Tag Archives: public office

The Voting Rights Bill of Rights of 2016

Following several United States Supreme Court rulings regarding limits on monies in elections, it has become clear that we the People in the United States would be served better should some particularly sweeping election law reforms be instituted.  To that end, I have developed a dozen election law reforms that could be enacted by legislatures in the States and in the US Congress, and by Amendments to the Federal and States’ Constitutions, which I now present to you here.

Any Citizen Can Vote (No One Convicted of Voting Fraud May Vote)
Currently US citizens who are convicted of a felony may have their voting rights removed as a condition of their sentence. The only reason any US citizen should be prohibited from voting is if they are convicted of a crime involving multiple or fraudulent voting, or tampering or otherwise interfering with a local, State or Federal election, and that prohibition should last for the duration of that person’s sentence, including parole or probation, should also extend to prohibit that person from working, serving or observing in a polling place or election tabulation center, and should prohibit that person from assisting another US citizen in filling out a voter registration form.  All US citizens who are currently being denied their voting rights for non-election-related crimes should have their voting rights immediately reinstated.  All US citizens should be eligible to vote for all respective local, municipal, regional, territorial, State, and Federal offices, and every US citizen should be eligible to vote for US President.  No voting prohibitions should be made for US citizens either born or residing in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, US Virgin Islands, or any other territory or protectorate or otherwise, which is administered and/or under the jurisdiction of the Federal United States or any State.

Automatic Voter Registration
Any US citizen who is 18 years of age or older should be automatically enrolled to vote, with “No Party Preference” selected for party affiliation unless otherwise selected by that citizen.  Any US citizen who is 17 years of age or older, at any time, may fill out a form to “opt out” and therefore become disenrolled to vote and from any party affiliation.  Automatic forms use the last known address of the voter to decide which precinct and district in which the voter is enrolled, and any enrolled voter may visit or request by mail from their local elections agency a voter registration form to update their information. Local election agencies should make voter registration forms freely and widely available, including at motor vehicle departments, post offices, libraries, universities, courts, and any other public agencies as is possible.  Allow for same-day registration and registration updates at all polling places, particularly when a voter has moved or has no current address, with the voter registration form serving as an affidavit of veracity of the voter.

Extend Voting Period (And Allow Voting by Mail)
Polling places should be open for at least one week, for at least 12 hours per day, if not more, up to one month, ending on Election Day.  Voters should be encouraged by all elections agencies to vote by US Postal Service mail, as many States currently allow.  Local elections agencies’ offices should serve as regional polling places for voters who cannot locate their precinct polling place(s).

Use Ranked Choice Voting (Require Majorities)
To help prevent “spoiler” candidates like Ross Perot and Ralph Nader from unduly influencing elections, institute ranked choice voting, where the voter selects a “first choice” candidate, a “second choice” candidate, a “third choice” candidate, and so on throughout the list or ending where the voter decides, should the voter decide not to rank all candidates on the ballot for each office up for election.  This will work for both single-seat and multiple-seat offices, where a voter, if they wish, may select up to the number of seats in the office per each ranked choice, out of those who are running for each office, in the case of multiple-seat offices, but may not multiply select any one candidate to receive multiple different rankings, nor may multiply select more than one candidate to receive the same place number ranking (or in the case of multiple-seat offices, not more than the number of seats available for that office per the same place number ranking).  Should a mismarked ballot occur, and the voter’s intention cannot be understood, that individual voter’s vote will not count only for the election(s) to the office where the mismarking(s) occurred.  In the event no one (or multiple, in the case of multiple-seat offices) candidate receives a majority of the vote, require an instant runoff of the top two (or two times the number of seats available, in the case of multiple-seat offices) candidates within three weeks of either Primary or General Election Day, with the exception of States’ Presidential Elections, whose electors by State result to the respective parties’ National Conventions will be apportioned directly according to the votes tallied, and should not be “winner take all”.  In the case of multiple-seat offices, any candidate who receives a majority of the possible vote shall be elected, even if other candidates require an instant runoff, and the number of candidates to be included in the instant runoff will be two times the difference between the number of candidates who received a majority for that office and the number of seats for that office.

No Electronic Voting Machines (Allow Open Source, Contractor-free, Publicly Owned Counting Machines)
Require all voters to mark paper ballots, with indelible ink, preferably in scan-tron form, to allow for easy machine counting, and to allow for hand-recounting where necessary.  All counting machines should be publicly owned by the elections agencies and should never be outsourced to third-party contractors.  All software controlling all counting machines should be standardized and should use open-source software, with the software code publicly available on the elections agencies’ websites, or in print if requested.  All ballot forms should come with easily understandable instructions on how to mark the ballot form in order to vote so that the voters’ intentions are correctly understood.

Use Election Monitoring (Use United Nations If No Better, More Neutral Party Is Present)
Allow all parties’ representatives, all interested media, and any other interested US citizens to freely and publicly monitor all elections results counting procedures.  In the event of recounts or in any cases where requested, allow additional neutral parties, where available, to perform elections counting monitoring, and if no neutral parties are available, allow for elections counting monitoring to be performed by the United Nations representatives.  Under no circumstances should elections counting be performed behind locked doors and out of view of any interested public of any sort, and doing so should constitute a felony, where all persons involved should be tried and sentenced to a permanent removal of voting rights, at minimum.

End The Electoral College
It will require a US Constitutional Amendment to replace the Electoral College with a direct system of elections for US President for the US General Election, using ranked choice voting, with an instant runoff three weeks later between the top two candidates if no majority is reached.  This will require the introduction of such an Amendment by US Congress and passage of this Amendment by at least 34 States.  This current method of electing a President Of The United States is outdated, unique, not useful, and is often in contravention to the wishes of majority of the voters.  The current use of parties’ electors in nominating a US Presidential ticket in those respective parties’ National Conventions following States’ US Presidential Elections may be preserved, although in an apportioned basis only (this would end “winner take all” US Presidential Primaries, and would also serve to assist in shortening the election cycle).

No Gerrymandering
US House and State Assemblies’ districts should be redrawn by independent non- or multi-partisan redistricting commissions from each State to follow first County or Municipal boundaries where possible, and otherwise be as square as possible while retaining equal numbers of eligible voters per district, following every US decadal census.  Ideally, one single straight longitudinal or latitudinal line should be used to square off one district when numbers of eligible voters within a municipality are uneven between districts.  It will be the responsibility of the redistricting commissions to first ensure an equal number of eligible voters per district, to within 0.01% of the eligible voters in the district (or 200 eligible voters, whichever is greater), and second to maintain properly drawn boundaries of every district.  It is conceivable that this method of redistricting could be done using a computer algorithm, where the purpose of the redistricting commission would then be to check the work of the computer algorithm.  Redistricting commissions should not take the party affiliations of eligible voters into consideration when redrawing districts, and should not attempt to force the creation of “competitive districts”, nor should redistricting commissions try to force the opposite “uncompetitive districts”.

No Paid Lobbyists (Individuals Lobbying for Personal Causes Is Fine)
There is a multi-billion dollar per year industry thriving on K Street in DC which gets paid to lobby US Congresspeople for votes in exchange for election campaign contributions.  None of this should exist.  Any person lobbying their representative member(s) of the US Congress or their State Legislature, may not be paid to do so by any entity whatsoever, and should be lobbying for (or against) an issue or multiple issues which affect that person individually and directly.  Any registered voter wishing to lobby their member(s) of the US Congress or their State Legislature should receive a reasonable amount of unpaid time off from their employment for this purpose.  This will free up members of Congress and State Legislatures to meet with those people whom they are representing, and otherwise to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do. No person should lobby a member of Congress who is not either their elected US House representative from the district in which the person is registered to vote, or one or both of their elected US Senators.  No person should lobby a member of a State Legislature who is not either their elected State House representative from the State and district in which the person is registered to vote, or one or more of their elected State Senators of the State in which the person is registered to vote.

Reduce The Campaign Cycle To Six Months Or Less
No other nation has a National Campaign Cycle which lasts at least two, and up to four, years, and all of this for one four-year term of office.  The problem exists even more so for those US House members wishing to retain their seats; they spend the majority of their time seeking election campaign contributions for the next election cycle upon the minute after taking their oath of office.  As a result, we are beset with a distracted legislature and first-term executive office holders.  We should prohibit any straw polls, primary and States’ elections, debates and electioneering otherwise from occurring prior to at most six and preferably four months from the General Election, with all States’ and Primary Elections occurring two to three months prior to the General Election, and with parties’ National Conventions occurring immediately after the Primary Election.  This will free up our elected representatives to do the work they were sent to Washington DC to do.

Equal Money For All Seeking Each Office (No Outside Money In Elections)
Require that no personal, corporate or PAC monies be spent for elections of individual candidates for any office, local, State or Federal, and require that no candidate shall accept any money or gifts as donations from any entity or person whatsoever, regardless of the appearance of a quid pro quo nature of the money or gift.  Personal, corporate and / or PAC monies may be spent on initiatives or other ballot measures where no individual is seeking to be elected to any public office.  All persons wishing to hold public office would be required to gather a certain number of signatures from a portion of eligible voters in the region or district to which that person is seeking to hold public office, and while that person may pay others to collect signatures on that person’s behalf, no fees should be charged otherwise to the person seeking office for the privilege to do so.  An Elections Fund should be established by each region or district, State and Federally as well, which pays equally to every person who is seeking public office monies to cover expenses only relating to that person’s campaign for public office.  Encourage taxpayers to contribute, as tax-exempt, to the Elections Fund on all annual tax forms, as the only method of incomes for the Election Fund should be such donations.  Prohibit television and radio stations from charging for campaign advertisements and establish some limit as to the amount of time any one such station may devote, equally to all candidates running for each particular public office, for such campaign advertisements; the cost to the station incurred by the airing of such advertisements may be deducted as a tax write-off for the business which operates that station.  The internet should not be subject to content, timing or money regulations which are imposed upon television and radio delivery methods.  Allow free US Postal Service mailing of elections materials by candidates.  During a Primary Election, for each party represented by a candidate running for a public office may elect one candidate for the General Election, who will then be the only candidate eligible to receive monies from the Elections Fund.  All Primary Election candidates who have met the signature requirement will receive Elections Fund monies in equal proportions up to the time of the Primary Election.  This may require a US Constitutional Amendment to achieve, so as not to conflict with the First Amendment, although legislation may suffice, where the restriction is based on harm reduction, akin to the prohibition of falsely yelling “fire” in a crowded theatre.

Place All Parties In General Debates (and Have Equal / Proportional Primary Party Debates)
Should there be a number of candidates seeking any singular public office which is greater than the number of seats for that particular public office, at least one debate should occur between all candidates, regardless of party affiliation, seeking that office prior to the General Election and following the Primary Election.  Should there be a number of candidates within a political party seeking any singular public office which is greater than the number of seats for that particular public office, at least one debate should occur between all candidates within that party seeking that office prior to the Primary Election.  Should more than one political party need to conduct at least one debate prior to the primary election, all other political parties which also need to conduct at least one similarly timed debate should have an equal number of debates for each party.  All debates for any particular office should be aired on an appropriate television station (or radio station where no television station is available) whose coverage extends to a geographical extent which matches or exceeds the geographical area over which the office presides.  There should be no cost to the candidates or to the political parties for the privilege of conducting and airing such debates; the cost to the station incurred by the airing of such debates may be deducted as a tax write-off for the business which operates that station.  Should no television or radio station elect or be available to broadcast any required debate, an internet-based broadcast of the debate shall suffice, on a website owned by the local or regional elections agency (or the Federal Government in the case of Federal elections).

With all non-citizen interests removed from elections in the United States, it is my hope that the public good will be best served, that the public apathy regarding elections which has been so obvious lately will disappear, and those candidates with the best ideas on how to serve the public good will prevail and be elected to the offices which they seek to hold.

“I invite you to help us all, while we all join to change the world.”

Thank you,

Michael Oatman For President of
These United States of America!
Email: 2016@MichaelOatman.info
Website: http://MichaelOatman.info/

With Love, We Can Take the Power Back!

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