With Midterms Approaching, the Recount Fight Continues for Elections We Can Trust
July 8, 2018
From the start, the 2016 Presidential recount was not simply a call to retabulate the vote. It was a demand for elections we can trust, that are accurate, secure and just, and free from the scourge of Jim Crow. While there’s been progress since then towards greater cybersecurity, our votes remain vulnerable to a spectrum of cyber threats. But that’s not all. On multiple fronts, our right to vote itself is under attack, along with other basic rights at the foundation of our democracy, including our rights of protest, privacy, freedom of the press and more. With democracy increasingly under fire, trustworthy elections are more critical than ever. For all these reasons, the recount fight continues as a battle for election protection and voting justice, a fight being waged in both the court of law and the court of public opinion.
The past year and a half has seen both mounting threats and important progress, including notable successes in ongoing recount-related efforts. This includes the adoption of crucial reforms the recount helped shine a spotlight on, and hard-fought legal progress towards much-needed scrutiny of secret, privately-controlled voting software.
Election Protection and Voting Justice
Elections we can trust, that are accurate, secure & just
In 2016, a multi-state recount campaign was conducted in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania by Jill Stein’s Green Party presidential campaign on behalf of thousands of concerned voters across the nation. Together we brought into the national spotlight the urgent call for elections we can trust, that are accurate, secure and just, and free from Jim Crow in our elections.
The recount was motivated, in part, by widespread concerns about potential meddling with our vulnerable voting system - whether by foreign nationals, criminal networks, or domestic partisans. Protecting our voting system from cyber-threats is critical in an age when everything from hospitals to nuclear power plants are being hacked. But cybersecurity and an accurate vote count are just the tip of the iceberg for safeguarding our votes, when the US election system is largely designed to protect the power of the economic and political elite. There are many serious threats to our voting system, from voter suppression schemes to the stranglehold of big money over the political system, biased election coverage by corporate media, exclusionary debates and more. The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook scandal reveals another cutting-edge tool with which oligarchs like Robert Mercer, Cambridge Analytica’s major funder, can influence elections, using massive privacy violations, state of the art micro-targeting and manipulative, dishonest messaging. To bring real democracy to America, we need a broad agenda for voting justice that addresses all of these threats, and builds a unified movement to achieve real solutions.
As a first step towards restoring trust in our elections, we call for a nonpartisan Emergency Commission for Election Protection & Voting Justice. Click here for more.
The 2016 Recount & the Continuing Fight for Voting Justice
The 2016 Recount campaign affirmed the power of the American people to demand election integrity and a voting system free from modern-day Jim Crow in our elections. We pushed forward in three states, defiant in the face of political blockades, bureaucratic hurdles and financial intimidation. Over 10,000 volunteers and more than 161,000 donors made this historic recount effort possible.
The Recount lifted the veil on serious problems in our voting system – out-of-date laws and overly complex recount procedures, politicized courts, machine failure and vulnerability, and flagrant racial inequities. Our efforts have brought attention to the urgent need for reforms to our electoral system, and to the recounts that are essential in order to safeguard our votes. We look forward to continuing our work together to make those reforms a reality.
For further discussion on each of these issues, please visit the links provided. While this list is by no means exhaustive, and does not signify an endorsement of organizations featured, we offer it as a starting point. We can build a better future together.
The Recount campaign called for Americans of all political backgrounds to unite behind key principles of voting justice, including the following basic goals:
1. Ensure Election integrity - Count Every Vote, Prevent Tampering with the Vote Count
There are too many questions about whether elections can be rigged to thwart the will of the people. We need four things to ensure the integrity of our votes across all communities – including low-income neighborhoods and communities of color.
1) Paper ballots, which can't be hacked and create an enduring record;
2) Routine rigorous post-election audits to detect and investigate any potential problems;
3) Training and technical support for cybersecurity best practices, made available to local election officials on the front lines of voting integrity;
4) Capacity to recount the vote as needed if questions of interference or error arise.
These needs must be met particularly in under-resourced black, brown, poor and immigrant communities which are most likely to have outdated voting equipment prone to malfunction. The appropriation in the March 2018 Congressional spending bill is a good start, but more is needed to meet the urgent need before the 2018 elections.
2. End Voter Suppression - End the "New Jim Crow" of Interstate Crosscheck
Under the false pretense of fighting practically nonexistent “voter fraud”, partisan operatives have launched voter suppression schemes targeted primarily at preventing people of color from voting. This “New Jim Crow” assault includes the Interstate Crosscheck program used to strip millions of people from the voting rolls in 2016. While Interstate Crosscheck is supposed to remove voters who are registered in more than one state, researchers have found that over 99% of voters purged by the system are wrongly removed from voting rollsVoter suppression programs like Voter ID also disproportionately affect young and low-income people as well as people of color.
3. Protect Voting Rights: Universal Voter Registration, Restore Voting Rights to Felons & Make Election Day a Holiday
The United States puts up more barriers to voting than almost any other modern democracy, because ruling elites don’t want more people voting. To protect voters from disenfranchisement, we need to enforce and expand the Constitutional right to vote (including a new amendment if necessary). We must end voter suppression, stop new obstacles to voting, and instead protect voting rights for all with reforms like universal voter registration, restoring voting rights to felons, and a national Election Day holiday.
4. End the "Spoiler Effect", Promote Majority Support and Fair Representation - Implement Ranked Choice Voting and Proportional Representation
The obsolete US voting system has produced a two-party trap where voters are told they have no choice but to vote for “lesser evil” out of fear. Ranked Choice Voting would end fear-based voting and free all Americans to vote for the candidates they truly believe in. It ensures that if your first choice loses, your vote is automatically re-assigned to your second choice – eliminating the possibility of “splitting of the vote” and inadvertently benefitting a candidate you don’t support. For legislative elections, proportional representation would result in a much more responsive and accountable government that would truly represent every voter. We need ranked choice voting and proportional representation to make every vote count and bring real democracy to America.
5. Get Big Money Out of Politics, Get People Back In: End Legalized Bribery
Over 90% of elections are won by the candidate who raises and spends the most money. This creates a government full of politicians who owe big favors to big donors. We need full public financing of elections to eliminate the corrupting influence of big money, and level the playing field for candidates who don’t take bribe money from corporate elites.
6. Open Debates and Free Public airtime for candidates: Create an independent Citizens Debate Commission
Most political debates, including the presidential debates, are controlled by the corporate political establishment to keep their competition from being heard. American voters have a right to know who their choices are in any given election, and inclusive debates are critical for helping empower voters with that knowledge. In the case of the presidential election, candidates should be included who have qualified for the ballot for a majority of voters. We need a Citizens’ Debate Commission to fight for open debates. We should also provide free public airtime for candidates to communicate their message to the public.
7. One Person, One Vote: Dismantle the Electoral College
Replace the obsolete, undemocratic Electoral College with direct election of the President via national popular vote using ranked choice voting.
8. Remove Barriers to Running for Office: Fair, Reasonable Access to the Ballot for All
Voters’ rights are meaningless without the right to run for office, yet many states have discriminatory laws that make it as difficult as possible for regular people to run for office unless they are backed by party bosses or wealthy elites. We must repeal unreasonable, anti-democratic barriers to getting on the ballot and other laws designed to prevent political competition for the establishment parties.
9. Rights for People, Not Corporations - Abolish the Court-Created Doctrine of Corporate Constitutional Rights
Most political debates, including the presidential debates, are controlled by the corporate political establishment to keep their competition from being heard. Until all candidates who have qualified for the ballot are included in debates, we do not live in a democracy. We need a Citizens’ Debate Commission to fight for open debates. We should also provide free public airtime for candidates to communicate their message to the public.
10. Representation for All: Statehood for DC and Self-Determination for Puerto Rico
The US is one of the only democracies to deny a voice in government to large numbers of people under its rule, particularly in the District of Columbia and colonial territories like Puerto Rico. These disenfranchised areas are populated predominantly by people of color. We need immediate statehood for the District of Columbia and self-determination for Puerto Rico and other colonial territories still under US rule.
11. End Partisan Election Oversight: Establish Independent, Non-partisan Election Commissions
Our elections should be managed not by partisan officials with a vested interest in the result, but by independent officials who are accountable only to the voting public. Elections should be run by independent, non-partisan election commissions.
12. Abolish Gerrymandering: Voters Should Choose Their Elected Officials, Elected Officials Should Not Choose Their Voters
The widespread practice of gerrymandering, where politicians intentionally manipulate voting districts, has made a mockery of our democracy by promoting hyper-partisanship and removing the accountability that comes with competitive elections. We must replace partisan redistricting with independent redistricting commissions to end the corrupt practice of gerrymandering. Also, by moving to proportional representation for legislative elections, we make gerrymandering obsolete.