Voters Bill of Rights

Global Exchange newsletter, Winter 2005


Provide a Paper Trail for Touch-Screen Voting Machines

Every touch-screen voting machine in the U.S. must produce and store a voter-verified paper record and use open source coding tested by an independent agency before and during the election to guarantee transparency.

Create Independent, Non-Partisan and Transparent Oversight

Officials in charge of administering elections should not be party affiliated, running for another office, or publicly supporting any candidates. Electoral commissions at all levels of government should be independently financed and free of control by any political party. Administrators can increase voter confidence by inviting non-partisan domestic and international observers to evaluate all aspects of voting procedures.

Celebrate Our Democracy: Election Day as a National Holiday!

Working people should not be forced to choose between standing in a long line to vote and getting to work on time. Holding national elections on a national holiday will increase the number of available poll workers and potentially increase turnout by making it easier for working Americans to go to the polls.

Maximize Voter Access

Many citizens are discouraged from voting by bureaucratic hurdles. Registration forms should be simplified, so no one is disenfranchised for failing to check a superfluous box, as occurred in Florida, or for not using heavy enough paper, as occurred in Ohio. All states should join Minnesota in allowing citizens to register on Election Day itself. To avoid long waits, all states must provide more early voting and Election Day polling places.

Count Every Vote!

To encourage participation, voters must know that their vote will count. Voting precincts should be adequately staffed with sufficiently trained personnel and professional supervision; old and unreliable voting machines should be replaced; absentee ballots must be sent with sufficient time; and provisional ballots should count for state and federal contests regardless of where the vote is cast.

Re-enfranchise Ex-Felons

The permanent disenfranchisement of former felons, a practice that falls outside of international or even U.S. norms, creates subcategories of citizenship. There are over four million American citizens in this category, particularly African American males. States that permanently disenfranchise felons Florida, Virginia, Nebraska, Mississippi, Kentucky, Iowa, Arizona, and Alabama - should amend their to restore full citizenship to ex-offenders.

Implement Instant Runoff Voting

Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference (first, second, third choice) and if no candidate gets a majority of first choices, a runoff can be conducted without the need for a second election.

IRV gives voters the opportunity to vote for those candidates they like the most without worrying that their vote will help candidates they like least. Instant runoff voting has been used successfully by Ireland to elect its president and by San Francisco to elect its board of supervisors.

Provide Public Financing for Elections and Equal Air-Time

In a system where the amount a candidate spends is directly related to the likelihood of success, it is not surprising that voters think politicians care only about big campaign contributors. We need to establish full public financing of campaigns and free access to public airwaves. Broadcasters must carry debates and provide free time for all candidates and parties as a license requirement to use our public airwaves.

Ensure Third Party Candidates Easier Access to the Ballot and Debates

Third parties face a host of barriers, from getting on the ballot to being included in debates. Prohibitive ballot access requirements should be dropped and debates should be open to all ballot-qualified candidates.

Abolish the Electoral College

It's time to make all votes equal, no matter where the voter lives. The president should be elected by direct, popular vote. Since a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College is infeasible, we should set our sites on amending their state laws to proportionally award their electors.

Reforming the Electoral Process

Index of Website

Home Page