Creating Real Democracy
We joined the political revolution of 2016 to create a future to believe in; a future in which we take on the enormous economic and political power of the billionaire class, and win; a future in which we produce jobs, raise wages, protect the environment, and provide healthcare for all. But we will not realize this future until we create a system of influence that renders elected officials directly and exclusively accountable to the people as equal citizens. A truly representative democracy requires the assurance of an equal right to vote, equal representation, and elections funded by the people.
All citizens deserve equal access to the ballot.
We call for the restoration of the protections against voting discrimination that were struck down by the US Supreme Court in its Shelby County v. Holder decision through the passage of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2015 – HR 2867 and S 1659 and the Voter Empowerment Act of 2015 – HR 12.
We call for nationwide automatic voter registration. We call for the expansion of early voting and the designation of election days (including primary days) as state or national holidays.
We call for national legislation to guarantee that every voter’s ballot will be counted. This legislation will ensure that every voting precinct is adequately staffed with sufficiently trained personnel and that every ballot, including provisional ballots, are counted. Voter-marked, trackable paper ballots for all voting must be required. Results of machine counted ballots must be verified by a complete hand count. Hand counts of ballots should be done by representatives of all parties, in public, and videotaped. All ballots must be preserved for a period of time after the election and be open to public scrutiny.
If electronic voting machines are used, standards for secure and verifiable open-source voting machine architecture and software should be developed and adopted by all states. We must also insure that independent election observers are given full access to monitor all elections.
Currently, independent parties and candidates face a host of barriers designed to limit voter choice and voice. Ballot access laws and debates rules specifically designed to exclude independent party candidates discourage participation and undermine the legitimacy of our elections. We call for national legislation to end prohibitive ballot access requirements, and replace the partisan Commission on Presidential Debates with a non-partisan Citizens Debate Commission.
All citizens deserve equal representation.
We call for congressional action to give each voter as close to equal political influence as possible through passage of FairVote’s Fair Representation Act. The Fair Representation Act will require congressional elections to be conducted by ranked choice voting in multi-winner districts drawn by independent redistricting commissions. Ranked choice voting will be used for all primary and general elections, and all states with more than five House seats will create fairly drawn multi-winner districts, while smaller states will elect their delegations at-large. Voters can freely vote for their favorites. Replacing winner-take-all elections with an American form of proportional representation ensures every election will be competitive, ending one-party representation in every corner of nearly every state. Women and people of color will be more fairly represented.
We support implementing ranked choice voting for mayor, governor, president and other single-winner elections so that the people can have real choices and never have to accept the lesser of two evils. Ranked choice voting is a proven system where voters can support their favorite candidate without fear they are helping a candidate they don’t like. All 1st choices are counted, and the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated. If a voter’s 1st choice candidate is eliminated, their vote instantly goes to their next choice. Candidates with the fewest votes are eliminated until there are two candidates left. Just like in a runoff election, the candidate with a majority of votes in the final round wins.
We call for all party primaries to be open to all voters.
It is also time to end the disenfranchisement of the over half million Americans who reside in the District of Columbia. DC residents deserve the same political rights enjoyed by citizens of our nation’s fifty states, namely full voting representation in both houses of the US Congress, as well as legislative, budgetary, and judicial sovereignty. Washington DC is the only existing majority African American federal jurisdiction, and thus, the denial of DC voting rights is inherently racist. The denial of DC voting rights cannot be defended on the basis of population size; the majority white State of Wyoming has a smaller population. We support granting statehood to the District of Columbia.
All citizens deserve an equal ability to choose our leaders.
We call for a constitutional amendment to abolish the illegitimate, court-created legal doctrines of “corporate constitutional rights” and “money as speech.” We think the best proposal is the We the People Amendment – HJR 48. Until we have an amendment, we support Congressional action to accurately define what constitutes “coordination” between campaigns and superPACs.
We call for legislative remedies to end pay-to-play politics by changing the way we fund political campaigns. We support the creation of democracy vouchers – offering every voter a small voucher they can use to make a political donation with no out-of-pocket expense. We support the creation of small donor tax credits and public matching funds for candidates who agree to fundraise solely from small donors. These provisions are outlined in the Government By the People Act – HR 20.
In order for voters to evaluate the full context of political advertising and to hold associated candidates accountable, it is imperative we require groups airing election ads to disclose where they got their money. Corporations, unions, super PACs, and other secretive nonprofits should report within 24 hours of making a significant campaign expenditure and the names of donors to the organization should be made public. This would be required by the Disclose Act – HR 430.
We call for reform of the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission as outlined in the Federal Election Administration Act of 2016 – S 2611, replacing the six member commission with a new five member panel in which no more than two members are affiliated with the same political party.
We support effective new limits to restrict the revolving door between government service and work as a lobbyist such as the lifetime ban on lobbying by former members of Congress as outlined in HR 929. We encourage plans that would prohibit politicians from fundraising during working hours, make it illegal for politicians to take money from lobbyists, ban lobbyist bundling, and strengthen the definition of lobbying, calling all who lobby for a living lobbyists.
Accomplishing all this will not be easy, but is essential. It is essential to achieving the truly representative democracy, the republic, the founders would expect of us today. And it is essential to realizing the future we joined the political revolution to create.