Saturday, January 5, 2008

Nationwide Direct Election of the President with Instant Runoff Vote

An electoral college is a body of electors who are expected to deliberate and to elect a candidate to a particular office. The United States’ Electoral College no longer performs a meaningful deliberative function in electing the President. Most U.S. Citizens no longer want it. There are several important benefits from retiring the Electoral College and electing the President and Vice-President by nationwide vote:
1. It will no longer be possible for a loser of the popular vote to win the election.
2. It will count all votes equally instead of wasting or exaggerating votes in safe States.
3. It will avoid any built-in bias for one political party over another.
4. It will reduce any risk of polling errors, which might cause an election controversy.
The instant runoff system will ensure that:
1. The winner wins by an absolute majority of all votes cast.
2. Voters can express their support for a candidate they like but whose chances of winning are low, while not wasting their vote.
Implementation will take time, so if the States ratify the Amendment within a year before the next election, implementation should be postponed.

1. Article II, Section 1 and Amendment 12 of the U.S. Constitution shall be, and hereby are, amended that: “The people of the United States shall choose their President and Vice President by nationwide direct election with instant runoff voting to ensure that they win by a majority of all votes cast. There shall be no Electoral College.”
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the People’s nationwide Initiative.
3. Implementation of this article shall be postponed for one year if the next election follows ratification by less than one year.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Term Limits for Congress

In the early years of this Republic, congresspersons limited themselves to one or two terms. The Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution in this traditional context. Increasingly through the last century, congresspersons have sought to retain their power and perquisites of office. Today, many enjoy considerable support by special interests and almost permanent reelection.
State governments recognize the dangers of unlimited congressional terms. A key risk is that special interests will gain excessive influence over long-term office-holders. Until 1995, twenty-two States set term limits for their congressional representatives. The great majority limited representatives to three terms and senators to two terms.
Undoubtedly, other states would later have done likewise. However, in 1995, the Supreme Court's five-to-four decision (U.S. Term Limits v Thornton) determined that states do not have the authority to limit the terms of their Congresspersons—only the U.S. Constitution has this authority.
Congress recognizes the dangers of continuous reelection. In 1947, Congress proposed and the States ratified Amendment 22 limiting the President to two four-year terms. However, ignoring the wishes of the States and the People, Congress is unwilling to propose a Constitutional Amendment setting congressional term limits.
The People therefore propose a Constitutional Direct Initiative for limits on congressional terms. The States' legislative limits are retained. Subsequent ratification by three-fourths of the States will make it part of the Constitution.
1. No person shall be elected or appointed to the U.S. Congress if the election or appointment could permit that person to serve for more than three terms in the House and more than two terms in the Senate.
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States by the People’s nationwide Initiative.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Merit Pay for Congress

EXPLANATION: The objective is to link congressional merit rewards to Congress's job performance. Merit pay techniques are successfully used throughout business management to align employee and employer objectives. Since congresspersons rely heavily on their staffs, all staff reporting to congresspersons must be included in the system. Often the consequences of Congress’s actions are not apparent until years later, so this must be a deferred incentive. Each Congress has a two-year term. A reasonable time for the quality of the Congress to become apparent is about four years. Since voters can see the overall results but are not privy to the internal workings of Congress, evaluation should be of the entire Congress.
Congresspersons’ performance grade will be a matter for pride or embarrassment. A bonus of one-third of their income is reasonable to help focus attention on their obligation to serve the people.
DRAFT OF PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE DIRECT INITIATIVE: Starting next January 1, the U.S. Government shall withhold one sixth of the pretax incomes of each member of both Houses of Congress and of the staff reporting to each member. If making a withhold is legally impossible for some persons, those affected shall be excluded temporarily and Congress shall promptly clear the impediments. Congress shall not increase remuneration to compensate for this withholding. The Government shall place withholds into a merit pool. The people through their government shall match the withholds, thereby doubling the pool to about one third of the participants' income. The Government shall invest the pool in treasuries and add interest income to the pool.
At each General Election, the Electorate shall vote on how they think the Congress that existed four years ago had performed. The ballot shall show 11 grades of performance from “A+” to “D” corresponding to merit payment from 100 percent of the pool to zero. The nationwide average percentage times the merit pool shall be used to compute the total merit pay. The average percentage shall be rounded to the nearest ten percentile to determine the average grade. The current Congress shall distribute the total merit pay to the participants prorated on the amount originally withheld from each participant. All undistributed funds shall return to the government.