There is a growing consensus that the United States is in need of election reform. The candidate who has addressed this issue the most is -- no surprise here -- Bernie Sanders. Just call it Reason Number 101 to vote for Bernie Sanders.

As with so many other topics, I find that ironically, the issue of American Exceptionalism rears its ugly head here once again. Many nations have election monitors. The United States does not. Exit polls are used to verify results in other nations. In the United States, they are only used to give early results to news media. Election results have been successfully disputed in other nations, but here in the United States, that never seems to happen, although people have suspicions about some elections. Election integrity of course, remains a very important issue around the world, to be sure, but in order to prevent election fraud, we must be prepared for and open to investigating that possibility.

I don't plan to go into the details of the currrent primary situation, which many others have, but here is a summary. There are consistent differences across states in which Bernie Sanders does better in exit polls than in official results, often by differences well beyond the margin of error. (Only one state has shown Sanders doing better in the final tabulations than in exit polls.) The odds against these results happening is phenomenal. Meanwhile, exit polls for Republicans have been normal, being much better predictors of actual primary results. We can talk about why this pattern is happening, but any evidence about it is circumstantial, at least at this point. Perhaps Sanders voters are more likely to do exit polls. Perhaps there is a particularly large variance among democratic primary voters resulting in a large margin of error, or perhaps, there has been election fraud going on that favors Hillary Clinton. Even if so, we don't have proof of who is behind it. Also, many pre-election polls are more in Hillary Clinton's favor than either the actual results or exit polls. Thus, we know that something strange is going on, but the public doesn't have proof regarding what it is. Add to all this, the various snafus or suspicious events that have happened during specific primaries, and we have quite a mess to deal with.

The most pertinent fact is that there is a growing perception among the public that the nomination and election process is unfair, and that perception seems well warranted. I am talking about all aspects of the system here. Most notable is the role of the establishment and the media in favoring certain candidates. Thus, if nothing happens between now and the end of July's conventions to stop it, we now face the prospect of having two candidates with historically unprecedented disapproval ratings by the public -- Hillary Clinton, and Donald Trump, whose ratings are even lower than those of Clinton. But, but... Trump is an anti-establishment candidate, isn't he? Well, sort of. But actually, he is a super-wealthy oligarch who has used his fame and wealth to parlay into unprecendented and much undeserved media coverage which propelled his campaign. This was probably unintentional on the part of news media, but between the Teatards and the If If Bleeds It Leads news media, the monster they have created has made Donald Trump a political success in the GOP primaries. The fact that this monster is exposing the weaknesses of the Republican Party as never before and is bringing dissention to the point of potential political collapse of the not so grand old party, is another unintended side effect which is to be welcomed by progressives. On the other hand, everything except for gender is establishment and Third Way Politics about Hillary Clinton. Sadly, from my perspective, the weight brought to bear by the political establishment and fat and happy conventional news media owners appears to have outweighed the tremendous excitement and desire for political reforms generated by her democratic socialist, independent opponent, Bernie Sanders. Nonetheless, I still think that Sanders and his supporters, even if he does lose the nomination, can have a huge impact on the political discussion and agenda going forward.

I found a long article (with videos) which explains Bernie Sanders positions on election reform. This does not specifically address the issues with the current primaries, but it does go a long way to providing a blueprint for reform. Bernie's ideas for election reform are as follows (http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-political-and-electoral-reform/):

1. Repeal Citizens United;

2. Pass the Disclose Act requiring public disclosure of all campaign contributions;

3. Have publicly funded elections;

4. Democracy day -- have a national holiday on election days to encourage more people to vote;

5. Enforce the Voting Rights Act, and pass legislation to prevent gerrymandering. (Such laws have already been passed in California and Arizona, but they need to be national.);

6. End the Two Party System by passing legislation to have Instant Runoff Voting, which allows people to better vote their consciences (last time's topic) and thus gives other parties or independent candidates with good ideas a better chance of winning.

Getting back to the topic of this year's primaries, I would add that getting rid of the superdelegates in the democratic primaries would be a good idea. Also, allowing everyone a chance to participate by having only semi-closed (in which non-affiliated voters can choose a party to participate in during the primaries) or open primaries would help make primaries more fair.

Finally, something that I did not see on the Feel the Bern site, but important to election integrity in general, would be to have far more voting transparency once the votes are cast, to prevent potential election fraud. This means having a paper trail by using paper ballots instead of electronic voting machines for one thing. But I would go even farther. I would give every vote some kind of identification number, at the top of the paper, so that if necessary, votes can be tracked. Meanwhile, every voter should be given a copy of his or her votes.

If we have been heading toward a plutocracy for many years, not only should plutocrats take the blame. People not taking democracy seriously enough, and allowing plutocrats to win and take over our democracy, using media and money to maintain the status quo and diminish interest in voting while comprimising the integrity of elections, has allowed this long slide down the slippery slope of corporate fascism to happen. Thankfully, all this damage can ultimately be undone, and comprehensive election reform is a great place to start.

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The Thom Hartmann Program - Aug 30th 2018

It seems it's all racism, all the time w/the GOP...Neo-Nazi robocall hits Iowa on Molly Tibbett’s murder: “KILL THEM ALL. ” Richard Wolff drops by about the National Debt. Is it a disaster or an OK thing? Also - Trump & The National Enquirer - Is the Economy Here To Serve Us Or Are We Here to Serve the economy?