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The following is the body of the e-mail John Judge sent to Senator Mike Gravel on 2 December 2001.
Democracy Act - thoughts
I appreciated talking to you today about the Initiative Symposium . . . On your urging, I revisited the Democracy Act, and I have added my thoughts and comments on the specifics below.
You can read my ideas at www.geocities.com/open_secrets_2000. This lays out the program of Real Democracy. I think we are headed in the same direction, and I support your approach in most aspects. I still think that with a post-literate, multi-cultural, ahistorical and long disenfranchized, and thoroughly propagandized electorate we will need to set up grassroots models of direct, participatory democracy to actually make it happen.
Democracy should be a system wherein ALL the people affected by a particular decision make that decision. Also, it is important to act think globally when acting locally, as well as to think locally when acting globally. All decisions should be available for review in a set period of time, once the real consequences are known. Looking forward to the symposium.
My comments [in blocks of captial letters] follow inside the text:
The current source of the below -- at http://p2dd.org/nationalinitiative/actprint.htm (from the National Initiative For Democracy -- http://www.ni4d.org/ ) -- is different from the version John wrote his comments on in December 2001. Consult the above source to identify changes to the draft document itself.
The Democracy Act - A proposed federal law
AN ACT establishing legislative procedures to permit the People to exercise their legislative power; and adding to the Federal Code.
Be It Enacted By The People Of The United States:
Section 1. TITLE.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Democracy Act.
Section 2. PREAMBLE.
We, the People of the United States inherently possess the sovereign authority and power to govern ourselves. We asserted this power in our of Independence and in the ratification of our Constitution through the exercise of First Principles.
We, the People, choose to participate directly in our self-governance by creating and amending policies, laws, charters and constitutions. Heretofore, by our ratification of the Constitution, we delegated elements of our sovereign power to elected representatives and their appointees for its application in the legislative, executive and judicial functions of government. In view of recent advances in the technology of communications, it is no longer either necessary or appropriate for us to delegate the full measure of our legislative power to others.
THIS IS ONE OF MY MAJOR POINTS, ABOUT WHY REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY IS OBSOLETE, WITH TRAVEL AND COMMUNICATION ALMOST INSTANTANEOUS, WE DO NOT NEED REPRESENTATIVES. THIS CHANGE ACTUALLY DATES TO THE 1930s WHEN RADIO BECAME POPULAR AND THERE WAS A STRUGGLE TO STOP THE VERY FIRST CORPORATION FROM LICENSING THE VERY FIRST RADIO STATION.
We, the People, choose to exercise our legislative power directly by initiative, concurrently with the legislative powers we delegated to our elected representatives, in every government jurisdiction of the United States.
THEREFORE, We, the People, exercising First Principles, enact this Democracy Act establishing thereby a "Legislature of the People."
Section 3. PROCEDURES. Procedures governing the initiative process shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Format, Subject and Word Limit
An initiative shall comprise a Title; a Summary that accurately summarizes the initiative's content; a Preamble that states the purposes and reasons for the initiative; and the complete text of the initiative. An initiative shall pertain to a matter of public policy relevant to the government jurisdiction to which it is applicable.
An initiative shall address only one subject, but may include related or mutually dependent parts. An initiative shall contain no more than five thousand words, exclusive of the Preamble and language that quotes existing law. Subject to the deliberative process described in Section 3. D, the sponsors of the initiative shall determine the language of the Title and Summary of the initiative, which shall be subject to the approval of the Electoral Trust.
THIS IS ONE OF MANY POWERS GIVEN THE ELECTORAL TRUST. ALL POWER IS OPEN TO ABUSE. YOU MENTION THAT THE TRUST IS CHOSEN RANDOMLY. I THINK DEMOGRAPHICALLY WOULD BE A BETTER ROUTE, TO REFLECT THE ACTUAL MAKEUP OF THE COMMUNITY AS A WHOLE, WITH INDIVIDUALS BEING CHOSEN RANDOMLY IN THOSE CATEGORIES. IS THERE A TERM LIMITATION?
An initiative may qualify for election in the relevant jurisdiction by any one of the following methods:
- Legislative Resolution.
The legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction (federal, state or local) may, by resolution, qualify an initiative for election as it is submitted by its sponsors.
I HAVE SEEN THESE SORTS OF THINGS ABUSED WIDELY, HOW ABOUT GIVING THEM A HURDLE LIKE YOU GIVE THE PEOPLE, THAT A CERTAIN PERCENTAGE MUST CALL FOR THIS (75%? UNANIMOUS?). SUCH INITIATIVES ALWAYS CARRY MORE WEIGHT AND HAVE MORE RESOURCES BEHIND THEM THAN THE PUBLIC ONES DO.
- Citizen Petition.
Initiatives that propose laws, changes to laws, or expressions of public policy shall qualify for election if a petition is signed, manually or electronically, by a number of registered voters within the relevant jurisdiction equal to at least two percent of those voting in the presidential election occurring immediately prior to the collection of the first signature approving the initiative for election. Initiatives that propose changes to constitutions or charters shall qualify for election if a petition is signed by a number of registered voters within the relevant jurisdiction equal to at least five percent of the number voting in the presidential election occurring immediately prior to the collection of the first signature approving the initiative for election. The time period allotted to gather qualifying petition signatures shall be not more than two years beginning with the date the first signature is collected.
WHY 2% AND WHY ANY HURDLE? I THINK A STRAW POLL ON THE MAJOR ISSUES EACH MONTH CONCERNING PEOPLE WITH THE ELECTORAL TRUST CHOOSING THE TOP 10 (WITH PERHAPS 3 MINORITY ONES AND 7 MAJORITY FOR INSTANCE), AND THEN INVITING THE INITIATIVES CONCERNING EACH ONE WOULD WORK BETTER AND FOCUS EFFECTIVE RULEMAKING. RANDOMLY TAKING WHATEVER VOLUME WALKS IN THE DOOR COULD STRAIN RESOURCES AND TAX PUBLIC ATTENTION.
- Public Opinion Poll.
Initiatives that propose or alter constitutions, charters and laws, or expressions of public policy shall qualify for election if at least fifty percent of the respondents in a public opinion poll express their desire that the initiative qualify for election. To qualify by this method, initiatives shall be accompanied by a polling plan subject to approval by the Electoral Trust. The polling plan shall include the Title and Summary of the initiative and the organization that will conduct the poll.
THIS IS LIKE THE STRAW POLL IDEA, BUT RELATIING TO A SOLE INITIATIVE AGAIN. IT WOULD HAVE TO BE A REAL POLL, NOT JUST A REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE, IN MY VIEW. THE WORDING IS CRITICAL OF COURSE. I HAVE NEVER BEEN POLLED ON ANY POLITICAL ISSUE, NOR HAVE THOUSANDS I TALK TO. MAKE SURE THE POLL IS DEMOGRAPHICALLY REPRESENTATIVE.
- Public Hearing
After an initiative qualifies for election, the Electoral Trust shall appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct public hearings in conjunction with the sponsors and representatives of the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction in conformance with policies and procedures established by the Electoral Trust. The testimony of citizens, proponents, opponents and experts shall be solicited on the initiative and their testimony shall be published as the Hearing Record.
THESE HEARINGS SHOULD BE AIRED ON C-SPAN OR LOCAL MEDIA, AND NOT AT THEIR WHIM. THE MEDIA ARE A COMMONWEALTH, WE SHOULD APPROPRIATE TIME FOR PUBLIC USE BY TIME-TAXING THE CORPORATIONS WHO NOW MONOPOLIZE LICENSED AIRWAVES, ONE HOUR FOR EVERY TWO THEY HAVE ACCESS, AND PRIME TIME HOURS AS WELL. SAME FOR RADIO. WITHOUT THIS WE WILL NEVER GET A TRUE PUBLIC HEARING. MOST PEOPLE DO NOT READ.
- Deliberative Committee
The Electoral Trust shall convene a Deliberative Committee for each qualified initiative. The Committee shall consist of citizens selected at random from the voter registration rolls of the relevant jurisdiction. Committee members shall be fairly compensated for all time spent in performance of Committee duties. The Electoral Trust shall provide technical support and such additional resources as are necessary for the effective discharge of the Committee's duties. The Deliberative Committee shall review the Hearing Record, secure expert advice, if desired, deliberate the merits of the initiative, and prepare a written report of its deliberations with its recommendations. By two-thirds vote, the Committee may amend the Title, Summary and text of the initiative, provided that the amendments are consistent with the stated purposes of the initiative.
MAKE THE DELIBERATIVE COMMITTE CONSIDER THE LEGAL/CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS AS WELL, AND MAKE THOSE PART OF THE REPORT TO THE PEOPLE, AGAIN OVER MASS MEDIA.
- Legislative Advisory Vote
A qualified initiative, together with the Hearing Record and the report of the Deliberative Committee, shall be transmitted to the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction. The legislative body shall conduct a public vote recording the yeas and nays on the initiative within 60 days after its receipt thereof. The vote of the legislative body is non-binding and serves only as advisory to the People.
- Enactment of Initiatives
An initiative that does not modify a constitution or charter is enacted and assumes the force of law or a statement of public policy if approved by more than half of the registered voters voting in an election that is subsequently certified by the Electoral Trust. An initiative that modifies a constitution or charter shall require majorities in two successive elections. Such an initiative that receives more than fifty percent of the votes in the first election shall be scheduled for a final vote in a subsequent election scheduled to occur as soon as possible after six months shall have elapsed. An initiative that fails in either election cannot be reconsidered unless re-qualified in accordance with Section 3.B.
SOME PROVISION IS NEEDED TO PROTECT THE BILL OF RIGHTS FROM VOTING REVIEW. WASHINGTON AND THE FOUNDERS DID NOT AT FIRST INCLUDE IT UNTIL JEFFERSON INSISTED. IT IS THE ONLY SACROSANCT. WE SHOULD BE ABLE TO VOTE TO EXTEND RIGHTS, BUT NOT TO LESSEN THEM.
- Judicial Review
Courts shall have no jurisdiction, except in the case of fraud, with respect to any initiative prior to the enactment of the initiative by the People in an election. However, after the People have enacted an initiative into law, the courts may, when requested, determine the constitutionality of any law so enacted. Absent fraud, initiatives that change the Constitution of the United States are not subject to judicial review.
SUCH LEGAL REVIEW WAS USED TO FRUSTRATE A HARD FOUGHT REFERENDUM ON THE USE OF ELECTROSHOCK IN BERKELEY SOME YEARS AGO. A SINGLE JUDGE WAS BOUGHT OFF BY THE CALIFORNIA PSYCHIATRIC ASSOCIATION TO OVERRULE THE BAN BASED ON "PATIENTS' RIGHTS TO TREATMENT", AS IF THEY CARED FOR THOSE. BETTER TO INCLUDE A LEGAL REVIEW AND OPINION BY A ROTATING PANEL OF JURISTS OR LEGAL SCHOLARS AND ADD IT FOR CONSIDERATION BY THE VOTERS.
- Effective Date
The effective date of an initiative, if not specified in the initiative, shall be forty-five days after the certification of the election by the Electoral Trust.
The names, organizational affiliations (if any), and city and state of residence of all persons registered as initiative sponsors shall appear on the face of the initiative, the petition, and on any printed matter or other media advocating the initiative by the sponsors; and shall be announced or displayed in any qualifying poll.
- Promotional Communications
Any communication, regardless of the medium through which conveyed, that promotes or opposes an initiative shall conspicuously identify the names, organizational affiliations (if any), city and state of residence of all persons substantially contributing directly or indirectly to the payment for the communication.
AGAIN, I HAVE SEEN SCARE CAMPAIGNS CONDUCTED BY THE MONIED INTERESTS WHO COULD AFFORD SUCH CAMPAIGNS MUCH MORE READILY THAN THE GRASSROOTS INTERESTS, AND HAVE SEEN THEM DEFEAT REASONABLE INITIATIVES. THIS HAS TO BE COUNTERED BY HAVING PUBLIC AIRTIME FOR REASONED DEBATE ON THE ISSUES, NOT JUST PAID ADS.
- Campaign Financing
Only natural persons may contribute funds, services or property in support of, or in opposition to, an initiative. Contributions from corporations, industry groups, labor unions, political action committees and associations are specifically prohibited. Such entities are prohibited from coercing or inducing employees, stockholders, clients, customers, members, or any other associated persons to support or oppose an initiative. Violation of these prohibitions is a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
HARD TO TRACK BUT A GOOD RULE.
- Financial Disclosure
In the interest of full disclosure and in recognition of existing government practices, the Electoral Trust shall establish financial reporting requirements applicable to initiative sponsors, proponents and opponents, with monetary thresholds appropriate to the affected government jurisdiction. The Electoral Trust shall make all financial reports available to the public immediately upon its receipt thereof. Failure of sponsors, proponents or opponents to comply with these reporting requirements is a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
- Public Information
The Electoral Trust shall provide information about the initiative to the People of the relevant government jurisdiction. At a minimum, this information shall include a balanced analysis of the pros and cons of the initiative, its societal, environmental, and economic implications, costs and benefits, a summary of the Hearing Record, the Deliberative Committee report, the results of the Legislative Advisory Vote, and statements prepared by proponents and opponents. This information shall be provided to the public in at least the following forms:
A pamphlet containing the information listed above shall be mailed so as to reach voters at least ten days, but not more than thirty days, prior to the election for the initiative.
- Web Site.
The Electoral Trust shall publish on a web site, or equivalent electronic media, all the information contained in the aforementioned pamphlet, plus such additional relevant information as may be appropriate for communication via such media.
The Electoral Trust shall, to the extent feasible, make use of additional vehicles for communicating this information to the public, such as radio, television, newspapers, and telephone voice response systems.
AGAIN, THIS IS FOCUSED ON A LITERATE POPULACE THAT DOES NOT EXIST. IT LEAVES THE USE OF MASS MEDIA UP TO CHANCE AND CONCESSION. FOR DEMOCRACY TO WORK THERE MUST BE A FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION AND FULL DEBATE. IN THIS MEDIA-FOCUSED POPULACE, WE HAVE TO GET REGULAR ACCESS TO AIR TIME WRESTED FROM THE CORPORATE MONOPOLIZATION OF OUR LICENSED COMMONWEALTH. THE AIRWAVES BELONG TO THE PEOPLE.
Section 4. ELECTORAL TRUST
The Electoral Trust shall administer the procedures of the Democracy Act. The Electoral Trust shall perform its ministerial responsibilities whenever or wherever a citizen chooses to file an initiative relevant to any government jurisdiction of the United States. A Board of Trustees and a Director shall govern the Electoral Trust.
The Electoral Trust shall administer the legislative procedures herein so as to facilitate the effective and deliberative exercise of the People's legislative power, to include:
- Registering Voters.
Voter registration shall be made as simple and automatic as possible, with the goal of achieving universal lifetime registration of eligible voting-age citizens.
- Providing Information.
Fair and balanced information on each initiative qualified for election shall be presented in English to voters in the relevant jurisdiction.
WHY ONLY IN ENGLISH? THERE ARE MANY POCKETS OF SPANISH SPEAKING OR OTHER TONGUES THAT SHOULD HAVE ACCESS, AS WELL AS BLIND AND HEARING DISABLED.
- Voting Process.
The act of voting shall be made as convenient and as easy as possible for all citizens registered to vote, including the non-reading, disabled, hospitalized, homebound, homeless and indigent.
ESPECIALLY IN THESE POPULATIONS YOU CANNOT ASSUME LITERACY. MAYBE CASSETTES OR VIDEOTAPES WOULD FACILITATE?
- Election Process.
The powers of the Electoral Trust are limited to the administration of the initiative process. Except as set forth in Section 3. A, the Electoral Trust is prohibited from influencing the content of any initiative.
- Temporary Appointment of the Board of Trustees
The Board of Trustees shall initially include the Director and one delegate from each of the following nationally-recognized civic organizations, foundations and nonprofit corporations.
Initial Members Of The Board of Trustees [25 to 50 Organizations, to be specified in the final text of this Act]
I HOPE REAL DEMOCRACY WILL BE CONSIDERED AMONG THEM.
To qualify for selection, the Boards of Directors of each of the aforesaid organizations shall have executed a resolution acknowledging their understanding of First Principles, their acceptance of the Electoral Trust's mission and pledging to empower United States citizens. The term of office of half of the members of this appointed Board of Trustees, chosen at random, shall be two years. The term of office of the remaining half shall be four years.
- Election of the Board of Trustees
Following the expiration of the terms of office of the appointed members of the Board of Trustees, membership on the Board will become an elected office, with one member being elected by the People in each Congressional District.
THIS OPENS YOU UP TO A MUCH MORE POLITICAL PROCESS THAN YOU MIGHT WANT.
The term of office of elected members of the Board of Trustees shall be four years. No member of the Board of Trustees may hold that office for a total of more than four years whether in an elected or appointed capacity. New members of the Board of Trustees will be selected by the People in the national election immediately preceding expiration of the term of office of their predecessors. The Board of Trustees shall select the first two hundred and eighteen Congressional Districts that shall hold elections to elect new Trustees when the two-year term of the appointed Trustees has expired.
The Board of Trustees shall meet at least annually and at such other times, and in such places, as it deems appropriate to conduct its business. The minutes and video recordings of all meetings of the Board shall be published on the Board of Trustees' web site.
- Executive Committee
The Board of Trustees shall select from its number an Executive Committee of fifteen members, which Committee shall be charged by the Board with responsibility for monitoring the day-to-day operations of the Electoral Trust and for providing the Director with policy direction in certain limited areas to be specified by the Board.
THIS COMMITTEE DUTY SHOULD ROTATE TO ALL THE MEMBERS REGULARLY, OTHERWISE IT INVESTS TOO MUCH CONTROL IN A FEW.
The Director, except for the first Director, shall be appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by a majority vote of the Trustees. The Director shall serve for a single term of six years and may not be re-appointed. The Board of Directors of Philadelphia II, the California nonprofit corporation, shall appoint the first Director for a six-year term.
HOW ABOUT A GROUP OF DIRECTORS?
The Director shall serve as Chair of the Board of Trustees and shall be responsible to the Board of Trustees for the operation of the Electoral Trust and the implementation of the legislative procedures herein and hereafter enacted.
- Oath or Affirmation of Office
Each of the Trustees and the Director, and each member of the staff of the Electoral Trust shall execute the following oath or affirmation of office as a condition to his or her service: "I, (name), (swear or affirm) that I will, to the best of my ability, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the sovereign authority of the People to exercise their legislative power."
- Organization and Responsibilities
The Electoral Trust shall organize itself to fulfill its mission by developing policies, procedures and regulations to process initiatives and administer initiative elections. It may select and contract for facilities and services, hire staff, and prescribe their duties and compensation. The Electoral Trust may also apply for and receive funds, and incur debt when necessary, and shall act in a responsible manner as an independent fiduciary agency.
- Existing Law.
In fulfilling its responsibilities and performing its duties, the Electoral Trust shall comply with applicable laws and regulations of every government jurisdiction of the United States in which it operates that do not conflict with its mission herein defined. Where laws are in conflict, this Act shall supersede.
- Voter Registration.
The Electoral Trust shall develop simplified voter registration procedures and requirements aimed at universal lifetime registration, which shall be usable and binding in every government jurisdiction in which the voter is, or may become, a legal resident.
- Legislative Drafting Service.
The Electoral Trust shall establish and operate a legislative drafting and research service that may be used of any citizen who seeks assistance in preparing initiatives.
MAYBE YOU COULD PUT IN A LEGAL REVIEW PROCESS AT THIS STEP.
- Hearings and Deliberative Committees.
The Electoral Trust shall organize hearings to receive testimony and convene Deliberative Committees to deliberate on qualified initiatives. The Electoral Trust shall supply Hearing Officers, deliberation counselors, technical consultants and support staff, as needed for the effective conduct of hearings and Committee activities.
THIS SHOULD BE OPEN TO ALL POINTS OF VIEW, AND VERY DEMOCRATIC, IT SHOULD ALSO BE TELEVISED AND ON RADIO AS NOTED ABOVE.
- Public Information.
The Electoral Trust shall develop the means, procedures and regulations to facilitate the communication of timely, complete, balanced, and pertinent information on the subject of initiatives, which information shall be conveyed to the People of the relevant jurisdictions by various media.
- Electoral Integrity.
The Electoral Trust shall develop the means, procedures and regulations to ensure the integrity and uniformity of elections.
- Voting Methods.
The Electoral Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in developing voting procedures for national, state and local initiative elections to facilitate the citizens' exercise of their legislative power.
THIS IS GOOD. YEARS AGO IN A REFERENDUM TEST IN OREGON THEY USED NEWSPAPER CLIP-OUT COUPONS. IT IS NOT OPEN TO ABUSE IF THERE IS A CENTRAL VOTING NUMBER REGISTRY FOR VERIFICATION. TV HAS A DIRECT VIEWER RESPONSE CAPABILITY ALSO.
There are hereby appropriated, from the Treasury of the United States, pursuant to Article I, Section 9(7) of the Constitution, funds to enable the Electoral Trust to organize itself, repay debts herein described, and begin the performance of its duties. There is hereby appropriated sums to repay loans incurred by Philadelphia II, a nonprofit 501(c)(4) public benefit corporation, organized under the laws of the State of California, that are certified by the Electoral Trust as bona fide loans, the proceeds of which were used to pay the costs of preparing for and conducting the election for the ratification of the Democracy Amendment and the concurrent enactment of the Democracy Act, which costs shall include, but not limited to, the production cost of campaign materials and ballots, printing, mail, print and electronic communications including the Internet, and computer services for the election conducted by Philadelphia II, and related costs such as the cost of data- or opinion-gathering and the legal defense of Philadelphia II's operations. Hereafter, appropriations shall be made annually to the Electoral Trust as an independent agency of the United States Government.
YOU MAY HAVE TO EAT THESE COSTS IF YOU DON'T SPELL THEM OUT EXACTLY
Section 5. SELF-ENACTMENT.
The Democracy Amendment to the Constitution of the United States and this Democracy Act shall be concurrently presented to the People for their legislative decision by direct contact, mail, print and electronic media, including the Internet, and voted upon by executing a ballot which shall carry the identical data regardless of the medium in which it may be presented and transmitted. This ballot shall contain the following information:
- The voter's name.
- The voter's address, including street, city, postal code, county and state of residence.
- Certification of registration in said county.
- The voter's telephone number.
- The voter's e-mail address.
- Acknowledgment of receipt of the text of the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act.
- A single Yes or No vote for the Amendment and the Act.
- Acknowledgment that the voter may withdraw or change his or her vote at any time prior to the date of certification of the election.
- The date the ballot is executed.
- The physical or electronic signature of the voter.
OK, HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO THE REGISTRATION LISTS? ARE THERE ASSIGNED IDENTIFYING NUMBERS? HOW DO WE STOP FRAUDULENT VOTES BEING CAST?
When the number of ballots reflecting a "Yes" vote executed by a registered voter and received by Philadelphia II is greater than fifty percent of the total number of ballots cast in the presidential election occurring immediately prior to certification, the accompanying Amendment shall be ratified and this Act shall become federal law effective on the date of certification by the President of Philadelphia II to the President of the United States, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President of the Senate, and the Governors of every State, provided that the number of ballots reflecting a "Yes" vote exceeds the number of "No" votes received by Philadelphia II at that time. Should the accompanying Amendment and this Act fail to receive a sufficient number of ballots to qualify for ratification and for enactment, respectively, within seven years after the date Philadelphia II commences the formal balloting, this balloting process is terminated.
FIFTY PERCENT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION VOTE IS LESS THAN 25% OF THE ELIGIBLE VOTERS RIGHT NOW. SEEMS WE SHOULD BROADEN THE SCOPE TO MAKE IT A LEGITIMATE DECISION.
THANKS FOR LISTENING,
PS -- I ALSO WANT DIRECT ALLOCATION OF ALL TAXES, THAT WOULD BE REPRESENTATIVE. PERHAPS THAT WILL BE MY FIRST SUBMITTED INITIATIVE.