Senator: citizens should be given direct power to select nominees and elect the president
March 27, 2008
Nelson, who sued his own party in a failed effort to force the Democratic National Committee to recognize
"This election has provided further evidence that our system is broken," Nelson said, referring to the fact that Florida’s primary, in which a record 3.6 million voters turned out, is not being counted by the Democratic Party and only being counted half by the GOP.
He told lawmakers his bill would establish six, rotating interregional primaries and “give citizens the direct power to elect the president.” The bill would also require early voting in every state, a paper trail for every ballot and the availability of absentee ballots on demand for all voters. It would also set up grants to develop pilot projects on mail-in and Internet voting.
More specifically, the election-reform package would:
· Abolish the Electoral College - A resolution for a constitutional amendment will be filed to abolish the Electoral College and allow direct election of the president by popular vote. If the principle of one-person, one vote is to mean anything, the candidate who wins a majority of the votes should win the presidency.
· Establish rotating interregional primaries - The 2008 presidential election has demonstrated that our primary system is broken and must be fixed. The legislation will provide rationality and fairness to the process of selecting presidential nominees by establishing six primary dates beginning in March and ending in June. It will divide the nation into six regions. On each of the six dates, states from each region of the country will be represented on a rotating basis.
· Provide for nationwide early voting - Restricting voting to the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November unduly restricts many voters from getting to the polls. The bill will take what has been instituted successfully in
· Allow absentee ballots on demand - Some states still require a voter attest to an inability to get to the polls on Election Day in order to obtain an absentee ballot. The legislation would remove this barrier to voting to impose a nationwide requirement that states issue qualified voters an absentee ballot on demand.
· Improve vote verification - The legislation takes nationwide the voting technology reforms instituted last year in
· Fund pilot vote-by-mail and Internet voting - The bill would provide incentive grant programs to jurisdictions that wish to institute pilot programs for vote-by-mail elections, based on
· Establish standards for voter registration lists - Although the Help America Vote Act of 2002 required every state to establish electronic voter registration lists, the quality, accuracy and completeness of these lists vary greatly. The lists then serve as a barrier to the polls, because qualified voters are excluded due to inaccurate or incomplete lists. The bill will establish uniform criteria for voter registration lists throughout the nation.
Nelson’s push for election reform has stepped up significantly in the past eight months – since
But both national parties decided to punish
Last October, Nelson sued the Democratic National Committee and its chairman in federal district court in
More recently, Nelson asked the National Democratic Party to pay for a mail-in revote. But the party declined. Few people could agree on specifics, including the candidates themselves. He’s now asking the party to divvy up the equivalent of half of