Summary of NYC GA Working Group on Politics and Electoral Reform Preamble and Specifics for Electoral Reform

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2011-10-28 THIS IS A REPRODUCTION OF THE IPAD DOCUMENT

The People Before the Parties

The centralization of political power in the hands of two narrow factions at all levels of

government is neither democratic nor republican.  No party system whatsoever is mandated

by the U.S. Constitution.  Today, government of the people, by the people and

for the people has been transformed into government of the people, by the parties, for the

corporations.

Faced with a forced choice between a Republican and a Democrat, when there is any choice,

the majority of Americans no longer vote in the majority of elections.  The current party

system has brought about a crisis of democracy.

Bipolar party government cannot account for the diverse, multipolar body of the US

electorate.  The party system has led to a crisis of representation.

The states are the laboratories of democracy.  We urge states, localities, and General

Assemblies nationwide to begin a series of bold new experiments in democratic

self-government, to open our political system to the 99% who go unrepresented by party

factions.

We call for experimentation with reforms to create a level playing field for all voters and for all

candidates for elected office – whatever their party affiliation or lack thereof may

be –, and to curtail the influence of corporations and entrenched political factions over our

system of government.

We recommend experimentation with (in no particular order):

    •    Alternative voting methods.  Our voting systems should promote honest participatory democracy.  There are alternatives to plurality voting, such as instant runoff voting, ranked choice voting, approval voting and range voting, liquid democracy and so on.

    •    Independent, nonpartisan redistricting reform.  Voters should choose their representatives,

    lawmakers should not choose their own voters.

    •    Expansion of the number of representatives in local and state government and in the

    House of Representatives.  This will ensure a closer relationship between the people and

    their elected officials, putting the latter on a shorter leash.

    •    Proportional representation.  Winner-take-all, single member district plurality voting has

    allowed narrow political factions to wield disproportionate influence within our system of

    government.  There are alternatives.

    •    Expansion of franchise.  Those who are denied of the right to vote because they

    have, for example, served time in prison, should be re-enfranchised.

    •    Term limits.  Election to public office is not a lifetime appointment.   Term limits should be imposed by law or by the people at the ballot box. (Disagree; the other reforms will address the unfair advantage of incumbents. The right way is not to balance the unfair advantage with an unfair disadvantage.)

    •    Ballot access reform.  All should be equal before the law regardless of party affiliation

    or lack thereof.  Ballot access laws that favor the major parties and discriminate against

    independent and third party candidates should be repealed and replaced with fair and

    reasonable alternatives.

    •   Primary election reform.  A publicly funded election should be open to the public.  If

    parties desire to hold closed primary elections, they can provide for their own caucuses

    and conventions.

    •   Initiatives and referenda.  The people retain the right to originate ballot initiatives and

    referenda.

    •   Vote counting.  The reintroduction of hand counted, paper ballots, or the introduction of

    significant controls to protect against the rigging of electronic voting machines, which are

    produced, operated and serviced by corporations with significant ties to powerful political

    factions. (Rewrite? ALL ballots should be on paper; the choice is hand-counted or transparent machine-counted.)

    •   Weekend or holiday voting.  Voting should be encouraged not discouraged.

    •   Fusion voting.  If they so desire, parties should be able to nominate the candidates of

    their choice across party lines.

    •   Campaign finance.  Publicly funded election campaigns, or matching fund systems that

    allow candidates who refuse to accept corporate donations to compete on a level playing

    field with candidates who are heavily financed by corporate interests.

    •   Combination and synthesis.  A liquid democratic primary with an IRV runoff between the

    top four candidates from the primary.  Countless other possibilities.

This list is not exhaustive.  We urge assemblies nationwide to deliberate on reforms that can

open our system of government to the people and put people before parties.  We urge states

and localities to implement reforms.

 

4 Responses to “Summary of NYC GA Working Group on Politics and Electoral Reform Preamble and Specifics for Electoral Reform”

  1. Haym Gross

    Hello, PAER Group,

    I hope to be at the Teus. meeting.

    Here are my comments & concerns re: The two docs- ‘Prop. Statement of Demand… ERA of 2012′
    & ‘Summary of NYCGA…. Electoral Reform’. ( comments to be copied into threads for both documents )

    Substance:

    1. Overall ‘The Prop. Statement of Demand… ERA of 2012′ is closer in tone to what we need now
    ( my opinion). Both documents are highly valuable and need to be combined to gather the force of both
    efforts into a consensus proposal.

    2. The principal demand for democratic reform must be stated upfront in simple terms:
    I suggest the following draft:

    Transform the U.S. electoral process to be free, fair, open and transparent; to reflect the will of the people in the most direct proportion and with full participation; to provide free ballot access to all candidates and initiatives; to eliminate the corrupt influence of special & vested interests on our democracy; to ensure, through the integrity of elections, the equal expression of every citizen’s voice.

    2. The proposed docs should A. INSIST ON THE INSTITUTION OF REFORMS.
    ( this is not an academic exercise )

    3. The reforms are to be instituted through B. INSTRUMENTS OF REFORM to be developed through
    experimentation at the state and local level.

    4. The corrupt influence of money on our polity is a symptom of representative democracy. Greater
    participation on the front end ( campaign finance reform) and the back end ( direct popular voting on
    ballot & budget initiatives ) will limit this influence. Both reforms are essential.

    Surface Form:

    To avoid confusion with the ERA, a senior worthy reform with it’s own momentum, I suggest calling this proposal the DRA, ‘Democracy Reform Act of 2012′.

  2. Jesse Ladner

    Haym – While we have informal meetings every day at 6pm, those are often attended by only a handful of members and are limited to discussions. While I’d encourage you to meet some group members on Tuesday, I’d recommend you try to come to a meeting on Thursday or Sunday as well, as this is when our formal meetings with much greater attendance occur.

    • Haym Gross

      Jesse,

      Thanks. I’ll come to this Thurs. 11/3 meeting. Hope to see you & others there.

      Haym

    • Haym Gross

      Jesse, PAER & Co.,

      I got to the library tables this eve a bit after 6. Nobody had any info re: PAER meeting. Couldn’t find the group at 60 Wall St. either. Won’t be available this Sun. There must be a better way to communicate meeting arrangements.