Sunday, February 12, 2006

REPORT: Voter Owned Elections in Maine via Clean Election Fund, Echos Bioregional State Ideas, And It Works

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It works so well that the Corporate DemocratsTM seem to be attempting to defund it to remove competitive elections!

This echoes the previous post and its moral: that even when given a choice, the Democratic Party prefers to repesent private bankers over the people of a state. Instead of a party, they are acting as a shell corporation and elections "holding company". (However, I don't want to split hairs that aren't there--I think this post further shows that there is nothing substantially different from a Democratic Party in power and a Republican Party in power at this stage. They are both attempting to gatekeeping and stop electoral choice. After all Hillary Clinton and John F. Kerry both support the artificial war (profiteering) even more than Bush from the statements they have made.

Similar to what is described below, the Bioregional State suggests a form of national trust fund for clean elections on the federal level--as well as many more like Maine on the state level. And the results are immediate in terms of expanded voter choice of parties running--which is the only informal check and balance on keeping parties legitimate and contesting each other instead of colluding against the public.

It is nice to note that this Maine test of an State Elections Fund works out fine in creating this expanded voter choice. Note expanded numbers of contested elections. All they should do next is [1] turn their districts to watersheds (as mentioned in the bioregional state book and lots of more pesky details--on numerical ramification of this, etc., and what to do about scale and variety of representation, already figured out) and watch sustainabilty occur through the then "ecologically in sync" innate political feedback process.

However, one critique would be, [2], there is still nothing mentioned about the auditability of the elections in Maine. It hardly matters if elections are "clean" when the vote count can be rigged and dirtied up after the fact. In the bioregional state, paper based auditability is required. See "Article 27" of the Constitution of Sustainability, from Toward a Bioregional State. I put it directly after this interesting discussion of Maine.

NEWS/COMMENTARY: Voter Owned Elections in Maine, re 1996 Referendum Clean Election Act in Maine, now Showing Results, started in 2000, So Getting Defunded by Democratic Party of Maine in power!

trenchant quotes:

....despite continued moaning and groaning in some quarters about the squandering of taxpayer money to pay for attack ads, overblown promises and other nefarious trimmings of the standard political campaign, the reform is proving to be a big success.

The election of 2000, the first year the reform took effect [in Maine legislative elections only], showed a substantial, politically healthy increase in the number of contested legislative primaries compared to the previous election. In the general election, 33 percent of the candidates on the ballot were clean-election contenders. Two years later, that figure jumped to 62 percent, and in 2004 it was 78 percent. But success in this case is not measured in terms of its growing popularity with the politicians who have embraced it. Its real success is in cutting the traditional monetary ties that bound our elected representatives in Augusta to the special interests that paid their way there. It has given them the independence to concentrate on their obligations to the people of Maine in general, undistracted by any special sense of loyalty to deep-pockets supporters.

But if the Clean Elections Act has been successful at the legislative [i.e., only district] level, it has never really been fairly tested on a statewide basis in a race for [still moneybags driven] governor. In 2002, the first time an opportunity for such a statewide test came up, neither of the major party candidates [of course you should expect that...]-- Democrat John E. Baldacci nor Republican Peter Cianchette -- embraced the reform (although Green Independent Jonathan Carter did).

[Even given the chance, "Democrats" prefer corporate-private-banker funds in Maine!] Half of the dozen or so candidates for governor this year, including two Republicans and a Green Independent, have applied for public funding. (Unfortunately, [Democrat] Baldacci has again opted for the old-fashioned method of relying on private donations and special-interest contributions to finance his re-election campaign.)

[And the Dems are the ones killing it off!] When Baldacci and the Legislature were looking around for ways to balance the state budget a while back, they found what they regarded as a dandy little cash cow in the Clean Election Fund. So they raided it, drawing nearly $7 million from the fund to pay for other projects. They have since restored part of what they "borrowed," but there is still a balance of more than $4 million to be paid back. In other words, if the fund runs dry this year, it is not evidence of any inherent shortcoming in the clean-elections process. Rather, it is a consequence of fiscal juggling [andintentional destruction of choice] that can and should be promptly fixed by the jugglers responsible.


It should be clear by this stage that only formal institutional change will bring about greater democracy. Start thinking along those lines. And on that note, I suggest a browse of Toward A Bioregional State--at the link on your right over there --->



Voter Owned Elections in Maine
author: Jim Brunelle
e-mail: jbrune@maine.rr.com
editorial in Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc.

In a 1996 referendum, Maine voters endorsed the Clean Election Act, a groundbreaking campaign finance reform law aimed at wresting control of the ballot box away from the wealthy individuals, corporations and special interests that traditionally have supplied the cash that drives -- and often determines -- elections.


Thursday, February 09, 2006
COLUMN: Jim Brunelle

Keep it clean

Ten years ago, Maine voters put their stamp of approval on one of the better governmental bargains of our time. They reclaimed ownership of our election process.

In a 1996 referendum, voters endorsed the Clean Election Act, a groundbreaking campaign finance reform law aimed at wresting control of the ballot box away from the wealthy individuals, corporations and special interests that traditionally have supplied the cash that drives -- and often determines -- elections.

And despite continued moaning and groaning in some quarters about the squandering of taxpayer money to pay for attack ads, overblown promises and other nefarious trimmings of the standard political campaign, the reform is proving to be a big success.

The election of 2000, the first year the reform took effect, showed a substantial, politically healthy increase in the number of contested legislative primaries compared to the previous election. In the general election, 33 percent of the candidates on the ballot were clean-election contenders.

Two years later, that figure jumped to 62 percent, and in 2004 it was 78 percent.

But success in this case is not measured in terms of its growing popularity with the politicians who have embraced it. Its real success is in cutting the traditional monetary ties that bound our elected representatives in Augusta to the special interests that paid their way there.

It has given them the independence to concentrate on their obligations to the people of Maine in general, undistracted by any special sense of loyalty to deep-pockets supporters.

All we have to do is look at the current cesspool of congressional scandal precipitated by big lobbyist donations in the guise of campaign contributions to appreciate that Maine has created a system much more protective of the integrity of the election process.

Do not get me wrong. I am not suggesting that anything like the corruption being exposed in Washington, D.C., has tainted the Maine Legislature in the past.

With some exceptions, the lawmakers of this state have always been a pretty honest lot. But removing the complicating factor of private campaign financing now makes it easier to remain so.

For one thing, it means that lobbyists at the Statehouse must rely more on the power of persuasion than on any pre-existing condition of political gratitude as they approach individual lawmakers.

Conversely, legislators are better positioned to consider a bill exclusively on its merits rather than in terms of its effect on a generous campaign supporter.

But if the Clean Elections Act has been successful at the legislative level, it has never really been fairly tested on a statewide basis in a race for governor.

In 2002, the first time an opportunity for such a statewide test came up, neither of the major party candidates -- Democrat John E. Baldacci nor Republican Peter Cianchette -- embraced the reform (although Green Independent Jonathan Carter did).

This time around, there is more interest in the clean-elections approach at that level, which is encouraging but also creates a practical problem. There might not be enough money in hand to accommodate everybody who qualifies.

Half of the dozen or so candidates for governor this year, including two Republicans and a Green Independent, have applied for public funding. (Unfortunately, Baldacci has again opted for the old-fashioned method of relying on private donations and special-interest contributions to finance his re-election campaign.)

If any more than three candidates qualify for public funding -- it is not easy -- the state's Clean Election Fund is likely to run short of cash this year. That prospect may give critics fresh ammunition to attack the system, although it is both premature and unfair in this case.

The money is -- or should be -- available. It has just been diverted, that's all.

When Baldacci and the Legislature were looking around for ways to balance the state budget a while back, they found what they regarded as a dandy little cash cow in the Clean Election Fund. So they raided it, drawing nearly $7 million from the fund to pay for other projects.

They have since restored part of what they "borrowed," but there is still a balance of more than $4 million to be paid back. In other words, if the fund runs dry this year, it is not evidence of any inherent shortcoming in the clean-elections process. Rather, it is a consequence of fiscal juggling that can and should be promptly fixed by the jugglers responsible.

In Maine, campaign-finance reform is working well. The trick now is to keep it moving briskly forward under the weight of its success.

Jim Brunelle is a weekly columnist and has been commenting on Maine issues for more than 40 years. He lives in Cape Elizabeth and can be reached at jbrune@maine.rr.com.

---
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/02/333796.shtml


Next, an excerpt from this post--which is actually from a section of Toward a Bioregional State, the book:

Article 27

Section 1.

In the interest of a competitive party environment for democratic elections, where candidates are potentially independent of private capital for the launching and maintaining of campaigns or their content, all Local, State, and Federal Elections shall be publicly funded. Additionally, see Article II, Section 18.

Section 2.

No where are private public relations personnel or advertising personnel to be employed by the local, state, or federal governments, or funded by the local, state, or federal governments. The government itself is already public relations incarnate and can speak for itself to the people.

Section 3.

In all political party campaigns for office, political parties shall be prohibited from appointing personnel to their informal party administration of an election campaign from any simultaneously incumbent personnel in power in a state.

Section 4.

Complete transparency and paper-based auditability of the entire voting infrastructure in local, state, and federal elections shall be maintained as a public jurisdictional issue.

Section 5.

The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

1 Comments:

Blogger Mark said...

government | political theory

Green VP Candidate Pat LaMarche qualifies for clean election funds in Maine

Pat LaMarche was the VP candidate for the Green Party in 2004.

She recently qualified for clean election funds in Maine and will be receiving $1 million dollars of public money to run her campaign for governor and promote the Green agenda.

This is good news for Greens and independents and shows the power of clean elections. This money instantly levels the playing field.

You may recall that Pat toured the US staying in homeless and women's shelters during her '04 campaign.

http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2006/05/338605.shtml

[Remember that Kerry on the other hand is worth about $750,000,000--you know, the same astronomical personal fortune number lampooned in the 1980s movie starring Dudley Moore in _Arthur.

Twenty years later "Arthur Bach 2004" (Kerry) runs on the so called Democratic Party ticket....while Pat LaMarche tours in shelters and is unable to get her votes doublechecked in many states due to systemic vote fraud:


newswire article reposts united states 19.Jun.2005 11:46
election fraud | media criticism | police / legal
BOOK INTRO: _Did Bush [& corp. media] Steal 2004 Election? Ohio's Essential Documents_

free intro to 737 page book of documentation, where, given the lack of audiability or verifiability that he won, Bush as well as any upcoming "election" of national scale in many states of the U.S. should be considered entirely media events only and bogus from the point of view of democratic elections. In short, Bush's illegitimacy and lack of total credibilty for holding the office of President of the United States, due to lack of verifiability of votes, can be assured.

"The research and writing in this book has focussed on Ohio, where we have been collectively reporting on electoral politics for more than three decades. [However,] [a]s the documents in the final chapter and appendix to this book show, the bitter controversy over the vote count in Ohio has been mirrored in other key states around the US." ---

"To date, there has been no credible, independent audit of these machines, not in Ohio or in any other state. In Ohio, Secretary of State Blackwell issued an order in the weeks following the election that all 2004 election records, paper and electronic, were to be sealed from public access and inspection. As of this book's publication date, those records remain unobtainable." --- "Major pollsters and their national media clients still refuse to release the raw data." --- "...unfortunate lack of transparency calls all U.S. elections into question."

more:
http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2005/06/319823.shtml

5/02/2006 10:43 AM  

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