I have said for quite a while: ‘Any candidate that does not have electoral reform as one of their first issues is the problem.’. We cannot have a truly representative democracy or a government that represents the people until our horribly broken electoral system is fixed. Our corrupt corporate owned government is what stands in the way of America being a truly great country instead of the laughing stock that we are due to how corrupt and fraud-ridden our system is. It would be amazing if we could finally join the rest of the world and be an actual democracy and not just throw the word around just because we like the sound of the word or because it is seen as a sacred though defiled part of our people’s collective history.
- U.S. ranked worst among Western democracies
- Land of the free? Harvard study ranks America worst in the West for fair elections
- Shameful. American democracy ranks 45th in the world in electoral integrity
Here is a massive list of reforms that need to be done in order to help return the United States to be something resembling a democracy. The fist step listed below is perhaps the most important and the most powerful of the steps and enacting them would most likely bring about the rest in due time. A number that might help to put some of this into perspective and show you why this is so important: barely 9% of the population voted in the 2016 primary elections which means 9% of the population had their voices heard and were responsible (barring fraud and other corruptions) chose Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Also take into account that our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich (The Young Turks coverage).
If you have not read through my post on the Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System then please do, because many of the reforms here will be aimed at breaking up the corrupt and suppressive two-party system that we have here which stifles free speech, prevents an educated, inspired, and participating electorate, and prevents democracy as a whole from actually existing in America. Reading that post will help you to understand and frame the context of this post better.
So why have these reforms not been done yet? Well, three very simple reasons. By doing so:
- politicians lose a lot of money and power
- corporations (which own our politicians) lose a lot of money and power and their control over our government
- electoral reform is not a sexy campaign issue for politicians to lead a campaign with (and interferes with the first item in this list)
This is why We the people must demand them and work hard for them because our politicians, who are supposed to represent us, and their corporate owners sure do not want these to become a reality for it would return the government back to the people where it belongs. Electoral Reform is not just necessary it is an imperative. I expect there are some reforms and ideas that I have not included here, but this is as comprehensive as I could make it based on what I have aggregated over last few years.
These first three are very important but also very difficult to make happen because of how difficult it is to pass one constitutional amendment let alone three. Their implementation will have a wide and powerful effect since the violation a constitutional right would require stricter scrutiny and greater protection from the courts since those rights would then be specifically constitutionally protected. Once any of these amendments are enacted other reforms may follow in some way because of the new protections of voting rights and the lawsuits that would inevitably follow from them. Preferably the passing of these amendments would also include a companion bill or bills which would implement the rest of the reforms instead of waiting for the lengthy judicial system process to finish while people’s rights are being violated.
- Overturn Citizens United – The Citizens United Supreme Court decision in 2010 which effectively has allowed unlimited personal and private spending in elections because they ruled that corporations, which are run and operated by people, shall be considered a legal persons with respect to elections, and the limiting of how much they can spend to influence an election is a violation of the corporate-person’s rights to free speech. We need this overturned and for an amendment to say that corporations are not people and money is not speech. Ever since this was passed we have seen and an unprecedented amount of money spent for presidential elections – near 5 billion dollars which is over ten times what was spent prior. Surely we can find a better use for this obscene amount of money. This is proposed over at Move to Amend.
- Restore the Voting Rights Act (VRA): restore the VRA which was gutted by the Supreme Court
- Voting is a Right – An amendment needs to be passed that explicitly states that voting is explicitly a constitutionally protected right so that it is much more difficult for our rights to vote to be violated or limited. The courts would have to apply stricter scrutiny and have higher protections towards challenges to our right to vote.
- Voter’s Bill of Rights – Having a Voters Bill of Rights passed to enumerate rights for voting which shall be explicitly protected, but shall contain a clause that this is not an all-inclusive list. This would make it even tougher for laws to be passed or for others to limit our ability to vote and have our voices heard.
Financing of Elections
Getting money out of politics is very, very important. Currently, corporate money in politics means that the corporations and the rich control and own our elected officials, our government and our laws which end up not caring about nor representing the citizens of the United States. A study has already shown that our representatives do not care about public opinion unless you are rich (The Young Turks coverage) and that is a significant problem since 99% of Americans are NOT at all even close to being ‘rich’.
- Only money coming directly from citizens should be allowed with strict specific limits. No corporate money at all… EVAR!!!
- Public funding of elections with fund matching and no ability to seek outside money to bypass public funding or spending limits. Corporate or rich money is the devil!
- This will also hopefully prevent congress from taking 2/3rds of a year off (or more) to court their corporate donors which is what they do now and, instead, spend more time governing and listening to the people.
News and Media Reform
Because the media is one of the primary places that people use to get their information and, mistakenly, assume that they are at least somewhat impartial, which is not at all true in today’s world. The media needs an incredible amount of reform since it has a staggering effect on how what people know and how they vote. The deregulation by Reagan and Clinton has lead to widespread corruption with the media ending up as the propaganda arm of the corporations and the rich. Getting money out of politics completely is the first part of the media problem Next we have to ensure that we have an honest and somewhat unbiased media so the people can realistically assume some level of impartiality. We have lost most of our investigative journalists due to much of the deregulation which then allowed these journalists to be charged with serving their corporate agendas and not serving the people or truth.
- Reinstate the Fairness Doctrine – that Reagan repealed to ensure that news and shows report things fairly and honestly. The repeal of this is what has allowed the right-wing fear abomination, Fox News, to come into being.
- Repair the Telecommunications Act of 1996 – which was passed by Bill Clinton and resulted in the deregulation of the telecommunications industry allowing the creation of the 6 mega media corporate conglomerates that now control all of our media.
- Break up the media conglomerates – currently, almost all of the mainstream media is controlled by 6 conglomerates as mentioned above which gives us the illusion of choice and competition.
- Hold Voting Reports – Do not publish vote results until all are counted, Media reports can be used to affect or manipulate voting and turnouts as we have seen in the major unethical turns during this election.
- Require Exit Polls – Exit polls should be mandatory and should be recorded and saved to attempt to combat and detect electoral fraud
- Fact Checking – fact checking for debates and all candidate advertising to keep them honest prior
- Extensive Candidate History – There needs to be an extensive website which lists the candidates’ voting record, current stances on issues, as well as their history of stances on the issues, and links to interviews, etc and anything else a voter might need to assess the candidates to combat voter ignorance. It also needs to be presented in a way that is easily digestible by the general public. There are quite a few sites like this available currently.
- Candidates by the Issues: In order to shift people away from the dominance, loyalty, and brainwashing of the 2 parties, the above mentioned website, in a manner similar to ISideWith.com, needs to be able to have you enter in the issues that are important to you and so you can find the candidates who support those issues regardless of party.
- Equal Air Time – If candidates still have access to TV and radio waves then time and spots should be handed out equally to all candidates who are participating as a requirement for the station to carry any. This could possibly be added as an addendum to the Fairness Doctrine mentioned above. In Britain, TV advertising is not allowed at all.
- Government Pushing Election Awareness – Each state’s Secretary of State should work with local County Clerks and all media outlets to make sure that the public is very well aware that an election is coming up, what and who is on the ballot, and if there are any changes to the polling places or procedures, etc. With the exception of the presidential election, most people do not typically know when an election is being held. This is especially important for midterm elections which have even lower voter turnout. If people do not know an election is coming then they will not vote nor educate themselves on the candidates or issues.
Here are some core reforms that will help to make the voting process more democratic and easier so that more people may be inspired to vote, have their vote more accurately reflect their values, or to have the vote reflect the will of the people and not the will of the process.
- Eliminate caucuses – it is a time intensive process (many hours late into the night) to which many people cannot participate in due to working, children, etc and this greatly reduces participation, suppresses the voice of the people and therefore it is inherent undemocratic -> require primaries elections
- Require Open Primaries – so everyone can vote for who they want regardless of party affiliation otherwise votes may be suppressed due to party registration issues which was a large part of the problem in this election. This also allows people to consider, learn and be able to change their mind right up to the moment they vote.
- Eliminate Superdelegates – superdelegates were created specifically to allow party insiders to overrule the will of the people and to stomp down on progressive and grassroots movements so that the presidency stays within the control of the corporations. The peoples’ votes count for approximately 80% through delegates earned through the primary/caucus process then, at the national convention, the other 20% of the votes are cast by the superdelegates which are selected and assigned by party insiders who vote for the candidate that party wants and can override the will of the people, since they are not bound to vote for their in the proportion that their state voted. This is in no way democratic and it needs to stop.
- No Block Party Voting Required – people should be able to vote for whichever candidates that they like regardless of the candidate’s party membership which would allow the people to cast their vote for who they want and not who the party wants as is the specific case when talking about the Vice President. Of course, block voting should be allowed to for those who want it too.
- Instant Run-off Voting (IRV)/Ranked Voting – Instant run-off Voting for single winner elections will allow for a more accurate result from an election by allowing people to truly vote their values and so they do not believe that their vote is wasted. Believing that their vote may be wasted keeps people from voting their values or for who they really want which results in some people who do not vote at all feeling disaffected from the whole system. Also have the the highest ranked vote choice apply to the current vote tally instead of numbered vote that corresponds to the round count so that the vote which most accurately reflects their desired candidate is taken into consideration.
- Bind Electoral college
- remove the Electors all together
- bind the electoral college votes to the votes of the people
- require proportional awarding of each states electoral votes to the candidates in proportion to how many votes they win
- State Funding of ID’s for voting: If needed, the state should pay for the ID needed for voting so that no one is denied their right to vote.
- More Open Voting – so that no one is denied their right to vote and the voice of the people may be heard
- Automatic voter registration
- Same day voter registration
- 30-day early voting open for all states
- Out of precinct voting allowed
- Mail-in ballots allowed
- Online voter registration and Online voting
- less than 2-hour voting lines
- Do not use electronic voting machines – for it is too easy to hack them and there is plenty of proof of this. Possibly only use open source machines so that their code and results can be verified with a paper trail and have a paper ballot available for those who want them
- Re-vote if there are inconsistencies – If there are any inconsistencies that cannot be realistically corrected then there should be a re-vote in the affected areas so that each person has their vote counted otherwise their voices are not heard and that is inherently undemocratic. Not re-voting when there are problems in an inherent suppression of people’s right to have their voices and vote counted, and allows for fraud to stand which also has people doubt the honesty of the election and of the whole process reducing voter turnout.
Political Party and Other Political Reform
- Ethical Foundations for Parties: Much like my new post on How Do We Transform Unbridled Capitalism Towards a New Ethical and Eco-humanistic Model?, political parties as entities should require stringent ethical and philosophical foundations in order to exist so that they represent the people and not other entities. They must be fair and nonpartisan to their candidates and processes. Ethics based on such things as:
- Public Run Commission for Presidential Debates – The Commission for Presidential Debates needs to be explicitly publicly run and non-partisan or possibly even activist in nature, which is where the presidential debates started. Candidates from all parities should be available for debates (?or a minimum number of parties – 6+?) The debates need to be more interactive instead of scripted to allow for candidate cross-talk and for citizen participation. The debates should not be a stage for scripted corporate propaganda speak, to control or limit the narrative or topics, or to limit the publics’ access to the issues and critique that matter to them.
- Proportional Representation (parliament) – use proportional representation methods such as Single Transferable Vote for other positions so that Congress and other plural member seats can more accurately represent the people and their views. This will greatly help to break up the two-party stranglehold on our government and allow for a more representational government and policy. Check out my post on the Suppression Inherent in America’s Two-Party System so you can really see why this is important.
- Consensus Democracy: In order to truly return the government to the people we need to shift to a consensus based democracy. I have created as sample process in my post a Legislative Process for a Consensus Based Digital Democracy.
Supporting Electoral Reform
- Election Holiday – All election days (federal, state , and local) should be federal holidays and should be on Mondays so we can have a 3 day weekend to educate ourselves and talk to our friends and families to figure out who to vote for. Plus, we would, in a single sublime moment, absolutely destroy a Monday which is great because Mondays are evil and doing so will help to really add to the joy of voting. If there is already a holiday on Monday then we should have the election day on a Tuesday or Friday.
- Shorter election cycle – 1-month debate cycle + 1 week of pre and post debate limited advertising instead of a cycle of almost 2 years which results in everyone hating election years and politicians.
- Variable primary schedule – Have the state primaries vary their schedules by lottery or region each election because the current set schedule favors certain states which reduces the likelihood of voter turn out in non-swing states since their votes effectively matter less than swing states
- Non-partisan redistricting – putting an end to gerrymandering so that people chose the politicians and not the politicians chose their people. This also gives a significant advantage to the party in power which is also at and advantage which choosing who the districts are drawn which further suppresses the voice of the people.
- Non-partisan electoral commissions
- reinstate the Voting Rights Act and apply it to all of the states which could work well to institute a non-partisan electoral commission to participate in protecting our electoral rights from state and local attempts to suppress voting and act as a buffer and quicker actor to slower judicial action
- Set number of polling places according to a basic formula including expected voter turnout and anything changes needs approval similar to the voting rights act
- Employer paid time off for all poll workers – (like it is for jury duty) to work the polls and for training. We have significant problems with not having enough people to man the polls or those that do really have no idea what they are doing. Same day training is not enough because there is a lot to know.
- Non-partisan electoral oversight – of election process to watch for fraud and to keep things honest which will also help to keep people having faith in the system and the integrity of their votes. The Non-partisan Electoral Commission could handle this too.
An Inclusive America
- Felons: Felons should be able to vote even while in prison. They still have a voice for they are still human.
- America’s territories should have a full vote and representation in congress too (US Territories [Last Week Tonight])
- Washington DC should be granted full statehood, autonomy, and ability to vote and representation in congress (Washington DC Statehood [Last Week Tonight])