CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
We cannot enjoy equal political opportunity or enjoy our rights to vote, run for office, and participate in political parties if our ability to exercise these rights depends upon how much money we have.
To prevent democracy from degenerating in oligarchy, where wealth rules, we need to overturn Citizens United and stop the unrestricted flow of money into politics. Wealthy interests are influencing our political process more and more disproportionately. We need to introduce public financing of campaigns so that candidates have a fair opportunity to present their positions to the public. This involves ensuring equitable access to the media as well as equitable resources for campaigning. To ensure that wealthy individuals do not take political advantage of their riches, we must strictly limit what individuals can spend on their own campaigns, as well as limit the size of any private campaign contributions.
Employees, who make up the vast majority of bread winners in the United States, face special challenges running for office. To run an effective campaign, they must stop working, which leaves them with no income, no job-related benefits, and ordinarily little hope of resuming their job after the campaign ends. Campaign finance reform must address this problem by providing candidates with the means to support themselves while running for office, as well as some guarantee of resuming their livelihood after a losing campaign.
Otherwise, the opportunity to run for office becomes a privilege restricted to those who have independent means of support.
Voting should be made as easy as possible in a democracy. We should introduce automatic registration, so that voters need not make any special effort to be able to vote. Moreover, no voters should be culled from voting roles because of failure to vote in previous elections. Minor discrepancies in registration should not be allowed to deprive anyone of the opportunity to vote. Voting stations should be made as plentiful as needed, so that all populations have fair access. Voting hours should extend to all hours of the day to accommodate any work schedule. Election day should be a national holiday to make it easier to get to the polls. Early voting should be extended, but not too far so as to undermine the significance of campaigning late in the race. Anyone needing transportation or other assistance to get to the polls should be provided with what is necessary at public expense. And at every stage of the voting process, language assistance should be provided for those who cannot read English.
The security of voting must be ensured. To completely eliminate the danger of hackers interfering with electronic voting machines, voting should have a secure paper trail, which paper ballots can easily provide.
We must also eliminate the three largest sources of voter suppression in our democracy. First, we must never take the vote away from any US Citizen. Prisoners must always be able to vote, both in prison and after release. Second, full federal voting rights must be given to the people of the District of Columbia, which can be accomplished by granting the District of Columbia immediate statehood. Third, full federal voting rights should be given to all US Citizens in our colonial empire, which includes Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, and our various Pacific colonies. Their residents can obtain full US voting rights by granting statehood to these territories, unless the residents choose to become independent nations.
Eliminating voter suppression, however, still leaves the right to vote an empty exercise if voters have insufficient opportunity to become informed about the candidates and the policies they are advocating. Media, including print, broadcast, and online, must be required to make candidate positions available, and when this is insufficient to inform the electorate, our goverment must directly communicate to every citizen non-partisan information about candidates and candidate platforms.