By Bill Boyne

Post-Bulletin, Rochester, Minnesota

June 3, 2009

After struggling through one of the state's longest election campaigns in the Minnesota Senate race, we still don't have a final solution.

Many obviously effective reforms have been proposed, but they have not yet attracted sufficient support for decisive action.

Here are some of the most critical reforms, all of which would lead to a stronger and more equitable election system:

1. Eliminate the voter registration problems by registering voters automatically. Everyone reaching the age of 18 would be registered to vote. Most other countries use this system. It would add about 50 million potential voters and would avoid the problems that occur when there is a huge increase in voter registrations just prior to an election.

2. Elect a president based on the popular vote, not on the Electoral College vote. If this had been done in the 2000 election, the winner would have been Al Gore, who was far better qualified than George Bush. The Electoral College is a superfluous addition to the election system that actually reduces its efficiency. All we need to know is which candidate is the first choice of a majority of the nation's voters.

3. Adopt Ranked Choice Voting, in which voters indicate their preferences by stating their first choice, second choice, third choice and so forth. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes cast for that candidate are counted for the remaining candidates, based on the retiring candidate's second and third choices.

This process is continued until one candidate has a majority of votes and is elected. This process is favored by Fair Vote Minnesota, Post Office

Box 19440, MinneapolisMN55415-0040
. The organization's e-mail address is The plan is similar to a system called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

4. Strict requirements should be established for voting machines. Voting machines should not be subject to manipulation and they must have an automatic recount audit comparing the electronic vote total with the voter-verified paper record.

It is estimated that these reforms -- taken together -- would reduce election costs by $1 million and would result in a substantial increase in voter participation.

In addition, strict regulations governing elections would encourage a greater number of qualified candidates to seek office.

With all the advantages resulting from an efficient election system, there should be no delay in adopting the necessary reforms.

Bill Boyne is a retired publisher and editor of the Post-Bulletin. His column appears every Wednesday.