We here at LIV believe that election reforms are great, but they are not to be confused with POLITICAL reform. Any good election reform can be deformed by the two-party system that founding father, George Washington, warned about in his farewell address as follows:
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
To make these election reforms (and many more not listed here) true reforms what we need (as a prerequisite) is the education, mobilization and development of the non-aligned voters -- we Texas independents. We're the growing plurality (there are more of us than Democrats or Republicans), but we have to find a way, short of being partisans ourselves.
Straight Ticket Voting Ends in 2020 Election!
This reform was accomplished in the 2017 Legislative Session and will be in place for the 2020 Presidential election. Now, Texas voters will have to think before they vote -- actually read down the list of candidates and choose in each race or not. The beauty is that independents and minor party candidates (Libertarian and Green, for now, in Texas) will more likely be seen.
Very few states now allow for straight ticket voting. This anti-competitive mechanism provided the "coattail effect" which can backfire on the major parties too. Read this Amarillo Globe Opinion Editorial for more.
How the abolition of straight ticket voting in Texas might impact on the 2020 election is a subject we at LIV are taking a look at. Join us for a discussion about it -- take our survey on the home page and feel free to contact us, come to our next event or we might soon be in your community.
Implement Independent Citizens Redistricting Commissions
Done, but only in city of Austin
(2012 via citizens petition -- read it here)
The redistricting debacle in Texas, has left most Texans, unless they pay strict attention, unaware of who their Congressional representative is. Democrats ruled Texas and its redistricting with an iron fist until the early 90s, when Republicans took their place.
The good news is that this has broadened the call to disarm both parties of their redistricting weapons with an independent citizens redistricting commission (ICRC). In November 2012, Austin voters passed the first independent citizens redistricting commission in Texas. The Austin ICRC is modeled off of California's commission (that failed passage 6 times until they got their system right -- that is non-partisan) chosen through an innovative lottery system that chooses qualified citizens without conflicts of interest to draw the lines. We need redistricting reform at the state and and federal level for our Congressional redistricting.
The reality is that independent citizens redistricting is a huge reform and by and large exist in states that allow citizen petitions for statewide ballot measures -- see more below about "I&R". Eight states have commissions for Congressional redistricting and 14 states have commissions for state legislature redistricting -- see more here at Ballotpedia.
We highly recommend the documentary,
"Gerrymandering." Enjoy the interview with one of our founders, Linda Curtis, who says, "I humbly played a bit part because I'm an independent and drawing district lines is for the big dogs -- the Ds and Rs."
Protect the Right to Initiative, Referendum and Recall (I, R & R)
The mother of all reforms is the citizens’ right to statewide initiative and referendum -- the right to petition to place new laws or a vote to revoke laws already passed, on the ballot. Twenty-four states have enjoyed the citizens’ right to petition to place initiatives and referendums on the statewide ballot since the early 1900s. These rights were secured during the agrarian populist era. Texas just missed the boat in 1905 and it failed in the legislature. However, in 1912, Texans a constitutional change that granted I&R (including the right to recall) at the municipal level only -- in home rule cities (cities with at least 5,000 population and a city charter).
The Texas legislature, over years, upon the insistence of big business lobbies and some wayward municipal governments, regularly entertains bills to whittle away at (or to take an axe to), this fundamental right to petition. LIV watches these bills closely and urges you to take action when asked. As well, we can help you learn about how to use this process in your community.
Women’s suffrage, labor rights, social security and many more reforms were won through the citizens initiative process in our country. In recent times I&R seems to be the only way to enact any fundamental and structural political reforms — like term limits and redistricting reform. We strongly support Texans right to initiative, referendum and recall at all levels of elections. Think about how just those two reforms -- term limits and redistricting reform -- would bring about more competitive elections in Texas. I, R & R is the tool to get us there.
Learn more about the power of the initiative from Citizens in Charge Foundation, founded by Paul Jacob, one of the key leaders for term limits.
Rank Choice Voting for Texas Now in Play!
There's a lot to say about rank choice voting aka "Instant Runoff Voting" for Texans. We'll let this new and growing Texas coalition, Rank Choice Voting for Texas, tell you. We at LIV are tickled pink this is happening now in the great state of Texas, a state full of independent voters who can easily support this.