Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Political Reform
[Introductory note by Marnie: This amendment combines the 2004 Political Reform Political Participation sections. You can read the original text of the 2004 sections below the 2010 amendment text.]
DRAFT AMENDMENT FOR THE 2010 PLATFORM OF THE GREEN PARTY OF THE UNITED STATES
CHAPTER 1: DEMOCRACY
Section title: A. Political Reform
Section subtitle: Halting corruption, empowering citizens
Our Position: Greens want to crack down on political corruption and strengthen the voice of the people at all levels of government.
Everyone deserves the opportunity to influence the governmental decisions that affect them. Greens seek to bring vibrant grassroots democracy to every part of the United States.
Greens believe that the most democratic government is usually the most local one. We want to devolve power from Washington and state capitals to counties and towns. To achieve genuine citizen participation, citizens must share in the power of governing. We seek to increase the powers of citizens, and of local governing bodies, such as neighborhood boards and associations.
The defining characteristics of modern American politics are a corrupt campaign finance system that enables corporate and wealthy elites to purchase political outcomes; and an abundance of anti-democratic electoral, ballot access and debate rules designed to minimize participation and choice.
Greens seek to repair U.S. electoral system, from how elections are financed, to conducting them in more fair and representative ways, to ensuring accountability and transparency on all levels of government. In particular, Greens believe that the U.S. winner-take-all voting system is fundamentally flawed, resulting in low voter participation, little choice or competition in countless elections, and far too few women and minorities in elected office. The failure to fulfill the promise of democracy leaves millions of Americans too discouraged to vote and others who chose to vote seemingly trapped among false and limited choices. A system that promotes full and fair representation would draw millions of Americans into civic life and could revive democracy in this country.
Electoral reform for a better democracy
1. Enact proportional representation voting systems for legislative seats on municipal, county, state and federal levels. These systems are designed to ensure that people are represented in legislatures in the proportions their beliefs are held in society and include proportional voting systems such as choice voting (candidate-based), party list (party-based) and mixed member voting (combines proportional representation with district representation); and semi-proportional voting systems such as limited voting, and cumulative voting.
2. Enact Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) for chief executive races like mayor, governor and president, etc, and all other single-winner elections. Under IRV, voters can rank the candidates in their order of preference (1,2,3, etc.). IRV ensures that the eventual winner has majority support, allows voters to express their preferences knowing that supporting their favorite candidate will not inadvertently help their least favored candidate, empowers voters by freeing them from being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, and saves money by eliminating unnecessary run-off elections.
3. Provide full public financing of federal, state and local elections, including free and equal radio and television time on the public airwaves for all ballot-qualified candidates and parties.
4. Prohibit corporations from spending to influence elections, preferably by constitutional amendment abolishing corporate personhood, or as a condition of receipt of a corporate charter by federal chartering of corporations.
5. Create a federal ballot access law that establishes fair and consistent national standards and requirements for ballot access for all congressional and presidential candidates.
6. Eliminate all ballot access laws and rules that discriminate against smaller parties and independents, and otherwise place undue burden on the right of citizens to run for office. Include the requirement that no ballot access petition for candidates or parties should require signatures more than 1/10 of 1% of the number of votes cast in the last election for that district or state.
7. Abolish the Electoral College and provide for the direct national election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. As a step in that direction, support National Popular Vote legislation which would guarantee the Presidency to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and the District of Columbia), which would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes -— that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538).
8. Create a new publicly-funded People’s Commission on Presidential Debates, and open its presidential debates to all candidates who appear on at least as many ballots as would represent a majority of the Electoral College and who raise enough funds to otherwise qualify for general election public financing. Any candidate who refuses to participate in such debates would lose general election public financing for their candidacy. Amend federal law to remove the non-profit tax exemption status that allows corporations to fund the existing Commission on Presidential Debates and other such privately-controlled presidential debate entities.
9. Amend the Federal Election Campaign Act to change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party's candidate to receive first time General Election public funding from 5% in the previous General Election to 1%; and change the percentage of the presidential popular vote required for a new party to receive public presidential convention funding from 5% for its candidate in the previous general election to 1%.
10. Include the option to vote for a binding None of the Above (NOTA) on all party primary and general election ballots.
11. Support the right to initiative, referendum and recall at all levels of government. Enact signature gathering standards that empower volunteer collection efforts and financial disclosure requirements that identify the sources of funding behind paid signature efforts.
12. Enact a national "right to vote" law or constitutional amendment to guarantee universal, automatic, permanent voter registration, along with fail-safe voting procedures, so that eligible voters whose names are not on the voter rolls or whose information is out-of-date can correct the rolls and vote on the same day.
13. Lower the voting age to 17 and the voter registration age to 16.
14. Enact statehood for the District of Columbia. The residents of D.C. must have the same rights and representation as all other U.S. citizens.
15. Restore full citizenship rights to felons upon completion of their sentence, including the right to vote and to run for elected office. Grant prisoners the right to vote. And enable greater enfranchisement of overseas voters.
16. Support strong enforcement of the Federal Voting Rights Act and, where applicable, state voting rights acts like the California VRA.
17. Make Election Day a national holiday and/or have weekend elections
18. Amend the U.S. Constitution to require that all vacancies in the U.S. Senate be filled by election rather than appointment.
Reducing corruption and promoting good government
1. Develop publicly-owned, open source voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability.
2. Establish guarantees that every citizen's vote counts, and that all U.S. voting systems -- including electronic ones -- are verifiable, transparent and accurate.
3. Make non-partisan, the election of the Secretary of State and other election officials and administrators, and prohibit them from being involved in any political campaigns, whatsoever, while they are in office.
4. Establish a National Elections Commission with the mandate to establish minimum national election standards and uniformity, partner with state and local election officials to ensure pre-election and post-election accountability for their election plans, and professionalize election administration across the United States.
5. Establish independent and transparent non-partisan redistricting processes to stop partisan gerrymandering and protect minority rights and representation.
6. Increase the number of polling places, and increase the pay for poll workers.
7. Strengthen "sunshine laws" to provide citizens with all necessary information and access to their political system.
8. Ensure that all important federal, state and local government documents are on the Internet, especially texts of bills, searchable databases of voting records, draft committee and conference reports, and court decisions.
9. Reinvigorate the independent investigative agencies, such as the General Accounting Office and the inspectors general.
10. Expand the Franking privilege that allows members of Congress to send mail to their constituents for free, such that letters from citizens to their members of Congress shall also be free.
11. Enact tough new federal anti-bribery and gratuity laws to stop corporations and the wealthy from purchasing government action, and vigorously enforce of anti-corruption laws by the Justice Department.
12. Prohibit members of Congress, Governors, state legislators and their staffs from accepting for their own benefit any gifts of any amount from lobbyists or the general public.
13. Require outside counsel to investigate ethics complaints against members of Congress, and toughen punishments within the congressional ethics processes for ensure that U.S. Senate and House ethics for corruption, abuse of power and other wrongdoing.
14. Replace the Federal Election Commission with a vigorous watchdog empowered to enforce federal campaign finance laws.
15. Expand revolving-door lobbying "cooling off" periods for members of Congress and their top staff to at least two years.
16. Allow any member of Congress to require a floor vote on any congressional earmark, to stop wasteful spending.
17. Support the ability of cities to establish civilian police review boards to increase understanding between community members and police officers, provide a public forum to air concerns on policy matters and to ensure public oversight and accountability of their local police department.
ORIGINAL 2004 TEXT OF POLITICAL REFORM AMENDMENT
The Green Party proposes a comprehensive political reform agenda calling for real reform, accountability, and responsiveness in government through the powers and abilities of citizens as created by the Constitution of the United States of America.
1. Political debate, public policy, and legislation should be judged on their merits, not on the quid pro quo of political barter and money.
2. We propose comprehensive campaign finance reform, including caps on spending and contributions, at the national and state level; and / or full public financing of elections to remove undue influence in political campaigns.
3. All viable candidates at the state and federal levels should have free and equal radio and television time and print press coverage.
4. We will work to ban or greatly limit political action committees and restrict soft money contributions.
5. We support significant lobbying regulation such as strict rules that disclose the extent of political lobbying via “gifts” and contributions. Broad-based reforms of government operations, with congressional reorganization and ethics laws, must be instituted. At every level of government, we support Sunshine Laws that open up the political system to access by ordinary citizens.
6. We support increasing the role of independent expository agencies, such as the General Accounting Office.
7. We recognize individual empowerment, full citizen participation, and proportional representation as the foundation of an effective and pluralistic democracy.
8. We demand choices in our political system. This can be accomplished by proportional representation voting systems such as
Choice Voting (candidate-based),
Mixed Member Voting (combines with district representation), and
Party List (party based);
and semi-proportional voting systems such as
Limited Voting, and
All are used throughout the free world and by U.S. businesses, and community and non-profit groups to increase democratic representation. We call on local governments to lead the way toward more electoral choice and broader representation.
9. We believe in majority rule and reject the present method of election without a majority. Accordingly, we call for the use of Instant Runoff Voting in chief executive races, (mayor, governor, president, etc.) where voters can rank their favorite candidates (1,2,3, etc.) to guarantee that the winner has majority support and that voters are not relegated to choosing between the lesser of two evils.
10. We believe in multi-party democracy for partisan elections as the best way to guarantee majority rule, since more people will have representation at the table where policy is enacted. We assert that introduction of a multi-party democracy is essential because
The change in the structure of electoral politics will moderate the influence of extremist views and domination by the larger parties, and offer more fair representation to a greater number of citizens; and
A third party can validate and raise other points of view that need to be heard.
11. The Electoral College is an 18th century anachronism. We call for a constitutional amendment abolishing the Electoral College and providing for the direct election of the president by Instant Runoff Voting. Until that time, we call for a proportional allocation of delegates in state primaries.
12. Using our voice to help others find their voice, a national Green Party should spring from many sources: state and local Green Party electoral efforts, individual efforts, political involvement and direction at every level. We look toward forming bioregional confederations to coordinate regional issues based on natural and ecosystem boundaries instead of traditional political ones.
ORIGINAL 2004 TEXT OF POLITICAL PARTICIPATION AMENDMENT
Greens advocate direct democracy as a response to local needs and issues, where all concerned citizens can discuss and decide questions that immediately affect their lives, such as land use, parks, schools and community services. We would decentralize many state functions to the county and city level and seek expanded oversight and decision-making power of local governing odies, such as neighborhood boards and associations, over issues that pertain to their jurisdiction.
1. To ensure transparency in government, lesser bodies such as neighborhood boards and county governments must have subpoena power over state governments, which, in turn, should have subpoena power over the national Congress.
2. Every jurisdiction should have a civilian complaint review board with subpoena power and the ability to order the dismissal of police officers who make false arrests and abuse those whom they arrest.
3. We call for more flexibility by states for local decision-making.
4. We advocate citizen rights to initiative, referendum and recall in all states. We believe that these tools of democracy should not be for sale to the wealthy who pay for signatures to buy their way onto the ballot. Therefore we call for a certain percentage of signatures gathered to come from volunteer collectors.
5. We call for citizen control of redistricting processes and moving the “backroom” apportionment process into the public light. Give the 10-year redistricting process to the Census Bureau or an independent agency. Minority representation must be protected and secured in order to protect minority rights.
6. We will act to broaden voter participation and ballot access. We advocate universal voter registration and an election day holiday and/or conducting elections over more than one day (say on a weekend).
7. We believe that a binding None of the Above option on the ballot should be considered.
8. We support statehood for the District of Columbia. The residents of D.C. must have the same rights and representation as all other U.S. citizens.
9. We advocate that all persons convicted of felonies shall regain full citizenship rights upon completion of their sentence, including the right to vote and to run for elected office.
10. We advocate that prisoners be granted the right to vote. [See section H.Prison Conditions on page 35 in chapter II]
11. Individual participation in the life of our local community – in community projects and through personal, meaningful, voluntary activity – is also political and vital to the health of community.
12. We support citizen involvement at all levels of the decision-making process and hold that non-violent direct action can be an effective tool.
13. We advocate maintaining and enhancing federal guarantees in the areas of civil rights protections, environmental safeguards, and social “safety net” entitlements.
14. We demand re-enforcement of our civil liberties of speech, assembly, association and petition. Citizens may not be denied the right to public, non-violent protest. Citizens who engage in protest may not be intimidated by government surveillance, repression or retaliation.
15. We call for the implementation of Children’s Parliaments, whereby representatives are elected by students to discuss, debate and make proposals to their city councils, school boards, county legislative bodies on a local level, to state legislatures statewide, and to Congress nationally.
16. As legislatures are updating voting equipment in response to the federal Helping America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2001, we support the growing movement of citizens calling for a strict requirement of a voter-verified paper audit trail for all voting machines installed across the United States. Electronic voting machines must include a verifiable paper trail that allows every voter to verify that his or her vote was recorded and counted accurately, coupled with random audits based on the paper trail. Technology must be used that incorporates a voter-verified paper trail that is accessible to vision-impaired voters.
17. Vote-counting software codes manufactured by private corporations have been deemed proprietary, banning public review of the means by which elections are determined. Therefore, to protect against fraud, voting machine source code must be open for public inspection and verification before and after an election.