Election Reform Many people are surprised to learn that the United States was never intended to be a democracy—nor is it one now. You won’t find the word “democracy” anywhere in the Constitution or Declaration of Independence. Money is not Speech There are tremendous flaws with the U.S. system of elections. For one, money plays an oversized role. Political campaigns are a public process yet they are financed almost entirely by private money in a shadowy and inequitable fashion. Blair Bobier supports amending both the U.S. and Oregon Constitutions to address the corruption that private money wreaks on public elections. Blair Bobier also supports public campaign financing—a system which works well in places ranging from Europe to Maine. For more information on amending the Constitution to restrict the role of private money in public elections, visit Move to Amend. More Choices and Voices Many times when we vote we are faced with two, unappetizing choices from a menu where all the choices look the same. We have far more choices when we’re shopping for breakfast cereal or looking for a channel on television than when we’re voting. Proportional Representation The U.S. winner-take-all voting system is one of the major factors limiting our voting choices. A winner-take-all system tends to produce two dominant political parties which have little incentive to respond to the changing attitudes of voters. That’s just what has happened in this country. Most democratic countries throughout the world use proportional representation to elect their legislatures or parliaments. Proportional representation means that more political parties, and more ideas, are represented in government. Most countries which use proportional representation have higher voter turnout rates than the United States because, in those other countries, voters feel like their votes really count. To learn more about Proportional Representation, see this explanation from Professor Douglas Amy or this information from the Center for Voting and Democracy. Instant Runoff Voting Winner-take-all elections also mean that candidates can win elections with less than a majority of the vote. For example, both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush were elected president with less than a majority vote. Instant Runoff Voting addresses this issue and also solves the “spoiler” problem of elections with more than two candidates. With three or more candidates in a race, voters sometimes feel compelled to vote “for the lesser of two evils” because they don’t want to inadvertently elect a candidate they don’t like by voting for their favorite candidate. The solution is Instant Runoff Voting. Blair Bobier has written extensively about the benefits of Instant Runoff Voting, including these pieces in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today and The Oregonian. For information on Instant Runoff Voting, visit the FairVote website. Ballot Access Just getting a candidate or political party on the ballot in the first place can be a daunting task in this country. Laws throughout the U.S. vary greatly from state to state on how candidates and parties qualify for ballot access. These laws and regulations need to be overhauled to allow the greatest amount of participation with the least amount of restrictions possible. For information on ballot access issues in the U.S., visit www.ballot-access.org Debates It should go without saying that events such as debates, designed to educate and inform the voters, should be open to all qualified candidates. Once a candidate has jumped through all the hurdles necessary to be on the ballot, that candidate should automatically qualify for all debates for the office which that person is running for. Far too many debates, especially during presidential campaigns, exclude more candidates than they include, and are more like press conferences than actual debates. For more information about opening up debates, check out Open Debates.