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Election rule changes worthy of consideration

Is it possible to do your civic duty andlie at the same time?

    Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann believes the answer is yes, andhe is trying to do something about it.

    Armed with disconcerting absentee voting data, the state’s topelection official is looking to reform the method by which somevoters participate in elections.

    Among the items on his legislative agenda for the 2012 session arethe establishment of an early voting system and changes to therules regarding absentee voting.

    Being “out of the county” on Election Day is one of the morepopular reasons given for needing to vote absentee. Hosemann,however, believes that many voters know they will still be in thecounty on Election Day, but are simply voting absentee to avoid thehassle of lines at voting precincts or other issues.

    “We’re asking people to lie,” Hosemann said about the absenteevoting application process during a recent visit with The DAILYLEADER editorial board.

    To support his argument, Hosemann points to a list of 20 countieswhere the absentee voting accounted for more than 10 percent of theoverall turnout in the first August primary. Neighboring FranklinCounty was among that number, with an absentee vote turnout of 10percent.

    To combat this trend, Hosemann is advocating a form of early votingin which people would be able to vote using electronic meansbeginning 15 days before Election Day. He envisions the votingmachine being in a secure location, such as the circuit clerk’soffice, and functioning like another voting precinct.

    While early voting would not eliminate absentee balloting, Hosemannalso has some ideas that he contends would curb potential abusethere. He said he has noticed trends of a single person serving asa witness on a high number of absentee ballots.

    Also part of his legislative agenda is a measure to restrict thenumber of absentee ballots one person may witness to 10. Hosemannhas pitched the idea to state lawmakers in previous years, but ithas not been passed.

    Hosemann’s ideas surely are not the cure-all that would bring aboutthe ultimate goal of elections that are open and honest and attractthe best voter turnout possible. Nevertheless, they do deserveserious consideration as a possible step toward that worthydestination.

    Elections are where we the citizens are allowed to have a say inchoosing who our leaders will be. Lying has no place in thatprocess.