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Proposed U. S. Constitutional Amendment

In anticipation of the day when Congress will finally yield to pressure from the voters to improve the way in which Presidents are elected, here is the wording of a Constitutional Amendment that specifies how Presidents and Vice Presidents should be elected for fair results. Each section of this proposed amendment is preceded by an explanation of what the section accomplishes.

Improvements in voting methods will certainly not begin with a Constitutional Amendment. Instead, improvements in voting methods will begin at the local level and slowly gain popularity until finally, perhaps a half-century into the current millennium, voters in the United States will insist on adopting fair methods of voting that reduce the influence of money on Presidential election results.

(Elections for U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives are controlled by state laws, not the U.S. Constitution. See the Congressmen page for a sample wording that could be used in a state's laws to elect members of Congress in ways that are fair.)

 

The first section of this amendment implements order-of-preference voting for political parties. Other sections in the amendment explain how the results are used to limit the number of candidates from each party according to the popularity of the political party.

The first section also prevents political parties from becoming forums for religious, racial, and gender conflicts. For example, the following exclusive political parties would not be allowed: the Christian Democratic party, the Jewish party, the Women's party, the African American party, the Hispanic party, and the Brown Shirt party. In contrast, political parties that appeal to multiple groups of religious, gender-based, and racial groups would be allowed. Examples of such non-exclusive parties might be the Southern Democratic party, the Family Values party, the Free Choice party, the Environmental party, and the Proportional Representation party.

Section 1. Each year at least nine months in advance of an election involving the election of a President, Senator, or Representative, and not more than sixteen months in advance of such an election, all voters in all states shall be allowed to use ballots or voting methods to indicate their order of preference for political parties using the method described in Section 3 of this Amendment. Any political party that has at least one Senator or Representative in Congress shall appear in all states in the list of political parties to be ranked. On the ballots in a state the list of political parties can include the names of additional political parties that meet requirements specified by the legislature of that state. The political-party preference information on the ballots in each state shall be used as described in Section 7 of this Amendment to identify the nationwide level of representativeness of each political party.
In any election involving a candidate for President, Vice President, Senator, or Representative, the name of a political party shall not appear anywhere on the ballot if, in any election for any federal or state office, the political party in any way discourages the participation of prospective candidates within the political party based on religion, gender, race, or physical appearance. The absence of significant participation by citizens whose religion, gender, or race is already heavily represented in Congress shall not be regarded as discouragement. Each state legislature shall be allowed to omit the name of a political party from the ballots in that state for reasons of discouragement if that decision does not violate a judgment from the Supreme Court, which shall have final jurisdiction regarding such cases. This provision shall not be used in any way to prevent any person or any religious, gender-based, or racial group from using free speech to promote any political party.

The second section explains how the President and Vice President are elected using order-of-preference ballots and VoteFair ranking. It also explains how many Presidential candidates each political party can have, based on the popularity of the political party. Most significantly, the two most popular political parties would be allowed to have two Presidential candidates each.

Section 2. The state legislatures shall provide for voters to elect the President and Vice President using ballots or voting methods in which each voter indicates their order of preference for Presidential candidates and their associated Vice Presidential candidates using the method described in Section 3 of this Amendment. Each choice shall consist of one Presidential candidate and one associated Vice Presidential candidate. The name of a Presidential candidate can appear only once in the list of choices. A Vice Presidential candidate can be associated with more than one Presidential candidate. The choices in the list shall be the same in every state except that the order can change. Presidential candidates who are not affiliated with any political party and write-in candidate names shall not be accommodated.
The nationwide first-most representative political party and the nationwide second-most representative political party shall be allowed to have two Presidential candidates each. The nationwide third-most representative, fourth-most representative, and fifth-most representative political parties shall be allowed to have one Presidential candidate each. Less-representative political parties shall not be allowed to have a Presidential candidate. The House of Representatives can, by a two-thirds majority vote, allow an additional number of Presidential candidates for political parties at any specified representativeness levels provided that a less-representative political party is not allowed more candidates than a more-representative political party.
The Presidential and Vice Presidential preference information on the ballots in each state shall be combined according to the method described in Section 4 of this Amendment to create a Presidential VoteFair tally table for each state, with each choice being the combination of a Presidential candidate and the associated Vice Presidential candidate. The Presidential VoteFair tally tables from all the states shall be combined to create a nationwide Presidential VoteFair tally table according to the method described in Section 5 of this Amendment. Based on the numbers in the nationwide Presidential VoteFair tally table the nationwide order of preference for the choices of President and Vice President shall be determined using VoteFair ranking as described in Section 6 of this Amendment. The choice for President and Vice President that is at the nationwide highest level of preference shall become the next President and Vice President respectively.
If a nationwide Presidential order-of-preference result contains a tie for the most-preferred choice, the highest court in each state shall have jurisdiction over the recounting and checking of votes in that state, and the Supreme Court shall have jurisdiction over validating any adjustments declared by those state courts. If an exact tie persists, the Supreme Court shall resolve the tie by generating and introducing into the nationwide VoteFair tally table a single order-of-preference vote that contains no ties and does not alter the overall order of preference except to eliminate all ties.

The third section explains the rules for implementing order-of-preference voting.

Section 3. For any race in which order-of-preference voting is required by this Amendment, the state legislatures shall allow all voters to indicate their first preference, second preference, third preference, and so on, for all the choices in the race. A voter shall be allowed to indicate a different preference level for each choice in the race. A voter shall be allowed to indicate ties among any choices. The order of choices on any ballot shall not be influenced by any request from any political party.
Ballots and voting methods shall be designed to make it difficult for voters to unintentionally indicate preference levels in ways that are ambiguous. If a voter assigns the same choice to more than one preference level, the highest indicated preference level for that choice shall be used. If a voter does not assign a choice to any preference level, the lowest preference level, below the preference levels of all the assigned choices, shall be used. On any ballot or any combination of ballots the skipping of preference levels and the shifting of choices to higher or lower preference levels without changing the relative preferences shall have no effect on the outcome of the election. Valid preference information shall not be ignored because of incorrect markings elsewhere on the ballot.
Congress shall enact legislation as needed to ensure that all citizens who choose in advance of an election not to go to their polling place are allowed to vote by mail in a way that does not require tools beyond a pen or pencil. If electronic equipment is used at polling places for electing the President and Vice President, during the first fourteen years of using such equipment any voter must be allowed to request that the equipment produce a filled-out printed ballot that the voter can read to verify the complete correctness of the ballot and that the voter can place in a ballot box from which printed ballots are counted.

The fourth section explains how to combine order-of-preference votes into a VoteFair tally table.

Section 4. A VoteFair tally table shall list every possible combination of two choices. For each combination of two choices, the VoteFair tally table shall indicate the number of voters who prefer the first of the two choices over the second choice, the number of voters who indicate no preference between the two choices, and the number of voters who prefer the second of the two choices over the first choice. The sum of the three numbers that apply to each pair of choices shall equal the number of voters who cast valid votes in that race. All the numbers used in all VoteFair tally tables shall be made available to the public.

The fifth section explains how electoral votes — but NOT an Electoral College — would be used as the basis for balancing the influence between states. The use of electoral votes reduces the unfair effects of regional bad weather and state-based political manipulations.

Section 5. For a race in which state-level VoteFair tally tables are to be combined into a nationwide VoteFair tally table, a nationwide VoteFair tally table shall be calculated using electoral votes with each state having the number of electoral votes equal to one more than the number of Representatives from that state. Each number in a state's VoteFair tally table shall be multiplied by the number of electoral votes assigned to that state, and then the resulting number shall be divided by the number of valid votes cast in that race in that state, and all significant decimal digits shall be retained. The respective numbers in each state's modified VoteFair tally table shall be added to produce a nationwide VoteFair tally table for the race, and all significant decimal digits shall be retained.

The sixth section explains VoteFair ranking, which is a calculation method that converts a VoteFair tally table into an overall order-of-preference result.

Section 6. The overall order of preference for any race shall be calculated using VoteFair ranking as described in the remainder of this section. Based on the numbers in the VoteFair tally table, every possible sequence of choices shall be considered and a preference rating shall be calculated for each such sequence. The preference rating for a sequence shall equal the sum of the applicable tally numbers for each pair combination, which means that if there are three choices labeled A, B, and C, the preference rating for the sequence of B being the first overall preference, C being the second overall preference, and A being the third overall preference equals the number of voters who prefer B over C, plus the number of voters who prefer B over A, plus the number of voters who prefer C over A. The sequence that has the highest preference rating shall indicate the overall order of preference expressed by the voters. If more than one sequence has the same highest preference rating, the overall order of preference contains at least one tie and the tied choices and their preference levels shall be identified. Each such calculated overall order of preference shall be made available to the public.

The seventh section explains how the nationwide popularity — called representativeness — for each political party is determined. The most representative party is the one with the highest order-of-preference ranking as determined using VoteFair ranking. Determining the second-most representative party involves reducing the influence of the voters who are already well-represented by the party regarded as the most representative.

Section 7. The nationwide level of representativeness for each political party shall be determined using the method described in the remainder of this section. The political-party preference information on the ballots in each state shall be combined according to the method described in Section 4 of this Amendment to create a political-party VoteFair tally table for each state. The political-party VoteFair tally tables from all the states shall be combined to create a nationwide political-party VoteFair tally table according to the method described in Section 5 of this Amendment including the use of electoral votes. Based on the numbers in the nationwide political-party VoteFair tally table, the nationwide overall order of preference for political parties shall be determined using VoteFair ranking as described in Section 6 of this Amendment.
The nationwide first-most representative political party shall be the political party at the nationwide highest overall order of preference based on VoteFair ranking.
The nationwide second-most representative political party shall be identified using the following steps. First, identify the ballots on which the first-most representative party is ranked as the voter's first choice. Second, using only the ballots that are not identified in the first step, and excluding preference information about the political party identified as the first-most representative party, use the methods described in Sections 4, 5, and 6 to identify a new most-preferred political party. Third, again consider all the ballots. Fourth, identify the ballots on which the first-most representative political party is preferred over the political party identified in the second step. (This step identifies the ballots of voters who are already well-represented by the first-most representative party.) Fifth, calculate a number equal to the number of ballots identified in the fourth step minus half the total number of ballots. Sixth, calculate a reduced-influence scale number that is equal to the number calculated in the fifth step divided by the number of ballots identified in the fourth step, and retain all significant digits. Seventh, again consider all the ballots. Eighth, for each ballot identified in the fourth step use a partial vote equal to the reduced-influence scale number, and for each ballot not identified in the fourth step use one full vote. Ninth, based on the reduction of influence of some ballots as described in the eighth step, and using a corresponding adjustment in the total number of ballots, and excluding the first-most representative political party from consideration, use the methods described in Sections 4, 5, and 6 to identify a new most-preferred political party. Finally, identify this new most-preferred political party as the second-most representative political party.
The nationwide third-most, fifth-most, and seventh-most representative political parties shall be identified using the same method used to identify the first-most representative political party except that the political parties already identified as more representative shall be removed from consideration and only the remaining voter preferences shall be considered.
The nationwide fourth-most, sixth-most, and eighth-most representative political parties shall be identified using the same method used to identify the second-most representative political party except that the political parties already identified as more representative shall be removed from consideration and the next-most representative political party shall take the place of the first-most representative political party when identifying which ballots shall have reduced influence.
If a tie occurs at any step in identifying the nationwide level of representativeness for each political party, the tie shall be resolved using the method described in Section 2 for resolving a tie among Presidential candidates

The eighth section deals with the election of Senators rather than Presidents. It allows a state to elect both of their Senators in the same year, which the Constitution currently does not allow. The proposed state laws provide two fair ways to elect Senators and one of those ways would require this change.

Section 8. A state shall be permitted to elect both of its Senators in the same year. A state can elect a Senator to a two-year or four-year term for the purpose of electing their Senators in the same year, or for the purpose of again electing their Senators in different years. Such shortened terms can be delayed by the Senate for the purpose of ensuring that approximately one third of all the Senators are elected in each even-numbered year. Senators who are in office at the time this Amendment takes effect shall serve their full term.

© Copyright 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005 by Richard Fobes, author of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections and The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox. Permission to publish this proposed Constitutional Amendment is hereby given if this copyright notice remains attached. Permission to use this proposed Constitutional Amendment, or any portion of it, in any nation's constitution is hereby granted unconditionally.

 

 


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