Time to Change the Way We Vote

There’s been much said lately about the way we vote in this country. Especially now that COVID-19 has overloaded the mail-in voting process and states cannot agree on a uniform way to gather and count those ballots.

Complaints about misprinted or discarded ballots. Charges of voter suppression and rigged elections. The 2020 presidential election could go down in history as the most controversial ever.

It is clear that local and national election officials need to put their heads together and figure out how to fix and unify not only the mail-in system – but the entire voting process – preferably before the next mid-term election in 2022.

There is lots to fix. An email from reader Joe DellaLonga raised an important point. “It is so evident to me and others that so many issues cannot be agreed upon between the two major political parties,” he wrote. “So, why then is there a requirement (which is not in the constitution) that you must register as a member of ANY party?”

Joe is right. In just about every state if a citizen wants to become fully involved in the election process they must register ahead of time and declare allegiance to a political party. (Only the state of North Dakota does not require citizens to register to vote.) In Joe’s state of New Mexico, for example, its right there on the voter registration form – “Note: You must name a major political party to vote in primary elections.”

Isn’t It Time For More Than Just Two Main Parties?

Those, like me, who are registered as an Independent voter get no say in the run-up to an election. If there are multiple democrats and/or republicans running for, say, a seat in the U.S. Senate a primary election is called to winnow down the field to one candidate from each party. But an Independent isn’t allowed to vote in a primary. We are denied full participation.

Just because someone declares themselves to be a free thinker they are excluded from the process? Not fair! Especially since an increasing number of Americans have abandoned the two major political parties and now declare themselves as an Independent voter.

The latest Gallup poll puts the number of voters in the “I” category at an eye-opening 40%. Twenty-nine percent declare themselves to be Republicans, 30% align with Democrats.

Traditionally, Independent voters usually do favor one party over the other, but these are not normal times. The same Gallup poll asked known independent voters which party they lean more toward. Democrats were ahead 50% to 45%. But many political analysts recognize the phenomena known as the “Shy Trump” supporter. Those who, for whatever reason, have decided to keep their presidential choice to themselves. If they aren’t counted then the polls aren’t accurate.

Poll Says There Are Now More Independents Than R’s or D’s

There are more flaws in our voting system than just the alienation of independents. For instance, why are there different rules in different states as to how and where a person can register to vote? Can’t we agree on one system?

About 20 states allow same-day voter registration whether the participant is voting on election day or casting an early vote. Close to two dozen states offer automatic registration when a citizen interacts with a state agency such as the Department of Motor Vehicles. Get a driver’s license and you can automatically register to vote. And over the last five years there has been a push for states to set up voter registration online. New Jersey just approved the system last month and Oklahoma is on track to follow.

Getting citizens excited and involved in voting is great but wouldn’t it be easier for everyone if there was a national norm?

Bother to Vote – It Matters

And one more thing as long as we’re discussing revamping our out-of-sync voting systems. In many states voter rolls are bulging with the names of residents who no longer live in the state or have died. Lawsuits are pending. States must pay closer attention to the health of their voter registrations lists. To do otherwise invites even more public apathy.

In 2016, almost 92 million eligible Americans did not bother to vote. Yet the midterm election in 2018 saw the highest turnout in four decades. Let’s hope the trend continues.

This country needs a definitive, indisputable outcome to this presidential election. Whatever you do – vote.



  1. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:12 am

    Joan Cavanna writes:

    Dear Diane,

    It is time for reform. I believe it is time to abolish the 2 party majority system. It is extremely obvious this election that we need more candidates. Two people cannot represent everyone. We have to change the way we fund candidates so there can be more equally viable choices. Just as we break up monopolies we need to break up the 2 party system. Changing funding to allow more political parties to form is most critical.

    The choice this election seems to be based on who is the lesser of the 2 evils. Or it’s a 1 issue contest – people are picking their most important issue and voting for that candidate regardless of what else that candidate supports. Having multiple candidates would allow voters to choose someone who endorses all or most of the same issues.

    Thank you for listening.

    Joan Cavanna

  2. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:15 am

    Rolf Poopipans writes:

    Voting should ONLY be done in person, WITH ID VERIFICATION!

  3. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Craig Pelletier writes:

    I love a lot of points in this piece. Doesn’t one system for everyone go against state governance? I feel the larger problem in our systems is that states don’t have the independence they originally had. Both sides try to mandate for all, instead of passing legislature for the states to decide for there citizens.

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:19 am

      Diane replies to Craig:

      I’m all for state’s rights, Craig, but when it comes to voting shouldn’t it at least be sort of universal? We are a transient population, moving from state to state, so making the voting process fairly seamless seems a good way to include all into the system. I agree with Rolf above. Show up at the polls with an ID that says you live there and you can vote….And that includes Independent voters who want to cast a ballot in primary elections!

  4. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:20 am

    Al Johnson writes:

    The parties may try to mandate for all, but it is the states that decide on the rules for their people. Neither party can make rules for citizen voting, unless that party has control of enough of the state government to do so, and it is the people who elect the people in the state legislature, the governors and other officials involved in the process. And when we get bad officials into political office, that is the fault of the people who elected them

  5. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:20 am

    krdale761 writes:

    States should control State Elections …
    Feds should control Federal Elections.
    ALL elections should demand Voter ID as every other democratic country does.
    Long past time to clean out the likely 25 Million Illegal aliens living in the USA today …

  6. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:24 am

    paularner writes:

    In regards to registering to vote in a primary as a member of the party whose election you wish to participate in:
    If you want to affect the political direction of a party (by and large, that is what happens in a primary), why should you not expect to be a member of that party? Why would you expect that merely looking at the party from the outside gives you the authority to vote in a primary?

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:24 am

      Diane replies to Paul:

      Paul, Independent voters mostly lean toward one party or another anyway. To disallow them to have a voice in the winnowing down process, as in a primary, denies them full participation. Independent citizens shouldn’t be made to (as you put it) “register” with one party or another to vote in a primary. They should simply be allowed to cast a ballot in a primary election. If we want everyone to vote then lets be fair all the way through the process. Its only fair IMO

  7. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:28 am

    JaneS writes:

    Here here! Primaries are for the parties to decide what candidate they will run. If you’re not in the club, you don’t get to provide your input

  8. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:28 am

    Margo Lurvey writes:

    Primaries should include all parties who are running, not just R&D


  9. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:29 am

    aclegal writes:

    Many independents know more about each party, and especially the candidates running for office, than many, if not most, of the voters who are registered as R or D.

  10. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:29 am

    K B

    Then register as whichever side you want to help winnow down and refine. Political party (unlike gender) is fluid and does not define you. Just call one left leaning and the other right leaning in your head if that helps. Why get hung up on semantics? What we don’t want to happen is like in the UK where several different parties make it hard to get an actual candidate in that most want. Similar parties keep splitting the majority vote. I identify as a libertarian but am registered as a Republican because I believe we will never win if we split the right-side’s vote. I am here to try to reform the Republican candidates at the primary level. We need great independent, informed voters to get involved in the primaries! Perhaps then there wouldn’t be so many socialist democrats or so many RINO’s in office.

  11. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:29 am


    Additionally, having open primaries can give your opponents the ability to help choose the weaker candidate they’ll have to face.

  12. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 10:30 am

    Barbara Evenson writes:

    Agree with many points!! Especially people being quiet this year and 2016. No offense to anyone but Democrat supporters are viscous to anyone voting Trump! Families are torn up because of political lines.

    Agree no registration should be required!!
    Agree that no one should be left out of any voting because of being independent (biggest constitution breaker)!!!
    Agree ballots should NEVER be different because of political stand for U.S. leaders! (Second biggest constitution breaker)!!

    These divisions are created for pandering from political parties to the citizens! Or worse bullying!

    Great article!! I hope more people weigh in and this becomes a very hot topic for some real changes!!

  13. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:23 am

    caclegal writes:

    I think that people should be registered to vote, but agree that it would help if the states had more uniform rules.

    I don’t agree with having to register as a member of a certain party. This country would be much better off if people voted for the person and not the party.

  14. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:24 am

    Al Johnson writes:

    Many people vote for the names they see on the ballot, while others look a the party designation. Personally I vote for whoever is most likely to work to preserve our freedom and has a chance of winning – for many decades that has been only Republicans.

  15. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:25 am

    Priscella Phipps writes:

    The only way to GUARANTEE an honest election is to pass the following bill, which would de-link presidential elections from state elections. In other words, make presidential elections a federal election. Here is the plan:

    Pass the “Presidential Election Voter Fraud Protection Act”:

    1) With proof of US citizenship, voters would be issued a Federal Voting Card through the U.S. Postal Service, which would prevent states from allowing felons and illegal aliens to vote for President, while not infringing on a state’s right to conduct state elections as they chose.
    2) Presidential voting booths would be set up at all voting sites. No write-in voting.
    3) Voters present their Voter ID Card, go to a “Presidential Voting Booth” and vote for their choice.
    4) Military would set up a similar system that would work within military parameters.
    5) Only “home-bound” disabled persons with a doctor’s signature would be issued a write-in ballot.

  16. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:27 am

    mrsfoster2015 writes:

    Much as I detest Big Brotherish stuff, I’d be willing to use one of those fingerprint scanners. They should have the holograph thing on the voting ID card too (like what’s on our driver’s license) so it’s harder to replicate. One fingerprint-authenticated vote per person – it would also make the time-honored Dem practice of having deceased people vote cease and desist. Certainly no illegals could vote with these types of identification protocols!

  17. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:29 am

    Ezra Tross writes:

    I agree with everything you said. Only I don’t like the tone that “independents” are smarter than everyone else, which they very often think they are. If you’re so smart then use the system that’s been made even if it is a stupid and unfair one. I’m a registered republican so I can take part in the primaries and try to elect the best candidate. If I’m not happy with who gets the nomination I will vote for the libertarian or “independent” in the general if they more closely align with what I believe.

    Your argument is nevertheless the correct one. But “independents” are not nearly as smart as they all think they are and they can be just as sanctimonious as any republican or democrat.

    That being said, Trump 2020!

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:29 am

      Diane replies to Ezra:

      No where did I insinuate that Independent voters are smarter, Ezra. Only that those who identify themselves as independent voters should not be shut out of part of the process.

  18. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:31 am

    Melissa Roof Tritto writes:

    There should be more inclusion for independent and libertarian voters. The two party system is broken and we all know it.

  19. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:32 am

    RicKW46 writes:

    This may sound strange, but please give thought to it.
    While getting elected, and all that is involved with running for an elected office is POLITICAL, the election process itself should NEVER be allowed to be politicized, as it has now become. There are certain principles that must be adhered to. The most basic of those is: One CITIZEN, One VOTE. Politics, politicians AND political parties are the only things that get in that way. Everyone has a single permanent residence. That is were you go to vote. The only exception to that should be for those SERVING OVERSEAS, both military and civilian. It need not be complicated nor should it be. What it need to be is OUT OF THE HANDS OF POLITICIANS! One CITIZEN, one VOTE-period. Prove that you are who you say you are, cast your vote.

  20. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:33 am

    3dslides writes:

    “In 2016, almost 92 million eligible Americans did not bother to vote.” Meanwhile, California allows all sorts of ineligible residents and non-residents to vote. Let’s fix that, too.

  21. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:35 am

    Shoshi B writes:

    Great article Diane.

    I registered as a Democrat when I was 18 because, 1. I didn’t pay any attention to the nominees and 2. my Dad was a staunch Democrat (or should I say anti-Republican) and told me that’s what I was. I know now that I wasn’t and never have been though I am not a Republican either. I would say I’m a Libertarian (as little government controlling me as possible) but one cannot register as that. I never re-registered because when I got older I wanted to have a say in who ran in the primary.

    The system is seriously flawed and neither party wants to work with the other because both sides believe the other is out to get them and they are probably right.

    As citizens we Should have a say in who runs for any office and we should all be included in that process no matter our allegiance.

    I don’t approve of my Governor (Cuomo) and never voted for him but he should not be dictating policy for any state other then NY but he goes on TV with his power points and tells the nation that he is the standard that all Governors should look to and that is not only not a good thing it’s a dangerous thing. His ego is terrifying.

  22. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:37 am

    tomp.home writes:

    Some of what you say, Diane, makes sense. I think there is no reason for registration of any kind as long as people must verify their identity at the polls in person as an eligible US citizen.

    The problem is the states do not want this under any circumstances. The government is so corrupt on all levels this will never happen. They don’t want to do anything that weakens their firm grip on power. they are disgusting pieces of …..

    the SCUM always rises to the top of every pond. It’s a law of nature. The only way to really change things is to vote against ALL incumbants in EVERY election EVERY TIME and at EVERY level of government. CHurn them like butter. Take away what they crave – their power.

    Lastly, the only amendment to the constitution we need is to permanently ban anyone who holds office from ever holding office again after they end their term with a stipulation that they are also banned from ever working in the industries they represent for LIFE.

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:38 am

      Al Johnson replies to tomp.home:

      Sorry, but have to disagree with the last para. The proposal would ban both good and bad people from more than one term. That should be the decision of the voters, and it is the task of the people to vote out the bad politicians and to educate future voters on the differences between bad and good politicians. As for banning them from working in the industries where they have worked before, are you saying that if a politician comes from, say, the retail business sector and serves one term , he or she cannot return to that industry for life? I dn’t think that would stand up in a court of law for 5 seconds, because it would deny that person the right and freedom to work and it would negate all the years of experience he has in that field. If you mean banning people from lobbying for a number of years after leaving office, there are rules in place that require senators to wait two years after leaving office, and House members are banned for one year. I’d agree with extending that time to say 5 years or more, but not banning them from working where they have knowledge and expertise.

  23. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:39 am

    mseymour88 writes:

    I like to stay independent and vote for the candidates I feel are the best.
    In Nj if I vote in the primary. I am automatically registered as that candidates party…then I can go home…fill out a form and become unaffiliated with any party..then vote in general election for who I please as an independent

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:41 am

      Diane replies to Mseymour88:

      That sounds like a cumbersome procedure – paperwork likely designed in the hopes that not too many voters would bother to fill out a form to become UN-affiliated. But whatever works for you!

  24. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:42 am

    sam33705 writes:

    I have been voting by absentee ballot for many years because of a mobility handicap. I do NOT mail my ballot in. I take it to a drop off place where there are poll workers and a security guard. I personally drop my ballot into a large safe with a mail slot. I get an “I voted” sticker and am on my way home again. I do not trust the mail because there are too many people that are handling the mail and stuff like this happens.

  25. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:43 am

    Carol Marshall writes:

    We have to protect the Constitution! Voters MUST be legal residents of the USA. Some proof must be shown to vote. We Americans deserve HONEST elections!

  26. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:44 am

    Gerald Reilly writes:

    We need a National Voter ID with the Citizens Photo and fingerprint. On the Magnetic strip would be their vital information, Name, address, SS#, Voting District, etc. Two weeks prior to Election Day the polls would open, and the voter can go to any ATM Machine which will have a ‘VOTE” application. Inserting the Voter ID Card and a PIN # would then open the App. Using the touch screen the voter can select their choice. Information on the card would bring up the appropriate “Down Ballot” Choices. ATM’s are very secure and Banks have the process in place to protect our money, the Voting App can be as secure.

  27. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:45 am

    William Tuck writes:

    The mail in voting works Great here in California!! We have done it for years and I Love it!!

    • Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:45 am

      mjth42 replies to William Tuck:

      Absentee only! I am in California and hate mail in voting.

  28. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 11:47 am

    Timothy Connolly writes:

    There’s nothing preventing “independents” from organizing and nominating their own candidates, if that’s what they want to do. I don’t understand the justification for non-party members to be entitled to be part of a process that is specifically and solely supported by party membership. /// When the USA organized voting in Iraq, voters had to dip their thumbs in purple indelible ink to prevent casting more than one ballot. In the USA that would be called “voter suppression “.

  29. Diane Dimond on October 19, 2020 at 7:00 pm

    Randall Rightmire writes:

    Dear Ms. Diamond, (sic)

    In a column “It’s Time to Change the Way We Vote,” published by local Noozhawk.com on October 17, 2020, you omitted a crucial fact about California voter registration law, an omission that, for your California readers, could lead to a misunderstanding.

    You wrote:
    “In just about every state, if a citizen wants to become fully involved in the election process, he or she must register ahead of time and declare allegiance to a political party…. In Joe’s state of New Mexico, for example, it’s right there on the voter registration form: “Note: You must name a major political party to vote in primary elections.” Those, like me, who are registered as independent voters get no say in the run-up to an election.”

    I’ll take you at your word that this is a problem in New Mexico. However, this is not true in California. The registration form allows voters to decline to state their party preference and still vote. Here’s what the form says:
    If you choose “No Party/None,” you may not be able to vote for some parties’ candidates at a primary election for U.S. President, or for a party’s central committee.

    As a matter of opinion, I disagree that voters in one party should be allowed to tamper with another party’s primary by swinging the election toward a weak candidate that would hurt the party’s competitiveness in the general election. And as a matter of opinion, I don’t think it’s healthy for the country when columnists spread doubt about the legitimacy of the electoral process by repeating conservative talking points about voter fraud (“voter rolls are bulging with the names of residents who no longer live in the state or have died,” for example).
    But as a matter of fact, voters in California have the right to register and vote without declaring a party affiliation.

    Your California readers deserve that point to be clarified.

  30. Laurence Heine on October 21, 2020 at 7:34 pm

    Here in Virginia voters do not register for a party. Instead, primary elections are open and voters can vote in any party’s primary (but only one). This seems to be the fairest way to handle primary elections.

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