Election Reform

"...both parties are willfully ignoring the greatest threat to our democratic process, further exacerbated by the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, a ruling that legitimizes the corporate takeover of American political campaigns." Catherine Crier in her book Patriot Acts, What Americans Must Do To Save the Republic..

Without regard for low voter turnout, Republicans have been making it harder to vote. It's the only way the wealthy minority can rule.

Even the Presidential candidates agreed that elections are rigged, but not the way Republicans said.

U.S. media played down underlying structural problems in U.S. elections: big money selects the credible candidates, Citizens United, gerrymandering, voter suppression, misinformation or 'fake news' (mostly Republican), a partisan Supreme Court,  Electoral College, machines that cast doubt on the accuracy of ballot counts, prison population disenfranchisement,  interference from the NSA, FBI and CIA with access to universal surveillance, dirty tricks,  influence from other countries. All of them game the system.

Also, the DNC favored Hillary, but the media story blamed the Russians for passing revealing  documents to Wikileaks.

In 2016, the two corporate dependent parties produced candidates with unfavorable ratings, controlled debates, effectively excluded minor parties, and severely limited discussion. There was not one debate question about climate change; no discussion of our addiction to all things military, no mention of harsh treatment of whistle blowers; or the universal surveillance speeding us to dystopia.

The billionaire winners of the 2016 election, want large tax cuts for themselves, elimination of the inheritance tax (paid by .2%.), police militarization, impenetrable borders, expasion of the world's largest military, and, disregarding the NPT expanding the nuclear aresenal. To pay for all that, their proposed budget eliminates health insurance for 30 million Americans, voucherizes Medicare, privatizes Social Security, and erodes other social supports.

Election reform is essential if we are again to have democracy. Improvements could include universal voter registration, roll back of Citizens United, disclosure of large campaign contributions, voting machine standards to include open software, restoration of the Voting Rights Act, a national holiday for elections, a requirement that candidates for high office release tax returns, and elimination of he Electoral College.

The most important single election change (just passed in Maine), would be range voting so that minor parties are not spoilers. Using range voting (aka Instant runoff voting (IRV) "voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with fewest votes are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences (and so on) and all votes retallied, until one candidate achieves a majority. The term 'instant runoff voting' is used because this process resembles a series of run-off elections."

In reality, studies show that the U.S. government does about the opposite of what people, when polled, would want. That is reflected both by the budget and the agenda of the Congress. 

If we don't have legitimate elections, we can't have legitimate government.

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We badly need election reform. To assure election integrity, there need to be initiatives on several areas:

  • The simplest and best reform would be Range Voting or IRV. It would make for much better decisions in, for example, the primaries where there are several candidates on each side. We have a process now which makes it  counterproductive for people to vote for the candidates that they really like. It makes third parties all but impossible and limits discussiion, freuently to non-issues. Many people favor IRV, but it is not on the table now. Why is that ?

    I could guess the answer is that the two major parties like the kind of monopoly or paralysis that they have on the process. Discussion of issues is very limited. Neither one is advocating IRV. The party mechanism is certainly not part of the Constitution, but it clearly causes government dysfunction. We could see, when Republicans control all branches of government, that checks and balances wither away, and the Constitution is at risk. This looks like a Weimar moment. We too can become an authoritarian state. See fascism.htm

  • Election day should be a national holiday.

  •      Debates should be administered by a non-partisan group like the League of Women Voters (as it used to be.)
  • Redistricting should not be done by partisans. Otherwise real elections may not again be possible.

  • Media is conflicted. It is most interested in which candidate is raising the most money because its profits will be best from the well-funded candidates. So their story is about money, and not about the public interest. Since major media are all corporate entities and very concentrated, they have an agenda that we have seen clearly through the Bush years. They are cheerleaders for war, advertising spammers, culturally depraved, ignorant on important public policy issues, partisan Republicans, deliberately misinforming, and heavily self-promoting. Republicans are working hard to further concentrate media using the FCC, and that is an immediate danger. The first thing to be taken in any coup is media. Republicans now own it. (See Debating for Dummies: Eric Alterman comments on a CNN debate.) See notes on media at media.htm Please mount strong opposition to Republican's initiative to further concentrate media. Strong anti-trust action to break broadcasting into small pieces would create a lot more jobs, it would help to assure a diversity of viewpoints, and it would satisfy the Constitutional intent of avoiding concentrated, unchecked power. Net Neutrality is at risk.

    It would also be a good idea to have some balance in media. It should not ALL be corporate or privatized as it is now. There needs to be some public media as well. Media should not be allowed to determine which candidates are viable, what the agenda is going to be, or to trivialize the process as they do.

    Campaign messages should be on free, dedicated public access channels. Political advertising should be illegal.

  • There should be a federal standards for secure election machines, and sensible procedures to prevent election rigging. See notes on elections at elections.htm

  • We should discard the 'electoral college'.

  • The competition among the States to see who can have the earliest primary is non-sensical. There has got to be a better way. Perhaps an 'American Idol' style program on CSPAN could be a start toward a real democratic process. Either that or we could make our way to a Parliamentary style process. I think Bush could not have been the product of a parliamentary system. Bush is first hand evidence of a dysfunctional election process.

See elections.

 Ideas for a broader reform agenda are at Reform.htm

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