Friday, June 23, 2006

1965 Voting Rights Act

The fight over the re-enactment of the 1965 voting rights act is telling, much like when this Administration put Kissinger in charge of the 911 investigation. It shows the hand of those of both parties. And the partisan divide could not be clearer in this fight.

Democrats argue for "inclusive" voting procedures. Republicans argue for "exclusive" procedures. Democrats don't mind including a few extra felons here and there, or illegal voters of any stripe, because high turn-out generally favors Democrats, and Republicans would rather restrict the system to the fewest voters possible because low turn-out generally favors Republicans.

Much like in King County, the partisan divide only serves the corporate master's interest, and instead of reform we get more privatization, corporatization and corruption.

Real reform would look far different, and starts with:

1.VVPB, Voter-Verified Paper Ballots
2.An Elected Auditor
2.Run off elections when the margin of error exceeds the margin of victory
3.A renewed registration database, and clear registration procedures
4.Publicly owned open sourced software
5.Precinct Level Hand Audits of Optical Scan Ballots
6.Felony vote purge reform (cleaned up procedures for re-enfranchising the formerly incarcerated)
7.The restriction of Vote By Mail to those who truly need it
8.The retention of polling places
9.The eventual elimination of corporate controlled processes involved in elections
10.The prosecution of the companies that have so far been involved, and have lied to public officials, and seemingly participated in what seems like racketeering to this lonely activist.

But that's just where voting reform starts. I pledge to write a longer piece on what system we should adopt in King County over the next few weeks. But until we can start the conversation that addresses what system we want, all we can do is complain that the current system is broken. Fixing a broken system involves consensus building around the solution. It is no longer about pointing out the flaws. So from here I will continue to build my list of what “real voting reform” should look like.

Until then, here's a few articles on the Voting Rights Act debates in congress:

The ACLU's position press release

Article II

A great, longer piece on the problems with the Voting Rights Act from a left of center perspective

The Greg Palast analysis

Lone Star Article
A more right leaning perspective from The Lone Star Times.

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