Charles E. Richardson

Unique solutions to a few present day problems as I see them

I’ve thought of a unique way to get a higher voter turnout at elections. It seems a large percentage of registered voters can only find the voting booth during presidential election years. They should be commended for that, but what about all the other elections where they miss out on all the fun? This last one in Bibb County had great candidates and a lousy 31.63 percent turnout.

I submit this solution — with tongue planted firmly in cheek — knowing full well it is unconstitutional. People have a constitutional right not to exercise their constitutional rights. Here goes.

Suppose, when you apply for a government service, like car registration, driver’s license, water — anything provided by the government — the agency had to do two things before providing that service: Check whether the citizen was a registered voter, and whether he or she voted in the last election. You wouldn’t have No. 2 if you didn’t have No. 1, but you could have No. 1 without No. 2. Absence of either and the clerk would have to turn you down.

Call in a complaint about the drainage ditch behind your house, and the receptionist would pull up the citizen’s voting record and say, “Sorry Mr. Jones, but you haven’t voted since 2000. We can’t come do any work on that ditch until you fill out Form A, D, R and X and have them notarized and appear before the Superior Court. Oh, and by the way, Judge Tripp Self tells us since the court is busy handling jury trials, divorces and murder cases, they won’t be able to schedule your case until late 2018, but you will have voted by then, right? So an appearance will be unnecessary, now won’t it, Mr. Jones?”

Jones would be hot enough to form Trinitite, but there would be nothing he could do about it. He would just have to vote. Ah, if it were all that simple. But what about the folks not registered at all? I’ve got a special treat for them. Everything they buy would cost them more. A special not-a-registered voter tax. This would mean everyone would have to carry around a card with a chip in it, but we do that already. Non-registered folks would be charged an extra 2 percent sales tax with the proceeds going to voter education.

Instantly, registration would be 100 percent, and the voting percentage would be through the roof. Certainly there would always be some who would openly defy the law, thinking they don’t need anything from the government until they do, but they couldn’t escape the sales tax unless they were the Goat Man.

And while I’m taking the ridiculous to the ridiculous, let’s go a little further into the land of fantasy. When I was younger I wanted a zapper and soon, particularly with automobile automation, I may get my wish.

Cars are being designed to drive on their own. Passengers can sit back and relax. For someone like me who has been driving for nearly 50 years, that could be scary, but have you seen how some drivers aren’t driving these days? We can buy vehicles right now that will stop on their own and have sensors that can pick up objects we don’t see, but I would like to take it a step further.

I would like to see cars that automatically slow down when traffic signals turn yellow and stop before the light turns red. If a driver tries to override the system, the steering wheel would give ‘em a little “zap,” just enough to get their attention.

Artificial intelligence is already smarter than some of the drivers I see on the road. Pulling out in front of a log truck is not a good idea. Some drivers believe in this theorem: “If I turn in front of you, you (because you have a nicer car than mine) have to slow down, because you don’t want to hit me and mess up your nice car.”

That could be so wrong on so many levels. Here’s just one possibility. Distracted Driver A turns in front of Distracted Driver B. What do you get? How do you spell T-bone? How do you spell hospital?

I wish I had control of a zapper myself so when I saw a driver, or anyone else about to do something dumb, I could just press a button and make their cellphone explode or make it vibrate itself senseless.

OK, what brought this on? First, frustration over people who don’t vote and secondly, my office is on Montpelier in Mercer Village. Outside my window there is a speed bump that most people see, but every now and again, some Einstein comes flying down the street and doesn’t see it until it’s too late — catches some air, scrapes the car’s underbelly and sparks fly. Bad for the car, sure, but the looks on the drivers’ faces right before they go airborne? Priceless.