Electoral Reform Act of 2012 Version 3.5 dated 7 November 2011

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Below represents input from Reddit, YouTube, Occupy, and emails.  The 6 minute video went viral and can be seen at http://tinyurl.com/ER-6Minutes.  The Statement of Demand is not being looked at right now, but it and the Act as they are updated can be found at http://tinyurl.com/OWS-ER-HO  I have created a list of points of contact for Electoral Reform, coordinating with Tim, that will go public tomorrow.  Seeking points of contact first for every Occupy group, then for every Congressional District.

Electoral Reform Act of 2012 [3.5]


Phase I [Implementation in Time for November 2012]

01  Process The election process shall be totally transparent; citizens shall have the right of direct access to see and authenticate all parts of the election process inclusive of software, which must be open source in nature.  Electoral officials shall swear public oaths of service.  Paper ballots shall be used, with duplicates as marked being retains as receipts.
02 Ballot Access Ballot access requirements shall be the same for every candidate, irrespective of party affiliation.  Equal access includes access to debates.  This shall also apply to initiatives and referenda, and to primary elections.  No state shall be eligible to receive federal funding in any amount absent its implementation of this provision in time for 2012 and thereafter.
03 Voting Instant Round-Robin Voting (IRRV) is adopted for all national, state, and local elections.  Election Day shall be a national holiday.  Every voter regardless of condition and especially of transportation, should be able to vote easily.  Early Voting should be universal.
04 Debates Each state shall sponsor at least one presidential debate for a total of 50 debates, each state determining the questions, format, and participants.  Each state shall sponsor at least  one cabinet-level debate among designated individuals, e.g. the Attorney General, Secretary of Homeland Defense, etcetera.
05  Cabinet Presidential candidates must name individuals to all Cabinet positions, and those individuals must participate in such debates as the states might organize.
06  Budget Plan Presidential candidates must announce a budget plan for their first year in office at least 30 days prior to Election Day.


Phase II [Implementation in Time for November 2014]

07 Representation Enact Open Registration; all parties having at least 10% of the voters registering a preference for their political philosophy shall be eligible for assigned districts proportional to their number, and also to a proportional share of leadership positions in legislative bodies at all levels from local to national.
08 Districts Proposed, that we end the corrupt practice of gerrymandering, replacing it with compact computer drawn districts similar to the kind used in Iowa.   All gerrymanders in progress in 2011 is stopped by this Act and replaced by tightly-drawn districts.  An increase of districts to achieve 1:500,000 representation, is also enacted.
09 Funding Proposed, to eliminate all federal and corporate financing of campaigns, and all political action committees while creating a public Electoral Trust Fund (300M citizens x $10 each = 3 billion a year).  Air time for all candidates is free and equal.
10 Legislation Proposed, that all legislation without exception be published on line, normally one month prior to vote but no less than 24-72 hours for emergencies, to include explicit geospatial pointers for all “earmarks” each of which must be publicly announced and also offered for amendment by the voters in the relevant district.  Provision will be made for full virtual hearings and the public review of all available views on any legislated matter.
11  Constitutional Amendment Congress shall work toward a Constitutional Amendment that places Electoral Reform outside the power of the government; eliminates personhood for any organization; enacts Statehood for the District of Columbia; abolishes the Electoral College; and re-enfranchises convicts who complete their sentences


Hand-Out Page with both Statement of Demand and Electoral Reform Act of 2012 (as updated)

7 Responses to “Electoral Reform Act of 2012 Version 3.5 dated 7 November 2011”

  1. AaronHamlin

    Hello, I’m a director for the nonprofit The Center for Election Science (http://www.electology.org/). I saw this group and thought I may be able to help out with voting system issues.

    01 Process
    I see the idea of receipts mentioned. There is a security procedure for paper ballots that uses receipts called the Rivest-Smith System. There’s a simplified version of this called the Twin system. See here: http://rangevoting.org/RivSmiPRshort.html

    02 Ballot Access
    This is a good reference for thinking about ballot access for $2: (http://www.amazon.com/Duopoly-Republicrats-Control-Electoral-ebook/dp/B005UHMKHE) Many of the books I’ve read suggest signature requirements just equate to the money needed to pay people to collect signatures. But the recommendation to just make the requirements the same for everyone probably indirectly addresses many ballot access issues in itself.

    03 Voting
    IRRV is certainly a more descriptive name than Condorcet, which is what I assume you’re referring to. Be aware that there is not always a Condorcet winner. Think rock-paper-scissors. Also, the Condorcet algorithm is a real pain to do with paper ballots. And it gets super complicated when you need to find a winner and there is no clear Condorcet winner. Schulze methods are a prime example of this.

    But, believe it or not, there’s a very simple method that is quite good at also selecting the Condorcet winner when one exists (http://rangevoting.org/AppCW.html). This system is Approval Voting (http://www.electology.org/approval-voting). You vote for as many as you wish (no ranking). Most votes wins. Approval Voting also behaves superbly with third-party candidates by giving them an accurate measure of support. This accurate support measure is important because even if they lose, they’re not marginalized. And you need that legitimacy for these candidates to practicably exchange political dialogue. Approval Voting is one of the very few systems to be immune to vote splitting and always allow candidates to vote their honest favorite.

    Gaming the Vote, by William Poundstone is a good read for single-winner systems.

    04 Debates
    The standard that debate hosts have for debates is to use objective criteria for allowing candidates to participate. For US President, the Commission for Presidential Debate’s standard is an average of 15% over five national polls. Plurality polling destroys support for alternative candidates. And, pollsters ask the wrong question. The question should be: which candidates would you like to see in the debate? This lets voters choose multiple candidates and asks a more pointed question. Polling using Approval Voting would get a more accurate measure as well. Some reasonable threshold can be used from there. The best reference for debate issues is No Debate, by George Farah.

    07 Representation
    This seems a roundabout way of asking for proportional representation. Voting systems can achieve this for you when you use at-large districts (at least five members each) that use a proportional voting method. States can use this for their legislatures and cities can use this for their councils (as they have before). Federal law requires US House seats to use single-member districts so a federal law is required to change this. The US Constitution places a barrier for PR systems with US Senate seats.

    Here are some examples of systems:
    -District based (I recommend five or more members per district)-
    Limited Voting (semi-proportional)
    Cumulative Voting (semi-proportional)
    Single Transferable Vote
    Proportional Approval Voting
    Reweighted Range Voting
    Asset Voting
    -Whole Legislature Methods-
    Closed Party List
    Open Party List

    Party-list systems tend to be the most proportional, though any PR system will put you light years winner-take-all systems. The Sainte Laguë algorithm is the fairest for party-list systems of those most commonly used. For reference, Real Choices/New Voices, by Douglas Amy is really good. He also has a good site on PR systems here: http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/polit/damy/prlib.htm

    08 Districts
    Using single-member districts brings inherent problems even when you use computers or independent commissions. It’s just an incredibly poor sampling procedure to determine voter will. This whole issue can be sidestepped by using proportional methods with districts using at least five members. This is immune to gerrymandering.

    Also, if you simply must use districts or you are wanting to do lines for five-member districts, I’d recommend the split-line algorithm which can be found here: http://rangevoting.org/SplitLR.html

    Single-member districts are also prone to false majorities. That’s when a party with minority support gets the majority of seats. This happens about half the time with systems that use single-member districts and just over 10% of the time with PR systems. For example, Canada’s last election gave their conservative party the majority of the seats even though they had less than 40% of the vote. Canada has also had independent redistricting commissions for over the last 50 years.

    I hope you find this information useful. As a disclaimer, our group has no position on any Occupy groups since we are nonpartisan. But we are happy to share information on voting theory and election-related issues with any group.

    • Randall Burns

      Some of these voting methods are also useful creating polls. You can for example enable a group to prioritize a list.

      I’m pretty supportive of STV/Schultze method(which has been used by some parties in party list PR systems to create their party list)

      The big potential problems that I personally see are :
      many voters aren’t really inclined to rank a big list of candidates/options like you can get with STV-it requires some real thought and attention. One of the big successes of STV has been in India where legislators use it to elect their senate.

      party list systems can put a lot of power into the hands of party bosses-and there is a tendency to try to discourage small parties. That may be becoming less of a problem-we are seeing some pretty highly democratic parities emerging in places that use PR.

      Most party list systems don’t usually allow for overlapping lists between parties(Schulze method does). If you allow have overlapping lists, then having many small parties is less of a problem(virtually every special interest group could operate as a party in that system).

      A lot of folks get a warm fuzzy feeling having a representative associated with their place of residence. Districts are a VERY old tradition in the English speaking world. That can be gotten around by having a bicameral legislature with one elected via proportional representation and the other elected by districts. I think in time, folks would tend to identify more with a PR house-but that identification wouldn’t happen right away.

  2. Steve

    Nice input Aaron. I would also like to see a Violation of Public Trust Act, whereby a dynamic electronic vote could oust and criminalize vastly unpopular politicians; presumable those who reverse course once in office and/or cater to special interests. Something like a 76% vote at the district level and a 71% vote at the national level. This could be the teeth needed to prevent circumvention attempts around any campaign funding legislation. The voting should subject not just politicians holding office, but all politicians who have ever held office. That way as new information comes to light they will remain both responsible and liable for their actions. Essentially, politicians will always have to ask themselves ‘how will this action be perceived by the broad public 5, 10, or 20 years from now.”

    • Randall Burns

      I think this is an interesting idea. I think it might work best if politicians knew that they would be periodically reviewed by a jury consisting of voters –and stuff like a portion of pension benefits might be affected.

      My reservation about this approach: could it be misapplied for partisan purposes?

  3. Randall Burns

    It isn’t clear to me that you can reliably assign districts to particular parties.there are systems like MMP used in Germany which have a pool of legislators that are assigned to adjust for differences in seats between party representation and popular vote.

  4. Matthew

    This is a good start, but I think we should also realize that representation does not need to look like it does now. Why should we continue with a monolithic (one person representing us in a given body), geographic (representation based on residence rather than values, beliefs, and policy positions) system of representation? If we’re going to reform the system let’s break with all prior assumptions and think deeply about what kind of system can really allow all voices to be heard.

    Elected leaders can make whatever campaign promises they want without fear of any repercussions if they do not act on them. They can change their mind in any way they wish after the election. Furthermore, we rarely agree with them on all issues. Why shouldn’t our voices be heard on *every* issue? If we must have representation it must be issue based, it must proportionally reflect the opinions of society (not be first past the post / winner take all), and it must involve binding campaign promises of some kind. Any other form of representation is a sham.

    My instinct is that we need to elect one representative per issue or policy area and the body for each must have proportional representation as an outcome of the election, and finally there must be some kind of binding mechanism for campaign promises.

    Rather than one congress, we could have multiple legislative bodies each with jurisdiction over particular policy areas. This solves many problem, not the least of which that if my representative is not in a leadership position on a relevant committee right now I am not really represented at all in that policy area.

    Currently I am currently required to prioritize issues when selecting a candidate as I am certain to never agree with any candidate on all issues. Under my proposed system I can also choose to be represented by somebody who I not only agree with, but is also well informed on each policy area. Nobody can be well informed about all policy areas. The current system guarantees my representative is relatively ignorant about many policy decisions.

    Think big! We’re only going to get one chance at this, if we get one at all.

    • Robert Cortez

      I can see how that may work with legislative bodies, what do you propose for the Executive Branch? How do we determine issue/policy areas as they may change over time?