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My proposed new rules for elections

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Column by Jim Clark

By Jim Clark

The most prevalent word on my caller ID at home during the past few weeks was “unknown,” as political calls of every ilk invaded my privacy and left me with recordings that made no sense, especially when you only listen to the first six words or so.

Amid all the other silliness that ended Tuesday with the elections, that’s just one of the most annoying things about politics in this state and nation.

So I’m coming up with a few new rules to supply to our legislators. Since the legislators are the ones who would probably violate these rules the most, I doubt if they’ll ever pass, but I’d like to try, anyway.

1. Both the federal and state “do not call” lists need to be expanded to included politics. Right now, they don’t apply to political calls. I’m not sure why, except for the fact that politicians passed these laws in the first place. If telemarketers can be banned from calling my house, why can’t politicians?

2. If that doesn’t happen, all political callers should be required to show the words “political call” on their caller ID, and they should be required not to block the appearance of their phone numbers. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to call some of these recordings back and tie up their systems?

3. It should be illegal to release polls publicly. I can see where candidates would want to see where they stand, but poll results should be provided to them alone … not even to us in the media. This past week I counted seven headlines in newspapers and on the Web that said Rick Scott was leading, and I counted six headlines that said Alex Sink was leading. Obviously, since some of them were inaccurate, why do legitimate news organizations continue to publish the results? And who cares what someplace called “Quinnipiac” says, anyway?

4. It should be mandatory that, when a candidate qualifies, they fill out temporary applications for a trademark for their faces and names. That way no one could use the name or face of an opponent in any advertising without permission. They could still say “my opponent,” but they couldn’t show the worst possible picture they could find of someone running against them. The trademark should expire the day after the final election.

5. The rules that make certain races non-partisan should be tightened. Political parties should be banned from inviting anyone running in a non-partisan race to a certain party’s rally, unless ALL candidates running in that race are invited, regardless of party affiliation. That’s what non-partisan means … there are no Democrats or Republicans in judicial and School Board races. When I asked why Sharon Hagen was not speaking at the Rick Scott rally recently, I was told, “Because she’s a Democrat.” So much for the non-partisan aspect of a School Board election.

6. Newspapers should not print letters to the editor, columns or editorials favoring an issue or candidate so close to the election that the other side has no chance to respond. We did that here, not printing any political letters in our Oct. 29 issue, since any response would come out Nov. 5 after the election.

7. Election Day should be expanded to three days, the first Tuesday in November, and the preceding Sunday and Monday, regardless of whether those dates fall in October (as is the case this year, Sunday was Oct. 31). Voting could be from 1 p.m. Sunday to 7 p.m. Tuesday, non-stop, polls open all night and guarded all the time. That would stop the early voting, which to me is a bad idea. Suppose Kendrick Meek had dropped out at the last minute. What would have happened to all those people who already voted for him? Would they get a do-over? Also, you don’t know what’s happening to those ballots.

8. Absentee ballots should be only for those who will be absent during those election times. That’s what they were originally intended to do. People should have to prove that they will be gone before an absentee ballot is issued. We just saw a case of voter fraud brought against a Daytona Beach commissioner and another person involving absentee ballots. We hate to think of how much fraud takes place that we don’t know about.

Well, that takes care of reforming the election process. I’m not holding my breath, but it was fun putting these items together. What do you think?

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen. He can be reached at editor@smcitizen.com or 352-854-3986.