Election Reforms for the 21st Century

Dear Source:
I believe it is about time we the people demand that our elected representatives consider a thorough reform of our elections laws. I am going to submit some important features of what in my humble opinion would reinforce our democratic institutions, make our democratic system more efficient. Our elected representative needs to be more proactive and visionary. Many have been talking about having more and better accountability from our public servants, both elected and appointed. We would like to propose the following changes: A fundamental change we would propose is the use of alternates for every board and commission of the government.
We are proposing alternates for senators also, at least two alternates per senator. This change would ensure that the people's business would proceed regularly uninterrupted by lack of quorum. The principal in any of these positions would be more diligent in their attendance. The executive branch has a stand-in for the Governor in the person of the Lieutenant Governor. The Commissioners have their Assistant Commissioners. Therefore, let us elect alternates for all elected positions and appoint alternates for all appointed positions.
Another fundamental change would be the empowerment of the political parties. Presently, as the laws exist and are interpreted, the political parties have very little power or authority. The Board of Elections is the Registrar for the political parties, it register persons into the parties. The Board of Elections should be an impartial agency that oversee elections and monitor the faithful compliance of all elections laws. The Board of Elections should qualify electors and candidates for elections. Each party should be responsible for inscribing their own members in the party and submit that list to the Board of Elections for reference. The parties would submit their charter, constitution, and by-laws to the Board of Elections, which would monitor their compliance.
The Board of Elections would be the arbiter for disputes within the parties and between parties. All appeals would be channeled through the court system. Parties should be able to discipline their members internally, according to established rules and procedures outlined in their By-laws. The Board of Elections' primary function is to maintain the public informed of all changes in the elections laws and elections procedures. I also believe we should have elections on weekends and not disrupt the classes in the schools, if we are really concern about our student's education. Weekend elections also will allow more persons to work and volunteer in the election process. People from the private sector would be encouraged to participate. Persons who have issues with participating on weekends can use the alternate method for voting, as those electors who are institutionalized or are absent from the territory. This change will allow for greater participation without disruption of the school calendar and classes, since the schools are generally used as polling places.
It is time to act, to demand changes, stop complaining, and start doing. Talk is cheap, action is what counts, let us together demand these positive changes to improve our democratic system of government.
J. J. Estemac
St. Thomas

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