4. Elections, Voting, and Citizenship

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > List of Amendments > Elections, Voting, and Citizenship

4.1 Electoral College Reform

To make it extremely difficult for a candidate who loses the popular vote to win election as President of the United States, one (1) electoral vote shall be added at-large for each state won by the candidate with the highest popular vote total. However, to preserve the original intention of the Founding Fathers, to give special recognition to the rights of states in our Federal system, the value of the Electoral College is hereby reaffirmed.

This Amendment modifies Article 2, Section 1, of the US Constitution.

Note: Provision for recounts for states in which the margin of victory is less than 1/4th of 1 percent is authorized by this Amendment but there shall be no national recount.

Comment: With an additional vote for each state won by the candidate with the most popular votes, the intention of this Amendment is to add to the standing of less populated states so that election campaigns do not focus nearly exclusively on large states.

4.2 Primary Elections

Section 1. By common consent and tradition, Iowa shall hold the first caucus, followed by the New Hampshire presidential primary, and primaries in South Carolina, Arizona alternating with Nevada, and Michigan. The Iowa caucus shall be held in mid January, the New Hampshire primary in late January, and the other early primary contests shall be held in mid February.

Florida shall hold its primary election one week later than either Arizona or Nevada.

In late February, one state, not to be repeated in this position until all other interested states are accommodated, shall hold its primary, similar to the example of Florida in 2008, which was a major contest that separated the remaining serious contenders for party nominations from the others.

After this, each party shall select, in consultation with the other major party, which states shall hold their caucuses or primaries, but such that no more than four are scheduled for any given week in the month of March. After that the parties, in consultation, will be free to decide on any arrangement that they prefer, such as all remaining caucuses and primaries on one Super-Tuesday in April, or anything else.

If any named state wishes to opt out of early primaries or a caucus, it is free to do so and the major political parties shall select one replacement, acting in consultation. In the case of a deadlock between the 2 major parties, the “minor” party with the 3rd highest votes from the previous general election will make the determination.

Section 2. For those states which require a majority outcome, the following procedure shall be made use of. When multiple candidates, that is, three or more, are listed on a primary ballot, voters shall have the option of casting a “second choice” vote in addition to a vote for the candidate they most prefer. When no candidate receives a simple majority, while all totals shall be recorded and made part of the public record, all candidates except the top two shall be eliminated and the second choice votes will be tabulated from the eliminated candidates and apportioned to the two leading contenders to determine the winner.

4.3 Campaign Finance for Federal Elections

Television expenditures shall be limited to a maximum allowable amount for any political party equal, in adjusted dollars, to the average spent by the two major parties in the election of 2000. The identity of the source of all contributions made to any candidate, political party, political action committee, or any other organization above $ 500 in constant dollars shall be made public within 48 hours and made available on a dedicated non-partisan website.

Explanation: No overall limit to the amount of money used for political campaigns is imposed, only the amount spent for television advertising. The intention is to promote creative use of political advertising which, as much as possible, is informative in nature and educates voters to the issues and qualifications of candidates. The intention is also to “unclutter” the public airwaves from excessive political advertising during election campaigns.

This presumes that television will remain the most popular form of mass media in the United States. If, at some time in the future, another form of media obviously becomes more popular, the Congress, shall have the authority to reword this Amendment to reflect that fact.

Not covered by these restrictions are such possibilities as establishment of a non-partisan television channel dedicated to politics which focuses on elections and allows equal time to leading parties and candidates, as well as opposing sides to ballot referenda or anything similar, such as non-partisan election of judges. It is assumed that such a TV channel would provide broadcast time to third or minor parties and their candidates proportionately to their potential vote in current elections –as estimated by opinion polling firms of proven reliability during the previous four election cycles. One model for this is the bipartisan example of C-Span.

Also not covered is something like a dedicated website which provides equal page space to the leading political parties and candidates and special interest causes, with proportional page space to minor parties or candidates and to lesser known causes. One model for this is Real Clear Politics. This site might also be the place to turn to find campaign contribution information, updated every day during an election season and archived for reference by journalists or other researchers at will.

There is no restriction on expenditures for print media, book publication, newspaper advertising, radio, website development, movies, public lectures, travel for candidates, conferences, or anything else. However, local communities are within their rights to limit outdoor advertising, political rallies or parades, etc, at their discretion as long as no partisan favoritism is involved.

This Amendment does not in any way compromise standards now in place for local or state elections, such as, for example, the Clean Elections method in use in the state of Arizona and elsewhere. If anything, this Amendment is intended to encourage such developments.

4.4 Voting Standards

It is in the best interests of American citizens to cast their ballots on Election Day, that special occasion which most represents our democracy and democratic values.

Exceptions are only allowable for the following cases: Military personnel on active duty, who should be given ballots a minimum of 30 days prior to an election, but in any case with sufficient time for their votes to be counted within 24 hours of any Election Day Absentee ballots for the hospitalized or physically incapacitated verified by a medical doctor.

Felony criminals forfeit voting privileges in perpetuity.

The provisions of this Amendment apply to all elections for Federal office or, when applicable, for any national referenda.

The states have the right to establish any voting standards for state or local offices, or referenda, as they shall deem appropriate.

In the case of people who will not be within their voting district at the time of an election, it is their responsibility to obtain a paper ballot from their district prior to departure. It is also the responsibility of local polling stations to provide a collection box to gather out-of-district / out-of-state ballots cast at that polling station by non-residents and send them, via express overnight mail, to the appropriate stations elsewhere where they can be verified and tabulated.

In the case of US citizens visiting foreign countries, it shall be the responsibility of American embassies or consulates to provide polling stations on each federally authorized Election Day, ballots to be sent via fastest available delivery system to the district of each citizen voting. Allowance for foreign customs and laws shall be made, such that embassies or consulates should open their polling stations ten full days prior to Election Day in the United States.

Voters shall have the option to ask for a paper ballot to cast their vote.

Voting booths with curtains to ensure privacy will be provided at all polling stations.

Electronic voting machines will be such that a hard copy print-out of each ballot cast will be collected, an additional copy made available to each voter at the time he or she votes if requested.

Recounts are hereby required in all elections where a candidate or referendum wins by less than 1/4th of one per-cent of total votes cast.

4.5 Instant Runoff Elections

Citizens should have the option to vote for more than one candidate in at least some elections because a system exists which solves a number of problems that have been endemic to American politics for many years. A rational way to vote for more than one candidate for an office has been known since 1871 when the Instant Runoff system was invented by William Robert Ware.

Also known as Maximum Majority Voting, or Preferential Voting, the Instant Runoff system eliminates forced choice options at the ballot box. It allows citizens to make as many choices as they may wish from among all candidates –from any political party. A ranking criteria is made use of in which a voter simply lists candidates in his or her order of preference, most favored at the top of the list, and down the line, or indicated with a number “1,” number 2, 3, etc.

If any candidate receives an outright majority he or she wins immediately. When no candidate receives a majority, the candidate with the lowest vote total is eliminated and the second choices of his or her voters are tallied. If this still does not produce a majority the process is repeated until a majority emerges. In each “round” the lowest vote-total candidate is dropped and the second choice of his or her voters is added to the vote totals of the remaining candidates.

This system is used, as of this writing, in Portland, Maine; San Francisco, California; Oakland, California; Minneapolis, Minnesota; and Saint Paul, Minnesota, and possibly other locations.

There is no such thing under this system as “wasting your vote.” If your most preferred candidate does not win an outright majority your second choice is counted, or the third, until one candidate receives a majority.

One-winner-take-all voting is based on the premise that only two candidates are on the ballot or that only two candidates really count. This traditional system only gives voters the option of a lesser of two evils choice, certainly all too often, while candidates whom voters might have real feelings for, but who have been nominated by “third parties,” since they almost always have no chance to win, receive far fewer votes than they might deserve based on the merits.

Other advantages of Instant Runoff Voting / Maximum Majority Voting, as explained at Radical Centrism.org in an article by Ernie Prabhakar:

MMV ensures that the winning candidate is preferred by a majority of the voters over any other given alternative, no matter how many candidates are running.

MMV system allows voters to fully express their preferences among all the available candidates.

MMV also tends to discourage mudslinging in multi-candidate elections, since there is an incentive to have the other candidate’s supporters vote for you as second or third place.

MMV allows primary losers, third-parties, and other non-traditional candidates to run without fear of becoming spoilers, increasing the range of meaningful choices available to voters.

Thus, in contrast to traditional Plurality voting, MMV actually becomes more effective — rather than more polarized — with more candidates and greater citizen involvement. In the place of a splintered and disenfranchised electorate, it can actually help us find and elect candidates who reflect our underlying shared values.

Not all cities or other political jurisdiction may want to make use of this system but this Amendment allows its usage any place in the United States.

Prabhakar’s article is technical but describes the mathematical certainties which undergird the Instant Runoff system. The Wikipedia article about Instant Runoff elections explains the system in a popular style with examples of ballots illustrated so that this method of voting can be understood graphically.

4.6 Alternative Method of Adding Referenda to Ballots

Citizens shall have the option of using the Athenian democracy system, also known as the Boule system, for approving ballot initiatives. A Boule is a randomly selected citizen’s assembly of sufficiently large size to guarantee a representative cross section of community views, the optimal number usually thought of as approximately 480 persons.

The so-called “Oregon system” shall also be available, in which large scale petition drives are necessary to gather valid voter signatures in great numbers to qualify for a ballot, exact minimum numbers determined by the several states who allow such initiatives. However, there are disadvantages to note.

While the Oregon system ensures that a large scale public political cause will have ballot access, it also makes it difficult for under-funded citizens groups to qualify, while at the same time allowing well funded corporate or union causes to put referenda on ballots even when popular support would otherwise be minimal.

The Athenian system makes use of (1) the same principle which is universally employed in courts of law, the randomly selected jury method, and (2) statistical probability theory which is extensively used by reliable public opinion voter polling organizations in which response-randomness assures a representative cross section of public opinion that can be gauged without asking millions of people for their views.

An advantage of the Athenian system is that a Boule also acts as a screening method for identifying social causes which have considerable voter appeal, presumably for good reasons. As envisioned here, although experience may dictate some modification in the future, a Boule –citizens’ assembly– would meet every two years for a limited period of time, perhaps one weekend would suffice, to consider as many proposals for voter initiatives as responsible persons bring to it. One day would be used for purposes of discussion and debate, the next day for voting. This assumes that participants would have copies of all such proposals 30 days prior to meeting, which should be sufficient time for them to also receive briefs, pro and con, for each measure.

Members of the Boule would then deliberate among themselves and vote to include no more than 12 ballot initiatives for the forthcoming election. Members shall be provided with quality legal counsel by a minimum of three attorneys skilled in Constitutional law at both the state and Federal levels so that any possibility of voter approved but ultimately unconstitutional legislation or new law is minimized.

The Boule shall delegate responsibility to its leadership to transfer its recommendations to the state legislature and the governor’s office no later than the day following its meeting. The press and other news media shall also be informed at that time.

The state shall pay reasonable expenses for participation in a Boule, with a modest per diem stipend for transportation and personal needs, but nothing more beyond costs to rent a hall, operate computers, or print proposed initiatives or the like. Attorneys selected for a Boule should be chosen from a list of lawyers willing to serve pro bono. Law firms or agencies will be free to make public statements to the effect that their attorneys have served the peoples’ civic needs and are fully supportive of American “grass roots” democracy.

Inasmuch as Initiative and Referenda are state prerogatives, this Amendment is intended to provide legal standing for the Athenian democracy system by any and all states which see fit to adopt it. In the event of any future national referenda this Amendment also provides legal standing for such initiatives. No state or commonwealth shall be compelled by the Federal Government to adopt the Athenian system for adding ballot initiatives.

Note: For a full explanation of the Athenian system see Citizens’ “Athenian” Initiatives Amendment, online, sponsored by initiativesamendment.org.

4.7 Overturning of Elections Won Through Fraud

No election won through fraud or other illegal means shall be permitted to stand if the violation has been discovered before the next election. In the case of an office holder in a subsequent term during which a violation is discovered, he or she shall be removed from office immediately and the election results voided. In any such case a replacement for the office will be temporarily appointed by the governor of the state effected, or concerning the office of President, by act of Congress. A special election will be held within 90 days to fill the office in question.

Explanation: To put this is plain English, the 1972 election of Richard Nixon should not have been allowed to stand and there should have been a special election so that the public would have been allowed to elect an honest president. The principle involved applies to any felony crime committed during the course of an election campaign, broadly defined to refer to everything from closed door meetings to seek political support to the time when a candidate makes speeches and participates in public debates, to flagrant bribery, perjury, or anything of similar nature.

4.8 Citizenship

Any child born in the United States is conferred citizenship automatically upon the condition that at least one parent shall already be a citizen and the other parent, if alive, shall be actively seeking citizenship, the requirements as defined by Congress Children born in foreign countries where at least one parent is already an American citizen and the other, if alive, is actively seeking citizenship, shall be provisionally granted citizenship rights –to be conferred upon permanent residence within the United States. However, while it is the prerogative of foreign countries to recognize dual citizenship, the United States makes no provision for any such thing. De jure, the only citizenship which has standing under American law, within the nation, is US citizenship. This amendment shall nullify citizenship gained prior to ratification but will allow an appeals process, to be established by Congress, for persons in permanent residence within the United States

4.9 Non-Citizens

Only American citizens are eligible to receive all rights and privileges guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress shall be responsible for enumerating rights of all classes of non-citizen residents of the United States, but not to include welfare in any form except services reasonable enough to provide for survival needs in case of physical emergency.

Explanation: Green Card legal aliens in the USA for reasons of work may become eligible for citizenship, but until the time they meet such requirements as spelled out by Congress, they are here for work purposes only and have no other claim on the United States. It is a privilege to be admitted into the country and they are granted this favor only for the specific purpose of working in occupations for which Congress deems there are labor shortages. Upon completion of a work contract, unless a new contract is entered into, each worker is required to return to his or her country of origin within 15 days. A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future

A Radical Centrist Vision for the Future > List of Amendments > Governance (next)


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