THE storming of the Capitol, the seat of US democracy and power, was commented upon unfavourably by a host of world leaders, who referred to US actions and activities involving developing nations over the past few decades.The US actions had ultimately boomeranged on the US itself. Some call it political karma.President Donald Trump’s supporters flew into a rage as they stormed the hallowed institution, citing irregularities in the election and, like Trump, believed the result was “stolen”.The rioters desecrated the building by breaking windows and furniture, and some even urinating and defecating inside the iconic building housing the Senate and House of Representatives.From now on, the US will be more circumspect when criticising the elections and results in other countries, or supporting demonstrations and protests in the name of freedom and human rights.The US has at last taken its own bitter medicine. The US from now on will not have the moral right to destabilise other countries in the name of democracy and freedom.The US electoral system has been discredited by the president himself, who alleged irregularities and fraud on a large scale.It is time for the US to reform its antiquated electoral system with its quaint electoral colleges, primaries, debates and the convention that the loser has to respectfully concede defeat.The US is virtually a two-party electorate and third parties, despite the increasing diversity of the voters, do not stand a chance – unlike in numerous other countries.The Democrat and Republican divide, further compounded by the liberal and Bible belts, has seriously polarised the nation.Supporters and loyalists from both sides have grown more belligerent and vocal, unlike in many democracies with a multi-party electoral system where voters move from supporting one party to another based on governing performance.Flaws in the US electoral system began to appear in the election between George Bush and Al Gore.Many political analysts and commentators pointed out the outdated electoral procedures. One commentator then referred to the voting machines as resembling old tractors.It was only Al Gore’s magnanimity that led him to concede defeat and not mount a legal challenge.He thereby prevented a re-run of the presidential election. In the 2020 election, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of postal voters hugely outweighed those who voted on election day.The US electoral system was not flexible enough to cope with the large number of mailed votes without causing irregularities and fraud, which form the basis of President Trump’s dispute and criticism.Another anomaly of the US electoral system is the fact that the president-elect takes office more than two months after he has won the presidency.The 2020 election was on November 3 but President-elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated only on January 20.The lapse of more than two months effectively makes the incumbent head of government the longest duration lame duck president in the world.Further, a temperamental president such as Trump could create a lot of controversies and risks during his short remaining term.In many other countries, immediately after the election the head of the government – the prime Minister or president – is quickly sworn in and assumes duty.Only the installation of a head of state such as a monarch or a ceremonial president is delayed or fixed for a later date.Need there be a better illustration or example than this on why the US electoral system needs to be reformed – and urgently.The Capitol storming should be the last straw and wake up call for the US to reform its outdated and cumbersome electoral procedures before criticising elections in other countries.* V Thomas reads The Malaysian Insight. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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