After our last election, America is hurting.
It doesn’t matter if you consider yourself a liberal or a conservative. It doesn’t matter if you were for Obama or Romney. It doesn’t matter if you voted for a third party candidate or wished the Democrats and Republicans had put up someone else like Ron Paul.
What matters is how much we all agree about one thing: our electoral process is a mess.
Many people came away frustrated by language barriers and invented rules, exhausted from standing for hours in long lines, and, in some cases, were disenfranchised. In Pennsylvania, we have youtube video of a voting machine repeatedly changing a resident's vote from Obama to Romney. In South Florida, voters waited in excess of seven hours. In Virginia, the lines were so long voters were turned away illegally once the polls closed.
America can do better than this. America must do better than this. And we can.
That’s why I started a petition on signon.org with 11 simple, common sense reforms that anyone can support. In the first two days after it was posted, more than 1,000 people signed. But more are needed. You can read it here: http://signon.org/sign/america-cannot-be-great
I’m going to be honest here. I have a definite political point of view. I am unapologetically a liberal Democrat. However, when I talk with conservatives, I’m surprised by how much we really agree. Sure, I’m in favor of keeping abortion legal and they want it abolished. Sure, I believe in FDR New Deal style economics and they are more geared to supply side systems. However, we all believe in the basic principals of Democracy.
We all believe that our government can only get legitimate power from its citizens in the form of their votes. We all believe that it is the people who should have final say in how our nation is governed. We all believe special interests are hijacking our political process and something must be done to stop it.
So I did some research, and as it turns out there have been a lot of people from all over the political spectrum working on these issues for more than a decade. Some of these people are rather famous - Ralph Nadar, Robert Steele, Howard Zinn, etc. Many you probably have never heard of. What’s important though is the common sense of the reforms they propose.
I took many of their suggestions, added some of my own, and came up with a list of 11 election reforms that I think we need today. We really can’t wait a moment more.
These reforms include the following:
- Holiday Voting. We propose that Election Day should be a national holiday. This way every voter should be able to vote easily and won't have to worry about missing work and/or transportation issues. Early Voting should be universal.
-Paper Trail. We propose that ALL ballots must either be on paper or otherwise subject to physical re-count. It is too easy for votes to be miscalculated without any reliable recourse for reasonable challenges and/or recounts if there is no paper trail. Too many voting machines in use do not meet this standard. If voting machines are used, each vote must produce a physical paper footprint subject to recount.
-Honest Open Debates. We propose that to end the current monopoly of the debates by Democrats and Republicans all debates must include third, fourth, and fifth parties.
-Tightly-Drawn Districts. We propose that we end the corrupt practice of gerrymandering, replacing it with compact computer drawn districts determined by independent non-partisan commissions. They shall be prohibited from drawing districts to favor or disfavor an incumbent or political party.
-Full Public Funding of Diverse Candidates. We propose to eliminate all federal and corporate financing of campaigns, and all political action committees, that instead all state and national campaigns be only publicly funded.
-Constitutional Amendment. In addition to all of the above enacted as an interim law, we propose to work toward a Constitutional Amendment that places Electoral Reform outside the power of the government; abolish Citizens United; abolish the Electoral College; and re-enfranchise convicts who complete their sentences.
And there’s more. Even if you don’t agree with all of these reforms, even if you only agree with the majority of them, I ask you to consider signing the petition. You can explain which reforms you disagree with in the comments section.
With the election still fresh in peoples’ minds, we have a real chance here to make this an issue and get some real change. I’m not naive enough to expect all of these reforms will be enacted (though I wish they would). However, even if some of them were brought before our political leaders, even if a few were put forward and passed... imagine how much that could change America for the better.
Please read the entire petition here and consider signing: http://signon.org/sign/america-cannot-be-great
And pass this message on! Thank you.