Sunday, June 10, 2007

Will any candidate touch election reform?

Front paged at Booman Tribune, ePluribus Media and My Left Wing

I’ll be brief.

I’m throwing out a challenge to the Presidential candidates, and I won’t even make it a difficult one. We know that many of them (or their staff) read what is posted here, so maybe one would read this. Certainly, they are aware of the goings on in Congress regarding the US Attorney purge. Hopefully they know about the Pulitzer Prize worthy work being done by McClatchy’s Washington Bureau about the tie in between the US Attorneys and the issues of “voter fraud” against Democratic party voters or officials.

Now, I won’t even ask the candidates to address issues such as public financing of elections or not having voting machines contain proprietary software that is easily hackable, even though those are extremely important issues. And I won’t even think of mentioning scrapping the Electoral College – regardless of the merits contained in that argument either. And hell, I won’t even talk about making Election Day on a weekend or as a national holiday, even though I think either of those are an excellent idea.

But frankly, this is a NON-partisan issue and the system is so broken, so corrupt and so in need of a major basic overhaul that not only would I immediately have much more respect and support for anyone that dares to be so bold and shine a spotlight on these glaring issues, but it would be irresponsible for any candidate who wishes to be elected to not address a system that would serve to put them in office.

No, what I am talking about is much more basic, and much more of a no brainer. I’m talking about voter suppression, especially anything that is done with the sanctioning of or funds from a local or national political party. I’m talking about stricter and more immediate penalties for such violations, and for intimidation on or around Election Day.

I’m talking about blatant conflicts of interest being outlawed. There should never be the same individual holding a campaign position for any candidate (especially the Presidential candidate) and a top position with respect to how elections are run. With Ken Blackwell in Ohio and Katherine Harris in Florida BOTH having such close ties to Bush/Cheney, even without the highly controversial results and pre-Election Day tactics used by those officials this would be an unacceptable conflict of interest.

I’m also talking about (and while there may be logistical issues here, something must be done) no recess appointments of FEC Commissioners, like vote suppressing Hans von Spakovsky. And I’m also talking about some methodology whereby the egregious acts we have seen by Alberto Gonzales, Karl Rove, Monica Goodling, Paul McNulty, Robert Popper, Brad Schlozman, Tim Griffin and the rest of those who were responsible for violating laws regarding political affiliation in hirings, pursuit of bogus fraud cases while ignoring destroyed voter registrations, narrow interpretations of the Voting Rights Act and the Help America Vote Act to purge voter rolls as opposed to making it easier for people to cast a ballot all can not happen again.

Would this involve a nonpartisan election oversight committee that operates independently from the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department? Maybe. Would this involve basic changes to election laws to ensure that no party has even the appearance of a conflict of interest (and maybe not a hidden or relatively tenuous one but certainly not one like Blackwell or Harris had)? Absolutely?

Would this make those who engage in such acts think twice? Possibly but maybe not. However, if Blackwell was not in a position to do what he did with respect to voter registration cards, the distribution of voting machines and stonewalling the vote count/recount and if Harris was not in a position to take the actions she took with respect to certifying the vote before it was truly counted in 2000, then some (not all, but some) of this wouldn’t have happened.

And if there was some mechanism whereby voter ID laws such as the one engineered and supported by von Spakovsky in Arizona and Georgia, or that was overturned by decree in Minnesota or the one that is now being pushed for in Mississippi would not be enforced until proven constitutional (as opposed to being enforced until proven unconstitutional), then that could help as well.


Of course some of these ideas are a bit controversial. And I didn’t even touch on other things that should really be given serious consideration. Things such as instant run off voting, verified paper ballots, nonpartisan election observers at all polling stations, voting by mail or even old fashioned hand counting of ballots by a nonpartisan group.

After all, messing with elections cuts the heart right out of a democracy. Somebody has to take the first step. And that someone - even without touching on supposedly “tin foil” ideas can get the ball rolling so that there is somewhat of a fair election process in this country.

This country deserves nothing less. Hell, it should DEMAND nothing less.

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