From The Nation On-Line:
by Katrina vanden Heuvel
Former President Jimmy Carter, who is arguably more identified with the struggle to guarantee free and fair elections than anyone in the world, gets an interesting response these days when he talks about observing voting overseas. "The Carter Center has monitored more than fifty elections, all of them held under contentious, troubled or dangerous conditions," he says. "When I describe these activities, either in the US or in foreign forums, the almost inevitable questions are Why don't you observe the election in Florida? and How do you explain the serious problems with elections there?"
The American people are waking up and realizing that for all the Bush Administration's talk of promoting democracy abroad, the US electoral system fails to do the same at home. With the approach of the midterm elections, there is justified alarm about how easy it is to hack electronic voting machines and that in many states these machines have no paper trail.
While it is heartening to see the increased focus on the vulnerabilities and flaws of these machines, these are not the only problems that cry out for reform. What about voting districts that are rigged to be uncompetitive? What about loopholes in campaign finance law that give corporations huge influence over legislation? What about partisan secretaries of state who decide who can vote and which votes will be counted? What about modern-day Jim Crow laws and tactics that suppress the vote?
Here's a capsule of 10 suggestions to "bring democracy home."
1. Establish an election day holiday.
2. Establish national standards for elections.
3. Promote and protect the right to vote.
4. Require reliable voting machines and a paper trail.
5. Require nonpartisan election management.
6. Make voting easy and trustworthy.
7. Re-enfranchise citizens denied their voting rights.
8. End the duopoly.
9. Establish a constitutional right to vote.
10. Fund campaigns publicly.
1 week ago