Democracy Plank

[Adopted at the MOGP annual convention on 8/18/18]


Going to the polls is an essential component of self-governance; but democracy is vastly more than selecting between candidates. Democracy includes deciding how we organize all aspects of our society, including our community space, work lives, and our daily interactions with each other. The Missouri Green Party (MOGP) envisions a society which thoroughly includes citizens, not just in “input,” but in decision-making for all important aspects of our social existence.

The United States’ experiment in democracy was founded on settler colonialism, white supremacy, slavery, heteropatriarchy and domination by propertied classes. While significant gains have been made in the expansion of suffrage, many US citizens are regularly denied the right to vote. This denial is often tied directly to the systems of oppression on which the United States was founded.

The undemocratic aspects of the electoral system go beyond the direct and indirect denial of the right to vote, they include a set of institutions that diminish the public’s capacity to elect representatives who reflect their interests and propose measures for a democratic vote. Some of these institutions allow the wealthy to have out sized voices relative to those of the broad working class. Others maintain and strengthen the status quo, such as unfair electoral districting practices.

A massive overhaul of the electoral system could lay the foundations of a truly democratic society only if there were simultaneous efforts to overcome oppression in terms of class, race, gender, sexuality and disability.

Section 1. Eliminate anti-protest laws.

The first amendment of the US Constitution guarantees citizens the right to protest and make their opinions heard. This is an essential part of democracy and self-government.

Section 2. Work lives.

We believe that democracy extends to the workplace. Workers should have a right to be part of the decisions affecting their workplace. Until that occurs throughout the economy we will fight for reforms that strengthen worker rights and bargaining power in the workplace.

Section 3: Political parties.

There should be a multi-party political system with parties representing a diversity of viewpoints. As vehicles of collective political action, political parties should be internally democratic with transparent rules and processes that are created and agreed upon by the membership.

Section 4. Elections and representation.

4a. Use proportional representation (PR) statewide for elected positions where applicable, like US Congress and the General Assembly. Electing these office holders according to the percentage of votes that each party slate receives will ensure that Missouri citizens are better represented. (See explanation of PR in Appendix A.)

4b. Use ranked choice voting for single seat positions like governor and president. Use proportional Electoral College votes for election of the president. Switching to a system of voters’ indicating their first choice, second choice, third choice and so on, will better reflect the will and preferences of citizens (See Appendix B.)

4c. Repeal laws that prevent citizens from having a full opportunity for voting including the voter ID amendment to the MO constitution, passed in 2016 which as interpreted by Secretary of State’s office creates another obstacle for people in order to vote. Increase the ease of voter registration by creating:

i. systems for online voter registration, and
ii. automatic registration for 18 year olds.

4d. Create more polling locations and insure that all locations are accessible in order to reduce the amount of time and effort needed to cast ballots

4e. Expand the times and opportunities for voters to cast ballots by:

i. early voting and multi-day voting,
ii. election holidays, and
iii. mail in ballots like those for military personnel. All absentee and valid provisional ballots mail in ballots must be counted to insure one person and one vote.

4f. Ensure incarcerated and formerly incarcerated persons’ right to vote. Currently, Missouri citizens are prevented from voting while in prison and after release.

4 g. Protect Missouri’s open primary system. Currently Missouri and about half the other US states allow for open primaries. This means that citizens do not need to be registered with that political party in order to choose to vote in their primary. This system allows people to change their political views over time instead of forcing people to always vote along party lines.

4 h. Change Missouri law to allow political parties to select candidates in the way they choose. Parties with ballot status should be able to select candidates by a primary, convention or caucus system.

4i. Use paper ballots with an auditing system that preserves the secrecy of the ballot to ensure legitimacy. Some states have already began begun to prohibit ballot-less electronic voting machines because they have been shown to be inaccurate and vulnerable to manipulation.

4j. District lines. The MOGP recommends that Missouri create a commission that includes all state electoral parties to ensure that the district lines are drawn fairly. Districts must:

i. comply with the US Constitution and the Voting Rights Act;
ii. be contiguous so that all parts of the district are connected to each other;
iii. respect the boundaries of cities, counties, and neighborhoods, as well as “communities of common interest” (such as keeping a rural population together); and
iv. be drawn competitively so as not to favor or discriminate against any candidate (incumbent or challenger) or political party.

Section 4k. Limit the amount of influence money has in our political system. Currently, large donors, political action committees, and other groups with large amounts of money have enormous influence over elections and elected officials. The limitation would be accomplished by matching public funds for all candidates that raise a threshold level of small contributions. All other political contributions are prohibited. Transparency in government requires full disclosure of the source of all financial contributions.

4l. Lower the threshold of signatures needed to bring people’s concerns to the ballot and allow new political parties ballot access. Missouri is one of 26 states that allows regular people to get their issues on a ballot for voter approval even if the elected officials do not agree with the people. A major concern with the current initiative process arises because moneyed interests can pay to have signature collected while grassroots citizens groups lack funds to pay for signatures and rely on volunteers instead. Changes to address these shortcomings are needed:

i. require signature takers to disclose the source of their funding; and,

ii. reduce the number of signatures for a new party to be on the ballot to 5,000; for a state law or Peoples Veto vote to 20,000 and for a state constitutional amendment to 50,000.

Appendix A. Proportional Representation (PR)

Proportional Representation (PR) PR is an electoral system where the percentage of the seats each political parties holds in a legislative body is equal to the percentage of the vote received by that political party.

PR systems use multi-member districts. Instead of electing one person in each district, several people are elected. These multi-member districts may be small, with only 3 or 4 members, or they may be larger, with 10 or more members.

The second characteristic of PR systems is allocation of seats in these multi-member districts according to the proportion of votes received by the various parties. Thus if the candidates of a party win 40% of the vote in a 10 member district, they receive 4 of the 10 seats — or 40% of the seats. If another party wins 20% of the vote, they get two seats, and so on.” (1) Mixed-Member Proportional Representation: See: 1.

Appendix B: Rank Choice Voting (RCV) by Preferential Aggregate Transfer Ballot.

a. Each voter shall mark his or her ballot by numbering the names of all the candidates for each office in order of preference, with the preferred name being numbered 1. The voter shall not give more than one number to any name, nor shall any name be left unnumbered. Any ballot which does not comply with the directions given in this section will be invalid and will not be counted.

b. The persons appointed to conduct the election shall count each valid ballot by assigning to each candidate the candidate’s ranked-ordered number on the ballot.

c. The candidates shall then be ranked according to the respective sums of their ranked-ordered numbers, beginning with the lowest sum, and the candidate or candidates with the lowest sums shall be elected, according to the number of vacancies to be filled.

d. In case of a tie in which one or more candidates must be selected, that candidate or candidates with the highest number of first-place ballots shall be elected; and if the tied candidates have the same number of first placed ballots, then the candidate or candidates having the highest number of second-place ballots shall be elected, and so forth; and if the tied candidates have the same number of ballots at every rank, then the candidate or candidates to be elected shall be chosen by the toss of a coin.

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