Draft GPUS Platform Amendment Political Reform
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 people
Our Position: Greens want to crack down on public 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 and ensure that all people have fair access to the democratic tools and structures necessary to individually and collectively shape their lives.
The defining characteristics of American politics are too often a combination of an intrinsically corrupting campaign finance system that enables corporate and wealthy elites to purchase public policy at the public's expense; and a plethora of anti-democratic electoral, ballot access and debate rules that minimize participation, voice and choice by design and give undue influence to powerful corporations and the wealthy.
Greens seek systemic change to the U.S. electoral system to counter these trends, 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 especially 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 of this system to fulfill the promise of democracy leaves millions of Americans too discouraged to vote and others who chose to vote seemingly trapped among false choices. A system that promotes full and fair representation would draw millions of Americans into civic life and could revolutionize democracy for the better 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. 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, puts more power in the hands of voters compared to candidates and parties by freeing voters from being relegated to choosing 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 the National Popular Vote bill 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. Support the right to initiative, referendum and recall.
11. Enact universal voter registration of every citizen who reaches voting age and of every person who becomes a citizen.
12. Enact a national "Right to Vote" constitutional amendment and include with it the right for same day registration and voting
13. Lower the voting age to 17 and the voter registration age to 16
14. Support DC Statehood and the right to vote by all citizens of the District of Columbia
15. Restoration of voting rights to citizens with felony conviction, enable greater enfranchisement of overseas voters
16. Explore local voting rights for legal, non-citizen immigrants
17. Support strong enforcement of the Federal Voting Rights Act and, where applicable, state voting rights acts like the California VRA.
18. Make Election Day a national holiday and/or have weekend elections
19. Enact 20-year term limits for federal judges and Supreme Court justices
20. Amend the U.S. Constitution to require that all vacancies in the U.S. Senate be filled by election rather than appointment.
Transparency and good government
1. Develop publicly-owned, open source Public Interest voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability.
2. Require voter verified paper ballots for all elections
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, by strengthening and transforming the Elections Assistance Commission established by the Help America Vote Act.
5. Increase the number of polling places, pay poll workers better
6. Strengthen "sunshine laws" to provide citizens with all necessary information and access to their political system.
7. 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.
8. Reinvigorate the independent investigative agencies, such as the General Accounting Office and the inspectors general.
9. Decrease the power of the US Senate, such that the Senate may only delay legislation, force reconsideration and propose amendments, but not block final action by the House of Representatives. Eliminate the Senate's 60-vote supermajority filibuster rule.
10. Expand the principle of Franking privileges that allow Congressional members to send mail to their constituents for free, such that letters from citizens to their Congressional Representatives 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 vigorous enforcement of anti-corruption laws by the Justice Department.
12. Prohibit elected officials and their staffs from accepting for their own benefit any gifts of any amount from lobbyists.
13. The U.S. Senate and House ethics committees must punish members of Congress for corruption and wrongdoing, instead of just letting them off the hook, as they currently do.
14. Require outside counsel to investigate ethics complaints against members of Congress.
15. Replace the Federal Election Commission with a vigorous watchdog empowered to enforce federal campaign finance laws.
16. Expand revolving-door lobbying "cooling off" periods for members of Congress and their top staff to at least two years.
ORIGINAL 2004 TEXT
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.