Seth Woolley's Blog

Occasional Musings

response to vicki walker on irv(4)

Vicki Walker, Democratic Candidate for Secretary of State sent a response to a member of FairVote Oregon clarifying her research on advanced election methods such as Instant Runoff Voting.

It appears that she's just leapfrogged the intelligence of Brown and Metsger on the IRV issue, and she brings up a number of important points to consider about the issue.  Here, I will directly address her response:

I support many election reforms -- campaign finance reform, fairness in initiative reform, greater accountability in auditing the vote counts and final election results, fusion voting and some other system of voting that makes Oregonians feel as if their votes count -- as evidenced by my endorsement today from the Voter Rights Coalition and the Independent Party of Oregon.

Vicki's certainly leading the pack in reform organization endorsements.

I spent a lot of time reviewing IRV because that seems to be the favorite option among many Oregonians.  My first question about IRV is whether it would interfere with fusion.  That question has been answered satisfactorily that both methods can work in tandem.

Correct.  One is a method of labeling candidates, the other is an actual counting method.  Wholly distinct.

The next concern was with regard to the Oregon statutory authority. It is clear there are at least four provisions of the Oregon constitution that would apply to the use of IRV in local elections, and a home rule county or city would only need to adopt a change to their charter to facilitate IRV.  However, questions have arisen as to whether state statute is necessary to implement IRV.  There was a bill in the 2005 legislative session, HB 2638, that would have provided the enabling legislation but it did not even get a hearing and died in committee.  There may have been a similar bill in 2007; I do not recall.  I suspect the failure to move forward on this issue is that the current Election's Administrator, John Lindback, does not support preference voting, believing it gives some voters more votes than others. His other objection that our election equipment would not facilitate IRV is no longer valid because voting machinery and software is coming on line now that would allow for such voting methods.

I agree that John Lindback appears to be the main anti-preference advocate.  In my opinion, he's abusing his position to put forward incoherent objections to preference voting in the name of protecting his party from legitimate and fair competition, but I'm going to reserve calling that a fact until I can talk to him personally about the mathematical mistakes he's making.

First, it makes no sense that some voters get "more votes" under an IRV election.  Mathematically, every "republican form of government" (as opposed to, for example, direct democracy) voting system cannot accurately represent the electorate because the number of representatives is always fewer than the number of people it's intended to represent.

Technically, the closest way to approach accurate representation is to select representatives out of a completely random sample, but historically, that's difficult to audit because one man's random is another man's conspiracy.  Even though we have mathematical methods to analyze randomness, such a determination wouldn't be able to build confidence among the represented body because the processes are most likely above people's heads, and if jury selection is an example of how we currently attempt random selection of a jury of peers, I'm not sure it'd be a whole lot better than what we have now.  The other problem with random selection is that making coherent laws is a specialty that requires some expertise.  The entire system would require changes where new representatives are educated as they come in within a framework. We'd have to essentially have something akin to judges that oversee the process, and that also might introduce issues.  In theory if these hurdles can be overcome, it's my preferred method of selecting representatives, though.

Arrow's theorem shows us that given some arbitrary metrics of fairness, no election system can provably satisfy all of them due to inherent contradictions in the ideas of fairness that he chose to include.  Many election reformers and researchers have been attempting to resolve the fairness questions by changing his ideas of fairness to meet what they consider important or not and then picking the "best" system from their criteria.

I think the way around the issues of Arrow's theorem and related theorems is to understand that government is composed of checks and balances.  Since you can't satisfy everybody all the time, you should at least try to satisfy everybody at least some of the time.  What I mean by that is we should use different election methods for different purposes and ideally set them off as checks and balances against the biases of each other.

With that philosophical foundation, selecting election methods becomes a matter of understanding the point of each branch of government or elected office within those branches and designing a system that works to maximize the value of each type of election method.

But now, back to IRV and why it doesn't do what John Lindback thinks, according to Walker, "It gives some voters more votes than others."

Fillard Rhyne gave a mathematically sound response to this complaint: after each round of voting and the elimination of candidates as per its criteria (which is the source of its "bias", which I will get into later), each vote is counted.  The only way a voter can lose their vote in a new round is to not fully specify their preferences.  That's a decision the voter makes akin to not even voting in the first place, so I don't see that as an issue.  The important characteristic of IRV is that, if voters fully-specify their preferences, the candidate selected by IRV is ensured to have majority support as the highest ranked candidate among those not already eliminated due to not having enough votes in the previous rounds.

The major complaint against IRV that I'm aware of is that by using the highest ranked candidates in previous rounds, it's ignoring "general-but-not-highest" support of candidates who may be more favorable in average, but not the most favoriate of a substantial number of people.  This introduces what's called "non-monoticty" (one of Arrow's criteria) -- that ranking a candidate higher may actually hurt the candidate due to a secondary effect that it may cause votes that would have gone to them to go to another candidate because they still aren't high enough to prevent the candidate from being eliminated and the downranking of the higher up candidate may lead to the election (or near election) of a candidate higher up on their ballot.

This is where the bias of IRV comes from: how candidates are eliminated. It eliminates those who show the the least amount of "strong" support after each round, so, naturally, it elects those who have the strongest support of the majority (or near majority in the case of not-fully-specified ballots) of voters.  In the extreme, between a candidate with 100% approval but not strong approval versus a candidate with 51% approval but in all cases stronger than the the other candidate, the 51% approved candidate will win.

It's important to note that compared to normal plurality voting (where only one round is used), IRV is in all cases superior.  Plurality voting in fact has a very similar bias: in the situation above, the 51% approved candidate would win anyways!  IRV's weaknesses compared to single-round (or technicaly "fewer-round") plurality are thus from being too similar to plurality voting in the first place!

That's why such objections without a coherent replacement are merely advocates for keeping the even worse plurality system.

One valid reason for liking plurality voting over IRV voting, other than the simplicity arguments, is that when given multiple candidates, the two highest candidates end up facing off against each other with a stress on cooperating and eliminating the other candidates for the risk of spoiling.  They thus create a duopoly, when the process is repeated in subsequent elections (iterated, in math terms).

If you're a fan of the two-party system, then, plurality voting seems awefully favorable.

That's exactly why we need to get rid of it: because the two-party system is not an accurate representation of the electorate.  Two-party systems when themselves iterated (remember, repeated in successive elections), create positions where each candidate of the two major parties only wants to differentiate themselves on a few single issues and otherwise be as non-descriptive of their platform as possible.  If a candidates can successfully frame the debate betwen a set of gerrymandered litmus tests (for example, abortion rights, as happened recently, easily splits the country in two along rural/urban lines), the two parties can effectively gerrymander the electoral process to eliminate third parties.  Ironically, opposition to the occupation of Iraq, long a staple of third-party politics, is becoming a litmus between Democrats and Republicans in many parts of the country.

That's simply not an acceptable way to run government.  While I can personally disagree with occupation and war in the middle east and be pro-choice, it's frustrating that we can only address one issue at a time, and those issues are merely one part of a myriad list of issues that need to be addressed that run the gamut from Universal Health Care to Voter-owned Elections.

Finally, IRV is just one form of preferential voting.  As I have learned, there are numerous variations:  Borda, Bucklin, Condorcet, Range Voting, Runoff Voting, Exhaustive Ballot, to name a few.  In addition, the mathematical theories as to why one system is better than the other are so complex they make my head spin.

In my research, I've determined that the Preference systems with the most mathematically positive properties are IRV (and related STV), Condercet (and the related and much easier to count Range Voting).

One of the other methods can usually be reduced to having similar properties of those classes.  I tend to group them in two ways: those methods ideal for Proportional Representation (non-monotonic) and those methods ideal for General Representation (which usually happen to be monotonic).

In my platform, using my philosophy that we could simply use both categories of preference voting depending on the desired type of candidates we seek, I outline how we can use Condercet, IRV, and STV together in a very well-balanced electoral system, where we use IRV for issue-based seats like statewide offices such as Attorney General or Secretary of State (and local commissioner seats where they oversee specific parts of government), Condercet for Governor (and executive-like seats like mayor), and STV for representative bodies, where we use multiple seats to ensure some form of proportional representation.  State-wide, I also proposed keeping some form of regionalism by breaking up the multi-seat House of Representative elections into large super-regions to ensure bioregional interests are still intact).

The bottom line is that Oregon should explore using any one of these methods or a combination thereof to make its election system work in a way that every Oregonian feels their vote is counted.  IRV seems to be the most popular in the U.S. -- San Francisco has been using it in nonpartisan elections since 2003, and many other cities have joined in, and several states have enacted legislation that will eventually allow IRV.  As you know, Australia started using IRV in 1893 and continues using it today.

Yes, Oregon should explore and begin implementing preference voting in honor of the centennial of voters wanting it in the first place.

My record in the legislature has been strong, consistent and unwavering on giving every Oregonian a voice and a seat at the table.  I am open to supporting any efforts to improve upon the plurality voting system we have now. If the legislature is not willing to have public hearings on this issue, then as your next Secretary of State I will commit to appointing a citizen commission to begin the public discourse.

That's a good first step, but as Secretary of State, you'd have the ability to not only begin the public discourse, but to allow it to be implemented at the local level without even enabling legislation.  The entire "enabling legislation" idea is a ruse created by Lindback, probably at the behest of Bradbury.  The fact is that the state statute that requires a plurality to be elected is entirely consistent with IRV. IRV just adds an additional requirement that rounds be done to make sure that the plurality becomes a majority.  It's not mutually-exclusive. It's merely a failure to understand the math behind IRV that could lead one to think that plurality excludes IRV as an election counting method.

Here's some links I discovered in my research that you might find useful. I particularly appreciated the analysis by FairVote as to why the 2001 Eugene ballot measure failed.

http://www.fairvote.org/?page=1492

http://rangevoting.org/

I've helped publicize range voting in the past, and consider it a viable system for selecting for selecting a governor or executive among multiple candidates, although it's not without its strategic gaming possibilities (most people will just choose all or nothing) and it's incompatible with none-of-the-above directly (although one could say candidates that couldn't get greater than half the range could be indirectly interpreted as "none of the above".  Bayesian regret, though, appears to be low.  I'm leaning toward Condercet-style elections, personally.

http://www.votefair.org/compare.html

I'll note that the votefair person (a local of Portland, OR) makes some fundamental arguments that mistake IRV.  IRV can support equally-ranked candidates.  The votes are just split in half and counted thusly.  In reality though candidates are truly never equal, so this is mostly a non-issue if a slight improvement is made to typical IRV counting methods.

Secondly, the votefair person's arguments against proportional representation are specious and illogical.  PR works in countries without prime ministers and with presidents.  It can also be used in single-seat elections when you have many seats in the form of IRV, but it requires specific "tasks" for each office to be distinct and representative of issues in government (environmental officer, elections officer, attorney general, etc.).  It also criticizes party-ballot-line PR and blasts STV (the form of IRV they mention).  It seems they fail to understand (as published in a recent paper on the issue of non-monotonicity and PR), that STV's non-monoticity "unfairness" is precicesly what makes it create proportionality.  If monotonicity were required, the majority could take all the seats, leaving no minority representation, regardless of the strength of the minority's passion. the "votefair" method is unable to do PR by design.

Furthermore votefair appears to be just a slightly improved variation of Condercet (vulnerabile to Arrow's Theorem as well) with equal ranking allowed and with a tie-breaking method.  All my references to Condercet voting would thus apply to votefair, except for the above modifications. It might be usable for a Governor race or other executive, but because it is terribly bad at allocating proportional representation, it is entirely unfair for multi-seat elections and wouldn't be desirable for issue-based and task-based single-seats.  Be wary of persons promoting a silver bullet for all elections: they don't know what they are talking about.  He also doesn't acknowledge his debt to Condercet voting adequately, and his comparison table leaves out a number of additional criteria one may consider more important than his.

http://www.blueoregon.com/2005/03/instant_runoff_.html  (this was a very comprehensive discussion)

http://www.instantrunoff.com/

Again, thank you for your inquiry.  And please understand that while I support a wide variety of election reforms, my top priority upon my election will be directed at campaign finance reform, because I believe all roads lead back to the fundamental problem of big money pervading the functioning of our democracy.

Here, I definitely agree with Vicki Walker.  THE major stumbling block to implementing key election reforms and bringing government auditability back into the public discourse is big money and a lack of campaign finance reform.  I think Metsger's position on opening up the airwaves back to the public is the most key federal action we can do (FCC being a federal body), but locally, putting in place already-voted-upon-and-passed campaign finance regulation is the first step of any truly progressive Secretary of State.

Seth Woolley's Blog Seth4SOS

election integrity forum protest(0)

On May 3, Pacific Greens from across the state will gather at Portland's First Unitarian Church to protest lack of inclusion of Pacific Green Secretary of State Candidate Seth Woolley at a forum designed to address election reform issues that prevent increased participation of third parties in the electoral process.

"At first, the Pacific Green Party chose to endorse the [...] forum," said Woolley in a published statement regarding his lack of inclusion in the forum, "Then we heard minor party candidates weren't going to be included on stage with the other candidates seeking their party's nomination.  After trying to address the issue with the organizers, the Pacific Green Party's State Coordinating Committee was left with no other choice but to unanimously rescind its endorsement of the event."

After the Party revoked its endrsement, Woolley was forced to do a personal endorsement just to have an opportunity to table at the event.

The conflict left Woolley perlexed, "Honestly, I think the organizers are very well-intended people and I'm 100% behind the issues being presented getting their fair hearing with the all SOS candidates, but they let the issue of my lack of inclusion fester unresolved for long enough that once they realized it was an injustice they didn't feel they had time to go back to the candidates and tell them minor party candidates could be included."

"The party recognized, correctly, that lack of time was just a cop-out." He added, "The so-called 'spoiler' issue has, as we see, worked to prevent participation even within groups knowledgeable about the problem of leaving out diverse voices.  If anybody's a spoiler, it's major-party candidates like Bill Bradbury, our current Democratic Secretary of State, who work to pass legislation against the participation of third parties."

The May 3 Forum on Election Integrity is a cooperative forum of six different election integrity advocate groups promoting the issues of electoral accountability, reliability, and accessibility.  Seth Woolley is the Secretary of the Pacific Green Party of Oregon and is seeking the Pacific Green Party nomination for Secretary of State of Oregon.

Woolley's published statement follows:

In the U.S. today, the spoiler fear is so entrenched into the American Psyche thanks to the two-party duopoly's propaganda campaign similar to other totalitarian governments.  In Soviet America, you're given up to two choices for election, two pre-selected candidates with major funding and the Republicratic apparatchiki behind them.  Not voting for one of those two candidates (if there's even a contest) is  tantamount to treason in the eyes of either party.  It's simply "unamerican".

No, it's totalitiarian.  We must, as a people get over the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt campaign of the major parties, to vote our hopes and not our fears.

Yes, we can fix the problem.  We can eliminate the two-party stranglehold where debate has a focus on one issue that both parties can go along with.  How?  Eliminate the spoiler effect and implement Instant Runoff Voting (a form of Preference Voting), which has been Constitutionally enabled in the Oregon Constitution in Article II Section 16 for one hundred years.  Passed by Oregon voters in 1908 through the initiative process, now is the time we can choose to overcome the problem of voting for the lesser of two evils.  We can work to pass Instant Runoff Voting in the legislature, work to implement it with a ballot measure initiative, or just demand that our Secretary of State overcome the bipartisan agreement that the idea that the voters' preferences are not how to count public support for our representatives and directly implement, or even just allow at a local level, Instant Runoff Voting, where voters can specify their preferences so that candidates MUST get a majority of the people's preference.

Ironically, there was going to be a forum where the Secretary of State candidates could discuss the issues of opening up the process.

But it turned out not to be the case -- only the duopoly's candidates could discuss the issues.  Why?  "Lack of time to get buy in from the other candidates."  So, I, as a third party candidate, am left out of the debate, as usual.

It didn't look all so bad.

At first, the Pacific Green Party chose to endorse the election integrity forum.  Then we heard minor party candidates weren't going to be included on stage with the other candidates seeking their party's nomination.  After trying to address the issue with the organizers, the Pacific Green Party's State Coordinating Committee was left with no other choice but to unanimously rescind its endorsement of the event.

Honestly, I think the organizers are very well-intended people and I'm 100% behind the issues being presented getting their fair hearing with the all SOS candidates, but they let the issue of my lack of inclusion fester unresolved for long enough that once they realized it was an injustice they didn't feel they had time to go back to the candidates and tell them minor party candidates could be included.

The party recognized, correctly, that lack of time was just a cop-out. The so-called 'spoiler' issue has, as we see, worked to prevent participation even within groups knowledgeable about the problem of leaving out diverse voices.  If anybody's a spoiler, it's major-party candidates like Bill Bradbury, our current Democratic Secretary of State, who work to pass legislation against the participation of third parties.

Read more about the issues in my platform document, published here on this website, and then, send a message that enough is enough: vote for me for Secretary of State as a protest vote that you aren't being heard.

Even more importantly, It's not really an issue of "spoiling" the election in this case -- the Democrats and Republicans both have a history of abusing this office equally.  There's no "lesser evil" candidate to vote for.

Vote Seth for SOS -- help end the two-party system in Oregon.

Seth Woolley's Blog Seth4SOS

secretary of state(6)

Seth Woolley

Seth Woolley, Pacific Green for Secretary of State

The Secretary of State (SoS) is an important part of Oregon's Democracy. The SoS manages our elections, handles government corporation filings, sits on the State Land Board, manages the state computer systems, and performs auditing of state government.

The Democratic Party's control of the Secretary of State's office in recent times has proved to be hostile to democracy and transparency despite their public posturing. I outline in my detailed platform below problems that can be solved immediately with a change in leadership and ideas that can carry us toward more progressive, systematic reforms.

Immediately we can enact Preference Voting in the form of Instant Runoff Voting to eliminate the so-called spoiler effect, which is already enabled by our Constitution in Article 2, Section 16, but in the long run the most important position of the Secretary of State will be as a public advocate for openness, accessibility, and accountability. Issues like Campaign Finance Reform being ignored, despite the will of the people, and the reckless and often illegal violations of the right of voters to see independent or third-party candidates on the ballot should not go rewarded by electing more of the same two-party power-brokering candidates.

If you've ever had a reason to vote third party, now is the time. I invite you to read my platform and have the hope and faith that together, we can make a better world possible by breaking the chain of the status quo by voting for me, Seth Woolley, Pacific Green for Oregon Secretary of State.

Philosophy

"My job is to comfort the disturbed, and disturb the comfortable." -- Clarence Darrow

"The known is finite, the unknown infinite; intellectually we stand on an islet in the midst of in illimitable ocean of inexplicability. Our business in every generation is to reclaim a little more land." -- Thomas Henry Huxley

"Three passions, simple but overwhelmingly strong, have governed my life: the longing for love, the search for knowledge, and unbearable pity for the suffering of mankind." -- Bertrand Russell

Principles

Any Pacific Green Secretary of State of Oregon candidacy should apply the GPUS Ten Key Values and International Green Four Pillars to the requirements of the position. The following are corollary:

  • Elections should ensure that:
    • Representatives accurately reflect the electorate.
    • The initiative process is protected and viable.
    • Special and large-money interests are curtailed.
  • Auditing power should be open and decentralized: full transparency.
  • Sustainable use and protection of resources while on the Land Board.

Platform Contents

To those principles, the following platform derives itself.

  • Preference Voting e.g. Instant Runoff Voting
    • No Fusion instead of IRV, doesn't improve diversity
    • No Top-two false "open primary", gerrymanders and hurts diversity
  • Initiative Process must be made easier with true finance limits
  • Ballot Access should be more open
    • Affiliated voters must be able to nominate non-affiliated candidates
    • Funded primaries for minor parties with IRV
  • Legislative Redistricting
  • Further Systematic Election Method Reforms
    • Same Day Registration
    • Proportional Representation
    • Single-Transferable Voting for House
    • Condercet Voting for Governor
    • Instant Runoff Voting for Senate and other statewide offices
    • Binding None of the Above Voting
  • Alternative Systematic Reforms
    • Range Voting
    • Party Ballot-line Proportional Representation Voting
  • Election Reforms Regarding Ethical Elections
    • Campaign Finance Reform
    • Public Financing
    • Campaign Reporting
  • No More Black Box Voting
    • Open Source voting software and processes
    • Statistical sampling needs improvement
    • Paper ballots are good but not enough for full verification
  • Auditing and Central Computer System Administration
    • Central Computer Administration
    • Reducing the government's paper footprint
    • Identify exemptions we don't need
  • Represent All of Oregon
  • Land Board and Schools
  • Civic Education
    • "Youth" civic education
  • Corporations Division
  • Separation of Church and State
  • Bradbury and Brown represent partisan politics at its worst

Take-home message -- Why VOTE for SETH and the PACIFIC GREEN PARTY?

  • Campaign Benchmarks are gradual
    • Send a powerful message that voting for "the winner" cannot
    • Help maintain ballot status for future Greens and grow the party
  • Greens CAN and DO affect change
  • Register Green, Vote Green -- for your future

Detailed Platform

forward-looking

Below, you find my detailed platform. It's full of ideas and information.

I'm also open to discussion and more information. Until I get a forum setup, please send me email (seth at seth4sos.org) with ideas with a mind for both criticism and suggestion. One of the nice things about not being part of the power-elite is that I don't have a source of power other than from individual activists like you, so I can improve my platform and path, rather than being locked into one set by puppetteering power-brokers.

Preference Voting (e.g. Instant Runoff Voting)

Preference Voting is a Good Thing

The Secretary of State's office, under Democratic Leadership, has been illegally misleading legislators, the public, and local jurisdictions, in violation of Article II Section 16 of the Oregon Constitution, that Preference Voting requires "enabling legislation". Even if the SoS felt that state law that requires plurality for elections contradicts preference voting and would require a law change, it is merely the responsibility of the legislature to change the law to become compliant with the Constitution. No enabling legislation is first required.

Not only do they disagree about enabling legislation, they think that the Democratically-controlled legislature doesn't have the political will to change it.

But what's even worse is that they warned local jurisdictions that they would be sued by the state. Note that it is the purview of the Secretary of State themselves to pass off election law issues to the Attorney General!

That the Secretary of State's office misunderstands the key role of our Constitution isn't the problem. They aren't that dumb. They understand, actually, that preference voting would serve to fix the "spoiler" issue that enables them to manufacture consent for the two-party system. Such behavior is unethical and immoral.

We must be allowed to express our preferences accurately through being able to rank candidates like we've been "enabled" to do since 1908 when Oregonians enabled it in the first place. We've seen spoiled elections with Perot and Nader and even Kulongowski. When will we decide that the people's preferences actually matter when it comes to electing representatives?

The Democratic Party of Oregon supposedly supports IRV in its own platform! That was a nice platitude, but it doesn't actually fix the problem. We need action now and none of the existing candidates dare talk about this issue, although Rick Metsger seems to have shown some willingness to consider it. It now also appears that Kate Brown, also in private, "likes the idea". We need to keep the pressure on to make sure that actions follow words to completion. (c.f. HB 2761, Peter Buckley)

http://pine.ashland.or.us/pipermail/charter/2006-February/000877.html\
documents an example exchange with Greens working on the Ashland Charter Review Committee and the Secretary of State's office if you'd like to read more about the issue.

To see Bills previously introduced in the House and Senate by a Pacific Green in 2001 that were ignored in the legislature: http://www.leg.state.or.us/01reg/measures/hb3700.dir/hb3763.intro.htm\
l
http://www.leg.state.or.us/01reg/measures/sb0900.dir/sb0916.intro.htm\
l

Preference voting also saves money in the case of running non-partisan elections (you can skip the primary). You'd still need to allow parties to select their own candidates for partisan races.

Fusion is NOT a replacement for IRV

Fusion voting is NOT Proportional Representation. Brown thinks that Fusion will help third parties. Fusion voting prevents third parties from having their own slate of candidates distinct from the major parties. Look at the failure of fusion voting where it's been used (New York, for example). There are no real third parties at the table. It's just a way to allow people to pick slates based on the already existing and nominated candidates. Nobody's incentivized to participate in third parties other than as an endorsement vehicle. Guess what? The Democrats and Republicans are so alike, why would we desire to join that debacle? What we want to do is to add new ideas, not to say which existing ideas we want to support! Of course Brown wants to "consider it". It's another waste of time that gets us nowhere.

That being said, as long as parties could choose whether or not to participate in such a system by their own choice, other parties could choose fusion as their own endorsement vehicle, but the Pacific Green Party generally and historically does not believe in endorsing members of other parties. But be sure that fusion is NOT a complete solution to the spoiler problem.

Phil Keisling's Top-two "open primary" is a BAD thing

A top-two "open primary" would relegate minor party candidates to the primaries and it would also prevent parties from voting on selecting their own candidates. The second a violation of freedom of association in general by allowing people to state the affiliation by which they will appear on the general election ballot without the party being able to ensure they match their principles without a primary filter and the first is a violation of our right to run candidates in the general election. It doesn't solve the "two-party" system problem at all, it just assumes a Hegelian view of the world where everything is merely a dichotomy. The top "two" still get to the end, and in most jurisdictions it will just be two members of the same party. It's effectively a form of gerrymandering.

Initiative Process

Democrats want to eliminate our form of direct democracy because it might replace them or make them irrelevant. The initiative process is a critical part of the state's functioning. Yes, there are issues with it as it stands, but the issues have more to do with a lack of campaign limits (foreign and large donations from special interests) and public financing than they do with the idea itself. They would like to raise signature limits for constitutional changes, preventing the people's completely circumventing the legislature when it fails to act, like on Death with Dignity, Campaign Finance Reform, or Medical Marijuana, for example.

Right now I rarely run into signature gatherers who are true volunteers. Instead we need to ban all payment for signatures -- yes, even hourly, and correspondingly lower the signature requirements. Perhaps the best algorithm is to take the top ten signature gatherers above a certain low threshold so as to self-balance the process.

Ballot Access

Independent elector nominations not allowing registered members

The Democratic Secretary of State's office has failed to follow through with its obligation to provide open access to the ballot. The Secretary of State legally has rather loose rules for himself to put candidates on the ballot, but when third party or non-affiliated candidates desire ballot access, Bradbury worked hard to prevent it, violating the sacred trust his constitutents placed with him by electing him to administer our elections in the first place.

Eliminating the ability of voters in a primary to approve an independent elector nomination is absurd on its face -- non-affiliated campaigns provide a powerful check against party corruption and it is a violation of the right to free association to prevent people from getting candidates on the ballot that represent them. Rick Metsger is now airing television ads criticizing the other Democratic candidates for voting for this blatant power-grab (though Walker now admits it was a flawed vote). HB2614(2005). Third parties (in particular the Independent Party, who helped activist Greg Wasson sue the state, c.f. http://www.indparty.com/node/20 ) have also rightly criticized the law even though it doesn't directly apply to them -- although it was the reason for Linda Williams and Dan Meek creating the Independent Party of Oregon, in the first place -- Nader supporters could no longer get him on the ballot outside the Green Party, which was interested in running more progressive candidates than Nader.

Note the complete contradiction that is present when Brown talks about supporting "fusion" voting, which would blur the same party distinctions that she championed as her rationale for preventing registered party members from nominating non-affiliated candidates for public office. I don't like fusion voting myself because it prevents third parties from having its own slate of candidates distinct from the major parties, but there's no reason why we should prevent a non-affiliated candidate from registering their support from the entire population of Oregon. There simply is no "non-affiliated party" that can be "harmed" by allowing non-affiliated candidates from running. In fact, since more than one non-affiliated candidates may appear on the general election ballot and electors may sign as many petitions as desired, there's even no harm done there, too.

What it really comes down to is that Brown and Bradbury are merely trying to punish independent candidates when the true fix is to support Preference Voting such as Instant-Runoff Voting or Condercet Voting that prevent third parties and non-affiliated candidates from introducing non-majoritarian inconsistencies when they attempt to run for office.

Brown herself seems to confuse non-affiliated voters with the new Independent Party, which as I mentioned was created to work around the unreasonably restrictive changes in independent elector nominations in the first place. She seems to think that all non-affiliated candidates should just seek to run on the same ballot line in the same party as Nader just to have access. That's another violation of freedom of association -- freedom to not have to associate. The whole debacle now even more confuses voters.

It was simply a huge mistake all in the name of preventing access to the ballot to legitimate candidates as a form of over-reaching party protectionism.

Funded primaries for minor parties

In this age of computerized printing, it's absurd that minor parties have to pay for their own separate process for nominating candidates. Everybody registered with a minor party receives a generic non-partisan ballot. Well, they actually do have a party. Other states don't seem to have such a problem as we do. We need to modernize and provide the same level of service to minor parties that we do to major parties, otherwise it's subsidizing major parties unequally. The cost to send out the ballot is virtually identical and drains the coffers of minor parties. We know how to leverage economies of scale here and the technology is already there -- provide state-run primaries for minor parties. Also, making state-funded primaries would enable minor parties to use more creative election methods such as IRV. Oregon voters thought we could do it in 1908 when they passed a constitutional amendment to enable it.

Legislative Redistricting

Senator Brown is prepared to lead the gerrymandering-as-usual. She already has experience with federal redistricting and has shown to be able to get her plans through the legal process of the courts. The sad state of affairs with how the federal districts are split up is a prime example of how not to lay out districts. We've now got one contested seat (Hooley's) out of five. 80% of the electorate is now left out of the congressional debate.

I think it's clear that if a Green is elected for the Secretary of State that gerrymandering districts to promote one party over another would finally be eliminated. I don't think I could trust Brown in particular, as she's time and again discovered that her power comes from the party machinery and its core backers, not from the general electorate.

Unlike any of the other candidates, I'm a spatial data expert. I can ensure that districts are derived programmatically based on criteria we can all agree on through consensus, without regard to the no-nos of gerrymandering, and that do follow more natural boundaries that are easy to understand.

Systematic Election Reform

Note that these reforms below are often not immediately enabled and I'd advocate for enabling legislation for some of them at the state level. I believe it's possible just to implement, for example, IRV through an administrative rule since it doesn't violate any existing laws (yes, even the plurality requirement in my judgement). Though, to be realistic, if I'm not elected, state-level IRV would have to be mandated through, for example, legislature or ballot measure initiative.

I'd be most active, at first, with allowing the local option for IRV on a trial basis, developing the knowledge, software (open source, of course) processes, and procedures to further expand the program until we can run a state-wide IRV-based election later on, but one of the easiest accessiblity reforms is really just a minor tweak -- reinstating same day registration.

Same Day Registration

Same day registration was eliminated to protect against same-day residency changes from throwing rural elections. The better fix was to require 21-day residency before registration while still allowing same-day registration. The more people vote, the better, and this is one way to immediately raise turnout. The Green Party's own processes allow same-day registration for nominations.

Proportional Representation

To enable true representation we'd take our fake-bicameral system and turn the house into a proportional representative body with ten regional districts of six at-large members elected through Single-Transferable Voting. No parties need be involved and the anathema of partisanism is allayed.

Single-Transferable Voting

Single-transferable Voting (STV) is a Proportional Representation system that involves ranking candidates. Getting enough first-place votes above the threshold (one out of the number of seats plus one) qualifies you as elected immediately. If there aren't enough people elected in the first round, the overvotes to those elected are fractioned and transferred to the next preferred person. When repeating overvote down-transfering, the last place person is removed and anybody who was voting for them has their next preference voted for. The process is repeated until all seats are filled. It creates proportional representation because any candidate with 14% preference can be elected instead of requiring 50%. It also goes against people who are "generally" agreeable and refuse to elucidate what they believe because they don't want to be politically-incorrect because it's those who have a strong base of support that get elected, not those who just shook hands and kissed babies and said the right things with lots of money. That's what Condercet voting biases toward. STV is a "superset" of Instant-Runoff Voting (IRV). think of IRV as a form of STV but with only one elected candidate.

We'd leave the Senate as a regional-representative body of 30 members of 30 districts as a check, with Instant-Runoff Voting to ensure they are majority-selected but representative of strong interests within each region. See also the section below on Party-line PR.

Condercet Voting

I'd then use Condercet Voting for the governorship to ensure that the governor represents everybody most accurately. Condercet Voting is where you use a computer to evaluate ranked preferences (first, second, etc.) by exploring all permutations of candidates and count who wins the most elections. It elects the most generally favorable and is monotonic (unlike IRV/STV). Monotonicity is a property of elections systems where placing a candidate higher in the preference never hurts the candidate's chance of getting elected. See also the section below on Range Voting.

Instant Runoff Voting

Lastly, I'd use IRV for state-wide elections other than the governor. That way, candidates who are most passionate about using the office for its particular purpose get elected, and not smiley-gladhand-types that Condercet would bias toward (like the Governor).

Binding None of the Above Voting

If candidates are forced to work against "none-of-the-above", when combined with preference voting, negative campaigning can be virtually eliminated. Particularly as part of the general election, none-of-the-above should be a required option to ensure that the people can reject all the candidates and finally get somebody that truly represents them. People historically unlikely to run because of vitriolic campaigns may be more likely to put themselves up for civic participation if they realize the voters do have an option to really express their preferences without having to worry about the Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt surrounding business-as-usual politics.

None-of-the-above also works well with preference voting such as STV and IRV by never eliminating a fake "none-of-the-below" candidate in a preference scale for each ballot. That way, anybody below that line can never use the preferences underneath it to gain elected office and a new election is called to fill any remaining seats left afterwards.

Alternative Systematic Reforms

Here are a couple ideas that I think are also interesting and could be done as part of a more long-term systematic reform or may be used in place of some of my proposals above, but don't fit exactly into the platform above.

Range Voting

Range Voting is where you rank candidates from a scale (say, 1 to 10) instead of by decreasing preference, which is already allowed by our constitution. Due to the language, I'm unsure if range voting would qualify under our Constitution, but one could certainly argue that it does. Most of the benefits of range voting are a combination of Condercet voting and Instant Runoff Voting. Range voting is not a form of proportional representation and won't bias toward the person with the most support of a passionate majority (in that it maintains monotonicity), bug rather it would bias toward those who are generally favorable as in Condercet Voting. However, Range voting has been shown to exhibit "least bayesian regret" (c.f. my slashdot submitted article: http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/01/06/0649217 ). It's also rather easy to count (just add it up, similar to approval voting, but with gradations). The only substantial reason to not do IRV and do Range voting instead is if you are not seeking proportional representation and you're not using a system of none-of-the-below. Without an elimination option, IRV ballot spoilage is more likely (people will simply not place their disfavored on the ballot, which is kinda a roundabout way of getting disfavor) so it's hard to determine whether or not there's substantial negative sentiment toward the winner if they win in very late rounds (which is exceedingly rare but plausible). Range Voting as a non-proportional system is rather inferior for multiple-seat elections in portraying and representing the electorate.

Party Ballot-line Proportional Representation Voting

Party-line voting is where parties select a slate from first through the number of seats available and voters cast votes for parties directly. Preferences are limited to what can be expressed through unique parties. This tends to work once parties become more established. I like single-transferable voting (STV, described above) voting to more directly select representatives, though, because there's also a say in what order the reps show up at the same vote. In a party-line vote, the same representative order function can be computed by a partisan primary using range voting or STV within the parties. Party-ballot with STV is already "enabled" by the Constitution, but it would require a constitutional amendment to, for example, make the house selected by party-line voting as in the proposed initiative text for Oregon archived at http://listas.apesol.org/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/19\
97-September/001523.html
(Greens like Blair Bobier were influential in this campaign back in '97 as well).

Election Reforms Regarding Ethical Elections

Campaign Finance Reform

Oregon voters have time and again voted for campaign finance regulations only to have them thwarted by a complex misinterpretation of the Oregon Constitution that has through the court system equated money with speech. The legislature, however, has been unwilling to act to remedy the situation itself by referring a one-line constitutional change to the voters (money is not speech) to the voters with its endorsement. The existing swath of candidates has talked a little about enabling it, finally, so we can catch up with the rest of the US in this regard, but nobody has made it a core issue of theirs. Third parties (members of the Pacific Green Party and the Independent Party) have been instrumental in pushing for this popular change that the two major parties have been unable to come to terms with. It's time to elect a leader to the Secretary of State position who will support the systemic reforms we need to keep the Enrons and the Sizemores from legally (well, in Sizemore's case -- not so legally) bribing our public officials and public processes.

Public Financing

Public Financing of campaigns is another critical part of returning ownership of the electoral process to the voters, not to big-money. Corporate papers all over the state are trying to find ways to criticize Portland's experiment with voter-owned-elections, but the Secretary of State should be leading the way by learning from Portland's experience, improving it, and then implementing the lessons state-wide.

Campaign Reporting

Crippled by the Oregon Supreme Court's misinterpretation equating money with speech and being unwilling to actively support Oregon Constitutional changes to clarify the situation, Brown and Bradbury have made a system of legislation that requires fines and reporting and double-accounting to provide some sense of campaign openness. One side-effect of their red-tape creation is that it's prohibitive for small campaigns to effectively raise funds without hiring people to double-enter every transaction and to be personally liable for large fines for accidentally failing to report campaign contributions exactly as the law requires (it's not very simple as it is now).

The SoS already requires separate bank accounts and for one to file the bank account information with them. They also have a bank-like website, ORESTAR, where people have to then enter their information in. People have to be hired to enter or automate transactions details and it is almost prohibitive for a candidate to be their own treasurer due to all the paperwork (although now most of it is "on-line". Since I'm a Software Engineer with an ability to automate filings like this, it doesn't affect me as much, so I can be my own treasurer, but I can see that the bar is raised unreasonably high by extra red-tape.

Instead, the Secretary of State should just become a bank for those who choose to use them, where any funds going into it will be checked by their staff for compliance before even going in. The liability then is removed from the candidate, and it's much more simple for grassroots candidates to raise their own funds this way. Of course, Public Financing will help make this solution moot, but as a backup plan, I don't see why it won't make everybody's life easier. The SoS can then use the interest on the account to help pay for its administration just as regular banks do.

No More Black Box Voting

Open Source voting software and processes

As a software engineer in both proprietary / open source software, computer security researcher / auditor, and elections administrator, I've kept up on the technical issues with voting machines and verification processes used in elections. To ensure openness and transparency of our elections, we need to shift to more fundamentally secure systems in the vein of Kerckhoffs' principle, that anybody who knows how the system works will be unable to exploit it if it's designed properly.

Statistical sampling needs improvement

Even though we use all paper ballots in our trendsetting vote-by-mail system, the Diebolds and the Sequoias still end up counting our votes, plus, as has been pointed out by the Oregon Voter Rights Coalition, the sampling used to verify those systems is nowhere near a precision that can mathematically thwart systemic election fraud or software bugs.

Paper ballots are good but not enough for full verification

A further issue remains with our vote-by-mail system. While at least there is a paper record, the process by which ballots are sent out and returned is far from secure and depends upon security by fine and fiat.

The vote-by-mail system is overall a good thing for improving the accessibility of our democracy, however, and I would propose changes to improve it, not scrap it.

Using the mathematics of asymmetric encryption which uses public-private key encryption and digital signatures, like FIPS PKCS (Federal Information Processing Standard Public Key Cryptography System) or Matt Zimmerman's PGP (Pretty Good Privacy), which is now an IETF (Internet Engineering Task Force) standard with OpenPGP, we can study how to use computers to ensure transport of our vote, and even the proper counting of the vote. The GNU/Linux distribution I volunteer for uses a voting system I helped design that uses end-to-end encryption and full-publicly-auditable digital signatures to ensure that the votes are counted, regardless of the desires of the vote counter itself while still maintaining a secret ballot. See http://lists.ibiblio.org/pipermail/sm-discuss/2006-June/014720.html for my short program that creates anonymous receipts in a PGP ballot system and http://sourcemage.org/SourceMage/Voting_Policy for its framework.

Additionally, it's possible to ensure that only the vote counter (which can be fully automated) can know the identity of the votes (and not the general public through their own receipts) while still ensuring an independently verifiable vote by incorporating an additional escrow key that's only released to election notaries who are responsible for verifying for the voters. The receipt signature is salted with the escrow key before being made public. Recounts can be performed by turning over the votes (untied to identity) and escrow key to an independent implementation and tabulated to double-check. Individuals may then approach an election notary with the escrow key to ensure at least their vote was counted accurately. That adds some complexity but has protections for both the voter and the vote counter (to ensure the voter doesn't sell their vote, which would only be possible with the collusion of a notary and the leak of the escrow key). Preventing the leak of the escrow key can be done by certifying escrow key management implementations and maintaining them under tight security so that even notaries don't have to have it, but instead use their own public/private key system to authenticate with the secure notaries. It's even possible to split the escrow key up into many portions and distribute unique escrow keys to each notary who are then responsible for recounting a different portion of the vote. The recount allocations may be doubled and overlapped so as to prevent a single notary from falsifying their certifications.

The technology is already here to do full verification of elections to ensure no votes are ever miscounted, but it will take some time to get there. The processes need to be designed and vetted and made open. The implementations need years of open certification time to ensure proper peer review, and trial runs need to be executed to work out usability kinks and to familiarize voters gradually to enable work out public acceptance.

It's unfortunate extremely poorly-designed computer voting systems have ruined the reputation of the power of mathematics for those not experts in the field. For now we must rely on paper-verifiable and recountable ballots with proper statistical sampling to ensure the integrity of our elections.

Auditing and Central Computer System Administration

In the tradition of ORESTAR, but much better implemented, we need to open up access to all branches of government. Walker came up with some great political ideas here, like requiring individual branches of government to pay for their own audits, but we need to go further.

My professional experience performing computer security auditing informs how I would do audits. Right now the state has only a couple dozen people responsible for tracking the entire state's budget. We need to help those people perform their job better by opening up budget information in an open fashion. We shouldn't require a request to trigger an opening up of data. All of government's functions can be made open and accessible (except for uniquely identifiable information, which the existing government auditors would have sole access to). We'd then put a small bounty on finding ways to identify waste. Just like the bottle bill that incentized people to pick up litter, even when they weren't the ones littering because of the inherent value of the trash, I'd allow people to make a reasonable living rooting out problems and inefficiencies in government. Any waste-hunter may file reports with the auditors, who would then review it with a committee with other waste-hunters, which would then lead to peer-reviewed proposals for resolution that would be given to the ways and means chair for consideration. The media would be able to publicize waste proposals that weren't voted on and the SoS website would have a searchable interface and a breakdown of all potential sources of waste presented graphically by department or region. Here again I'd use my spatial data expertise to mash up the data into an easy-to-use and discoverable format.

Outside of confidential hiring and employee review matters, everything government does needs to be more open than it is now. I'm the only candidate qualified to really open up the process. Vicki Walker is probably the best mainstream candidate to fill this role, but I think I can do it better.

Central Computer Administration

The Secretary of State also administers the computer systems for the state government. I'm the only candidate (other than Wells, who is running a ballot-statement-only campaign in the Democratic Primary and thus who I won't be challenging in the general election) who has any substantive computer technology experience. Over Wells, though, I have administration experience in mission-critical (e.g. health care) and large installs (national laboratories). I've worked with everything from supercomputing hardware used for nuclear munitions testing, oil and gas exploration, and digital animation, to writing core engine code for the technology that powers most of the Internet and cellular mapping applications. In working for the State of Oregon, I'd essentially be getting a pay cut as well, so you know I'm definitely not in it for the pay. I've been contacted by the State's recruiters to work in an analyst capacity for the State, but I'm already employed and was considering running for this office so I didn't pursue it.

Reducing the government's paper footprint

The Secretary of State's office publishes most of the paper put out by the state government. As Secretary of State, I'd ensure that staff and the public should be able to do as much work on-line, without fax machines and mass printouts as possible. Paper is still a very important backup system for certain kinds of static data, but where possible, decentralized electronic backup systems would be the norm as long as the carbon footprint of the computers underweighed the paper carbon footprint.

Identifying Exemptions We Don't Need

As auditor, it would be my duty to find and point out problems in the tax code. Here are just a few examples.

Property tax exemptions that can be removed:

  • Religions shall not be subsidized by the state, period. They must pay their fair share along with everybody who doesn't want to go to a church. I would strike the exemption of 307.140 Property of religious organizations.  If an organization wants to keep their tax exemption they can become true non-profits and be subject to the corpus of law surrounding transparency and anti-discrimination for real non-profits.
  • Likewise, 307.136 Property of fraternal organizations. Why are we subsidizing exclusivistic clubs of old white men?  Seriously!  Federal tax code allows fraternal organizations to participate in religious exclusivism and still get tax exemptions.  Not on our property tax dimes anymore, I say.
  • And here, Paul Allen has enough money as it is: 307.171 Sports facility owned by large city. Any sports facility owned by a city with a population of at least 500,000 is exempt from taxation, even if leased to or operated by a taxpaying entity.
  • Exemptions for higher education facilities and schools which require religious instruction that are exempted by e.g. 307.145 and 307.195 would be taken away. If you want to proselytize, it shall not be subsidized by people of other religions.
  • Exemptions would be removed related to the military reserve portion of of those persons actively deployed in wars of aggression such as Iraq and Afghanistan under 307.286 Homestead exemption for Oregon National Guard, military reserve forces or organized militia of any other state or territory of the United States in active deployment.
  • No corresponding exemption for homeowners improving their own homes, so I'd remove this: 307.330 Commercial facilities under construction.

I'm sure if that got added up, we'd save millions and also force the sale of many unreasonably protected buildings for better purposes. Some of our most valuable property is held by old institutions getting an undeserved free ride, often in violation of the first and fourteenth amendment rights of others.

Income tax is another beast in itself, and most of my issues with the local tax code I cover further down under the Separation of Church and State that deal with closing the loophole for religious institutions -- especially those performing political lobbying.

Representing all of Oregon

Currently, there are no young people represented at the state level. All my competitors have been politicking for twenty or thirty years in the public limelight (yes, even the Republican, even though he likes to think he's some "Average Joe", when he's really just been a "mouthpiece" for the corporate media). Instead, you can choose an activist experienced with research and development and automation who is not afraid to talk openly and honestly about relevant issues in order to directly solve problems. Think about it -- we have three television reporters (Rick Dancer, Rick Metsger, and Bill Bradbury himself) -- are we really so sheep-like that we vote for the talking-heads on television? I know Governor Tom McCall wasn't a bad pick (he also was a TV reporter), but seriously, let's be at least a little more creative.

I may live in the city and bike to work, but most people don't realize I'm also a big game hunter, familiar with firearms, and was raised by mixed-party parents in exurban schools in the Pacific Northwest (Vicki Walker's birthtown of Monroe, WA). My father grew up on a farm in Minnesota to become a fourth grade teacher and a truck driver trainer and my mom is an elementary school secretary who's been elected to the local park board (up in Monroe). They taught me the family values they grew up with from the blue collar life of my maternal side to the agricultural life of my paternal side. At no time was I taught the life of the lawyering or teleprompter-reading power-brokers politicos of today's political climate in Oregon.

Land Board and Schools

The State Land Board is a trust for Education that the SoS sits on. You can read about it here:

http://www.childrenslandalliance.com/states.php?view_state=51

One thing to note is that Senator Walker wants to use the State Land Board to: "Encourage further exploration of creative projects and public-private partnerships to develop destination resorts and planned communities on state trust and in-lieu lands in Central Oregon and other high-growth areas of the state, such as the Stevens Road Tract." and to "Encourage the production of alternative energy on state trust lands and utilize Article XI-D of the Oregon Constitution to help develop these projects."

First, Green policy would require that we privatize as little as possible -- full ownership of profits would be how to maximize revenue for schools. Secondly, Article XI-D does not enable alternative energy, just hydroelectric power. Greens don't advocate the use of hydroelectric build-outs, particularly on streams where salmon spawn. I'm unsure why Article XI-D is even needed for such alternative energy investment in any case. On land suitable, wind power and solar-hydrothermal power may be very profitable, but we should be careful not to impact environmentally-sensitive areas, and I'd see how much land can be used for environmental education and enjoyment with impact-fees assessed to provide profit for the schools.

Additionally, Walker wants to increase the corporate tax for schools, but I wouldn't advocate an increase in the corporate tax unless it applied only to foreign corporations and we taxed the profits and losses directly in the state as an alternative computation. Corporations should never be able to use interrelationships between foreign and our own tax structures as shelters to avoid paying taxes on profits extracted from Oregonians. Money should stay in Oregon whenever possible. We shouldn't increase the corporate minimum tax because it can hurt small businesses just trying to get a start. Instead we should repair it so that it affects businesses that do make profits -- or whose executives make egregious salaries as an alternative form of profits.

Civic Education

On the issue of Civic education, Metsger is correct that we're woefully undereducating Oregonians about the political process. In just one example of how astonishingly dumb our state can be about on-line access: http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20080416-oregon-publishing-our-l\
aws-online-is-a-copyright-violation.html

If we're required to know the law, and yet we're unable to communicate the law to others verbatim -- there's a real problem of justice. Require an "as-of" date or require its being up-to-date or some other such requirement, but not allowing other websites to place the laws on-line in a more accessible way runs counter to modern notions of education.

"Youth" civic education

Brown has suggested that we text message young people with "civic" education. First, I would make sure we require telcos make these free messages as part of the franchise fee for operating within our borders, and second, we'd have to have a way to opt in to such messages depending upon the type or source.

I find it a little humorous that a bunch of late-forties and early-fifties people (a generation older than me as I'm approaching my late twenties) are trying to figure out how to get young people involved. The Green registration numbers show that an astonishing number of new registrants are in the 18-29 age group. Perhaps they could try to be more frank and progressive to try to get interest. Perhaps they could shine a little light and hope into the process by not being such sticks in the mud about new ideas. Perhaps they need to visit high schools for once. Walker would have us give graduates from high school a registration card as part of their matriculation. Guess what? Most kids turn 18 their senior year and should already be registered. In fact, we're allowed to be registered here while we're 17 in preparation for being 18. We could also lower the voting age to 16 for certain elections to make high schools a viable place to get the vote out. Perhaps legislators could have Hawaiian t-shirt Fridays or something along those lines. Same-day registration and on-line communication with legislators where people can see how their messages align with others' communications and discussion forums rather than "committee meetings" where you have to drive to Salem to be heard would help. Think-social-networking instead of think-of-the-children.

Also, elected officials don't realize that the young age group is a lot more educated and aware than their own generation, particularly with regard to cynicism about the process. Wikipedia is the new television. Interests are a lot more diverse. The Information Age is finally coming to fruition. They just don't align with the old left-and-right debate anymore. It's much more nuanced, and dare I say, independent. To young people, Bush and the Republicans just want to send them off to war or tell them what they can and can't do or make education more expensive and the Democrats just want to prevent them from downloading music because it might hurt their Hollywood donors. Remember that it was Tipper Gore that championed the cause against explicit lyrics in music. Also, there's no trustworthy translation from legalese to titles. "No Child Left Behind" "Healthy Forests Initiative" "Patriot Act". The younger generation has learned not to trust any party.

They can't trust the Democrats to prevent rotten trade deals that lose factory jobs that might have helped them enter the middle class. They can't trust the Republicans to stay out of their lives. The Democrats can't even be trusted to get us out of a war despite their ability to defund it. Instead they have to wait for a power grab for the presidency. 98% of historians think Bush's Presidency is one of the worst in history and most think it's THE worst in history and the Democrats have nothing to muster but a preach-but-do-nothing "minister of hope" and a rigid attack-machine former Republican woman.

Everything exciting about politics has come from the ballot measure initiatives. Why? The legislature is the last place to expect real change anymore -- why do you think young people aren't paying attention to it? Maybe they are actually smarter than you think and it's not been worth their time for the lack of gains they see -- and that they are outnumbered by the old people messing everything up for them. Provide the ability to register and read about the candidates in an on-line system that's much easier to use than the one we have and perhaps we'd increase the youth turnout dramatically.

Corporations Division

As the administrator of the Corporations Division, the Secretary of State should champion legislation that calls for the revocation of state charters for law violations of corporations so that they are unable to do business in the state. Human or labor rights violations, political bribery, violations of tax abatement agreements, and other illegalities should permanently lead to a revocation of their corporate charters. Corporate personhood is a concept whose time was born of railroad robber baron corruption and now its time is here to die. Corporations must die if they gravely violate the law.

The corporation should be separate from the state, but only inasmuch as it it's a law-abiding member of society. Like a church may not violate the social contract by killing its members in ritual sacrifice, so too should not a corporation sacrifice the public on the altar of profits.

c.f. http://swoolley.org/blog.cgi/roger%20williams%20and%20his%20bloody%20\
tenent%20of%20persecution

Separation of Church and State

The Secretary of State's office is in a unique position to champion the separation of church and state due to its control over both the Corporations and Elections Divisions. Similar to my stance on separating Corporation and State, it should be a paramount goal of the state to ensure that no church impedes the state's power of the state's affairs.

Lobbying government, supporting candidates, and other political activity of churches should nullify the church's tax abatements, which they should never have had in the first place, as they violate the wall of separation between church and state by being effective subsidies of religion. This is in line with Section 501(h)(5), relating to 501(d) churches, preventing churches from using section 4911 of the Federal Internal Revenue Code for lobbying expenses.

Even without that premise being established (as it's not the direct role of the Secretary of State, but perhaps the Secretary of Treasury), any church that leaves a non-profit mission and begins to advocate political changes effectively changes its mission from non-profit to "for-prophet" (another form of a for-profit entity, except a "for-prophet" entity is rooted in a deeper sense of hucksterism than corporations can manage: a gravity of false promises that extends its pseudo-reward-con-artistry to beyond the grave). With that change in behavior, candidates who accept such in-kind contributions as attending candidate forums that fail to document such in-kind contributions should be fined for failing to report under existing campaign finance openness requirements. Churches who are reported to be giving in-kind contributions to political candidates or campaigns shall have their non-profit corporation status revoked and they will be immediately liable for back-taxes covering the period when they changed their mission. If a church wants to participate in politics, expect it to file its own PAC and to pay property taxes just as any other non-relgious organization would be required to do. "no law" includes structural favoritism and government subsidies. Furthermore, if a 501(c)8 fraternal organization uses 501(i)1b, to discriminate based on religion, it should also be subject to revocation of its charter if it participates in section 4911 of the Federal Internal Revenue Code.

While it would be nice to close the loopholes federally, we can still close them at the state-level through charter revocation and adjustments to our own tax codes.

In addition, I'd leverage the Auditing Division to root out government grants awarded to faith-based institutions and have them flagged as examples of government waste as violations of the 1st and 14th amendments. Government payouts to faith-based entities are merely forms of subsidy to the churches who want it to appear that they are actually helping the community, when in fact, it's merely taxpayer money that is providing the basic services. If church members want to support a cause, they can file a separate organization with non-profit status that forbids any religious interfering with the mission. No proselytizing to receive the benefits of government subsidy, for example. No preventing access to valid medical procedures for religious reasons if you want to receive state subsidies, as well.

Bradbury represents the national DLC and DNC, not local Oregonians

Bill Bradbury, the current Secretary of State was a member of the Democratic Leadership Council (AKA New Democrats), a right-wing organization designed to move the Democratic Party from its base and try to steal confused swing voters while taking funds from corporate interests who would like to see a more Republican-lite Democratic Party. Currently he's a member of the Democratic National Committee and has superdelegate status. By participating in the Democratic Party's undemocratic superdelegate system, he's demonstrating that he doesn't truly believe in a one-person-one-vote system for candidate nominations, but rather, special status for party leaders, who get an extra vote that counts the same as tens of thousands of rank-and-file members. And this is the man and Party we've entrusted with our elections. It's time for change.

Bradbury and the DNC is being sued for violations of civil rights

Bradbury is currently being sued by Ralph Nader, et al. over clear violations of election law pertaining to preventing Nader from being on the 2004 ballot as an independent. While the Greens were not running Nader and still are not (Cynthia McKinney is doing rather well in the delegate counts for the Greens), Greens hold strong and fast to the idea that open access to the ballot is a critical part of the democratic process. Diversity of opinion is the bedrock of our democracy.

Bradbury changed requirements without giving campaigns time to meet new, arbitrary rules, and supported efforts to rig candidate nomination via convention by promoting unethical loopholes (stand-ins at independent elector conventions as well as independent elector signature sheet vandalism) that deprived a legitimate candidate of their right to be on the ballot.

Democratic Secretary of State Bradbury further had the power to right the wrong by fiat according to state law, but it was already his declared intent to find any way possible to deprive somebody of their well-earned right to be on the ballot. Were it not for a politicized Oregon Supreme Court that arbitrarily overturned the decisions of two lower courts in chastising Bradbury's behavior, Nader would have been on the ballot in 2004 in Oregon.

Kate Brown follows in Bradbury's mold

Senator Brown has been touting Bradbury as her mold to follow. She wants to follow in his successes. If that's the case, we can also expect more of the same failures of leadership.

Seth Woolley -- Pacific Green for Secretary of State

The spectre of another Bradbury prompted my run for Secretary of State.

I couldn't in good conscience let the Democrats, who tell us they're for the little guy, close up our election processes and sit in the halls of power without any checks on their accountability.

I've seen too many good ideas ignored by the self-proclaimed progressive Secretary of State for being "not politically viable". That's a lack of clear leadership. Part of the office is to be that leadership for Oregon, for our future, the future that my generation represents.

Campaign Benchmarks are gradual

Some people may be wondering what benefit a minor party candidate provides and why they should vote for one?

Send a powerful message that voting for "the winner" cannot

Every person who votes to spoil an election is another reason why we need election reform. Be that message. This is THE office where I CAN make a difference if elected. If you care about supporting minor parties AT ALL, THIS is your time to vote third party.

I go into this with no illusions, but I ask for your hope and faith that a better world is possible.

Help maintain ballot status for future Greens and grow the party

Oregon law has various benchmarks for a statewide races for candidates of minor parties. I'm likely the only statewide candidate for the Pacific Greens, so you have to vote for me to help the party out with these benchmarks. Please register with the Green Party to get involved, but even if you have not, you can still use the power of your vote to help the party.

  • 0.1% helps maintain ballot status for the next election
  • 1% helps maintain ballot status regardless of registration numbers
  • 5% would ensure that some of the Green's more palatable proposals are taken seriously
  • 15% would give the greens major party status and fully-funded primaries
  • 34% would be enough to elect me in a three way race if it's close
  • 51% would be enough to guarantee my election

Greens CAN and DO affect change

In 2004, I helped Teresa Keane get the largest percentage of any Green in a US Senate race (against Wyden and King) in a two month campaign on a platform emphasizing Universal Health Care.

Now Ron is advocating universal health care in a non-election year for him. That's just one recent example. Greens help CHANGE THE DEBATE. We make the ideas palatable so that the power structure can no longer ignore them.

Without third parties, we wouldn't have women's suffrage (right to vote), the civil rights movement (e.g. black panthers), the 40 hour work week and the labor movement (socialists like Eugene Debs), the end of slavery (with the Republican Party), the direct election of senators (used to be appointed by state legislators). Progressive and populist parties popped up and then had their ideas adopted by the major parties of the time, or they completely replaced another party.

Register Green, Vote Green -- for your future

If you haven't thought of registering Green, or you have but just didn't have a reason to -- now is the time. And remember, vote your conscience, not how people tell you to vote because of fear, uncertainty, or doubt created by the power-elite. Be your own voice for change. Realize that your actions transcend a single election. Look to the future, not the now. Together, we can make a better world possible.

Seth Woolley's Blog Seth4SOS