Democrat — MO 2nd District

Election Reform

Every vote counts. Every vote is equal.

Democracy can’t survive without free and fair elections. Unfortunately, we’ve allowed our current electoral system to devolve into a dysfunctional mess. The problems are everywhere. And voters are losing confidence that the system is resembling anything remotely “fair.”

My plan is to lead the charge to fix our broken elections. Nowhere is this more imperative than in the way we draw electoral boundaries. Political gerrymandering allows politicians to choose voters – and not the other way around!  This is a subversion of a free and fair electoral process and an obvious abuse of power.  This is, by definition, a corruption.

This is what I propose:

  • A Constitutional Amendment banning political gerrymandering nationwide. The best language proposed for such an amendment has been offered by Justice John Paul Stevens:

     

    Districts represented by members of Congress, or by members of any state legislative body, shall be compact and composed of contiguous territory. The state shall have the burden of justifying any departures from this requirement by reference to neutral criteria such as natural, political, or historic boundaries or demographic changes.  The interest in enhancing or preserving the political power of the party in control of the state government is not such a neutral criterion.

    Ending political gerrymandering needs to be the priority of anyone interested in American election reform. But there are other things that need to be done, as well. Thus, I further propose the following:

  • The creation of an “Independent Select Committee on Electoral Reform.” This will be a committee made up of an equal number of Republicans and Democrats. The committee’s charge will be to investigate ways that we can improve our electoral system and restore confidence in our elections and in the act of voting. Too many Americans have lost confidence in our democratic process. This committee needs to treat that fact as the serious national security issue that it is. The committee will thoroughly look into – but not be limited to – the following:
    • How to fix the way we draw political boundaries. Whether or not the above amendment on political Gerrymandering is ratified, we still deserve codified standards on the drawing of Congressional districts. This committee’s job will be to investigate the different ways such boundaries can be created in a fair and non-partisan way.
    • How to improve voter turnout. Our low voter turnout rate is a national disgrace. We need a national conversation to address the fact that millions of Americans have either been unfairly disenfranchised or are demonstrating their disgust in the electoral system by refusing to participate. One of the best organizations to lead the way is Jason Kander’s “Let America Vote” project. This committee’s job will be to build on Jason’s effort and to investigate the different ways that we can improve turnout. This includes:
      1. Making voter registration easier and/or automatic;
      2. Making the act of voting more convenient (changing the days that elections are held, making election day a holiday, allowing early voting, etc.);
      3. Improving voter-education efforts.
    • Greatly strengthening the powers and capabilities of the Federal Election Commission. As the nation’s watchdog over federal elections, this regulatory commission is supposed to make sure federal elections are fair. Unfortunately, Congress has allowed this very vital agency to collapse into an impotent absurdity. Its budget has been cut so severely that it can’t investigate even clear-cut campaign violations. Its power has been stripped so much that it can’t even collect the fines that it imposes! This committee’s job will be to revitalize the FEC by reorganizing its place in the bureaucracy and giving it the tools to effectively enforce federal election law.
    • Greatly improving the integrity of American elections. The 2016 Russian hacking scandal has put a spotlight on the integrity of our elections. Much of the problem stems from the fact that we rely so much on electronic voting machines that can be accessed by nefarious online hackers. Such concerns are no longer confined to the most paranoid among us. Nothing demands attention to integrity more than our vote choice. This committee’s job will be to treat these threats as a major national security concern and to propose ways to restore the public’s faith in the process. This must include – but not be limited to – legislation requiring all ballots in American elections to include a paper backup (voter-verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT)).
    • Improving the prospects of 3rd party and independent candidates. Many Americans don’t participate in politics because they find choosing between the “lesser of two evils” distasteful. Many more people would participate in politics if they had more options. It’s unfair that the system is sometimes perceived as “rigged” by the two major political parties. Independents and 3rd party candidates deserve more respect. This committee’s job should include looking into areas where we can change the law to make it more fair for candidates that wish to run as something other than a Democrat or Republican. This could include looking into things like “proportional representation”, “instant runoff voting”, and “ranked choice voting.”
    • Address concerns regarding the Electoral College. Twice in the last 17 years the winner of the popular vote count has not won in the electoral college. This “quirk” is the result of our antiquated way of electing Presidents. Moreover, the electoral college system forces campaigns to concentrate on just a handful of “swing” states at the expense of the others. This is wrong and has become a growing concern among an increasing number of Americans. This committee will look into what can be done. Our best hope might lie with an effort known as the National Popular Vote. Failing that, this committee should look into amending the Constitution to eliminate the electoral college once and for all.
End Corruption. Demand reform.
Paid for by John Messmer for Congress.