New -- 6 September 2003
The current election process in the United States violates the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution for the United States of America.
It does so by:
The "Case for Free Elections" is conceived as a legal challenge to the current election system, and as an attempt to redress the gross inequities of the system of Counting Votes, Redistricting, and the many and sundry biased laws governing elections.
The means by which such a case might be argued before a court is to provide an alternative plan which provides for the first time equal protection under the law for all citizens in voting, having access to the ballot, and allowing the means whereby individuals may have the full range of choices in their governmental representatives.
vvv All voting precincts in the United States would be required to have identical electronic voting machines which provide a printout of each voter's choices -- said printout being used for that voter's review prior to submitting the printout to the election judge(s) -- and which printouts can be maintained thereafter in a secure location for purposes of recounting as necessary.
vvv Recounts would be required in all cases where any candidate or issue advocate -- for whatever reason -- demands it, and furthermore, the recounting process must be open to any and all vested interests by their being able to review to their satisfaction the accuracy of the vote recount. No court or other authority will be allowed to stop, delay, or interfere with the recounting of votes for any race, issue, or office.
vvv All electronic voting machines would provide for Multiple Choices of all candidates, races, offices, and issues. This would require the form of the ballot such that the voter could rank in order of the voter's preference any group of three of more choices, candidates, or options. If no candidate or choice received greater than 50% of the votes cast, second, third and additional choices would be used in a step wise fashion in order to best determine the people's collective choice. 
vvv Any individual can become a qualified candidate with full access to the ballot -- and placed on the ballot in inverse alphabetical order of the candidates' last names -- and/or any issue be included on the ballot, all by petition or prior voting. Full access to the ballot is by either petition or as the candidate of choice of a qualified political party with a prior record of voting in the appropriate, most recent election. Any petition to place an individual as a candidate or an issue on the ballot requires the signatures of registered voters to total more than 0.1% of the most recent vote count for the largest political entity involved. A qualified political party is not required to submit such a petition as long as the votes received in the last election and which included the specific office under question constituted in excess of 0.1% of the most recent vote count for that largest political entity. The largest political entity is the largest body of which the voters for a particular elected office are registered voters. If a party or petition qualified for one office, all other equivalent or lesser offices would also be covered. 
vvv All redistricting of Congressional and other districts would be based upon the previous four congressional elections, and would rely on a precinct by precinct analysis in order to place each precinct in as nearly a contiguous area as possible, and simultaneously combine similar voting patterns. This might result in some districts being very heavily in favor of one political party or philosophy -- but this would also more accurately reflect a more accurate representation of a candidate or congressman for their particular district. This may result in few close elections -- other than perhaps in a party primary -- but the Multiple Choice option also allows for a large number of candidates to challenge an incumbent or the reigning political party favorite, and thereby overturn the status quo.
 For example, assume that there are eight candidates with the following numbers of votes cast:
Additional Vote Phase -- If no candidate or issue option received in excess of 50% of the total vote, second place votes would be added to the first place vote totals. If this did not provide a 50% majority for one issue or candidate, third choice votes would be added to the total, and so forth until the total vote count provided a 50% majority winner. The moment one issue of candidate received more than 50% of the vote, they would be declared the winner -- subject, of course, to a recount of all levels of votes (first vote, second, and so on). This method would place a premium on those voters not ranking any candidate which that particular voter did not want under any circumstances -- in effect a no vote for that candidate(s).
If after all ranked votes had been tabulated, a single candidate or issue did not receive in excess of 50% of the vote, the lowest ranking candidate would be eliminated.
In the example above -- based on the idea that the vote tallies shown are those of all ranked votes -- George would be eliminated. The entire process -- the Additional Vote Phase -- would then be repeated with the remaining seven candidates. In this case, the second place votes of George would now be construed as first place votes for whichever other candidate each of George's supporters chose as their second choice.
Note that the process is continuing with the seven remaining candidates of first counting first rank votes to find a majority, then if no majority, second rank votes, and so forth. If after that still no majority is found, then another candidate is eliminated.
Assume that the new results of the total of all votes cast are:
Note that 275 of George's votes are redistributed, while 25 who did not rank anyone below George -- obviously diehards for George. Their no votes then no longer add.
Because no one has received in excess of 50% of the votes, Deborah is eliminated, and again the Additional Vote Phase is reinstituted with the six remaining candidates.
This step wise procedure continues, alternating between the Additional Vote Phase and the elimination of one candidate at a time, until one candidate receives a majority of the votes still in play. This latter stipulation notes that as candidates are eliminated, and the voters' choices are eliminated with it, the remaining no votes will slowly reduce the total number of votes upon which the majority is based. For example, after the elimination of George, the total vote -- which the winning candidate must receive more than 50% of -- is reduced by 25 votes (from 112,500 votes to 112,475 votes). This implies that the in excess of 50% correlates with (initially) 56,251 votes and (after George's elimination) 56,238 votes. Similarly, if all of Deborah's supporters voted only for Deborah, and listed no other candidate as second and third choices, the new vote total would be (112,475 - 3,600) 108,875, and the required majority would be 54,438.
Note the importance of a voter not necessarily ranking all eight candidates. [Perhaps because the candidate is in fact quite rank.] It is perfectly legal and valid to vote for fewer than eight (including one or none), and thereby specifically not vote for any candidate the voter does not want to see in office under any circumstances. Not voting for all candidates does not reduce in any way the validity of the vote, nor can such a lack of action on the part of the voter subject the voter's ballot to be thrown out in part or in whole. In fact, a large percentage of no votes could serve to suggest to a winning candidate that there is a substantial minority which opposes his or her views.
 Specifically, to be a qualified presidential candidate and listed on the ballot of every state of the union would require a petition or prior presidential election result of 0.1% of the total vote in the entire nation for president. (Some individual States might have zero petitioners or prior votes, as long as the total nationwide exceeded the 0.1% mark.) If 100 million votes were cast in the last election, then the petition or previous vote requirement would be more than 100,000, nationwide. In U. S. Senate, State Governors and other state-wide elected offices, the 0.1% would be based on the number of voters in the State. The U. S. Congress candidates' numbers would be based on that congressional district's latest total vote. The process continues down to the precinct level as necessary for precinct wide races and/or issues.
Note that, if a party qualified for a Presidential election, that party would be qualified for all other elections. If a party qualified for a congressional district, but not a state office, then only the congressional district and lesser entities would be constitute a qualification. Any other higher offices would require another and more inclusive petition.
Due to the Election Primary/Caucus system in the United States, the vast majority of the citizenry does not have an equal opportunity to vote for the candidates of their choice. Even with a dozen candidates originally in the field, by the time most voters have an opportunity to vote a presidential candidate has already been chosen. Furthermore, a huge percentage of the delegates to the conventions where such choices are made are selected not by the electorate, but by party leaders.
In Senate and House races, the primaries are often restricted to those voters who have already declared themselves as a party member. Furthermore, multiple choices of a particular party are often eliminated, even when strong candidates -- who are by far the best second choice -- fail to garner enough first place votes.
So-called "Third Party" candidates are routinely eliminated in elections in favor of a two party system which allows only the party choices of the Republican or Democratic Parties. These candidates have virtually no chance of receiving any votes if it is perceived that they have no "realistic chance to win". Furthermore, when third party candidates do have an impact, it is often in the form of changing the outcome of the election from a more favored candidate to a less favored one.
The Presidential election of 2000 in the State of Florida is the best example of this when those voting for Ralph Nader accomplished nothing more than probably costing Al Gore the Presidency. Thus, while Gore might have been the overwhelming second choice after Nader, this preference was effectively ignored. In effect, those people voting for Ralph Nadar were denied equal protection of the law by having their voting preferences construed in a manner contrary to their wishes. Such a case of third party candidates throwing the election one way or the other is not restricted to this particular case, but in fact happens regularly at every level of elective office.
A critically important additional point is that if a third party candidate is perceived as having no chance to win, that candidate does not receive the votes of people who would prefer that candidate but are concerned that in voting for their choice, they are denying their second choice the opportunity to win. In the California recall election, for example, someone wanting to vote for Gary Coleman will likely be doing so as purely a protest -- not expecting Gary to have any chance of actually winning. But many others who would vote for Gary may not do so because of the idea of "throwing their votes away." The voters are denied equal protection in being allowed to vote for Gary (or for their choice) and at the same time, not having their vote count with respect to second and third choices.
The fact that numerous qualified candidates for the California Governorship Recall election did not file -- or later dropped out -- is because their presence might deny someone they would consider their own second choice the opportunity to win the election. If on the other hand, everyone in the race was simply ranked by the voters in their preference, then the so-called "problem of electability" would be eliminated, and the will of the people would be more accurately reflected in the final result.
Any lack of an opportunity for more than two candidates to receive votes -- based on the realistic evaluation of their chances -- is contrary to Equal Protection.
Getting on the ballot is also a critical factor, and variations or extreme difficulties posed for members of any party other than the Republican and Democratic Parties -- is also a violation of the Equal Protection guaranteed by the Constitution. The critical factor is that all states and other governmental authorities must adhere to the same standards nationwide in order for there to be equal protection under the law for the citizens of all states.
Redistricting and Gerrymandering is intended to draw congressional district and other political lines so as to ensure narrow advantages of one party over the other. With greater choices in the candidates on the ballot, a more accurate picture of a voting district's true preferences can be obtained. This may help to reduce the incentive for temporarily empowered political parties to redraw district lines in order to favor their party. Multiple parties with viable chances to win an election can make a huge difference.
The distinction between eligible and registered voters would also become less distinct once eligible voters realize that they actually have viable choices.
2003© Copyright Dan Sewell Ward, All Rights Reserved [Feedback]