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Political Action: U.S. electoral process needs to be reformed

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In New York state, including Queens, the Democratic Party Organization has endorsed U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton and will be supporting her at the national convention if the presidential contest is not settled before then. The super delegates in New York who have committed to Clinton appear to be holding. However, these delegates are not bound by primary results. They can vote for whom they wish once the convention voting begins.In the Democratic Party the concept of proportional representation has been introduced in some states whereby delegates won in primaries are awarded to candidates in accordance with the percentage of the vote that they received rather than winning them all.Looking at the campaign itself, prior to the fall general election, the candidate selection process is getting longer. Announced and unannounced candidates campaign continually for over a year. Perpetual campaigning probably began with former President Jimmy Carter, who campaigned through 1974 and 1975 before achieving the presidency in 1976.Electronic voting has had mixed results. Recently in Ohio it was reported that they are considering abolishing all five electronic systems that they have used in recent previous elections due to operational deficiencies.In California they are still counting absentee votes from the Feb. 5 primary. In Washington state the registered voters are in the only state which has both a caucus and a primary. They had a Democratic caucus in which U.S. Sen. Barack Obama won and was awarded the delegates. Now it seems that the presidential primary has become irrelevant in the Washington state Democratic Party, although the Republicans in that state have awarded delegates based on both the results of the caucus and primary.Change is necessary at times as we move forward in the electoral process, but change can also bring uncertainty and at times confusion as exemplified by the situation in Michigan and Florida. Both these state Democratic parties were denied delegates at the forthcoming Democratic Party convention by the Democratic National Committee because they held their primaries too early in violation of DNC directives. The DNC has apparently reversed itself and is now saying these two states can hold caucuses before the convention and based on the caucus results can be seated at the convention and have their delegates vote accordingly. It is not known at this time if one or both of these states will have statewide caucuses. It remains to be seen how Michigan and Florida will affect the ultimate outcome of the convention.Clinton, Obama, and U.S. Sen. John McCain, the Republican frontrunner, have spent tremendous amounts of time campaigning in 2007 and especially in the first two months of 2008. During that period it would be of interest to know how many Senate sessions they missed and how many committee meetings they did not attend. What is the number of roll call votes taken when they were not present? It is understood that these high public officials were campaigning for the U.S. presidency, but at the same time they were representing the citizens of their respective states in the U.S. Senate and are being paid to do so. Their constituents are not being adequately represented.The two U.S. senators who are expected to emerge as the official candidates will be campaigning throughout the late summer and into the early fall, thereby causing more Senate time lost. The majority leader of the U.S. Senate had some difficulty in scheduling a vote on the recent economic stimulus plan because of presidential candidate schedules.It can be said the political change in terms of reforming the national electoral process can be good, but at the same time we also need some degree of stability and continuity. Any significant change should be accomplished through an orderly transition.It should be noted that since Mayor Michael Bloomberg has decided not to run for president as an independent and with Rudy Giuliani having dropped out of the GOP race, this leaves Hillary Clinton as the only New York candidate. Therefore, there is no longer a possibility of three New York candidates running against each other for president. It would have been interesting to see which one of them carried New York state in the fall election and also which of the three won Queens County.

Updated 6:57 pm, October 10, 2011
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