November 26, 2022

COLUMN: One for all

Like pumpkin spice availability every September (but only after Labor Day) the discussion during a national campaign season to make election day in November a national holiday are becoming a constant duo.

The mid-term elections held last week were no different.

Some online news sites and social media posts again asked the question making election day a holiday. The day is the Tuesday after the first Monday in November in even-numbered years. The motive is a holiday could make more people vote since people may not have to go to their job.

I’m not sure on making it a holiday as I think we have enough national holidays. Making Election Day a federal holiday would be interesting to see how it influences our activities as it would potentially be the first of two federal holidays in the same week. This year was a good example as Veterans Day was Friday.

After also seeing what happened last week, I don’t think we are having the right conversations about that Tuesday in November. Here’s my question. Should every state have the same voting procedures and regulations just for the sake of convenience and efficiency?

I know, I know, it would be a threat to states’ rights. States don’t want to be always governed by what decisions are made in Washington D.C. I get that. But we are still being bogged down by individual states and their procedures that slow down the nation’s results. Last week was no different.

Nevada was not confident enough in naming its Senator winner until Saturday. Nevada also took days after the presidential election in 2020. Arizona declared its Senate winner Monday, six days later.

Georgia is having a runoff election in December for one of its Senate seats since state law requires a candidate to have at least 50% of the vote to win. The two candidates didn’t hit that number. I know of municipal elections that require a candidate receive a certain percentage of the votes to be declared a winner. I don’t think that should be necessarily tied into some national voting regulation.

Because what happened in Arizona and Nevada I don’t think we have fully learned from what happened in Florida during the 2000 presidential election. I’m not here to argue who won, or should have won, president in Florida that year. That state determined the overall winner. I’m here to show our processes, in respect to states’ rights, have still not been contributing to the overall good of the cause. We are still waiting days after an election to hear who won.

Voters and the country should not have to wait days or a week for the total results. If there was some natural disaster that happened on election day, I get that. But what happened in Arizona and Nevada should have been routine. After what happened in Florida in 2000, election problems should be a minimum.

In 2000, Florida vote counters saw strange ballots marked for third-party candidate Patrick Buchanan in popular Democratic precincts. Some Florida election officials wonders if those people thought they were voting for Democrat Al Gore. There were punch-card ballots where the voters’ implication was even questioned as portions of the perforated paper gave us “hanging chads” or merely denting – and not clearly removing the tiny piece of paper giving us “dimpled chads.”

I haven’t heard the phrase chad since then, but we still have voting procedures that are slow to the end.

Some states, including Iowa, changed its voting regulations after 2020. Georgia did the same but I didn’t see any problems last week in Georgia because of the new rules.

There are other procedures and events all Americans fall in line. When we fly commercially, the passenger security procedure is virtually the same in all the airports; remove shoes, put carry-on luggage through the X-ray devices and so on. And in April we all fill out the same forms and have the same dates to file our federal taxes. So if our money going to Washington D.C. is the same on every form, why shouldn’t our voting procedure be the same for who we send to D.C. to spend that money?

Leading up to the mid-terms and days afterward, I heard a few comments of people who were not in favor of national voting procedures, partly because of the years of headache and debate it would take to get enough people to agree. Yes, I expect that to happen too.

But it’s time to end all the election procedure delays and headaches. Let everyone do the same thing.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.