The ongoing debate over election integrity is increasingly complicated and confusing to most Americans. The whole issue is shrouded in murky statistics and technical jibberish about computers most of us do not understand. As average citizens, we should not need to understand it.
Part of the problem is that the national debate has confused the criteria of a free and fair election with the mechanics of it. We need to separate out these two ideas, and put them in their proper place. The criteria of a good election relate to the very dogma of democracy itself, and therefore belongs to a debate in the sphere of Constitutional amendment. The actual technology employed to meet those criteria are properly the place of legislation.
Hence, Call to Liberty has initiated the Free and Fair Elections Campaign, an effort to pass the following constitutional amendment, which we call the Free and Fair Elections Amendment:
“A well-regulated election, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to an audited, voter-verified, certified paper record of the vote, shall not be infringed.”
Essentially, the amendment proposes four clear criteria that any electoral system must meet, whether state, municipal, or federal, in order to be constitutional. The criteria are:
- Audited: We must be able to audit the election thoroughly.
- Voter-verified: The voter must be able to verify that the permanent record of his or her vote reflects the voter’s intention.
- Certified: The process must be certified at interim steps ahead of the results being known.
- Paper: Records and ballots must be paper so as to enable all citizens to have access to the content and examination of those records, not just technical experts.
Any electoral system that does not meet these standards is unconstitutional, and the administering government would have to correct the problem.
The exceptional brevity of this constitutional amendment, and its focus on criteria rather than details, allows all citizens to enter the debate: What makes for a good election? The constitution is silent on this issue, and the Free and Fair Elections Amendment can fill the gap. Even though there is an urgency to the issue for 2008, free and fair elections is a large, extensive debate we must have to improve the quality of our democracy. Legislation is necessary, but not sufficient, to improve self-government. We need both. More information is available at www.freeandfairelections.org.