New Year, New Struggle – As we move into a new year, and a new presidency, I wanted to share some election reform efforts that individuals of any party (or no party) affiliation can come together and take action on. The following five items are ways to move toward a “one person, one vote” election system. As the non-profit organization, FairVote, puts it on their website, “Americans may have different views on politics, but we share a desire for a fair and representative system for electing local, state, and national leaders.” I don’t know that I 100 percent believe that, but I’m willing to give my readers the benefit of the doubt. By ensuring that all voices – not just corporate, loud, and obnoxious ones – are heard, valued, and weighted to impact our government, we can move forward together.
- What: Push for Open Primaries.
Why? Because voting is a right of every U.S. citizen, not a private party privilege.
How? State by state legal battle.
Action to Take: Sign up to Volunteer with the Independent Voter project!
- What: Include Third Parties.
Why? Our current Crips vs. Bloods system obviously ain’t cutting it. Green Party candidate, Jill Stein*, was closed out of the presidential debates along with Gary Johnson, the Libertarian candidate. Stein responded by answering moderators’ questions via livestream on her social media. In doing so, she showed that she was a candidate with a solid platform, committed to speaking to the issues, and not sidetracked by all the mud-throwing of the two larger party candidates. As the saying goes, “a rising tide lifts all boats” and that is what adding in third party voices accomplishes.
How: Multiple polls have shown that at least half of Americans are more than willing to vote third party — just not at the risk of a “greater evil” winning out against a lesser one. So, the best way to break up the current cooperative two-party monopoly: open primaries and ranked choice voting.
Action to Take: Learn More & Sign up to Advocate for Ranked Choice Voting! You can also help get Green, Lib & other independent parties on the ballot in your state, with a little research. 🙂
- Turn Election Day into a Holiday – Bernie Sanders has a bill for turning election day into a national holiday: Democracy Day. Personally, I think state and local elections need this too, so it should just be annual and if your job prevents you from having the actual day off, they need to give you one prior to it so that you can early vote. Also needed: more polling places (there should be a reasonable national standard based on population and accessibility); more time to tally the votes (especially in states that use paper ballots); and more accuracy, so comparing results with exit polling and conducting recounts when there are discrepancies.
Action to Take: Sign & support Bernie’s bill for a “Democracy Day” holiday!
- End Voter Suppression: There were so many instances of voter suppression and election official’s suspected of fraud** in 2016 that I could not even keep track! With the media blackout against Bernie Sanders, much of what went on during the primaries was unreported on by mass media, but with social media we learned of the voter rolls purged in NY, drastic polling place slashes in Arizona, incorrect (aka provisional) ballot distribution and voting machine malfunctions in California and many other states. When millions of votes were called into question in California, guess who oversaw the recount in San Diego? Michael Vu, recruited from Ohio were he was under suspicion for voter suppression and fraud** in 2008 & 2012.
Action to Take: Learn more, keep watch, and volunteer to be a part of the election process, if you can. The more you know, the more you can fight back. Don’t be afraid to testify about what you see. You can also Volunteer with Citizen’s Oversight in California or donate to them or to the ACLU.
- Abolish Electoral College – This one is an idea whose time has definitely come! To me, this is the largest area of accepted “voter fraud” occurring in the United States. It undermines the entire idea of democracy that while a majority cast votes for one candidate, an outdated “father knows best” system hands the keys to the White House to the other. Makes no sense and works worse than figure skating scoring systems.
Action to Take: Support, and call/email/write your “political representation” to support Senator Barbara Boxer’s bill to abolish EC. You can also sign petitions at Change.org, MoveOn & Daily Kos
*Stein (and her supporters) took a lot of flack for being a “spoiler” in this election – as did Bernie and his #StillSanders supporters – but if critics took the time to listen to either candidate speak or watch how their campaigns were conducted, they might realize that their anger should be directed at our system for rewarding circus revelry and off-topic media shit-shows, rather than candidates like Sanders and Stein – both who understood what topics mattered to American’s disappearing middle class. I believe without a shadow of a doubt that a Sanders/Stein ticket would have solidly defeated both DNC & RNC candidates. Unlike Johnson, Stein actively advocated not just for her party’s inclusion but for inclusion of all third party candidates in the debates. Unlike Hillary Clinton, Stein questioned the election’s results in swing states that really were too close to call (and should have been subjected to recounts). Unlike her critics, Stein is committed to continuing to fight for human rights rather than passing blame for election results. If you want to learn more about Stein, please visit her site: http://www.jill2016.com/postelection
** Clarified best in the NYT: “No one doubts that election fraud has occurred and needs to be monitored. Election outcomes have been changed by officials who altered vote tallies, and in theory hackers could pick winners by playing havoc with voter rolls, voting machines or electronic reporting networks. But voter fraud, in which someone deliberately casts an invalid ballot or a ballot under someone else’s name, is exceedingly rare.”
Selected Resources (random order):