The right to vote is perhaps the most fundamentally necessary aspect of American society. Voting is how we choose our leaders and how we make our voices heard. It is how we ensure that our government enacts policies that improve life for all of us, rather than a select few. I take the right to vote very seriously and am committed to promoting policies and legislation that will ensure this right is maintained for all Georgians.
Voter registration for Georgia citizens should be automatic upon turning eighteen. Voter registration should be automatically updated every time a Georgia citizen gets or renews their driver’s license. I will propose a bill that will enable automatic voter registration at these points and others to ensure that all Georgians who are eligible to vote are able to vote.
We must also reform the ways we remove registrations. Far too often, voters are removed from voter rolls incorrectly. The most common reason is due to voter inactivity – if you haven’t voted in a certain number of consecutive elections, your registration is purged. We need to reform this process to ensure that voters are only removed due to death, moving out of state, or loss of the right to vote due to felony conviction. Furthermore we must ensure that once felons complete their sentences in full and have their rights restored, their voter registration must be reinstated as well.
Finally we must reform the way we vote. In the wake of the 2017 special election for State Senate District 6, Republican State Senator Josh McKoon started pushing for special elections to require partisan primaries. The reason for this was that the Georgia Republican Party lost the District 6 seat when two Democrats earned the top spots in the initial election, resulting in a runoff between two Democrats. McKoon’s response was a vengeful, blatantly partisan attack on our electoral integrity. However, he was opposed by Representative Buzz Brockway, a Republican from Lawrenceville, who instead proposed something called “preferential voting”. This system would allow voters to rank all the candidates in order of preference – if your first choice does not receive enough votes to compete against other candidates, your vote is given to your second choice, and then your third, and so on. This has several benefits:
- Eliminates the need for runoff elections: as candidates are eliminated and votes are redistributed, a clear winner will always (except in the case of an exact tie) come through without the need for a runoff election. This will save the Board of Elections money.
- Eliminates the “spoiler effect” and strengthens third parties: currently, many people vote either Democrat or Republican for no reason other than to stop “the other guys”. This is wrong. People should be allowed to vote their conscience without having to think strategically. Preferential voting allows them to choose the best candidate for their views first, while still saving the vote for “the safe bet” for second or third.
- Requires upgrades to our electoral systems: Georgia’s electoral systems have been under intense scrutiny lately due to being outdated and severely unsecure. A switch to preferential voting would require new voting machines, new software, and new databases – and we can make all of these reliable and secure from the very start. Furthermore, we can ensure that all our votes have a tangible paper trail for verification purposes, thus reducing the potential for fraud through hacking. These new systems will cost money, but we will already be saving money by eliminating runoffs. Over time it will not only balance out, but it will become revenue-positive compared to the current system.