Electoral Justice

THE RIGHT TO VOTE, and a citizen’s ability to exercise that right, is the hallmark of a healthy democracy. In a free society, voting indeed is a sacred act.

The story of American democracy – of “liberty & justice for all” – is a story of struggle to expand voting rights to all of our citizens. This struggle is far from over. Yes, even in 2017, there are forces within our political system that are working to turn back the clock of justice. They are willing to deny voting rights to citizens in order to gain or hold on to power.

We must be vigilant, as together we march steadily forward to protect, secure, and expand this sacred right – THE RIGHT TO VOTE.

Electoral Justice

PRESERVE BALLOT INITIATIVE PROCESS

Why is it that many local and state governments try to limit the citizen’s ability to enact public policy through the Ballot Initiative Process? Why? Because too many elected officials feel threatened by an empowered citizenry. The Arizona Legislature, along with Governor Ducey have passed laws backed by the Chamber of Commerce to greatly restrict the power of the people to utilize the ballot initiative process. This does not serve democracy well. It is yet another example of how right-wing extremism can thwart the will of the people. The solution is quite simple: Change the faces in the AZ Legislature to representatives who work for real people – not corporate, special interests. People Power can prevail!

PROTECT FREE SPEECH

Our First Amendment right to Free Speech encompasses much more than speaking or writing controversial ideas. Free Speech has a great deal to do with Electoral Justice. Free Speech is denied or discouraged when voting rights are denied or restricted. Isn’t voting the ultimate act of freedom of expression? This is why any political activity that is curtailed, restricted, or discouraged by government is a direct affront to free speech. The free flow of ideas, together with an unburdened political process is vital for a healthy democracy.

NET NEUTRALITY CONTRIBUTES TO DEMOCRACY

For more than a decade a battle has been brewing as to how free & open the internet should be. As usual, the interests of citizens/consumers are pitted against powerful corporate special interests. The wealthy and powerful (Koch Brothers & Co.) are pushing a public policy that would classify the internet as a public utility, one that should be left to regulate itself. Self-regulation, when big bucks are at stake, is like asking a hungry dog to stop salivating over a juicy steak! Net Neutrality is crucial to protecting free speech. The ‘New Team in Town’ (D.C.) along with a Republican controlled Congress are not advocating for maintaining New Neutrality – quite the opposite. It will take a tremendous grassroots effort to stop the slide into total corporate control of the internet.

CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM

The political fight to change the way money influences politics, specifically in political campaigns, has been raging for decades. Remember McCain/Feingold? And, what happened to the momentum after Watergate to address money in politics? The Federal Elections Commission (FEC) was created in 1974 to enforce new regulations pertaining to disclosure and contribution amounts. The intent was to limit the influence of extreme wealth on politics. The Supreme Court decision (Buckley v. Valeo) struck down limits on campaign expenditures. Then along came Citizen’s United v. FEC. The flood gates opened, now the most wealthy and powerful have the political playing field they long dreamed of. This is a serious, serious issue for our democracy. It is going to take a grassroots revolution (as Bernie believes!) to reverse course. This issue is HUGE, and is the center-piece of the Moss for U.S. Senate Campaign. For me and my campaign – ZERO contributions accepted from Corporate PACS– period.

NATIONAL POPULAR VOTE

Did you know that a really solid plan is currently underway to utilize the Electoral College in a way that permits the election of President to be determined by the majority of voters in the United States? The National Popular Vote initiative has developed a brilliant plan called The Interstate Compact Agreement. This Compact has already been enacted into law in eleven states that are allocated 165 votes in the Electoral College. The Interstate Compact is a legally binding agreement between states that can take effect when enacted by any combination of states whose total Electoral Vote reaches the 270 threshold. This should not be a partisan issue, because elections have produced National Popular Vote winners from both major parties. It is the right thing to do for the sake of democracy – that EVERY VOTE IS EQUAL — and that the will of the majority of citizens determines who becomes President of the United States.

EXPAND VOTING RIGHTS

Do we take for granted our right to vote? What does our voter level of participation say about the health of our democracy? Why do some elected officials use their power to restrict voting and/or make voting more inconvenient for certain groups of citizens? These questions highlight the challenges we still face in expanding voting opportunity thereby increasing voter participation. Electoral Justice is the bedrock of a healthy democracy.

PROTECT ELECTORAL PROCESS by UPGRADING VOTING APPARATUS

How about a huge investment in upgrading Voting apparatus across America as part of a national infrastructure initiative? Or, perhaps this could be funded through a Defense Department budget request? Secure voting machines and utilization of the latest voting technology is imperative in protecting our democratic processes. It is urgent, and clearly must be considered a matter of National Defense.

END VOTER DISCRIMINATION

One would think that elected leaders in the USA, in the 21st Century, would show respect for democracy, and appreciate our nation’s painful history regarding voter discrimination. Countless patriots have sacrificed so much in this battle for Justice. Organized efforts, even today, that aim to discriminate against people of color for the sake of partisan political advantage is absolutely appalling. We need a new, robust Voting Rights Act for the 21st Century.

REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED

It is difficult to comprehend how legal scholars, Supreme Court Justices, could establish a legal principle that equates corporations with people. But that is precisely what the High Court’s 2010 decision did. This paved the way for unlimited, and ‘dark money’ to flood election campaigns in the USA. The Citizens United decision is a gigantic step backwards for democracy. The corrupting influence of money in political campaigns tops the list of my concerns about ‘good governance’. This demonstrates how elections do have huge consequences. The power to nominate Supreme Court Justices can be a president’s most important decision and legacy.

ZERO DARK MONEY IN ELECTIONS

Dark money refers to undisclosed funds used to influence political elections. Recent Supreme Court decisions have given license to significant dark money expansion in our politics. In fact, the rise of such spending in the past few election cycles is breathtaking. The most devastating aspect to this recent development is the green light given by the High Court. This corrupting practice cannot be easily remedied by legislative action. Court decisions have long lives, and can wreak havoc on our democracy. Dark money flooding our political system is a direct affront to electoral justice, and should be sounding frantic alarm bells throughout America. It is time to pass a 28th Amendment to the Constitution that reforms campaign finance and prevents special interest money from influencing our democracy.

PROHIBIT GERRYMANDERING

Drawing political boundaries to advantage one political party over another is an age-old practice. Nowadays, technology aids & abets the partisan cheaters. Sophisticated gerrymanderers utilize voter data, maps, and creative geometry to produce districts favorable to their team. The irregular, crazy looking districts that are often created makes a responsible citizen shake his/her head in disbelief. The good news – there is a straightforward way to stop this cheating, often discriminatory, redistricting practice. Special redistricting software exists that can be utilized to configure new district boundaries, thereby removing the unethical human factor. The bad news – humans from competing sides must agree to do so.