Political parties bring order to the electoral process

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg does not like the political party system, especially as it exists here in the city. That was proven in 2003, when he initiated a citywide referendum to abolish political party designations in city elections. It seems an overwhelming majority of New York’s registered voters disapproved of this initiative, since the referendum was defeated by 70 percent of voters that year.

Actually, Bloomberg’s dislike of the political party system was shared by our first president, George Washington, who believed the English political party system was partly responsible for the American Revolution.

But shortly after Washington was elected president and began serving his first term in office, his two chief lieutenants, State Secretary Thomas Jefferson and Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton, began forming political parties. The party Jefferson formed, with the help of James Madison, eventually became the Democratic Party, and Hamilton’s party would later become the Federalist Party.

Whether it is called a political party or something else, there has to be some type of political organizational structure to choose candidates, get them on the ballot and assist in fund−raising and with the campaign. Political parties are part of the democratic system under our electoral process. An exception to that is rich candidates who have the financial resources to form their own political party under their control, as Ross Perot did in 1992.

In the 1960s in the Los Angeles area, there was a school board election with no direct political party participation. There were over 60 candidates listed on the ballot, which indicates that political parties give a degree of order to and establish procedure for elections.

Our electoral system must be improved from the standpoint of discouraging paper ballots and encouraging registered voters to vote by voting machine instead of absentee ballots, as well as curtailing all forms of invalid voting. In recent years, a new voter registration form has come into being that replaces an older, much larger one.

Although there are no year dates on these forms to indicate when they went into effect, there is one important difference in these two registration forms. On the older form, there is a box to check with these words next to it: “Yes, I need an application for an absentee ballot.”

On the new form presently being used, there are two references to absentee ballots. There is the request for an absentee ballot and the following statement: “If you would like an application for an absentee ballot or would like to be an Election Day worker, please check the corresponding box below.”

The question arises: Why are prospective voters who are not registered being encouraged to vote by absentee ballot, not to mention asking people if they want to be Election Day workers, when these positions are mostly filled and there are waiting lists of voters seeking these positions?

As for affidavit ballots, there have been instances where Elections Board supervisors are telling inspectors who work at the polling sites not to argue with voters who show up to vote and are not listed in the registration book.

It is not a question of arguing with people seeking to vote, but the purpose of having inspectors at the polling sites is to check the credentials of each voter to make sure they are eligible voters. We have heard a lot about “all votes should be counted.” That statement should be amended to “all eligible votes should be counted.”

If the integrity of our voting system is not maintained, it jeopardizes our entire democracy. This should not be a partisan issue. All political parties should work together in a bipartisan effort to ensure the standards of our electoral process.

Posted 6:32 pm, October 10, 2011
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