An ancient Greek or Roman politician would feel right at home in modern-day Washington, DC. For thousands of years, politicians have come up with numerous "creative" ways to influence voters. Cash, of course, has always played a significant role, whether used to win an ancient election or in modern American politics.

Is it time to change or remove the Electoral College?

For years, various people and parties have campaigned for U.S. electoral reform in the form of a change or abolishment of the Electoral College. However, doing so will be extremely difficult, requiring two-thirds of votes in the House of Representatives and Senate and approval by 38 states.

Most voters would probably say the presidential candidate with the most popular votes should win the election. Yet, five times in American history, it is the runner-up candidate that has become president. Thus, it is the Electoral College that has decided the winner, not the popular vote.

The Founding Fathers created the Electoral College to prevent large states with many voters from controlling elections, making the votes of people in small states irrelevant. Those favoring the Electoral College believe it encourages a two-party system, providing a more stable government than multiple political parties.

Proponents of the Electoral College say that without it, candidates would campaign only in large states, ignoring the voters in smaller states, whilst those favoring the abolishment of the Electoral College believe the current system means elections are decided by a few small swing states.

Given the substantial difficulties of changing the Electoral College, it will continue as is unless or until an overwhelming majority of Americans vote for change.

Gerrymandering or how to redraw a district so your party wins

One of the advantages of being the controlling party in a state is the opportunity to redraw district borders so your party has the advantage.

That's what gerrymandering is all about. A computer could design districts that didn't unfairly favor one party over the other, but politicians would never agree.

Redrawing district lines for purely political reasons can result in very strangely shaped districts. You don't see straight lines evenly dividing the state. Instead, you see improbable shapes that are based solely on voters' addresses.

If all the Party A voters lived on the left side of the street while the Party B voters lived on the right side, a gerrymandered district would include only the voters on one side of the street.

Money Always Talks

Corruption is the ever-present dark underbelly of U.S. politics. Campaign finance reform has been part of American politics since 1867. Numerous attempts have been made to prevent unfair, dishonest elections.

A significant law was finally passed in 1971, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), with substantive amendments in 1974. The 2002 "McCain-Feingold" act limited the use of corporate and union money in elections. And, there are numerous ongoing proposals for campaign finance reform.

Super PACs are increasingly important since they can raise unlimited sums of money. The rules say they can't contribute to or work directly with candidates, but they flood the airwaves with ads supporting "their" candidate, and, in turn, influence elections.

A lobbyist's job is to influence politicians' votes, working for an individual, industry, foreign government or cause. Many lobbyists wield tremendous power, influencing bills benefiting the lobbyist's client rather than American taxpayers. Lobbying offers seemingly unlimited opportunities for dirty money and favors, working against the public good.

Clean and fair elections are a critical goal that will hopefully be reflected in the election of 2018. However, too many voters remain unconcerned and uninvolved. If enough Americans have the will, American elections could be the gold standard for the world.