Will the Covid-19 pandemic change our ability to vote? We have already seen decades of voter suppression in this country by racist and right-wing officials. Will they try to use the current pandemic to make voting harder and further reduce our voting rights? Yes, of course, and we must be ready to stop them. But stopping them is not enough: We can use any discussion of voting and voting rights to put forward our own voting agenda.
The Peace and Freedom Party has long pushed to expand voting rights, to make voting easier, and to make it easier and less expensive for workers and everyone to become candidates to run for public office.
Current, and possible future, social distancing measures make traditional precinct voting impractical. Voting by mail has been used successfully in many places and its use should be expanded. Traditional petition signature-gathering for candidates and ballot measures need to be changed. Perhaps online signature gathering should be allowed – with proper safeguards. Or better yet, let’s do away with fees and petitioning altogether.
It is long past time to remove voting restrictions from people restrained by the criminal justice system. They are still members of our society and should have their say in how we are governed. Non-citizen residents should be allowed to vote in local elections where they pay taxes, send their kids to school, and use city services.
Candidates running for office should have equal resources to conduct their campaigns. Public funding of campaigns, with no private money, will allow non-millionaires to serve in public offices. Equal access to all media for all candidates should be assured.
Primary elections for nonpartisan positions can be eliminated by using a system of Instant Runoff Voting for executive positions like mayor, and Proportional Representation for legislative positions like city councils. Moving all primary elections closer to general elections would shorten our too-lengthy campaign season and reduce campaign costs.
–written by John C. Reiger
State chair, Peace & Freedom Party