Voter Choice Electoral Reform and Term Limits

I support the growing movement, from across the political spectrum, to reform how Americans elect our members of Congress.

The current system that we’ve inherited by tradition, where voters simply select a single candidate, has many avoidable defects and leads to a less representative and less accountable legislature. In elections with more than two candidates, it can produce a winner whom most voters would never vote for. Because of these fears of splitting the vote, it creates strong incentives for a two-party-only system. It compels voters to vote against the candidate they most fear instead of for the candidate that best represents them.

Article One of the Constitution provides that “The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations.” It is under this power that Congress provides for many things about its elections that aren’t specified by the Constitution, such as the rule that states must be divided into districts that each elect one Representative.

If elected, I wound introduce legislation under this power, providing that all elections for House and Senate shall use ranked choice voting, and I would encourage Wisconsin and other states to do the same for lower offices. America needs a Congress that accurately represents the will of the voters, including the full diversity of their views. With the popularity of the two-party system at an all-time low, we need to seriously consider systematic alternatives to break up the Democratic-Republican duopoly.

Many cities have already adopted instant runoff voting for municipal offices, including Minneapolis, and some states are considering adopting it across the board, including Maine. The move for electoral reform, is probably the least remarked-upon trend, that has the greatest potential to reshape American politics in the years to come.

I would also seek the passage of legislation to provide for equality and fairness in ballot access laws. Existing policies in some states provide huge advantages to members of the two largest parties, while imposing outrageous burdens on third-party and independent candidates. Written by and for Republicans and Democrats, America’s ballot access laws are some of the worst in the world. My legislation would limit how burdensome states can make the process of getting a candidate on the ballot, and provide that all such laws must apply equally to all candidates regardless of partisan affiliation.

When it comes to Presidential elections, the Constitution gives no such power to Congress. Instead, the states have the plenary power to select their members of the Electoral College however they wish. This system, too, has lead to unintended consequences, chief among them the unsightly spectacle of Presidents taking office despite earning fewer votes than their opponent.

A number of states have proposed to fix this by agreeing among themselves to award their Electoral Votes to the national popular vote winner, once such states together control a majority of the Electoral College. I support this plan, known as the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. If a proposed amendment to the Constitution came before the House to do the same thing directly without this workaround, it would also have my vote.

Finally, I stand with the solid majority of Americans who believe that term limits should be imposed on Congress, as we have already imposed on most of our state governments.

Career politicians aren’t just an opening for corruption. Multi-decade members of Congress, who act to strengthen the favoritism and protectionism for incumbents, also undermine a key part of our constitutional structure. Elections to the House of Representatives are frequent, every two years, in order to provide an effective and responsive feedback loop between the people and their lawmakers. When the turnover of senior leadership, and effective power, takes two or three decades, the purpose of having elections every two years is defeated. Therefore, I support the proposal for a constitutional amendment that would limit terms in either House of Congress to twelve years.

We support election systems that are more representative of the electorate at the federal, state and local levels. As private voluntary groups, political parties should be allowed to establish their own rules for nomination procedures, primaries and conventions. We call for an end to any tax-financed subsidies to candidates or parties and the repeal of all laws which restrict voluntary financing of election campaigns. We oppose laws that effectively exclude alternative candidates and parties, deny ballot access, gerrymander districts, or deny the voters their right to consider all legitimate alternatives. We advocate initiative, referendum, recall and repeal when used as popular checks on government. – Platform of the Libertarian Party