Young people have long suspected that something is wrong with the political system. The 2000 presidential election proved that the electoral process is flawed. The time has come to defend the most fundamental American right - the right to vote.
ROCK THE VOTE IS CALLING ON ELECTED OFFICIALS TO IMPLEMENT MAJOR ELECTORAL REFORM:
* Reform the Electoral College system to provide for fair presidential elections that reflect the will of the people.
* Pass comprehensive legislation for meaningful campaign finance reform.
* Investigate reports of voter intimidation and fraud, and implement procedures to prevent future occurrences.
* Improve procedures and technologies to remove barriers to voter registration and increase access to voting.
* Stop voter disenfranchisement of non-violent felons and released felons.
* Remove restrictions that unfairly affect the ability of third party and independent candidates to qualify for an election.
* Increase investment for civic education in the nation's elementary and high schools.
The Electoral College, as it currently exists, is unfair and violates the principle that every person's vote counts equally: the winner-takes-all method does not represent the popular vote; the vote of a citizen in a state with a small population carries more weight than the vote of a citizen in a state with a large population; electors are not bound by the Constitution to vote for the candidate receiving the most popular votes; and presidential campaigns focus only on voters in a few key battleground states.
The Electoral College should be reformed to provide for a more accurate presidential election that reflects the will of all of the people. Reform options include: instant runoff voting; congressional district or statewide proportionality; binding electors; and abolishing electors.
Rock the Vote supports reforming the Electoral College system to provide for fair presidential elections that reflect the will of the people.
CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
The campaign finance system is corrupted. Spending is out of control, and there are various loopholes in federal campaign finance law. Money buys access and influence, which effectiäÎÔ—¹–œ¾™the majority of Americans to have no real capacity to influence public policy.
State and federal legislation is needed to fight corruption and unjust influence, to ensure the public's right to know where a candidate's money comes from, to enable all candidates to compete equitably in elections, and to allow maximum citizen participation in the political process.
Rock the Vote believes that the McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance Reform Bill, in its current state, should be the first piece of legislation signed into law in 2001.
Bolder approaches could include: reducing the duration of political campaigns; requiring television and radio stations to air campaign advertising free of charge as a condition for maintaining their broadcast licenses; barring campaign advertising from the airwaves altogether; or placing strict limits on the amounts of money that can be spent by candidates and any and all of their supporters.
Rock the Vote supports passing comprehensive legislation for meaningful campaign finance reform.
VOTER INTIMIDATION AND FRAUD
It is a crime to impede or interfere with an individual's right to vote, or to intimidating anyone desiring to exercise the right to vote. The exclusion of younger people and people of color from voting has been well documented, and thus their fundamental right to vote has been violated.
Actions to either coerce or intimidate voters as they attempt to vote should not be tolerated. Election officials must refuse to allow any effort to suppress youth voter turnout or turnout in communities of color.
Rock the Vote supports investigating reports of voter intimidation and fraud, and implementing procedures to prevent future occurrences.
VOTER REGISTRATION AND VOTING PROCEDURES
Current voting procedures are awkward and outdated. Barriers to voter registration, long lines, limited hours, lack of information, and antiquated technologies prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote. Ballots and administrative procedures vary from state to state and even from county to county, creating potential for confusion, discrepancies, and irregularities. We must use our latest advances in technology to make voting as accurate, convenient and accessible as possible while ensuring the safety of a person's vote and the integrity of the entire process.
Rock the Vote supports improving procedures and technologies to remove barriers to voter registration and increase access to voting, including: same day voter registration, fully electronic voter registration, expanded voting hours, early voting, on-line voting, and mail-in ballot voting. In addition, states not in full compliance with the "Motor Voter" law need to completely implement those legal requirements, and colleges and universities must be held accountable for voter registration responsibilities dictated by the Higher Education Act of 1998.
FELONY VOTER DISENFRANCHISEMENT
An estimated 3.9 million Americans, or one in fifty adults, have lost their voting rights as a result of a felony conviction, often for first-time drug offenses. The level of felony voting disenfranchisement in the U.S. is far greater than in any other nation, and has serious implications for the democratic process and racial inclusion.
In the state of California alone, approximately 37,000 non-violent first and second time drug offenders are incarcerated and thus disenfranchised. 57% of these are black; 23% are Hispanic; and 20% are white.
A person who has served their time and is required to live under the laws of our nation should be allowed to vote. In order to insure full racial and class inclusion in the democratic process, policymakers on the state and federal level need to recognize the connection between law enforcement practices, discrimination, and voter disenfranchisement.
Rock the Vote supports ending voter disenfranchisement of non-violent felons and released felons.
THIRD PARTY AND INDEPENDENT CANDIDATES
There are laws in place that are specifically designed to limit prospects for new and alternative parties, and work only to the advantage of the two major parties. Third party and independent candidates often fail to meet burdensome fee and signature requirements to qualify for ballot access, and thus are shut out of competition.
Third party and independent candidates make important contributions to American politics, and their voices should not be suppressed.
Rock the Vote supports removing restrictions that unfairly affect the ability of third party and independent candidates to qualify for an election.
Many young people are being excluded from the political process due to inadequate civic education. In no other election in recent history has the importance of each citizen's vote been so clearly illustrated. We have an opportunity to galvanize young people by providing them with information and access in order to exercise and value their civic responsibilities.
Although voting is an essential part of being an active citizen, it is not the only way to express an opinion about an issue or a political leader. Young people need to be informed about how they can create positive change in their lives and their communities.
We must fully execute the civic mission of our educational system.