Opinion | America’s voting system needs improvement

The states need to be uniform in how they count and release information regarding elections — and that includes Iowa.


Matthew Hsieh

Volunteers help voters at the UI Campus and Recreation Center in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 03, 2020. Precincts 5 and 11 were stationed in the building, with Precinct 11 having more ballots casted than Precinct 5.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

The 2020 election will go down as one of the most important and memorable elections in history because of the record high turnout of about 160 million people. Iowa alone casted 1,825,000 ballots  and had an impressive turnout rate of 78.6 percent.

However, the record setting voter turnout is not the only take-away from this election. One important issue that this election exposed is the flaws in the voting system.

America needs more consistency and unity in our voting system.

According to Article I Section 4 of the Constitution, it is up to the state set laws for their elections. However, Congress also has the authority to create or override any state laws. 

One of the most important traits of a democracy is free and fair elections, and the government must take the responsibility to create a consistent voting system across the nation. We can’t call ourselves the ‘United’ States of America if our voting system isn’t uniform in every state. 

Take for example the acceptance of mail-in ballots. Many states require that mail-in ballots must arrive by election day for them to be counted. However, some like California and North Carolina will still accept ballots days after the election as long as they have a postal date of the election. 

The acceptance of ballots needs to be consistent across all states. It’s not right and controversial to the idea of a ‘fair’ election that someone’s ballot could arrive two days after the election and be rejected in Indiana but accepted in Nevada. 

However, it’s not just the acceptance of ballots that’s inconsistent. America doesn’t even agree on when ballots should start being counted. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin didn’t begin to count early voting until election day while Iowa started counting ballots on Nov. 2

 One of the reasons why many Americans were checking the electoral college map every ten seconds for three days is because the wait to start counting led to delayed results. There needs to be an official date for all states to begin early voting counting in order to provide the quickest results.

Iowa’s 2nd District Race is a prime example of why our voting system needs to be revised. It has been almost two weeks since election night, yet it is still unclear who is taking Iowa’s 2nd District seat. 

Because Miller-Meeks was trailing by a thin lead on election night, it was too close to call the race as many absentee ballots still needed to be accounted for. Iowa’s election law states that ballots that have a postmark by election date and arrive by Nov. 9 are eligible to be counted.

Two days later after election night, Iowa’s Secretary of State issued a hand audit of unofficial election results in Jasper County because of a discrepancy due to human error. In addition, there have also been errors in Lucas County.

Miller-Meeks currently holds the lead by 47 votes, however the Hart campaign has requested for a recount because of the tight race

The inconsistency of the acceptance of ballots and errors and is why this race is one of the very few races that is still outstanding. A uniform acceptance date and counting strategy across the nation would allow less races to drag on and lead to less errors in tallying. 

America takes pride in being a democracy. We need to improve our voting system for more unity, consistency, and efficiency to protect free and fair elections. The strength of our democracy is only as strong as its elements, and our voting system needs to be stronger to protect this ideal.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.