Sign the Voter Bill of Rights from Code Pink
VOTER BILL OF RIGHTS
From unreliable electronic voting machines and millions of uncounted ballots to partisan secretaries of state and 10-hour waits at the polls, it is clear that our electoral system is in dire need of an overhaul. To build a more just, secure and robust democracy, I support the following 10-point Voter Bill of Rights:
Provide a Paper Trail for Touch-Screen Voting Machines
It’s essential that every touch-screen voting machine in the U.S. be equipped to produce and store a voter-verified paper record of every vote cast. Each machine must incorporate open source coding tested by an independent agency before and during the election to guarantee optimum transparency. In addition, corporations that manufacture machines should refrain from political involvement.
Create Independent, Non-Partisan and Transparent Oversight
Officials in charge of administering, overseeing and certifying elections should not be party affiliated, running for another office, or publicly supporting any candidates. Unfortunately, partisan secretaries of state are currently able to issue rulings that favor their parties and themselves. Electoral commissions at all levels of government should be independently financed and free of control by any political party. Administrators should help increase voter confidence by inviting non-partisan observers, both domestic and international, to observe all aspects of voting procedures.
Celebrate Our Democracy: Election Day as a National Holiday!
Working people should not be forced to choose between standing in a long line to vote and being to work on time. While 30 states have laws giving workers the right to take time off to vote, many workers and employers are unaware of these laws. Holding national elections on a national holiday will increase the number of available poll workers and polling places and potentially increase overall turnout while making it much easier for working Americans to go to the polls.
Election Day is already a holiday in Puerto Rico in presidential election years, and many Puerto Ricans celebrate and make Election Day a fun and festive party with a purpose. In 2000, Puerto Rico’s voter turnout was 82.6%, as compared to 51.16% in the United States – and Puerto Rico doesn’t even have any Electoral College votes.
Maximize Voter Access
Many citizens are discouraged from voting by unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles and restrictions. Registration forms should be simplified, so no one is again disenfranchised for failing to check a superfluous box, as occurred this year in Florida, or for not using heavy enough paper, as occurred in Ohio. To ensure all qualified voters are able to vote, we should join states like Minnesota in allowing citizens to register to vote on Election Day itself.
Forcing people to wait up to 10 hours in line to vote is unacceptable and disenfranchises those who cannot afford to wait. To increase citizen’s options and maximize convenience, all states must provide for more early voting and election-day polling places. Resources should be allocated based upon the number of voters per precinct to ensure equal access and minimize the wait at the polls. Partisan voter challengers at the polls disrupt and undermine the voting process and should not be allowed within or near any polling location.
Count Every Vote!
To encourage more participation in the electoral process, voters must know that their vote will count and make a difference. Unfortunately millions of “spoiled”, “under-vote”, “over-vote”, provisional and absentee ballots–oftentimes ballots cast by people of color– are not counted during each presidential election. It’s basic: Voting precincts should be adequately staffed with sufficiently trained personnel and professional supervision; old and unreliable voting machines should be replaced; absentee ballots must with sent with sufficient time; and provisional ballots should count for state and federal contests regardless of where the vote is cast.
Why should ex-felons be excluded from voting? The permanent disenfranchisement of former felons, a practice that falls outside of international or even U.S. norms, is an unreasonable restriction that creates subcategories of citizenship. There are over four million American citizens in this category, particularly African American males, who are incarcerated at a disproportionately high rate. These lifetime voting prohibitions violate citizens’ constitutional voting rights and must be repealed. Those states that permanently disenfranchise felons—Florida, Virginia, Nebraska, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, Arizona, and Alabama—should amend their laws and practices to restore full citizenship to ex-offenders.
Implement Instant Runoff Voting (IRV)
Instant Runoff Voting allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (first, second, third choice) and if no candidate gets a majority of first choices, a runoff count can be conducted without the need for a second election. IRV gives voters the opportunity to vote for those candidates they like the most without worrying that their vote will help candidates they like least. Instant runoff voting has been used successfully around the world: Ireland uses IRV to elect its president, Australia to elect its House of Representatives, and San Francisco to elect its major city offices such as mayor.
Provide Public Financing for Elections and Equal Air-Time
In a system where the amount a candidate spends is directly related to the likelihood of success, it is not surprising that voters think politicians are more concerned with big campaign contributors than with individual voters. We need to establish full public financing of campaigns and free access to public airwaves. Broadcasters must carry debates and provide free time for all candidates and parties as a license requirement to use our public airwaves.
Ensure Third Party Candidates Easier Access to the Ballot and Debates
In our two-party system, third parties face a host of institutional barriers, from getting on the ballot to being included in debates to broadcasting their views. This discourages people from voting because alternative voices help enliven the political debate that is at the heart of any healthy democracy. Prohibitive ballot access requirements should be dropped and debates should be open to all ballot-qualified candidates and should be organized independently of the political parties themselves.
Abolish the Electoral College
It’s time to end the safe state/swing state dichotomy and make all votes equal, no matter the state of the voter. The President should be elected by direct, popular vote. Since a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College may prove infeasible, reformers should set their sites on amending their state laws to proportionally award their electors.
Sign the Voter Bill of Rights Petition
Our goal is to get 25,000 people to sign the Voter Bill of Rights by November 30, and then send the bill to all members of congress. Sign below and then pass it on by circulating the following link: www.codepinkalert.org/National_Actions_Voter_Bill_of_Rights.shtml