ELECTION REFORM ACT

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Across the country on election day, voters went to the polls expecting to exercise their civic duty. Most succeeded. But many came away frustrated by language barriers and invented rules, exhausted from standing for hours in long lines, and, in some cases, disenfranchised. In Pennsylvania, a voting machine changed a resident's vote from Obama to Romney. In South Florida, voters waited in excess of seven hours. In Virginia, Obama campaign workers documented the long lines in case voters were turned away once the polls closed.



By the end of election night, hours after victory was in hand, President Barack Obama had the voting problem on his mind. "I want to thank every American who participated in this election," he said in his speech to supporters in Chicago. "Whether you voted for the first time or waited in line for a very long time." As the crowd roared, Obama declared: "By the way, we have to fix that."



Mr. President, here are 11 common sense ways we can fix that. These are simple measures that anyone, no matter whether you're a Democrat, a Republican or anywhere else on the political spectrum - can agree to.




Please sign the petition at: http://signon.org/sign/america-cannot-be-great



1) Open Ballot Access. We propose that ballot access requirements should be the same for every candidate, irrespective of party affiliation. Historically, third party candidates have a harder time getting on the ballot than Democrats and Republicans. Open ballot access means that no matter what party a candidate represents, he/she has to do the same things to get on the ballot. This shall also apply to initiatives and referenda, and to primary elections.




2) 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. In addition, those who have served a prison sentence should be re-enfranchised.




3) 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.




4) Verify Identity Without Disenfranchisement. We propose that when each voter casts a ballot, poll workers and/or voting machines will take a digital photo of him/her to associate with that person as is standard practice at ATM machines. No photo will be taken of ballots, only of voters. This way, if there is any voter impersonation, it will be easy to apprehend and convict violators to the full extent of the law. As such, all voter photo ID laws will be abolished. Voters who cannot have their photos taken due to verified religious reasons, can be exempted.




5) 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.




6) Expanded Debates. We propose that to end the charade of one individual being up to the task of managing America, that the debates be expanded to include a minimum of three Cabinet officials to be announced in advance, and generally to include the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, and the Secretary of State. America is too complicated to elect one person who then picks their buddies and carries out a “winner take all” purge of the Congress and the Executive. Candidates should be required to name their Cabinet in advance and also post a planned budget, with Cabinet designees participating in Cabinet-level debates.




7) Instant Run-Off. We propose that to ensure the election of a winner elected by a majority, that the instant run-off concept be adopted for all national and state elections. Instead of just picking one candidate per office, voters would rank their choices with a "1" by their first choice, "2" for their second choice, etc. If no candidate has a majority of first choice votes, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his/her votes are distributed to the voters next choice. This continues until a candidate is chosen with the highest voter priority. This process avoids split votes, the need to vote strategically for candidates who are not your first choice and reduces the effectiveness of negative campaigning.





8) 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.




9) 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.




10) No Legislation Without Consultation. We propose to eliminate special interest dominance of the legislative process, and to end the practice of passing legislation such as the Patriot Act without its actually being read, and to end all earmarks, that all legislation without exception be published on line in Wiki format, with an easy to understand one-page summary, one week prior to its coming to a vote, to include explicit geospatial pointers for all "earmarks" each of which must be publicly announced and offered for amendment to the voters in the relevant district at least one week prior to the passage of national, state, or county legislation affecting them. Similarly, no public privileges should be granted to any corporation or other entity without full public consultation and public polling or balloting.




11) 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.



Created by Robert Steele and Jim Turner based on long-standing proposals by Ralph Nader, with direct inputs by Theresa Amato, Michael Cudahy, Jock Gill, and Christina Tobin.




Further inspired by Tom Atlee, Stewart Brand, Susan Cannon, Carol Dumaine, Emanuel Goldstein (Hackers on Planet Earth), Rop Gonggreijp (Hac-Tic), William Greider, Vaclav Havel, Peggy Holman, Sheri Herndon, Barbara Marx Hubbard, Jon Lebkowsky, Harrison Owen, Howard Rheingold, Jon Ramer, Mitch Ratcliff, Jim Rough, Bruce Sterling, Glenn Tenney (Hackers Conference), Mark Tovey, Howard Zinn, and so many others whose Collective Intelligence -- combined with Open Everything -- is now ready to create a prosperous world at peace.




Please sign the petition at: http://signon.org/sign/america-cannot-be-great



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