Remaking Democracy

posted by GlennC on August 17, 2024 - 2:37pm

Our technological affluence is wondrous. It is has improved all our lives in ways the founding fathers of this country could never imagine. However, democracy has not improved as the rest of our lives has.

The principles of electoral equality, of one person and one vote, are shattered by the circus of fundraising. The rich have a multitude of ways to bypass contribution limit laws, and special interests are hardly touched by our current laws. Money is buying elections, and it is buying politicians. Fortunately, technology has lent the opportunity for some real democratic change. Some changes will require constitutional amendments; others changes require only voting law modifications.

Here are some suggestions:

***Make election day a holiday

***Limit campaign contributions to $100, or other reasonable amount within the reach of all Americans

***Prohibit campaign contributions or spending from any non-voter (corporations, interest groups, etc.)

***Cap the amount that can be spent by any campaign (this includes a candidates own contributions)

***Allow same day voting and registration

***Allow voting by internet

***Create a national initiative and referendum process

***Create a national primary system for Presidential elections

***Abolish the electoral college

***Use instant run-off voting in all elections

***Establish impartial reapportionment commissions

Average: 3 (4 votes)

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***Make election day a holiday Agree!
***Limit campaign contributions to $100, Mostly agree. Or Public Finance
***Prohibit campaign contributions from non-voter Absolutely!
***Cap the amount that can be spent by any campaign Agree!
***Allow same day voting and registration Not sure. I see fraud potential.
***Allow voting by internet Not yet. Fraud or disruption likely. Need digital signature ability.

***Create a national referendum process Disgree! That's why we elect Congress.
***Create a national primary Disagree! I think the primaries are producing bad candidates
***Abolish the electoral college Absolutely!
***Use instant run-off voting in all elections Agree where it makes sense. Makes no sense in primaries or in apportioned votes.
***Establish impartial reapportionment commissions Absolutely essential!

Some other ideas I'm mulling:

(1) Guarantee released felons the right to vote. They've served their time, we should give them a chance to reenter society.
(2) Allow a voter to vote at ANY precinct. Bring up the correct ballot electronically.
(3) Maybe extend the voting period to 2 or 3 days. No partial results should be announced, but exit polls would present a problem that could influence the outcome.
(4) Allow a "none of the above" choice on all races.
(5) Require election boards and supervisors to be non-partisan. No more Kathleen Harris fiascos.
(6) Mandate a uniform ballot nationally. No more hanging chads.
(7) If voters are to be purged or culled, the process should be done by a non-partisan board.
(8) Remove barriers to 3rd parties by mandating that they be allowed to post a slate of candidates if they meet certain criteria. Maryland, for example, essentally discourages 3rd party participation by requiring that individual candidates be petitioned onto the ballot. While the Republicrats are campaigning, the 3rd parties are getting petitions signed just to participate. Then the petitions are judged - by Republicrats - for validity. It generally takes twice as many signatures as required to get them all validated.
(9) Require the candidate to speak and appear in all campaign ads. No more anonymous assassination ads.
(10) Since abolishing the electoral college requires a Constitutional amendment, bypass it by mandating that every state apportion their electoral votes.

Some of these are far fetched, I know, but I'm mulling them over.

JazzyJake, I do agree with most of what you say. However, there are a few more problems then just a Constitutional amendment. No 9. goes against the free speech part of the constitution. No. 6 the constitution tells us that states are to run and legislate their own elections. No. 2, I think that may open the voting process up to fraud.

Having said that, I do think we need a national voting system for national elections. A paper trail is essential. All election machines should be made in the USA by US citizens. No foreign companies allowed.
With our tech, we should not need 2 or 3 days of voting. Completely agree that nothing should be announced until the results are final.
Other then what I have pointed out, I agree. Especially making sure third parties can get on the ballots.

Betty McLeod

PA 06

I would also explore tying in a National Lottery to the election. It always fascinates me the long lines and patient people when the Lottos go up above $100 to $200 million. Stay with me here...We could issue a lottery number when a person votes and for every vote the National lottery would rise $1 dollar. The bigger the vote the bigger the lottery. Make voting over a long weekend and with the lotto thing thrown in you would have 90% turnout for sure and $200 to 220 million in the Election Lotto kitty!! People would make sure all their family and friends vote!! Now that would be a great get out the vote effort/plan!! The winner of the National election would read the winning lotto number in his victory speech - call it an investment in better more participatory government/elections. Also people could be encouraged to read up on the issues and candidates while the they wait in the long lines (more than they do now for a lot of people). I know it may sound somewhat crass but worthy of exlporing and working out the nitty gritty details by better heads than mine.

DC - 3rd ward -

I think that making it a lottery would indeed get more people, the wrong people, out to vote. If these lazy asses need the promise of a chance to win millions to participate in a system that allows them a say in their government, then I think they should stay at home! They would most likely get up solely for the lottery, and would not bother to study the issues and form an opinion. They would be just as lazy as they have been, and they would go into a booth and push random buttons for the sole purpose of receiving a ticket.

Sorry sir, I agree with much of what you write, but this one will not help.

You just worry that they would vote democratic... (:

I actually worry ( and agree with you) that the lottery idea could have "unintended consequences".

Jeff C

Maybe they need to pass a simple test on the way in to qualify to vote? I'll agree that maybe we could take the idea and build on it. Does this come anywhere neer the forbidden "paying people to vote" area? I would think not since we don't care how they vote.

The present Party "get out the vote" efforts pay people in kind now - meals. At least in the Lotto scheme they would have to get there themselves and nothing is promised at the backend. May be a small cost to pay for a big bennie to democracy and increased participation by ALL sectors of the population and not just a targeted slice like the Parties do now. Just a thought to ponder!

DC - 3rd ward -

It could Jeff but that would be a risk worth taking maybe in order to expand the franchise - never wrong IMHO for true Democracies.

DC - 3rd ward -

I agree with you on your valid points there Auto but if there is someway somehow we could combine in a meaningful way to get out the vote and inform the elctorate in a wider fashion. I would not toss aside the idea out of hand though but try to repurpose and refashion admittedly a crass Thursday-morn-before-my coffee idea upfront. Right now it's incredible the amount of big bucks that goes comes from both Parties in their highly selective targeted get-out-the-vote campaigns that produces such low turnout numbers overall compared to other nations. Something that is more nontargeted and that obviates the big bucks 2 Parties advantage is something worthy of exploring IMHO. How you get people to read and be informed on the issues as they go to the polls is the real trick still I agree! But you have that problem now.

DC - 3rd ward -

has many factors, but all boil down to one thing: make people's voices/votes actually matter. Right now, outside of the ten to fifteen swing states, most voters know their vote is just an exercise, at least in the presidential race, which is an important motivator in getting people out to vote (presidential election years, turnout is around 55-70% in most place, while in non-presidential elections, turnout is usually 35-50%). The exceedingly high rate of success for incumbents in other offices turns many voters off from their local races. Another factor that turns off many voters is the lack of variety available in candidates or policy positions. While Democrats and Republicans see themselves as diametrically opposed to the other. many outside their circles see them as disturbingly similar.

Eliminating the factors that make most races predictable, and providing a wider range of choices would not only give us a more viable democracy by counteracting the complacency and corruption of incumbency, but also in inspiring more citizens to be informed enough to make wise choices.

To eliminate the problems of predictability with regard to presidential elections, we need to eliminate the Electoral College. To deal with the problems that result from incumbency, we should have term limits that prevent any person from serving two consecutive terms in any elected or appointed position, or from running for any other office unless they first sit out at least two years. To deal with corruption and the limited scope of choices currently available, we should institute proportional representation. All of these factors together will lead to a better informed electorate, and can allow us to progress even more toward democratic self-government.

Just because empire is an ugly word doesn't mean you don't live in one.

Common sense - the cure for stupid!

I would add a couple of thoughts:

Complete financial transparency for all campaigns.

Vote by mail for all voters should stop almost all vote fraud.

The main thing is to fix the current disaster that is our political system.

Those are some excellent suggestions. Let me just say if credit card transactions can be made secure on the internet, then internet voting can be made secure too.

They are not.

I suppose you prefer the current illusion of democracy. Simply put there are two choices. Keep things the way they are and allow a slow, but steady erosion of democratic principles towards oligarchy or turn things upside down and recreate a democratic society with equal political power for its citizens.

There are plenty of other Unity08 delegates who believe Untiy08 must become a viable political third party to be effective. If you would like to join a discussion group to address this issue, please go to The Unity Cyber Party Yahoo Group

ex animo
The Unity Cyber Party

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