Posted on June 14, 2006Here at the Take Back America conference, a lot of people are asking about voting machines - tampering, Ohio 2004, Florida 2000, RFK Jr's recent revelations, et cetera. For many conference participants, electoral reform is about making sure all votes are counted.
FairVote wants all votes to count - in the sense that every voter casts a meaningful ballot for a majority winner or someone who actually will represent them. But we also want all votes to be counted. To that end, we support the Right to Vote Initiative. From a constitutionally protected right to vote would flow fair elections - secure and meaningfully auditable voting machines, recounts that don't stop, fair placement of polling places, and so forth.
FairVote's RTV initiative comes in nine steps:
1) Constitutional right to vote - the legal tool to make fair elections a court issue.
2) Nonpartisan election administration - take decisions out of the hands of officials with an interest in electoral outcomes.
3) Uniform administration standards - one conference participant shared a story with me today. Electioneering rules in her precinct meant a voter wearing a political t-shirt couldn't cast a ballot - even if he turned it inside-out. Universal standards would address gross disenfranchisement of that type.
4) Early voting/election day holiday - many people can't vote because they need to work or can't wait in a long line.
5) Fair provisional ballot/voter ID laws - to turn fewer voters away unnecessarily.
6) Public interest voting machines - fully auditable, and publicly owned. No more Diebold machines.
7) Universal ballot design standards - some ballots are better than others - more understandable, less apt to be improperly marked. Everyone should use the same ballot so that everyone has an equal opportunity to cast a vote that'll be counted.
8) Voting rights for all citizens - residents of the District of Columbia and the territories are disenfranchised. Ex-felons can vote in some states and not others - with consequences for election outcomes.
A constitutional amendment is hard to secure, but many of these reforms can be implemented now at the local level, setting the example in our local elections, through the municipal right to vote project.