Thursday, November 12th, 2020

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


Winston Churchill once said the democracies and the election process are messy, sometimes chaotic, and inefficient.  But, he also pointed out, that no one has devised a system that is any better. The recent presidential election was a nail biter with a small percentage of voters being the deciding factor in four key states. With numerous lawsuits having been filed, it may be weeks before the final counts are completed.

In this new day of instant information being available over the internet, Americans are understandably impatient at not being able to receive election results shortly after the polls close.  I recall back in the 1980s when I served as Louisiana’s chief elections officer that the clerk of courts offices were not even open election night. All results were unofficial gathered by the press, and the final results we’re not even tallied until three days after the election.  I changed the reporting system as part of a new election code written by my secretary of state’s office and adopted by the legislature.

Remember that under our national balloting system, each state runs its own election procedure.  For example in Louisiana, the secretary of state’s office coordinates all state wide activity.  Ballots are printed at one location, and voting machines are handled and distributed by the secretary of state. In many other states, each county overseas their own individual election process. There is no uniformity.

Some so-called election reformers are advocating a centralized national system, similar to what is found in countries like Canada and many European countries. Under such a system, there would be uniform elections procedures in every state.  But that’s not how our founders envisioned the election process. We are not one nation, but we are a unity of states.  The United States of America. Therefore, under the 14th amendment of the Constitution, the election procedures are handled on a state by state basis. Some may say it is inefficient and slow in the workings, but that’s how the process was envisioned when the U.S. Constitution was written.

Others have suggested that election results should not be released until all votes have been counted and the results are completed, rather than releasing numbers as they are available, often in a random manner. What?  Hold back election figures until the entire process is over? What fun would that be for all of the election groupies who hang on to every report from CNN, Fox News and MSNBC?  Some would argue that releasing just a few of the result numbers would, according to The New York Times, “distort the results, frightening their voters or sowing discord.”  Does anyone really care?  I want to see election results as soon as they become available.

Louisiana has the voting and counting process down pretty well.  The legislature and the governor suggest some fine tuning, but here’s how the whole process should evolve and be put into place.  First of all, we should let Louisiana citizens vote early. They made it clear that’s what they want to do. In a 2008 election, 254,000 voters cast their ballot before election day. In our most recent election on November 3ed, this total jumped to 964,000. In fact, this total was an 81.3% increase form the early voting total in the 2016 presidential election. So why stand in the way of those who want to cast their ballot before election day, whatever the reason?

Absentee voting should be allowed three weeks before election day and run for two weeks, six days a week.  If you want to vote by mail, just be able to request a ballot from your local registrar of voters. I keep hearing about all this election fraud. Bunk!  It rarely if ever happens. Don’t put in place a system that limits a citizen’s right to vote.

Whatever the final totals in this unconventional and cantankerous election of 2020, one thing is certain. Although this campaign may be over, politicking for 2024 will shortly begin.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide.  You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at



Print Friendly, PDF & Email