Sunday, March 4, 2012

A future American Election System with a reasonable amendment

I posted a summary I researched on how the American election currently works on January 4th on this blog, followed by a first analysis on how it should be done. I left a few things out, states can set their own standards on who can vote, people are not automatically registered to vote, and laws are being passed in the Deep South to disenfranchise African Americans and Hispanic Americans who are citizens. This is wrong, but is legal, as Fair Vote points out on their website. This is an updated analysis following further research designed to work better.

I agree with Fair Vote on many issues, but they leave out the most important part of our election system, the primary, so I hope that they can find this and add on how desperatly America needs to fix our primary system with a fair alternative with some similar aspects to what exists in Washington State along with Instant Runoff. Here is my proposed Constitutional Amendment to strike out the following parts of the Constitution:

Article 1, Section 4

The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representatives from each State having one Vote; a quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Amendment 12
My proposed amendment is as follows.

Fair Election Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Section 1 Candidates for the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate will register with the Federal Election Commission no sooner than 18 months prior to the election day and no later than 12 months prior to the election day for those offices. Candidates for the House of Representatives will need 1% of electors in their district to sign on their petition to the Federal Election Commission to become a candidate, candidates for the Senate will need 1% of electors in their state to sign on their petition to the Federal Election Commission to become a candidate, and candidates for the Presidency will need 1% of electors in the country to sign on their petition to the Federal Election Commission to become a candidate. Petitions must be submitted 9 months prior to election day, and the citizens who have met the quota will become candidates and receive their money for their campaigns.

Section 2 Candidates for the Presidency, House of Representatives, and Senate will receive their campaign money from the Federal Election Commission. Candidates may use only this money for the election and may not use their own money or money from private donations. The Federal Election Commission will be fully funded by donations from American citizens. At the end of the election all money that is unused for the campaign will be returned to the Federal Election Commission.

Section 3 The Primary election for the President will end on the 2nd Saturday of August. The candidates will run on a single ballot and the ballot will be the same for every elector. The ballot will be a preferential voting ballot, with the candidate that is the most favored by the elector getting first place, and the candidate with the second favorite getting second place and so on. Electors may vote for up to 6 candidates in order. First place will receive 6 votes, second place will receive 5 votes, and so on until 6th place will receive one vote. The totals will be added up and the five candidates with the most votes will proceed to the General Election. Candidates for every seat of Congress will be elected in the same manner on the same day in their districts. Electors may cast their vote as early as the 2nd Saturday of May. A candidate may step down at any point in the election.

Section 5 The General election for President will end on the 2nd Saturday of November. The five candidates who got the most votes in the primary will be on the same ballot across the country. Electors will rank the candidates one to three with the candidate in first place receiving three votes, the candidate in second place receiving 2 votes, and the candidate in third place receiving 1 vote. The candidate with the most votes will win the election. Electors may cast their vote as early as the 2nd Saturday of October. A candidate may not step down part way through the election.

Section 6 The 2nd Saturday of August and 2nd Saturday of November are national bank holidays.

Section 7 The Vice-President of the United States will be voted alongside the Presidential candidates in the General election.

Section 8 Elector as used in this amendment is defined as an American citizen 18 years of older.

Section 9 Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

As you can see, this is a compilation of several different solutions which are used throughout the world. I have selected one ballot with all the candidates for everyone because it will avoid political parties controlling our system as they do today. They are limited to the amount of money from the FEC because that will prevent them from having multiple loyalties, one to their constituents, one to their investors. I set the election dates on Saturdays lasting for one month because that will allow everyone a chance to vote, and will be convenient for everybody. I got the idea for a multiple month primary from Jonathan Soros' plan, but I felt that a 6 month primary would lead to the same election fatigue that it leads to today, so I cut it down to 3 months which will probably be enough to be convenient for all without feeling like the election lasts forever, plus 3 is nice because it is one quarter of the year. I set the final date on Saturday to increase turnout because when people realize at the end of the season they still haven't voted they can still have a day where they won't have work and won't disrupt a lot of people's schedule, and having it as a national bank holiday will slow down commerce enough that people can focus on voting. I used preferential voting to allow third parties to have a chance, and to allow people who will be divided between candidates to choose one.
It also will allow different sides, liberal, conservative, libertarian, green, to choose the best candidate who represents their philosophy without giving the power to a private election which naturally disenfranchises voters who may lean towards two or more parties. If we had the primary as a one vote without preferential voting than the side with the fewest candidates will dominate the general election. For example, if the Republicans have 10 candidates and the Democrats have 5 candidates with a public one-choice primary than the General election will be dominated by Democrats, because where the Republicans are divided among ten the Democrats have their votes with only 5 candidates of which the candidates with the most votes will almost definitely be Democratic, and the Green, Libertarian, and Constitutional Parties will be locked out. However, if we have preferential voting than the General election will be able to have people representing multiple parties, each side will almost always have a clear favorite who was the first and second choice in most ballots and proceed, and the same in the Democratic candidates. But by having an open party, lets say a Democratic voter said the following logic with the 2008 candidates, "Now, I really like Clinton and Obama,but I prefer Obama, when comparing Clinton to Nader I prefer Nader, and then McKinney (the Green party candidate) comes in third place after Nader with Clinton in fourth, out of the Republican candidates I like Giuliani the best, followed by John McCain in 6th place." Making this person's vote the following:
  1. Obama
  2. Nader (Independent)
  3. McKinney (Green)
  4. Clinton
  5. Giuliani (Republican)
  6. McCain (Republican)
The Republican would vote the same way, possibly like this:
  1. McCain
  2. Giuliani
  3. Romney
  4. Barr (Libertarian)
  5. Baldwin (Constitutional)
  6. Huckabee
These two hypothetical voters have given their preferred candidates and have chosen the candidates that they think will do the best job, regardless of party. This will allow both ideological sides to choose the people they think do the best job without the side with the fewest candidates winning. We have taken power of selecting candidates away from the 5000 or so appointed delegates to select whoever they want and given it to the 200,000,000 Americans who are eligible to vote. In the end, it won't be about the party, it will be about voter preference and who will do the best job for their country. That is what elections should be about, the country. When it comes to the General election, there is still a need for a two-tier election system even though we have preferential voting in the primary. This is because we will still have two sides with big names, and if one side had given their support more evenly to one side than another, they will lose, even though they have the potential to win the election, having a two-tier system levels the playing field between ideologies. In this hypothetical system in 2008 where the three candidates who won the preferential primary went against each other we probably would have seen the following:
  • Obama
  • McCain
  • Clinton
  • Nader
  • Romney
Once again we see the same choices that were presented earlier, but with fewer choices which allows different sides to come down to the candidate the ideology prefers without limiting people to party choices, which is fair to everybody. The candidate who got the most votes in the end would win the election and there would be no question as to who the country prefers. In this 2012 Presidential election I expect the following candidates would be on the final ballot using this system. By allowing candidates to step down through the primary it would allow the general election to see more viewpoints represented and allow candidates to focus on the person they think would do the better job. The only question that remains is who the vice-president will be, and by allowing people to step down in the primary to run alongside another candidate in the general gives Americans a chance to see an example of who that person would appoint if he/she were indeed elected President, and has been a major deciding factor in the past because of the accurate test of judgement it presents.

Here you have it, a fully functional non-partisan election which will be constitutional and undebatable. It will allow the American People to be in control of the country and select who we think will be our best President. The election will not be so long that people get bored, or so short that there hasn't been enough of a chance to get the best candidate. The preferential voting will allow voters who are torn between two candidates to still get their best choices there, and represent us, the people, better. By not allowing private donations it will remove the division of loyalties which is poisoning our political process now, just look at how Congress is functioning in both parties and will seriously cut down on corruption. It truly has the potential to let our government be of, by, and for the people.