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Election 2006 State Legislature Races – An important Reminder to Democrats and Progressives

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One thing of which many Democrats have been guilty is not paying enough attention to races for state legislature. Over the years, I have heard a lot of people say things along the lines of “I just vote for President, Senate and House (and maybe the Governor) and leave the rest blank”. Somewhere along the way, this attitude has allowed the GOP to gain control of one or more houses in state legislatures in areas that are otherwise more evenly divided among the parties or are outright Democratic strongholds. Because state legislatures have tremendous power to determine the rules regarding how elections are held, this has had a serious negative effect on the conduct of elections.

For their part, Democratic candidates for state legislatures should articulate plans for revamping the laws in their states regarding elections such as:

1. All Electronic Voting Machines should have a verifiable paper trail or they should not be used. Voters should be given a receipt with a number that can be compared with a vote database in the event of a recount so there is no doubt that their vote was tabulated correctly. During the recount, complete tables of votes should be published that include the above vote number and the candidate chosen in each race.
2. Voters should be allowed to vote by provisional ballot for all races in any precinct in the state in which they live. Identification requirements should be minimal. Voters should be required to enter their name, address and Social Security number and a signature. That should be adequate to deter fraud. If there is still a concern, vote fraud penalties should be increased to a minimum of seven years in prison with no parole.
3. A quick, but thorough recount process that specifies a complete manual recount of all precincts and counties. No race should be allowed to be certified and no electors can be sent to Washington DC until the completion of the recount process.
4. Felons should automatically be re-enfranchised upon their release from prison.
5. Governors should not be permitted to remove local supervisors of elections at their whim. Their removal should entail an impeachment process by the state legislature.
6. All individuals involved in the conduct of an election should be fingerprinted in advance and their fingerprints put on file with the FBI. The same goes for any and all vendors involved with handling election machines.
7. All programming code associated with election machines should be made public. During a recount, candidates and local party officials should have the right to independent forensic investigation of voting machines and their programming code. As specified in item #3 above, this must be completed prior to certification and any electors being sent to Washington DC.

Thoughtful state representatives and state senators can probably think of some more good laws regarding elections. The point is to get good Democrats elected so that they can implement them. Our country should be the model of how democratic elections are conducted. There is no reason why our elections cannot be conducted in an accurate, transparent and fair manner that gives complete assurance to everyone as to their results. The people of this country deserve no less.

Remember – MAKE SURE you vote for your Democratic candidates for state legislature. You will thank me and yourself later.
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A political blogger for the International Business Times, Steve Leser is a hot national political pundit. He has appeared on MSNBC's Coundown with Keith Olbermann, Comedy Central's Daily Show with Jon Stewart and Russia Today's (RT) Crosstalk with (more...)
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