A People's Democratic Platform
Doris "Granny D" Haddock
Doris Haddock, 94, who walked across America to promote campaign finance reform, is a Democratic candidate for the US Senate in New Hampshire.
One key election reform is adoption of instant-runoff voting. A way to prevent potential serious splits in the political left, IRV allows each voter to rank his or her choices. If the first choice does not gain a majority, the next-ranked choice then applies. That way, everyone can vote their heart without spoiling their vote, and third parties can rise in influence.
A second key reform is public funding of elections. We need to get special interest money out of our elections, and we must take a strong position to promote and defend the Clean Elections system of full public financing now used in Maine and Arizona. We must particularly urge Arizona Democrats to vote No on the Clean Elections repeal put on Arizona's November ballot by right-wing business groups.
A third is a return to paper ballots, owing to a lack of public trust in computerized voting; we must return to such ballots, counted at the precinct with citizens watching.
Jamin Raskin, a professor of constitutional law at American University's Washington College of Law and a Kerry delegate to the Democratic convention, is the author of Overruling Democracy.
The Democratic Party should be the democracy party. Our platform should begin with a call for a constitutional amendment guaranteeing every American citizen the right to vote, to have the vote counted, to have the popular vote decide the election and to be represented in government.
In Bush v. Gore, the Supreme Court declared that "the individual citizen has no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States," and that even when a state allows its residents to vote for President, state legislators can always "take back the power to appoint electors."
Moreover, we have more than 8 million disenfranchised and unrepresented citizens. In Washington, DC, 570,898 people have no voting representation in the Senate or House of Representatives, while 4,230,727 US citizens in the territories--Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa and the Virgin Islands--have no voting representation in Congress and no vote in presidential elections. Nearly 5 million citizens have been disenfranchised because of a criminal conviction.
And with more than 11,000 electoral jurisdictions designing their own ballots and voting systems, all of our votes are in danger.
Nell Minow, editor of The Corporate Library, an independent research firm, is the author, most recently, with Robert Monks, of Corporate Governance.
Genuine corporate democracy will restore crucial checks and balances to our system of corporate governance. To achieve this end, the Democratic Party should endorse a meaningful proxy access rule--such as one that's being considered by the SEC but that is being fought by the business community.
As things stand now, incumbent directors of corporate boards select board candidates, and more than 99 percent of the time no one runs against them. The incumbents often know how the voters mark their ballots, and they don't hesitate to apply pressure on voters to change their mind if they don't like what they see. Oh, and the incumbents count the votes.
So it's no wonder--even though most directors are capable and honest--that they do such a bad job. Many of the post-Enron corporate reforms put a great deal of weight on "independent" directors, meaning no ties to the company. But the fact is that as long as the directors are nominated and elected through this self-perpetuating closed-loop process they will always be beholden to the CEO, and that will always make it difficult for them to provide the kind of oversight necessary to stop excessive pay, misleading financial reporting and other abuses.