Article VI: Elections

Section 1. General Provisions

1.1 Voter registration

Congress shall establish a National Voter Registration Authority, which will

  • create a national database of registered voters, to be shared with all jurisdictions that conduct elections,
  • prevent the national database of registered voters from unauthorized disclosure or access from unauthorized entities,
  • ensure that the national database of registered voters is used for no other purpose than voter registration, authentication, and authorization,
  • assign to each voter a unique Voter Identifier which remains with that voter for life,
  • maintain for each voter both their legal (voting) address and current contact information,
  • accept and process voter registration applications from all eligible citizens,
  • automatically register each citizen to vote upon their 18th birthday,
  • automatically register each citizen to vote, or verify his/her earlier registration, whenever a citizen interacts with a state or federal government entity,
  • remove a voter who has deceased, and
  • establish appropriate means of voter authentication and authorization to vote.[1]

1.2 Conduct of elections

All elections are conducted by the several states and by any other United States territories or possessions so authorized by Congress.[2] A secret ballot is guaranteed. Votes may be cast by mail provided such votes are received by the last day of the election; votes may also be cast in person for nine days, ending on the last Sunday of the election, except that a state may choose to conduct its entire election by mail.[3]

1.3 Ranked Choice Voting

Ranked Choice Voting (RCV)[4] is mandatory for all federal elections. After selecting their 1st choice for any office, voters are allowed (but not required) to also select a 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on, limited only by the number of names on the ballot.

The procedure for counting ballots is different for an election with a single winner and for an election with multiple winners:

RCV procedure for counting ballots when an election has only one winner:

  • If one candidate has a majority of the 1st choice votes, that candidate is the winner.
  • If no candidate has a majority of the 1st choice votes, then the following steps are repeated until one candidate has a majority of the total vote:
    • The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and the votes for that candidate are reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice among the remaining candidates.
    • If a voter did not make a choice for any of the surviving candidates, then that ballot is exhausted and is no longer counted as part of the total vote.

RCV procedure for counting ballots when an election has multiple winners:

  • Definition of variables:
    • N = number of winners for an election with multiple winners.
    • Threshold Percent (T%) Plus One Vote (T%+1): The share of the total vote that guarantees a candidate’s victory. The formula for T%+1 is 100%/(N+1), + 1 vote.
    • Actual Threshold (AT): The number of votes needed to win a particular election, defined as the total votes cast multiplied by T%, plus one vote.
    • Winner’s Votes (WV): The number of votes earned by a winning candidate.
    • Winner’s Percent (W%): For a winning candidate, the portion of each voter’s vote needed to reach the Actual Threshold, calculated as WV/AT.
    • Excess Percent (E%): For a winning candidate, the portion of each voter’s vote that can be reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice. It is calculated as 100% – W%.
  • If N or fewer candidates were on the ballot, all candidates are winners and the election is done.
  • The first step in applying RCV is to calculate T% and AT for this election.
  • If more than N candidates were on the ballot, any candidate whose 1st choice votes meet or exceed the AT is a winner. If N candidates meet the AT, then all these candidates are winners and the election is done.
  • If fewer than N candidates meet the AT, then the following steps are repeated, until N candidates meet the AT or only N candidates remain:
    • For any candidate who has won, W% is calculated, and then E% is calculated. E% of each of the winning candidate’s voter’s vote is then reassigned to that voter’s next highest choice (among candidates neither elected nor eliminated).
    • The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and all the votes for that candidate are reassigned to each voter’s next highest choice (among candidates neither elected nor eliminated).

1.4 Open primaries

Open primaries are mandatory for all federal elections (for President, Vice President, and both chambers of Congress).[5] Open primaries are non-partisan; the party affiliation of a candidate, if any, will be indicated on the ballot. All registered voters are eligible to vote in every primary and general election within the jurisdiction where they legally reside.

Any eligible candidate may compete in any open primary, subject to state rules for qualifying for the ballot. The results of the primaries determine the candidates whose names will appear on the general election ballot. Those eligible to compete in the general election may withdraw within one week after they have been certified to appear on the general election ballot.

1.5 Fundraising and transparency

No candidate for a federal office may personally engage in fundraising nor appear at a fundraising event while Congress is in session, that is, before July 4 of the election year, unless Congress adjourns sine die before that date.

To appear on a primary ballot, a candidate must authorize the US Treasury to release, two weeks after the National Primary, the five most recent tax returns of that candidate and his or her spouse, if that candidate qualifies for the general election, and if that candidate does not withdraw as a candidate before such tax returns are released. Each general election candidate must also release, on the same schedule, a statement of net worth, showing his/her complete assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse.[6]

By the Sunday after the National Primary, any candidate who has qualified to appear on any general election ballot may withdraw as a candidate.

Section 2. Elections for President and Vice President

2.1 Elections and Terms of Office.

The President and the Vice President shall be elected directly by the voters in years evenly divisible by four.[7] Votes for President and for Vice President in both the primary and general elections shall be cast and counted by Congressional District (CD). In counting ballots, RCV procedures are used to determine the single winner in each CD.

Congress shall establish a National Vote Tabulation Authority, whose responsibility is to collect from the states the results of the primary and general elections for President and for Vice President, to tabulate and summarize the results, and announce the winners.

The four-year term of office for President and for Vice President shall commence at noon on the second Sunday in January following their election. 

2.2 Primary Elections for President

The total Nominating Votes for President equals the number of seats in the House of Representatives, plus the number of Nominating Votes from non-state jurisdictions.

  • Each CD has the same number of Nominating Votes as it has seats in the House of Representatives.
  • Congress may authorize certain jurisdictions other than states to participate in presidential primaries (Washington, DC, Puerto Rico, and other territories and possessions). All such jurisdictions taken together are considered one Non-State Primary Election District. For each 1 million inhabitants or portion thereof, this Non-State Primary Election District is awarded one Nominating Vote.
  • The primary election shall be held at large in each CD and in the one Non-State Primary Election District, and the winner of the primary election shall be awarded all of that jurisdiction’s Nominating Votes.

The candidates for President who qualify for the general election ballot are determined through three rounds of primary elections, including four states in Round 1, ten states in Round 2, and all other states and non-state jurisdictions in Round 3.

Unless Congress adopts a different scheme for selecting the states for Rounds 1 and 2, Round 1 primaries will occur in New Hampshire, Iowa, South Carolina, and New Mexico; and Round 2 primaries will occur in 10 states who volunteer for that duty. If more than 10 states apply, random selection will be used to select 10 of them; if fewer than 10 apply, random selection from the remaining states will be used to round out the 10.

Any candidate who meets a state’s requirements to appear on the primary ballot for President will appear on the primary ballot in that state. In addition, any candidate who earns at least one Nominating Vote in a Round 1 or a Round 2 presidential primary automatically qualifies to appear on the ballot in all remaining presidential primaries.

At the conclusion of the three rounds of presidential primaries, any candidate who has received at least 15% of the total Nominating Votes qualifies for the general election ballot for President in all states. If fewer than three candidates achieve the 15% threshold, then the three candidates with the most Nominating Votes qualify for the general election ballot in all states. In addition, any candidate who has won at least one Nominating Vote in any state qualifies for the general election ballot in all CDs in that state. No other candidate will appear on the general election ballot for President in any state.

Any candidate who withdraws as a presidential candidate within one week after Round 2 of the presidential primaries may become a candidate for Vice President, for the Senate, or for the House. A person can be a candidate for only one federal office at a time.

2.3. Primary Election for Vice President[8]

The total Nominating Votes for Vice President equals the total Nominating Votes for President, determined in the same manner.

The primary election for Vice President takes place as part of the National Primary in all jurisdictions.

Any candidate who meets a state’s requirements to appear on the primary ballot for Vice President will appear on the primary ballot in that state.

Anyone who was a candidate for President in Rounds 1 and/or 2, who won at least one Nominating Vote, and who then withdrew from the presidential contest, automatically qualifies as a candidate for Vice President in all jurisdictions, unless that candidate withdraws from consideration as a vice presidential candidate.

The primary election for Vice President shall be held at large in each CD and in the one Non-State Primary Election District, and the winner of the primary election shall be awarded all of that jurisdiction’s Nominating Votes.

At the conclusion of the primary election for Vice President, any candidate who has received at least 15% of the total Nominating Votes qualifies for the general election ballot for Vice President in all states. If fewer than three candidates achieve the 15% threshold, then the three candidates with the most Nominating Votes qualify for the general election ballot in all states. In addition, any candidate who has won at least one Nominating Vote in any state qualifies for the general election ballot in all CDs in that state. No other candidate will appear on the general election ballot for Vice President in any state.

2.4 Local-State-National (L-S-N) general election voting system for President and for Vice President

Separate general elections for President and for Vice President will take place on the date specified for the General Election for all federal offices. The winner of each election is determined by Electoral Votes. The total Electoral Votes for President and for Vice President equals the number of seats in the House of Representatives, plus twice the number of states.

The L-S-N voting system determines the winner at each level – local, state, and national. Using the RCV procedure for an election with one winner, the winner within each CD will be awarded all the Electoral Votes for that CD; in each state, the state-wide winner will be awarded one additional Electoral Vote; and the winner of the national popular vote will be awarded one additional Electoral Vote for each state in the Union.

If one candidate has earned a majority of all Electoral Votes, that candidate will be declared the winner and will become the President-elect or Vice President-elect.

If no candidate has a majority of the Electoral Votes, then all but the top two candidates will be eliminated, and a final round of ballot counting using the RCV procedure for a single winner will take place, in order to determine the voters’ preference among the two remaining candidates. When the Electoral Votes are reassigned to the two remaining candidates, the one with a majority of all Electoral Votes will be the winner. If these last two candidates are tied, then the winner of the national popular vote will be the winner.[9]

Section 3. Elections for Members of Congress

Elections for Congress shall occur in even-numbered years. In each such election cycle, all Members of the House shall be elected for two-year terms, and one Class of the three Senate Classes shall be elected for six-year terms. Their terms of office shall begin at noon on the first Sunday in January following their election.

If a state has fewer than six House seats, then all House members will be elected at-large, that is, in one Congressional District (CD). For states with six or more House seats, the state shall be divided into multi-seat CD’s, with no fewer than three and no more than five seats per CD. The number of CD’s in each state shall equal the number of Senators allocated to that state.[10] CD’s shall be drawn using Zip Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA’s) from the 2010 Census in numerical order, equalizing the population per House seat of each CD as far as possible.

Each CD will elect one Senator, provided, however, that a state’s voters, by a majority vote in a referendum, may choose to elect all its Senators at large.

For primaries in elections for a single seat in the House or Senate, the number of successful candidates is three. For primaries in elections for multiple seats, the number of successful candidates is double the number of seats being contested. The RCV procedure for an election with multiple winners will be applied to reach the requisite number of primary winners, provided at least that many candidates are on the primary ballot. No candidate, other than those who qualify through this primary process, will appear on the general election ballot.

In the general election, the RCV procedure for single-winner elections will determine the winner of an election for a single seat, while the RCV procedure for multi-winner elections will determine the winners in multi-winner contests.

Section 4. Dates of Primary and General Elections, Convening of Congress, and Inauguration

Federal elections for Congress occur in even-numbered years; presidential and vice presidential elections occur in years evenly divisible by four. For each primary or general election, the nine-day period for in-person voting ends on the following days:

Presidential Primary Round 1: Last Sunday in August

Presidential Primary Round 2: Last Sunday in September

National Primary (which includes Presidential Primary Round 3, Vice Presidential Primary, and Congressional Primary for House and Senate): Last Sunday in October

General Election: Second Sunday in December

Convening the new Congress: Noon on the first Sunday in January following their election

Inauguration of the new President and Vice President: Noon on the second Sunday in January following their election.[11]

Section 5. Continuance in Office

To continue in office, all federal elected officials, by October 1 of each year, must authorize the US Treasury to release the five most recent tax returns of that official and his or her spouse. Each official must also release, on the same schedule, a statement of net worth, showing his/her complete assets and liabilities and those of his/her spouse.

Every federal elected official is prohibited from hiring, nominating, or appointing any member of his/her immediate family to any position within the Federal Government.

[1] Previous initiatives to accomplish this have foundered on fears of a national identification system, with citizens concerned about too much power in the hands of Government. In the case of the Social Security number, we have managed to negotiate through similar concerns by restricting the use of the SSN to tax matters and preventing its use as a general citizen ID number. The same will apply here. The Voter-ID can only be used for purposes of voter registration, authentication, and authorization. Authentication involves proving that you are who you say you are; authorization involves proving that you (having already been authenticated) are authorized to do what you plan to do.

[2] The current, well-established system gives the responsibility for conducting elections to the states. There is no compelling reason to change this.

[3] This provision establishes mail-in voting, early voting, and in-person voting for all federal elections.

[4] Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is an improved system of casting and counting votes which makes democracy more fair, functional, and representative of the electorate. For voters, it is simple to implement: Voters rank order their choices for each office – 1st choice, 2nd choice, 3rd choice, and so on. Candidates campaign not only for 1st choice votes, but also for 2nd and even 3rd choice votes. When an election has only one winner, such as the general election for a single Senator, RCV ensures that the winner has support from a majority of voters. When an election has multiple winners, such as a city council or a multi-seat Congressional district, RCV helps to ensure that all widely supported views are represented, and that all winners are supported by a significant percentage of the electorate. See http://www.fairvote.org/rcv#how_rcv_works to read how it works in detail.

[5] When the United States began, the Founding Fathers were very concerned about the formation of “factions” (that is, political parties), which could do great damage to the functioning of the Republic. Obviously, we have become wedded to the dominance of political parties in every phase and at every level of our politics. This Constitution II gives us a renewed opportunity to move away from “factions”. One such improvement would be the adoption of open primaries, in which all candidates compete (regardless of party affiliation) and in which all voters can vote.

[6] This provision requires all general election candidates to be completely transparent with respect to their personal finances.

[7] One of the most important democratic improvements of Constitution II is the direct election of the president by the voters.

[8] The vice president has become president 14 times in our history, either through the death or resignation of the president or through a subsequent election in which a sitting vice president is seen as having a considerable built-in advantage over any other presidential aspirant. Therefore, in a democracy, it is reasonable that the people should choose the second-most important job under our Constitution, rather than leaving that selection to a single person, who, at the time the decision is made, has not yet been elected as president.

[9] As long as the number of seats in the House is an odd number, an Electoral Vote tie between the last two candidates is impossible.

[10] Were this system in use today, based on a House of Representatives with 435 seats, 24 states would elect all of its representatives at-large, and 14 more states would have just two Congressional Districts – which goes a long way towards solving the gerrymandering problem.

[11] This provision shortens the interregnum between the election and the inauguration of a new president.

 

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