Solutions and reforms to America's electoral system were presented at the first annual Voting Methods and Election Integrity Symposium at Infinity Park's Cherry Creek Room in Glendale, CO on Saturday, November 15th. Colorado based Free Speech TV and the Open Media Foundation were the host broadcasters of the Symposium along with the Free and Equal Network.
The symposium brought together intellectuals and experts in the political field in a collaborative effort to review flaws with current elections and voting methods, provide alternatives to those flawed systems, and provide in-depth demonstrations and explanations to highlight the effectiveness of the alternatives.
Panel on alternative voting methods from 9AM-noon included:
- Rob Richie (FairVote, via Skype)
- Richard Winger (Ballot Access News, Free and Equal)
- Bill Redpath (Libertarian Party)
- Aaron Hamlin (Center for Election Science)
During the lunch hour:
Glendale Mayor Mike Dunafon presented an opening address via video. Harry Hempy (2014 Green Party gubernatorial candidate), Lily Williams (2014 Libertarian candidate for Colorado State House & Colorado state leader for Our America Initiative), and Matthew Hess (2014 Libertarian gubernatorial candidate) spoke.
The panel on election integrity from 1PM-4PM included:
- Richard Winger
- Harvie Branscomb (Coloradans for Voting Integrity)
- Suzanne Staiert (Deputy Secretary of State of Colorado)
Christina Tobin, Founder and Chair of Free and Equal Elections, then led the dialogue by introducing profoundly relevant topics such as approval voting, instant runoff voting, and proportional representation; as well as decisive issues such as the use of closed source electronic voting machines, Electoral College, gerrymandering, and Top-Two primary systems.
In attendance were State Representative Kathleen Conti, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, League of Women Voters Boulder activist Celeste Landry, and everyday citizens of Colorado who support open and transparent elections.
Alternative Voting Methods Panel
During this symposium a mock election accomplished through the use of four different voting methods was run. The technical aspects of each method can be viewed in the video of the symposium.
Are voting methods more important than financing? Yes. “There is nothing more important than how you can express information on a ballot because that’s what determines the results,” stated Aaron Hamlin.
How can we get equal time for candidate campaigns ads? Free and Equal Elections Foundation is leading the movement to provide a free and equal political platform for all eligible candidates. Certain initiatives such as the Free and Equal Network and Election Assistant can provide candidates with non-partisan media representation.
How do we get independents to vote? Structural reform of the voting method system would provide voters the confidence and support they need in order to vote for their preferred candidate. It provides a reliable, efficient, and fair manner in which to elect officials.
How much will implementation of alternative voting methods cost the voters? Most alternative voting methods require very simple changes that voting equipment can already fulfill. Another large benefit of utilizing these methods is that some no longer require a follow-on primary election, saving both time and money. Future symposiums will address costs in more detail.
How can we reform the system? The political and social atmosphere is beginning to awaken to the corruption of the electoral system. This type of atmosphere prompts the necessity for structural reform. These types of systems have shown to be successful in the past and they can be in the future. A major motivating factor will occur when minor party and independent candidates garner enough support via supporters and media that the American people can clearly see the primary system failing.
Does the corporate media tilt the outcome of elections and do alternative methods help fix this? Alternate methods give the candidates accurate levels of support which assists the third parties in securing enough votes regardless of media spin.
Alternative voting methods are used throughout the world with great success. Rob Richie discussed this view and specifically mentioned that hardly any of the major democracies use the two-party system or plurality voting method. The success of these states sheds light on the future of American political practices and hope for the future of electoral system.
Election Integrity Panel
The election integrity panel of this symposium utilized the personal knowledge and accounts of professionals in the political arena of Colorado. One of the most provocative subjects discussed is the absolute need for accountability and oversight in the election system. Harvie Branscomb discussed the system as it currently stands with a massive breadth of knowledge. He specifically mentioned how difficult the system makes it for election watchers who attempt to ensure the integrity of each election cycle, such as attorney fees for the request of open records being used by election officials to bully election watchers from accessing election records. The discussion turned to some uplifting information coming from novel election software being developed that would ensure integrity while allowing independent agencies access to election records and risk-limiting audits to be conducted. Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert agreed with Christina Tobin that open dialogue, communication, public participation, and transparency is key in a healthy relationship between the people, election watchers/activists, and the government offices who oversee elections like the Secretary of State.
- Budgets for transparency in county offices
- Administrators for open records to avoid court proceedings
- Access for data on the ballots
- Greater oversight in cert
- Defend the watcher and canvas board roles
- Monitored drop off boxes for ballots
- Rethink recall laws
- Legislator that will work on bipartisan solutions
CLICK HERE to view the 6 hour event on YouTube.
NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote!
Michael H. Drucker
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