J.R. Myers: Restore faith in the election process

  • By J.R. Myers
  • Wednesday, November 2, 2016 8:26pm
  • Opinion

Free, equal and fair elections are the foundation of our Republic. When our electoral system is in question, as has happened recently in Alaska, the legitimacy of our entire government is in question. We must restore public confidence in our electoral process. Our founders understood the power of an informed and active electorate. They understood that this is the only way to ensure the peaceful transfer of power, our hard fought civil legacy. Without an open vibrant system formed and vigorously maintained by educated and active citizens, such peaceful transitions are not possible. It doesn’t take much research into history or even looking around at our world today to see the many dire results which occur with the failure of civil elections.

Healthy elections begin with healthy campaigns. We need to remove the undue influence of special interest groups from the campaign process. Something is terribly wrong when tens of thousands of dollars are spent campaigning for relatively low level seats, such as the Alaska Legislature. Oftentimes, more is spent campaigning than the office pays. Why is this? Once upon a time, citizen legislators were the norm. People left their farms and businesses to serve one or two terms, then returned to their civilian lives. Now, we see an entrenched professional political class which lives a privileged lifestyle far above that of the average citizen. They deliberately exclude competition from media coverage and debates. They have amassed great wealth and power unto themselves and their cronies. This has come at a great price. The riches and perks they have appropriated belong to the people. We must restore a healthy balance. Term limits are one solution. Campaign finance reform is another. Equal application of campaign laws is yet another. Why are some candidates signs targeted by authorities, while others seem to be able to place their signs illegally with impunity? We can no longer tolerate our offices being for sale to the highest bidders. We must return to a system of servant leaders.

Publicly financed political party primaries are another area of concern. Why are certain political groups being subsidized with public dollars over others? Why are certain parties extended multiple legal benefits not afforded to others? Why are the primary decisions of the voters repeatedly overturned by party bosses? Shouldn’t all political philosophies be able to compete on an equal footing in the free marketplace of ideas? I propose that we eliminate primary elections altogether. Let all candidates compete equally, with equal funding constraints. Let all candidates go out among the people to gather signatures to enable them to appear on the ballot. Or, let the various parties select their nominees at self-funded party conventions. Let’s eliminate the undemocratic artificial distinction of Political Parties, Political Groups and Limited Political Parties which we now have in Alaska. Let all candidates be treated equally under the law, without discrimination.

Finally, let’s reform our balloting and vote counting procedures. Let’s re-institute a permanent paper ballot trail. Let’s make sure there are no conflicts of interest with those who own and operate the voting machines, or those entrusted to count the votes. Let’s make it easier for concerned voters to become poll watchers. Let’s make sure that precinct election workers are properly trained and supervised. Let’s make the entire process truly open and transparent from voter registration, to voting, to vote tallying. Only then, can we say that we have truly free, fair and open elections. If elected, I will fight to implement these ideals. I will fight to restore the health of our election process to what it was intended to be.

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