Voting Rights: More Than Just the Right to Vote

The right to vote is fundamental to democratic decision making and yet the right to vote is still denied to many people in this country.  In fact, the right to vote is not guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution. Voting rights are granted by the legislatures of each state, and can be as restrictive or limited as they wish, subject to certain specific provisions of the Constitution.

A voter can encounter problems with the ability to vote from registration through casting the vote on Election Day.  In addition to the problems of individual voters, political parties and candidates encounter an entirely different set of problems with regard to ballot access. Rather than encouraging people to participate in the political process, restrictive ballot access laws frustrate and discourage those who wish to represent and serve the public.

And then there are the problems that arise from the voting systems and processes themselves. Machine malfunctions, intentional tampering, uninformed election workers, under votes, over votes, miscounted votes, lost votes

VOTING RIGHTS AND ELECTORAL REFORMS – (We do not have this right guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution now; in particular, there is no constitutional right to vote for president.)

  • Constitutional guarantee of the right to vote for all citizens, uniformly in all states; those rights to include:
    • Right of permanent resident non-citizens to vote in elections in their communities
    • Right to vote for the incarcerated and the formerly incarcerated (including those on probation and parole)
    • Ensuring voter registration forms are accurate, easily accessible, and understandable
    • Guaranteeing freedom of political association by allowing voters to enroll in any party (or “independent body”)…or in no party…with enrollment info maintained in the state database
    • Right of all citizens to vote in all general and special elections for all offices
    • Automatic enrollment of all citizens at birth, or of naturalized citizens at time of naturalization; with ceremony granting the right to vote when a citizen comes of age;
    • Lowering of the voting age (say to 15)
    • Outlawing practice of re-enrolling third party (including Green Party) enrollees into the corporate parties through deceptive practices by election workers on Primary Day in certain states (such as New Jersey and Illinois)
    • Mandating that all designating and nominating petitions be available in all four B.O.E. sanctioned languages in NY State
    • Outlawing bullying tactics and intimidation that are routinely employed against Green Party voters, volunteers, and canvassers
    • Outlawing practices of vote suppression (which typically target poor, elderly and people of color to prevent them from voting)
    • Guaranteeing right of community organizations and non-partisan non-profits (such as League of Women Voters) to do voter registration drives without onerous restrictions
  • More open, democratic voting processes including:
    • instant run off voting (IRV) and proportional representation
    • Fair and inclusive ballot access laws
      • lowering onerous threshold requirements to qualify as “constituted” party
    • Direct election of the President  (abolition of the Electoral College)
    • Transparency and accessibility in voting systems and processes, including:
      • Inspection of election materials by the public
      • Canvassing and recanvassing of voting machines
      • Efficient and accurate processes for tabulating election results
      • Opening the vote tabulation process to all parties
      • Opening up the redistricting process to participation by all utilizing the principle of one person, one vote
    • Ensuring that debates are open to all candidates and parties
    • Ending of preferential petitioning periods for two “major” parties
    • Equal opportunity for those enrolled in any party to be hired as election workers
    • Elected community boards: elected by proportional representation
    • Reforming fusion voting laws that encourage back-room deals by political power brokers at expense of public
    • Publicly financed elections; and for “clean election” laws (such as provided by Maine law) to mitigate the undue and anti-democratic influence of corporate money in elections
    • Making Election Day a holiday
    • Early voting
    • Election Day registration
    • No photo ID requirement

End to all electronic voting substituting hand-counted paper ballots instead


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