.

It’s true that we, in the media, wouldn’t get to cover the horse race, but it’s a sham anyway. And I, for one, would be happy to trade fake suspense for a more trustworthy election process.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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