At the heart of the republic sits a key to its success or a cause of its ultimate failure: the elections to select political leaders and to choose individuals to carry our proxy to Washington and represent us in the affairs of government. Because they are so critical to a strong republic, elections deserve our close attention and careful evaluation.
When we examine recent elections, do we find that the republic has the strong and healthy underpinning that it requires? Sadly the answer is No. Careful examination discloses three serious flaws in our election processes:
Money: Special interests spend enormous sums of money to influence the outcomes of federal elections, buying influence in the development of laws and regulations.
Vote tabulations: Because the potential political rewards are so high, chicanery in counting ballots appears to have become more common, and certification of election results is increasingly turned over to the courts to adjudicate. But the appearance of incompetence, gross negligence, or malfeasance by the responsible officials leaves the public suspicious that the results are improper. This causes a loss of confidence by the people in the government, and gives the republic a weak foundation.
Gerrymandering: Election district boundaries are updated every ten years, and the political party in power in a state uses that power to enhance their position during an update. The process is highly politicized and the updates are commonly referred to as gerrymandering, a pejorative term that further undermines the public trust in government.
As we reflect on these problems, this question inevitably comes up: Is our republic
so dysfunctional that it is beyond repair?
Some observers say that it is, but the Act 2 reforms tell us a different story: The Act 2 Reform Blueprint has solutions for all three of the election failings cited above:
Money: Act 2 offers a constitutional amendment that recognizes and codifies the right of voters to quiet enjoyment of their elections without outside interference. This will stop the vast majority of money that flows across the country in today’s elections. Elections will revert to an old-fashioned style of in-depth contact between candidates and voters, instead of the blizzard of advertising and social media sound-bites that we see today.
Vote tabulations: The new, non-partisan States’ Compact will have the authority to enforce the law against government officials and mandate operational changes in the processes of government to improve effectiveness, transparency, and accountability. The Federal Election Commission will be moved to this new Compact group, which will be controlled and managed by the states. The FEC will have the authority to demand improved processes (such as in the maintenance of voter roles and vote tabulations), and may impose penalties on individuals abusing their power or neglecting their responsibilities.
In the event of lawsuits challenging a reported tabulation, the FEC would be available
to give expert testimony on the quality of the effort made by local officials to conduct an
honest election, and to make recommendations on penalties in cases of malfeasance.
Operating from its new non-partisan home, the FEC would add gravitas to the case and
inspire confidence in the result.
3. Gerrymandering: The States’ Compact can insist on improvement of the processes of
setting election district boundaries to minimize partisan influence. We are seeing a
growing number of voters registering as Independents which means we have an
expanding pool of citizens available to serve on non-partisan boards and commissions
like one to set these boundaries. The new branch would be well positioned to promote
this trend across the country.
When action is required against state or local offic
ials, or the public at large, the States’ Compact could refer the case to the Department of Justice to pursue. If the DOJ was not responsive and diligent in its follow-up, the Compact would have cause to take enforcement action against the recalcitrant DOJ. It would become the “conscience” of the Department of Justice.
The new Compact would be a strong voice for the rule of law, whether acting directly
against government officials or indirectly through the DOJ against state and local officials
or private parties.
The Act 2 reforms will initiate and promote a process of “house cleaning” that will rapidly repair and improve our elections and restore public confidence in government.