Return to Common Sense
March 24, 2013
Section: Domestic – Elections
“Government must return to its roots of term limited citizen legislature, with simpler and easier elections, governing from their home districts, and voter identification guaranteed with overseas servicemen’s votes counted.”
“The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government.” Earl Warren.
Philosophy (Background, Issues, Objectives):
Government was designed to serve the people.
- Politicians were assumed to be citizen representatives (no professional politicians).
- Civilian representatives brought diversity and business knowledge to government.
- Election campaigns have become longer and more expensive.
- Excessive focus on re-election detracts from serving the public.
Constitution 17th Amendment (1912) changed Senator selection from state legislature to direct popular election.
· Amendment changed the first paragraph of Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution to provide that each state's senators are to be "elected by the people thereof" rather than being "chosen by the Legislature thereof."
· State legislature selection was intended to maintain balance between federal and state governments power.
Electoral College is an anachronism designed to protect states rights and power.
- Electoral college was designed to maintain the balance between state power and direct democracy based on pure number of votes.
- Each state is separate election with winner getting all the votes.
- Candidates can win Electoral College vote while not winning total popular vote.
In the 112th Congress the occupation that dominates is lawyers, attracting those who practice law into a profession in charge of making laws.
- In the House, most members come from business, followed by public service, then law.
- In the Senate, the dominant profession is law, followed by politics, also called “public service.”
- In the Senate, half have previous service in the House.
- In the House and Senate, 81 members were educators, 17 were doctors, one veterinarian, one ophthalmologist, and one psychiatrist.
Government officials have lost their credibility with the American public.
- Congressman and lawyers are ranked very low in honesty and ethics.
- Congressional Record is a rewritten history of what Members wanted to say.
- Presidential signing statements have been used for 150 years to explain positions on the relevant issues.
Congress works an abbreviated work week:
· Congress meets on Tuesday evening and full days on Wednesday and Thursday.
o Congress meeting on Monday or Friday is an exception.
o Monday and Friday are reserved to allow travel back and forth to home districts.
· Congress takes district work periods in March, May, June/July, August, and December.
· Resolutions have been submitted to create a “virtual Congress” where lawmakers would leverage videoconferencing and other remote work technology to conduct daily duties in Washington from their home districts.
Political party candidate selection has become excessively expensive and time consuming.
- Primaries begin two years before the election.
o The succession of state primaries is very expensive.
§ Candidates can choose to campaign or not on a state by state basis.
o It is estimated that $5 billion will be spent on the 2008 presidential and congressional election cycle.
o It is estimated that $1 billion will be spent on the two presidential nominees alone.
- 2002 McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) was designed to remove large donor influence.
o Large donors used 527 organizations to channel contributions to target politicians.
o Seven of the Top 10 political contributors are labor unions and predominantly Democrat.
o 2005 only 9% of filers elected to support the Presidential Election Campaign Fund.
o BCRA reforms aimed at political parties did not limit money but rather scatter it throughout the system.
o Due to the differences between the two political parties in America, the BCRA dispersion of finances tends to benefit Democrats because their political culture includes more allied groups who benefit from a distributional big bang.
Term limits have been instituted in several states.
- At present, 36 state have term limits of various types for their governors
- In South Dakota state legislative term limits passed in 1992, reaffirmed by wider margin in 2008.
- Term limits were at issue in various cities and counties in California, Colorado, Florida, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
- In localities ranging from State College, Pennsylvania to Tracy, California and Memphis, Tennessee, voters approved term limits by two-to-one margins.
- Eight of the ten largest U.S. cities now have term limits.
Participation in national elections is around 50% of eligible voters.
- Many American voters are unfamiliar with the candidate positions and promises.
- The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) set a deadline for states to have a statewide voter registration list and list verification procedures.
o Voter fraud has been caught haphazardly as no identification requirement impedes enforcement.
Redistricting of election boundaries has resulted in artificial districts.
· James Madison in Federalist No. 55 said that the number of representatives will be augmented from time to time in the manner provided by the Constitution.
o Originally the size of the House was adjusted every 10 years based on census results.
o Public Law 62-5, 1911, set the number of members of the House of Representatives at 435.
o Today each representative represents over 700,000 people.
· Gerrymandering based on the 1965 Voting Rights Act redraws voting maps to deliver safe political districts, election after election.
o The U.S. Supreme Court had interpreted the relevant provision (Section 2) as applying only where it was possible to create a majority-black district when whites had been demonstrably voting as a bloc to deny black voters an equal opportunity to elect the candidates of their choice.
o Boundaries defined to artificially combine uniform voting constituents.
o Voting districts do not conform between local and municipal government boundaries.
o Gerrymandering has defined voting districts that are uniform and deliver “automatic” voting results.
o An unintended consequence of gerrymandering is a suppressed voter turnout since the result is “rigged.”
In 1965, the Voter Rights Act was enacted to combat racial discrimination that denied equal access to voting.
- The VRA now requires racial discrimination in the name of guaranteeing effective voting by certain preferred minorities (blacks and Hispanics), because of judicial interpretations and legislative amendments.
- Effectiveness is understood as successful racial or ethnic bloc voting, with success understood as electing members of those blocs.
- Proof of citizenship requirements have been struck down as discriminatory in Georgia.
- This 45-year-old “emergency” provision has been renewed four separate times, most recently in 2006.
- The 2006 renewal gave the section 25 years of new life, despite a complete lack of evidence that the type of systematic discrimination that led to its initial passage still exists.
- Voter ID initiatives helped to prevent fraudulent voting, but also did NOT reduce turnout.
o In Georgia, black voter turnout for the midterm election in 2006 was 42.9% but after Georgia passed photo ID, black turnout in the 2010 midterm rose to 50.4%.
o In Georgia, Hispanic/Latino voter turnout increased by 66.5%.
o Black turnout also rose in Indiana and Mississippi after photo IDs were required.
Both major political parties sponsor voter registration efforts.
- Recent illegal election practice convictions have been overwhelmingly Democrats.
o Chicago Democrats have a long history of stolen votes since the 1980’s.
o In 1984 the case was publicized where for 14 years Brooklyn Democrat politicians operated a successful voting-fraud ring responsible for thousands of fraudulent votes.
o In 2007 a voting rights lawsuit in Noxubee, MS shut down a Democrat scheme to guarantee elections by fraudulently voting using dead and moved voters.
- Association of Community Organization for Reform Now (ACORN) is a leftist political group which has been caught numerous times turning in fraudulent voter registrations.
o ACORN has never tried to hide that it was a Democrat voting and advocacy organization.
§ ACORN has been accused of providing liberal causes with protest-for-hire services and coerced donations from the targets of demonstrations through a mob-style "protection" racket.
o The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Government Reform published a paper that both documented ACORN's widespread criminal activities, and determined that appropriate legal remedies for this criminal organization include applying the RICO statutes to seize their assets:
§ ACORN has evaded taxes, obstructed justice, engaged in self dealing, and aided and abetted a cover-up of the $948.607.50 embezzlement by Dale Rathke, the brother of ACORN founder Wade Rathke.
§ ACORN has committed investment fraud, deprived the public of its right to honest services, and engaged in a racketeering enterprise affecting interstate commerce.
§ ACORN has committed a conspiracy to defraud the United States by using taxpayer funds for partisan political activities.
§ ACORN has submitted false filings to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Department of Labor, in addition to violating the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
§ ACORN falsified and concealed facts concerning an illegal transaction between related parties in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA).
o At least 55 ACORN employees and individuals associated with ACORN have been convicted of voter fraud.
§ Voter fraud is a blanket term coined by lawyers to refer to fraudulent voting, identity fraud, perjury, voter registration fraud, forgery, and a variety of crimes in related to the electoral process in 11 states.
§ In Pennsylvania, official are investigating ACORN for filing fraudulent voter registrations and one ACORN worker is facing 19 counts of perjury for making false statements.
§ In Ohio there were four counties where voter registration exceeded the number of voting-age people in the counties.
§ In Michigan, ACORN enrolled 200,000 voters and a sizable number of duplicate and fraudulent applications.
§ In Wisconsin election officials turned in 32 more voter registration workers to the district attorney’s office for possible prosecution, bringing the total to 39.
§ In Colorado, ACORN registered some individuals 40 separate times.
§ In Nevada, nearly 1,000 felons were illegally registered to vote in 2004.
§ The Clark County, Nevada, registrar claims that there has been rampant fraud, and counts roughly 40% of registration applications submitted by ACORN from January through July had been rejected or questioned.
§ In Washington State, felony charges were brought against ACORN workers and some went to jail.
o FBI has initiated a Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) investigation into the series of ACORN voting abuses as a criminal enterprise.
§ Employees who did not meet quota of 20 new voters daily were fired.
§ ACORN considered 40% an acceptable level of accurate registrations turned in.
§ ACORN briefed workers how to deny that voter registration fraud existed.
§ Of 1.3 million new registrations ACORN turned in in 2008, election officials rejected 400,000.
· The Secretary of State Project is a left-wing funded “527” political committee to elect Democrat state candidates.
o The purpose of the SoS Project is to place partisan results in front of political integrity and clean, honest elections.
o A "527" political committee can accept unlimited financial contributions and doesn't have to disclose publicly until after the election.
o The SoS Project, which has raised at least $170,836 in this election cycle, is an officially approved Democracy Alliance grantee.
· Military voters have long been disenfranchised, both at the state and federal level, by a voting process that fails to recognize the unique challenges created by a military voter's transitory existence or the delays associated with delivering an absentee ballot to a war zone halfway around the world.
o All military personnel and their dependents, as well as overseas citizens, are guaranteed the right to vote by absentee ballot in federal elections by the Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act (UOCAVA).
o In 2010, only 4.6% of eligible military voters were able to cast anb absentee ballot that was counted in the 2010 election.
· Australia passed mandatory voting by registered voters in federal elections.
No more professional politicians.
- Limit the impact of money in campaigning.
Voting is a national service obligation by each citizen.
- Voters must remain knowledgeable about the country and its issues.
- Voters need to feel their vote counts above party politics.
Short Term, Reengineer election process to be more representative and more participative.
· Redefine voting as civic obligation.
o Require unique voter identification to ensure citizens only vote once.
o Enact tax incentive (credit) to encourage voting participation.
- Utilize electronic voting machines for rapid, accurate results, with electronic voting accepted.
o Enable electronic e-voting to enable citizens to vote remotely (via internet).
o Ensure all valid absentee ballots are counted.
- Individual states must enforce their own election requirements.
o Require all voters to present photographic identification, issued by the federal, state, or local government, when they vote at their polling place, or to send copies of such identification when submitting an absentee ballot.
o Require all individuals who register to vote to provide documentation establishing that they are United States citizens.
o Require state and local election officials to verify the accuracy of new voter registration information against other available state and federal databases.
o Require an individual who registers by mail to vote in person the first time they vote.
o Require all individuals who register to vote through the use of mail-in forms, whether they are mailed back to election officials or hand-delivered by the individual or third-party organizations, to comply with the applicable HAVA provision.
o Require all third-party organizations (like ACORN) that conduct voter registration drives to put the name of their organization and the volunteer or employee handling each registration on the voter registration form and require all completed forms to be returned to election officials by such organizations within ten days of the date the forms are executed by the voter.
o Facilitate voting by overseas members of the military by requiring that all absentee ballots being sent to UOCAVA voters be mailed at least 45 days prior to the election deadline or alternatively by express mail or electronic means so the ballots will be received by voters in time to be returned.
o Require all state courts to notify election officials when individuals whose names are drawn from the registration rolls are excused from jury duty because they claim they are not U.S. citizens or no longer live in the jurisdiction.
o Require the state to enter into agreements with other states, especially neighboring states, to compare voter registration lists to find voters who are registered in more than one state.
o Prosecute election fraud to the fullest extent of the law.
- Designate Military Offices as Voter Registration Agencies.
o Develop systems allowing servicemen overseas the ability to vote electronically and their votes counted back in their home districts.
- Repeal the Voting Rights Act since this emergency (5 year) provision has achieved its desired effect and has morphed into a partisan gerrymandering provision.
- Increase House to about 600 representatives, each representing an average of 500,000 citizens.
o Base representation on number of legal citizens based on U.S. Census.
o Redistrict conforming as nearly as possible to state or local government boundaries.
§ Redistrict design based on Minimal distance to district center or zip codes.
o Return voting rights to criminals after they complete their sentences, parole and probation.
- Enable Senators and Representatives to govern from their home districts.
o Enable electronic voting to allow remote participation from their home state and district.
o Schedule five day workweek enabled with remote teleconferencing and voting access.
o Each Member must certify that they actually read and understand the proposed legislation.
Long Term, Ensure Congress composed of citizen legislators.
· Enact Constitutional Amendment to impose term limits for all federal political offices (12 years max).
o No more than two full four year terms (10 years max) for President.
o No more than five full two year terms (10 years max) for Congress.
o No more than two six year terms (12 years max) for Senators.
o Restrict lawyers from serving in office in the legislative branch of government.
o Enact a lifetime ban on any elected official at the state or federal level from ever being a professional lobbyist.
· Repeal the 17th Amendment, returning Senator selection to the state legislatures to ensure state representation in Congress.
- Conduct nationwide Presidential primary(s) available to all states.
o Primaries would be a rotating series of regional primaries.
· Eliminate direct campaign contributions
o Repeal Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) passed in 2002 as structurally unfair.
o Require all campaign contributions made to general campaign fund, distributed by the government based on predetermined spending limit.
o Lobbyists are forbidden from direct candidate contributions.
o Each candidate would be restricted to a fixed amount of government money for campaigns.
· Enact Constitutional Amendment to authorize a Presidential federal line item veto to limit “earmark” and “pork” projects.
· Enact Constitutional Amendment to extend concept of Recall to members of Congress, both representatives and senators.
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“Is It Time for a Virtual Congress?” by Robert Berry dated November 10, 2012 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/11/is_it_time_for_a_virtual_congress.html .
“Choosing Senators: How to Rein in Federal Spending” by Jim Yardley dated February 23, 2013 published by American Thinker at http://www.americanthinker.com/2013/02/choosing_senators_how_to_rein_in_federal_spending.html .
“GOP lawmaker seeks ‘virtual Congress’ with telecommuting plan” by Jennifer Martinez dated March 22, 2013 published by The Hill at http://thehill.com/blogs/hillicon-valley/technology/289947-republican-proposes-letting-lawmakers-work-from-home .