OP-ED: Splitting Society Through State Voting

Madison Popovic, Senior, Editorial Director

Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, “The future of this republic is in the hands of the American voter.” The United States was founded on the principle of representing the American people. However, this has become increasingly difficult as voting methods continue to vary from state to state. As many states decide to use different mechanisms and machines to count the votes, it becomes clear a need for this inconsistency to change as it has impacted efficiency and accuracy.  

Currently, there are a few options that one can use to vote. Drew Desilver said, in an article for the Pew Research Center, that one can “….use one of two basic forms of voting technology to record your choices: optical-scan ballots, in which voters fill in bubbles, complete arrows or make other machine-readable marks on paper ballots.” These methods have caused great controversy as shown by the 2000 Presidential Election between George W. Bush and Al Gore. Unclear presidential ballots in Florida came into question after Gore demanded a recount. In an article published by The Intercept, Jon Schwarz said, The U.S. Supreme Court then halted this recount on December 12, declaring that since different Florida counties used different voting methods, the voter intent standard violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.” This variation of typical voting methods proved to impact the recount of the presidential election.

This division translated to disaster for the 2020 Democratic Iowa Caucus. The results of the Iowa Caucus were delayed for an elongated period of time: the caucus transpired on February 3 and results were not certified until February 29, after a voter recount. This delay left many feeling like their voices were not heard. Kedron Bardwell, an Iowa resident and political scientist at Simpson College, in an NBC News article, said, “Iowa went off so badly, I fear that with any new or realigned ‘early state’ order, we may get left out.”

The United States is already politically divided, but all states not following the same voting procedures increase this division. Some states participate in a primary, whereas others decide to hold caucuses. The differences increase as states vote in primaries at varying times throughout the campaign cycle and each state primary looks different. Maria Cramer said in a New York Times article that Arkansas “….holds an open primary, with the 36 delegates being awarded on a proportional basis. California holds a semi-closed primary – meaning only Democrats and unaffiliated voters can cast a ballot, with the 494 delegates being awarded on a proportional basis.” This method is one of many ways a state can hold a primary as some chose to hold an open primary and others make it closed, adding to the confusion and difficulty across the country. 

As many desire to take part in political elections by voting, it has proven to further divide the country rather than improve the political divide. It is imperative that states use the same voting methods and conduct either a primary or a caucus on the same date. This would eliminate confusion and improve American democracy in the process.