Monday, October 17, 2011

A Voters' Bill of Rights

July 26, 2006 (an old post, but still timely)
By Brian Lynch

FIRST: We should amend the US Constitution to abolish the electoral
college and institute direct popular elections for US President. This
way, every state would be in play during the Presidential election

SECOND: We should add an amendment to the US Constitution making the
act of voting, and the counting of an individuals vote, a protected
right for all United States citizens. This would allow individuals to
bring federal suit against their state government when their voting
rights have been abridged.

THIRD: Once our voting rights have been constitutionally secured on a
federal level, state and local government entities should not be
granted final authority to decide for us on the methods and means used
to register voters, screen voters at the polling stations or to cast
and count our votes. The voting process doesn't belong to the states,
or to political parties or to local government administrations. It
certainly doesn't belong to a handful of private corporations.
Ownership of the voting process belongs to all the people and is
nontransferable. Governments instead should obtain our consent as to
the means and methods we wish to employ in casting and counting votes.
Voting practices and procedures should all be subject to approval
through statewide public referendums.

FOURTH: Federal law should require that every vote cast must be
recorded in writing on a visible paper ballot. When it comes to
casting or counting votes, democracy only exists on paper. We can only
agree on a vote we can see.

Electronic voting machines, if they are to be used, must be required to
print out "official paper ballots" -- not just receipts. The
"official" vote count should come from a publicly witnessed hand
counts of those paper ballots in any race where any candidate requests
a hand count (no legal threshold limitations). The computer tallied
vote count should only be sufficient, and become the official tally,
if all of the candidates for a particular office accept the outcome
of an election based on electronically counted votes. A hand count of
official printed ballots should be any candidate's right, not something
for which they have to file a law suit. A candidate should be entitled
to request and receive hand counted ballots in a specific polling
places, or in specificed voting district or in an entire county or
state. The ability of a candidate to validate the vote count anywhere
and any time is precisely the sort of checks and balances we need to
have full confidence in our democracy.

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