The National Initiative for Democracy has emerged from a long process of critical evaluation. The left side consists of the actual text of the Democracy Amendment and Act. The right side consists of commentary written by David Parresh in order to explain NI4D to himself. Mike Gravel assisted David Parresh.
The Democracy Amendment
|Section 1. The sovereign authority and the legislative power of citizens of the United States to enact, repeal and amend public policy, laws, charters, and constitutions by local, state and national initiatives shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state.||The text makes clear that citizens of the United States have the right to make and change by initiative all constitutional and statute laws in the United States. Though the People exercised this right in the Declaration of Independence and in the ratification of the Constitution where their legislative power is clearly articulated in both the Preamble and Article VII of the Constitution, their right to do so is nowhere clearly specified in the Constitution. Confusion exists in that the Constitution only recognizes the legislative power of the Congress as it pertains to the government. Nevertheless, in a lower venue, the Supreme Court recognizes the legislative authority and power of the People at the state level, where 24 states permit their citizens to enact laws by initiative. Section 1 clears up any possible confusion at the national level.|
|Section 2. The citizens of the United States hereby sanction the national election conducted by the nonprofit corporation Philadelphia II, permitting the enactment of this Article and the Democracy Act.||This section triggers the self-enacting process of the National Initiative. As each citizen votes for the National Initiative, he or she not only agrees to the enactment of a constitutional amendment and a federal statute but also agrees to accept as legal the process of the election and whoever conducts the election that permits the citizen to vote on the National Initiative in the first place. This self-enacting trigger is identical to that found in Article VII of the Constitution.|
|Section 3. The United States Electoral Trust (hereinafter "Electoral Trust") is hereby created to administer the procedures established by this Article and the Democracy Act. A Board of Trustees and a Director shall govern the Electoral Trust. The Board of Trustees shall be composed of one member elected by the citizens of each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Territories of the United States. An election shall be conducted every two years to elect members of the Board of Trustees. Immediately after the first election, the elected members shall be divided as equally as possible into two classes. The seats of the members of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year; the seats of the members of the second class shall be vacated at the expiration of the fourth year. All members of the Board of Trustees shall serve for four years except the members of the first class. In order to facilitate the initial election of members to the Board of Trustees, an Interim Board is appointed by the Democracy Act. A Director responsible for day-to-day operations shall be appointed by the majority of the members of the Board of Trustees, except that the first Director shall be appointed by the Board of Directors of Philadelphia II.||
This section notes the creation of an Electoral Trust, defines the governance of the Trust by a Board of Trustees and a Director; how the Trustees are elected to staggered terms; and the fact that the Director is appointed by the Trustees. The Section also notes the appointment of an Interim Board to facilitate the election of an elected Board of Trustees, and the appointment by Philadelphia II of the initial Director, who is the Chief Executive Officer of the Electoral Trust, so that the Trust can organize itself as soon as possible and begin to fulfill its mission.
The first Director is appointed by Philadelphia II, an organization that has been fostering the principles embodied in the National Initiative since 1992, in order to ensure that, during the crucial initial stages of its implementation, the administration of the Legislature of the People will be managed by a person who is fully committed to those principles, and who has a clear vision of how those principles can and should be executed on the ground.
|Section 4. An initiative created under the authority of this Article that modifies a constitution or charter assumes the force of law when it is approved by more than half the registered voters of the relevant jurisdiction in each of two successive elections conducted by the Electoral Trust. If such initiative is approved in the first election, the second election shall occur no earlier than six months and no later than a year after the first election. An initiative created under the authority of this Article that enacts, modifies or repeals any statute assumes the force of law when approved by more than half the registered voters of the relevant jurisdiction participating in an election conducted by the Electoral Trust.||This section identifies the "initiative" as the legislative tool to be employed by the People to implement the authority and the legislative power asserted in Section 1. Amending the Constitution is made considerably more difficult than enacting statute laws by requiring a majority of registered voters in two elections. Enacting statute law only requires a majority vote of those voting in one election. The difference is important and proper in that constitutional law is fundamental law and should be above the whims and passions of normal legislative decision-making. Those states that presently make no serious distinction in this regard find their constitutions littered with technical and administrative detail to a degree that inappropriately impedes the legislature and renders the constitutions hardly understandable or correctable.|
|Section 5. Only natural persons who are citizens of the United States may sponsor an initiative under the authority of this Article.||This section underscores what is self-evident, that only human beings can vote and that, therefore, only natural persons (human beings) registered to vote can sponsor initiatives. This purposely excludes the artifacts of law where corporations are considered artificial persons and are thereby sometimes vested with the political power of a natural person. This section precludes corporations and aliens from sponsorship of initiatives and sets the stage for the next section.|
|Section 6. Only natural persons who are citizens of the United States may contribute funds, services or property in support of or in opposition to a legislative initiative created under the authority of this Article. Contributions from corporations including, but not limited to, such incorporated entities as industry groups, labor unions, political parties, political action committees, organized religions and associations, are specifically prohibited. Such entities are also prohibited from coercing or inducing employees, clients, customers, members, or any other associated persons to support or oppose an initiative created under the authority of this Article.||This section accomplishes what reform-minded people have been unable to do with lesser statute law over the last two centuries: remove the corrupting influence of money on the political institutions of the nation. "Influence of Money" in this instance broadly includes any form of coercion and inducement. Only a natural person can vote and only a natural person has the right of free speech; therefore only a natural person can give money to affect a vote or speech. The principle is simple and unassailable.|
|Section 7. The people shall have the power to enforce the provisions of this Article by appropriate legislation. No court in the United States may enjoin an initiative election except on grounds of fraud.||This section has the standard language of modern-day constitutional amendments stating that the "Congress shall have the power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation." The standard language is changed to substitute "People" for "Congress." This in no way precludes the Congress from also enacting appropriate legislation if it sees fit. The companion Democracy Act, packaged in the National Initiative with the Amendment, is the "appropriate legislation" that sponsors of the National Initiative feel adequately implements the vision and letter of the Amendment stated in Section 1.
This section goes on to address a major abuse in those states with initiative laws, where the courts are used to kill initiatives on specious constitutional grounds before the People ever get to see them. This practice by the courts gives elected politicians shelter from making unpopular public decisions. As is the case with all legislative bodies in this country, the court cannot invade the legislature, a separate and independent division of government, to prejudge the quality or legality of legislation it has under consideration. The "Legislature of the People" is accorded the same independence.
The Democracy Act
AN ACT establishing legislative procedures and an administrative agency to permit the citizens of the United States to exercise their legislative power; and adding to the Federal Code.
Be It Enacted By The People Of The United States:
|Section 1. TITLE.
This act shall be known and may be cited as the Democracy Act.
|This act is entitled the Democracy Act in recognition of the fact that, together with the Democracy Amendment, it establishes the United States as a true democracy for the first time in history.|
|Section 2. PREAMBLE.
We, the People of the United States, inherently possess the sovereign authority and power to govern ourselves. We asserted this power in our Declaration of Independence and in the ratification of our Constitution. We, the People, choose now to participate as lawmakers in our local, state and national governments. We, the People, sanction the election conducted by the nonprofit corporation Philadelphia II enabling our empowerment as lawmakers. We, the People, shall exercise our legislative powers by initiative concurrently with the legislative powers we delegated to our elected representatives. THEREFORE, We, the People, enact this Democracy Act, establishing a "Legislature of the People."
|A Preamble is a legislative device to state the reasons for an act, what the act does, and concludes "therefore" with the action. In this instance, the Preamble asserts the right of the People to make laws using the initiative as their chosen legislative device. It also sanctions the election process conducted by Philadelphia II and points out that the "Legislature of the People" will legislate concurrently with the legislative bodies of the various levels of government. The underlying principle expressed in the Preamble is that all political power is inherent in and flows from the People who comprise a society. The People may choose to ordain the creation of a government as they did in ratifying the Constitution and therein delegating the legislative power of government to representatives in Congress. This did not in the slightest impair the People’s sovereign power to then take unto themselves the legislative power to make laws. [MORE]|
|Section 3. PROCEDURES.
The United States Electoral Trust (hereinafter "Electoral Trust") shall qualify initiatives chronologically and shall conduct the entire initiative process chronologically. The Electoral Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in implementing these procedures. The essential elements of the initiative process include, but are not limited to, the following:
|Deliberative procedures are a vital part of lawmaking. The procedures defined in the Act emulate the procedures employed by Congress that have been developed over more than two hundred years. Like any legislative body, an agency is necessary to administer the procedures. In this instance the Electoral Trust detailed in Section 4 administers legislative procedures on behalf of the People. Political parties impair the impartiality of the administration of representative legislatures. This is not the case for the Legislature of the People where impartiality and transparency are vital for its credibility. This can only be guaranteed by a transparent automatic process in which all initiatives, regardless of sponsorship, are qualified and processed chronologically on a first-come, first-served basis in each distinct step of the initiative process.
For example, if the Electoral Trust qualifies two initiatives: Initiative A, which qualifies on June 1 and Initiative B, which qualifies on June 2, the public hearing process for Initiative A will begin before the public hearing process for Initiative B does. Because some steps of the initiative process will take longer for initiatives that are broader in scope or deal with more complex issues, the fact that an initiative qualifies for election before another may not always mean that its election is conducted before the other one. In the above example, initiative A may deal with a complex issue of national scope whereas initiative B may deal with a straightforward issue of municipal scope. In this case it is quite possible that the public hearing and Deliberative Committee processes will take longer to complete for initiative A than for initiative B; consequently, initiative B may achieve election before initiative A does, even though initiative A qualified for election first. [MORE]
Only citizens of the United States who are registered to vote may sponsor an initiative. The Sponsor shall be identified on the initiative, on any petition, and on any qualifying poll.
|This is the first of several places in the Act at which it is made clear that all political power resides in individual human beings ("natural persons"), not in collectives, i.e., organizations or groups where the identity of an individual may be lost and an individual’s responsibility for his or her actions may be obscured. Hence, only natural persons, as distinguished from corporations, may sponsor an initiative. However, two or more individuals may jointly sponsor an initiative provided that they identify themselves by name. In the remainder of this document, as in the Act, the term "Sponsor" will be used to refer to the individual or individuals who sponsor an initiative. This is also the first of several places in which it is made clear that individuals who will be exercising their political power cannot do so anonymously. Knowledge of the identity of those who sponsor an initiative is both relevant and necessary for an informed decision on the part of the citizens who will be asked to vote on the initiative.|
An initiative shall comprise a Title, a Summary, a Preamble that states the reasons for, and explains why, the initiative is proposed, and the complete text of the initiative.
|An initiative has four parts:
Summary. A brief paragraph summarizing the initiative’s content.
Preamble. A paragraph documenting the reasons for the initiative and its explicit intent.
Text. The entire language of the initiative, which is expected to be consistent with the Title, Summary and Preamble in all respects.
An initiative shall pertain to a matter of public policy relevant to the government jurisdiction to which it is applicable. The Sponsor shall determine the wording of the initiative. The Title and Summary shall be subject to the approval of the Electoral Trust.
|"Matters of public policy" is a broadly inclusive term incorporating policy decisions that may be reflected in a wide variety of documents, such as constitutions, charters, laws, ordinances and resolutions. The governmental jurisdictions covered by this act include federal, state, county and municipal governments or their equivalents (e.g., Parish). An initiative must be applicable to one, and only one, of these levels of government jurisdiction. So, for example, a single initiative could, if enacted, establish law at the state level, affecting every city in that state, if that were the desired intent, rather than have many individual city initiatives. At each governmental level, every law established is applicable in all jurisdictions subordinate to that for which an initiative is written.
Before an initiative can be accepted to begin the qualifying process, the Electoral Trust must approve the Title and Summary submitted by the Sponsor to ensure that the Title and Summary accurately reflect and describe the initiative in its entirety. The Electoral Trust, at its sole discretion, may determine that either the Title or Summary, or both, do not accurately reflect the content of the initiative, but it has no power to change either the Title or Summary. In this case, the Sponsor will have the opportunity to revise and resubmit the initiative, multiple times, if necessary. If differences between the Sponsor and the Electoral Trust are not reconciled by negotiation, the Sponsor may sue to require the Electoral Trust to fulfill its ministerial responsibility to approve the Sponsor’s Title or Summary. In that event the court can, among other possibilities, specify the wording of the Title and Summary.
The entire reason for this point of control is to enforce the principle that there should be no surprises cloaked in a profusion of words while voters are enticed by innocuous language in an attractive but misleading Title or Summary. [MORE]
An initiative shall address one subject only, but may include related or mutually dependent parts.
|E. Word Limit.
An initiative shall contain no more than five thousand words, exclusive of the Title, Preamble, Summary, References, Definitions, and language that quotes existing law.
|The 5,000-word limitation is intended to preclude unnecessarily long measures that offer opportunities for sponsors to cloak legal or technical language that they do not wish to bring to the attention of the voters. It is not an unreasonable limit. The Democracy Act itself, which might be considered the Mother of All Initiatives, is expressed in less than 3,200 words. [MORE]|
Following approval of the Title and Summary by the Electoral Trust, an initiative may qualify for election in the relevant government jurisdiction by any one of the following methods:
|The Democracy Act strikes a balance between the desire to make it easy and minimally expensive for ordinary citizens to place an initiative on the ballot, and the desire to screen out initiatives that an overwhelming majority of voters would not support. After receiving approval of the Electoral Trust for the initiative’s Title and Summary, the Sponsor may qualify the initiative for election in any of three ways: [MORE]|
|1) Citizen Petition.
An initiative shall qualify for election if it is the subject of a petition signed manually or electronically by a number of registered voters, to be specified by the Electoral Trust, within the relevant government jurisdiction. The time period allotted to gather qualifying petition signatures shall be not more than two years, beginning on the date the first signature is collected.
|In order to show that there is reasonable interest among citizens for the possible enactment of an initiative, a petition may be circulated to secure the signatures of an Electoral Trust-specified number or percentage of voters registered within the relevant jurisdiction. This practice is followed in states that have initiative laws. The practice is continued, but made considerably easier and less expensive, by the provisions of the Democracy Act, which permits signatures to be captured electronically as well as manually. The Electoral Trust will specify the forms and format to be used to collect manual signatures and the mechanisms through which sponsors may create on-line petitions. To ensure the integrity of the process, data captured on-line will be stored and managed on information systems under the direct control of the Electoral Trust. The number of signatures required on any petition will be related to the number of voters who voted in the last presidential election, and will be determined by the Electoral Trust for each government jurisdiction. [MORE]|
|2) Public Opinion Poll of Citizens.
An initiative shall qualify for election if the subject matter described in the title and summary is approved in a public opinion poll. To qualify by this method, the polling plan, including the number of respondents, the methodology and the entity that will conduct the poll, shall be approved by the Electoral Trust.
|The use of a public opinion poll of registered voters to determine the level of citizen interest in an initiative has not as yet been employed by any state; however, it will be an inexpensive, as well as the most accurate, method for ascertaining the level of citizen interest in an initiative. The Electoral Trust must approve the polling methodology, the question(s) included in the poll and the firm conducting the poll prior to its being undertaken. The Electoral Trust will also specify the percentage of affirmative responses in the poll required for qualification. [MORE]|
|3) Legislative Resolution.
An initiative shall qualify for election if a resolution, the wording of which is identical to the initiative as submitted by its sponsor, is passed by simple majority in the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction; except that, if the initiative proposes to create or alter a constitution or charter, such resolution must pass by a two-thirds majority.
The Sponsor of an initiative may withdraw an initiative from further consideration and processing at any time prior to a deadline established by the Electoral Trust.
|An initiative’s Sponsor may withdraw the initiative from further consideration and processing after it has qualified for election. This option to withdraw the initiative can be exercised by the Sponsor at any time, for any reason, prior to a specific deadline (e.g., a specified number of days after qualification, or a specified number of days after the public hearing, etc.) established by the Electoral Trust. If more than one individual sponsored the initiative, all of those sponsoring individuals must concur in the withdrawal request.|
|H. Public Hearing.
After an initiative qualifies for election, the Electoral Trust shall appoint a Hearing Officer to conduct a public hearing on the initiative. Representatives of the Sponsor and representatives of the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction shall participate in the hearing in accordance with policies and procedures established by the Electoral Trust. Testimony on the initiative by citizens, proponents, opponents, and experts shall be solicited and their testimony shall be published as the Hearing Record.
|The public hearing is intended to provide an opportunity for members of the public and invited witnesses to express their views on the merits or shortcomings of an initiative. The Electoral Trust will appoint a professional Hearing Officer who will preside at the hearing, accompanied by the Sponsor and delegates from the legislative body of the relevant government jurisdiction. The hearing will be conducted and supported using technology appropriate to the scope and complexity of the initiative.
The public hearing is one of the features that distinguishes the initiative procedure created by the Democracy Act from those that exist in the states which permit citizen initiatives. Whereas state initiative laws provide no formal opportunity for public dialog on a qualified initiative, the Democracy Act specifies that information representing all sides of an issue shall be systematically collected and made readily available to citizens before they vote.
|I. Deliberative Committee.
After the public hearing on each initiative, the Electoral Trust shall convene a Deliberative Committee to review that initiative. The Deliberative Committee shall consist of citizens selected at random from the voter registration rolls of the relevant jurisdiction maintained by the Electoral Trust. Members of the Deliberative Committee shall be fairly compensated for time spent and expenses incurred in performance of Committee duties. The Electoral Trust shall provide technical support and such additional resources as are necessary for the effective discharge of the Committee’s duties. The Deliberative Committee shall review the Hearing Record, secure expert advice, deliberate the merits of the initiative, and prepare a written report of its deliberations and recommendations. By two-thirds vote, the Committee may alter the Title, Summary, Preamble or text of the initiative, provided that the changes are consistent with the stated purpose of the initiative.
|The Deliberative Committee will be made up of a number (determined by the Electoral Trust) of citizens selected at random from the voter registration rolls in much the same manner as judicial juries are selected today. Unlike juries, members of the Deliberative Committee will be compensated at their respective usual rates of remuneration, up to a reasonable limit determined by the Electoral Trust. The Deliberative Committee fulfills the same deliberative function that committees and subcommittees provide to the legislative bodies of representative government. In this area it provides an opportunity for ordinary citizens to conduct in-depth analyses and discussions of the initiative’s content as well as its actual and potential impact on various elements of society. The Committee will have at its disposal research staff, can call on experts and, under extraordinary circumstances, can commission appropriate studies. The Electoral Trust will determine the duration of the Committee’s deliberations, mindful of the complexities of the initiative and of the affected government jurisdiction.
The Deliberative Committee’s Report will describe the initiative’s advantages and disadvantages, costs and benefits, environmental and societal impacts from the viewpoint of ordinary citizens with access to sufficient technical information to make informed judgments. The Deliberative Committee’s Report will, in its recommendations, reflect both the majority and minority views of its members. If, after due consideration and consultation with the Sponsor, the Committee concludes that the initiative as originally submitted to the Committee for consideration is not consistent with the Sponsor’s intent as it is documented in the Preamble, it may, upon two-thirds vote of its members, make changes to the Title, Summary or text of the initiative. If the Sponsor finds the changes made by the Deliberative Committee to be unacceptable, the Sponsor has three options:
|J. Legislative Advisory Vote.
Each initiative, together with its Hearing Record and report of the Deliberative Committee, shall be transmitted to the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction. The legislative body shall conduct a public vote of its members, recording the yeas and nays on the initiative, within 90 days after receipt thereof. The vote of the legislative body is non-binding, serving only as an advisory to the citizens.
|The legislative body of the relevant government jurisdiction, e.g., Congress, the State Legislature, County Commission or City Council, will be required to conduct a public advisory vote on the initiative within ninety days after its receipt of the initiative from the Electoral Trust. The method by which the legislative body chooses to conduct this vote is not under the purview of the Electoral Trust; however the Act requires that each legislator’s vote be made public. This advisory vote serves the citizenry because:
Failure of the legislative body to conduct this advisory vote during the prescribed 90-day period will not delay the election of an initiative. [MORE]
Upon completion of the Legislative Advisory Vote, or 90 days after the initiative has been delivered to the legislative body of the relevant jurisdiction, whichever occurs first, the Electoral Trust shall publish a schedule for the election of the initiative and shall conduct an election in accordance with the published schedule.
|The Electoral Trust will develop and publish policies, rules and procedures for the scheduling and conduct of elections. As part of this publication, the Electoral Trust may delineate special procedures for addressing in open meetings, not behind closed doors emergency or time-sensitive situations in its scheduling of elections.
Voting for an initiative will be held open continuously throughout a time period specified by the Electoral Trust for an initiative election. During this period, voters will be able to vote twenty-four hours a day using any of several methods (e.g., in-person at a kiosk, mail, telephone, Internet, etc.) The Electoral Trust will certify and announce the results of the initiative election at the conclusion of the specified period. The flexibility for voting provided by the Democracy Act is a dramatic improvement over the situation that presently exists in most states, in which voters must appear at a specified polling place during a specified time interval on a single day.
Voting will be made as simple, as convenient, and as efficient as possible for the voter. Citizens should not have to sacrifice time with their families or their work in order to vote. People who are homebound, people who do not have a permanent mailing address, and people who are unable to read, among others, should not be prevented from voting by virtue of their status. Thus the Electoral Trust will provide many alternative vehicles through which, and many venues at which, people may choose to vote at no cost to themselves. For example, voting by mail, in person or through the Internet will all be accommodated, and in the case, for example, of vote-by-mail, the Electoral Trust will provide postage-paid envelopes (or equivalent) for the voters’ use in submitting their ballots.
An initiative that creates or modifies a constitution or charter assumes the force of law when it is approved by more than half the registered voters in the relevant jurisdiction in each of two successive elections conducted by the Electoral Trust. If such initiative is approved in the first election, the second election shall occur no earlier than six months and no later than a year after, the first election. An initiative that enacts, modifies or repeals statute law assumes the force of law when approved by more than half the registered voters participating in an election conducted by the Electoral Trust in the relevant jurisdiction.
|Following each initiative election conducted by the Electoral Trust; the Trust, directly or through a third party, may conduct a post-election audit to validate the results.
In order for a charter or constitution to be created or amended by initiative, the same initiative must be approved by a majority of registered voters in two successive elections. This requirement reflects the greater significance of constitutional and charter amendments as compared with statute law, and the fact that constitutional amendments are not subject to review by the courts. The six-month delay between elections is intended to engender greater reflection on the part of voters before a final decision. In the event that a constitutional or charter amendment fails to secure a majority in either of the two elections, the initiative fails. [MORE]
|M. Effective Date.
The effective date of an initiative, if not otherwise specified in the initiative, shall be forty-five days after certification of its enactment by the Electoral Trust.
|N. Judicial Review.
No court shall have the power to enjoin any initiative election except on grounds of fraud. After an initiative has been enacted into statute law, courts, when requested, may determine the constitutionality of the law. Courts have no power to adjudicate initiatives that amend the United States Constitution.
|Because of the Separation of Powers Doctrine in the United States Constitution, courts have no power to interfere with representative legislatures by making determinations regarding the constitutionality of proposed legislation. However, courts presently can and do interfere with the exercise of citizens’ legislative powers in states that have initiative laws, often denying citizens the right to vote on issues. The Democracy Act makes it explicit that the courts must treat the Legislature of the People no differently than they do any existing representative legislative body. It also makes explicit the fact that courts cannot adjudicate amendments to the United States Constitution enacted by the citizens; again, as is presently the case for amendments made by Congress, state legislatures and conventions under Article V of the Constitution. [MORE]|
|O. Promotional Communications.
Any communication, regardless of the medium through which conveyed, that promotes or opposes an initiative shall conspicuously identify the person(s) responsible for that communication, in a manner specified by the Electoral Trust.
|Clearly, it is in the best interests of the citizenry not to allow anonymity of those who push hardest for or against an initiative. Knowledge of the identities of the individuals who vigorously support or oppose an initiative, in and of itself, can also be useful to a voter in determining his or her own views on the issue. Therefore, those who are responsible for a promotional communication, however it may be conveyed to the public, must identify themselves within that communication. The Electoral Trust will promulgate regulations specifying how this required information will be incorporated in promotional communications. [MORE]|
|P. Campaign Financing.
Only United States citizens may contribute funds, services or property in support of or in opposition to an initiative. Contributions from corporations including, but not limited to, such incorporated entities as industry groups, labor unions, political parties, political action committees, organized religions and associations, are specifically prohibited. Such entities are also prohibited from coercing or inducing employees, clients, customers, members, or any other associated persons to support or oppose an initiative. Violation of these prohibitions is a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison, or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
|It is the purpose and effect of the National Initiative to mitigate the influence of money within government as it relates to initiatives. Only natural persons can contribute funds in an initiative campaign. In legal parlance a natural person is a de facto person, as distinguished from a de jure or virtual person such as a corporation. The logic is simple, since only a natural person can vote then only a natural person should be able to contribute money for the purpose of supporting or opposing an initiative. The effect of money spent in a campaign is mitigated in another respect. Voters have demonstrated uncanny common sense in making political decisions when they have the basic facts surrounding an issue. The Democracy Act is designed in such a way that the Electoral Trust prior to and throughout the voting period will make all pertinent facts about an initiative available to voters. The effect of this publicly funded communication process will be to substantially reduce the impact of campaign contributions. This section of the Act is not intended to prohibit organizations from communicating the organizations’ positions on initiatives to their members, stockholders or other stakeholders; or to prohibit the news media from editorializing on initiatives. It is aggressive acts of coercion or inducement, whether covert or overt, that this section intends to prohibit. [MORE]|
|Q. Financial Disclosure.
The Electoral Trust shall establish financial reporting requirements applicable to initiative sponsors, proponents and opponents, with monetary thresholds appropriate to the affected government jurisdiction. The Electoral Trust shall make all financial reports available to the public immediately upon its receipt thereof. Failure of sponsors, proponents or opponents to comply with these reporting requirements shall be a felony punishable by not more than one year in prison or a fine not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars, or both, per instance, applied to each person found guilty of the violation.
|The Electoral Trust will publish all financial disclosures on the Internet web site (or functional equivalent) it maintains for each initiative. The Electoral Trust will require all those contributing sums above a certain threshold to be identified on the web site. Failure to comply with the contribution and disclosure sections of the law is a felony punishable by prison time and a substantial fine. Abuses will occur but may be expected to decline dramatically once some law-breakers, such as, for instance, corporate executives found guilty of conspiring to illegally contribute funds from a corporation’s treasury, have been jailed. [MORE]|
|Section 4. UNITED STATES ELECTORAL TRUST.
The Electoral Trust shall administer the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act. The Electoral Trust shall be governed by a Board of Trustees and a Director. The Electoral Trust shall take advantage of contemporary technology in carrying out its mission. The activities of the Electoral Trust shall be transparent to the public.
|The Electoral Trust will be an independent agency of the Federal Government similar to, for example, the Federal Reserve Board. One facet of that similarity is that the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve Board, like the Electoral Trust, is not under the authority of the President of the United States or any other government entity. But, unlike the Federal Reserve Board, whose members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate, and unlike all other independent agencies of the federal government, the members of the Board of Trustees of the Electoral Trust will be elected by the citizens of the states they represent, and are not subject to confirmation by any government entity. The Electoral Trust is a true agency of the People.
The Electoral Trust will organize itself under the leadership of the Director to pursue its mission with transparency as soon as possible after the enactment of the National Initiative. The term transparency refers to the fact that every aspect of the Electoral Trust’s activities will, to the extent feasible, be open and accessible to the public. This information will equip the citizens to make changes, if they so choose, using initiatives, in any element of the Electoral Trust or to impeach any person who holds a position in the Electoral Trust. [MORE]
The Electoral Trust shall impartially administer the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act, including the legislative procedures herein, so as to facilitate the exercise of the citizens’ legislative power. The Electoral Trust shall ensure that citizens may file, qualify and vote on initiatives relevant to any government jurisdiction at any time and from any location. The Electoral Trust shall neither influence the outcome of any initiative, nor alter the substance of any initiative, except as specified in Section 3.I, "Deliberative Committee".
|The Electoral Trust’s mission will be to establish, implement, administer and maintain the policies, procedures, regulations, systems, facilities and other resources required for the effective and deliberative exercise of the citizens’ legislative power; and to enforce the provisions of the Democracy Amendment, the Democracy Act and the policies, procedures and regulations resulting from them. This section emphasizes the fact that, with the exception of authority granted by Section 3.I to Deliberative Committees, the Electoral Trust is forbidden from altering any initiative in any way.|
|B. Board of Trustees.
The Board of Trustees shall establish policy for and perform oversight of the Electoral Trust.
|The Board of Trustees is the governing board of the Electoral Trust. It will be responsible for establishing policy and performing the oversight necessary to determine that the policy is being adhered to or is in need of change.|
The Board of Trustees shall include 53 members: one member elected by the citizens of each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Territories of the United States.
|2) Term of Office.
Members of the Board of Trustees shall serve a single four year term except as follows: Immediately after the first election, the members shall be divided as equally as possible into two classes. The seats of the members of the first class shall be vacated at the expiration of the second year; the seats of the members of the second class shall be vacated at the expiration of the fourth year.
|3) Removal Of Trustees.
Any member of the Board of Trustees shall be removed from office upon a three-fourths vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees, or by a majority of the voters participating in a recall election in the political jurisdiction from which the member was elected.
|If a Trustee violates the oath of office, or for other reasons determined by the Board, that Trustee may be removed if three-fourths of the members of the Board vote for his or her removal. The citizens of the state or other jurisdiction (e.g., Puerto Rico) that elected a Trustee may, at any time and for any reason, initiate and conduct an election to remove (recall) that Trustee.|
A vacancy on the Board of Trustees shall be filled by majority vote of the full membership of the Board of Trustees on candidates who shall represent the political jurisdiction of the Trustee whose seat is vacant. A member appointed to fill a vacancy shall not subsequently be elected to the Board of Trustees.
|Vacancies on the Board of Trustees can occur as a result of removal, death, resignation, or legal incapacity of a member and are to be filled in a timely manner. Vacancies will be filled by majority vote of the total membership of the Board after suitable consideration and evaluation of appropriate candidates. The Board will establish procedures for identifying and considering candidates from the state or other jurisdiction identified with the vacant position for evaluation by the Board. [MORE]|
The Board of Trustees shall meet at least annually and at such other times and in such places as it deems appropriate to conduct its business. All meetings of the Board shall be publicized in advance and open to the public, except as required by law. The Electoral Trust shall publish the minutes and video recordings of all meetings of the Board, except as required by law.
|This "sunshine" or transparency section is intended to ensure that the activities of the Electoral Trust will always remain open to the public. Except as required by law, meetings of the Board will be publicized in advance using various media and will be recorded and the records held available for public inspection; and many meetings may be broadcast in real time on radio or TV. Examples of laws that might preclude public inspection of meetings or the records resulting therefrom include Title 5, Part I, Chapter 5, Subchapter II, Sections 552 and 552b of the U.S. Code, which prohibit public access to meetings that involve, among other things, personnel rules where disclosure of information of a personal nature would constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy or contract negotiations in which proprietary information could be unnecessarily exposed. [MORE]|
|C. Interim Board.
The members of the Interim Board, hereby appointed, are the highest elected official (e.g., Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State) responsible for the conduct of elections from each of the fifty states and Puerto Rico and the highest official responsible for the conduct of elections from the District of Columbia and the Territories of the United States. The responsibility and authority of this initial Board shall be confined to establishing policy and oversight for the registration of each citizen of the United States eligible to vote on an initiative, and establishing policy and oversight for the election of the members of the Board of Trustees.
|As explained on page 2 herein, referring to Section 2 of the Democracy Amendment, an Interim Board of Directors will be appointed in accordance with this Act. This temporary Board will have strictly limited powers. Their policy and oversight responsibilities start and end with the conduct of the first national election to elect the members of the Board of Trustees. In such time as they may have available during that period, they will be expected to employ their expertise as election officials to establish policies and oversee the commencement of the lifetime registration of citizens of the United States qualified to vote under the Act. [MORE]|
The Director of the Electoral Trust is the Chief Executive Officer of the Electoral Trust and is responsible for its day-to-day management and operations, consistent with the policies established by the Board of Trustees. The Director shall conduct the first election of the Board of Trustees as soon as possible.
|The Director is the Chief Executive Officer of the Electoral Trust and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Trust and the implementation of its policies and regulations. The Act empowers the Director to enter into contracts, hire staff, acquire facilities, and take such additional actions, as he or she deems necessary to fulfill the responsibilities of the position.
The position of Director will clearly be of critical importance to the success of the Electoral Trust and ultimately to the success of establishing a Legislature of the People. Members of the Interim Board may not be familiar with the concepts embodied in the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act, and many may even be opposed to the dilution of their governmental powers that will occur under the Legislature of the People. Therefore it will be essential that the first Director be a person who has a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of the vision embodied in the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act and whose fundamental mission is to empower the People by making them lawmakers.
To address this requirement, the Democracy Amendment assigns the authority to appoint the first Director of the Electoral Trust to the Board of Directors of Philadelphia II, the nonprofit corporation conducting, on behalf of the People, the national election for the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy.
One of the principal responsibilities of the first Director will be to conduct the election to replace the Interim Board with the first Board of Trustees elected by the People.
If the position of Director is vacated prior to the completion of a full six-year term, a person who receives a majority vote of the total membership of the Board of Trustees will fill the position. The Board of Trustees will establish procedures for identifying and considering candidates to fill any such vacancy in a timely manner.
Because of the unique nature of the position, it should be incumbent on each Director, working with Board members, to carefully describe the position and the desirable attributes to be expected in those who will assume the position; then begin identifying potential replacements for the Director early in each Director’s term in office.
|1) Term of Office.
The Director, except for the first Director, shall be appointed by majority vote of the Board of Trustees. The Director shall serve for a single term of six years. The Board of Directors of Philadelphia II shall appoint the first Director. [MORE]
2) Removal Of Director.
|E. Oath or Affirmation of Office.
Each Member of the Board of Trustees, the Interim Board, the Director and each employee of the Electoral Trust shall execute the following oath or affirmation of office as a condition of his or her service: "I, (name), (swear or affirm) that I will, to the best of my ability, defend and uphold the Constitution of the United States and the sovereign authority of the People to exercise their legislative power."
|By taking the oath or affirmation of office, each person responsible in any way for the administration and implementation of the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act swears her or his allegiance both to the Constitution and to the principle that the citizens of the United States are the ultimate governmental authority. Failure to comply with the oath can be cause for removal, or the subject of a recall election or suit in a federal court.|
|F. Organization and Responsibilities.
The Electoral Trust shall staff and organize itself to fulfill its mission and shall develop policies, procedures and regulations to register citizens upon their becoming eligible to vote, to assist sponsors in preparing initiatives for qualification, to process initiatives, to administer initiative elections and to administer elections and recall elections of the Board of Trustees and recall elections of the Director. The Electoral Trust may select and contract for facilities and services, and prescribe staff duties and compensation. The Electoral Trust may also apply for and receive funds, and incur debt when necessary, and shall act in a responsible manner as a fiduciary agency of the People.
|This section simply affirms the authority and responsibilities of the Electoral Trust to fulfill its mission as an independent agency of the United States government. In this respect, it will be no different from other independent agencies such as the Federal Reserve Board, the National Science Foundation and the National Traffic and Safety Board.|
|1) Existing Law.
In fulfilling its responsibilities and performing its duties, the Electoral Trust shall comply with applicable laws and regulations of every government jurisdiction of the United States in which it operates that do not conflict with its mission defined in Section 4A, "Mission". Where laws are in conflict, this Democracy Act shall supersede.
|The precedence of the Democracy Act over existing law, when there is a conflict, is established in Section 1 of the Democracy Amendment, which specifies that the legislative powers of the citizens, as asserted in the Democracy Amendment and implemented through the Democracy Act, may not be impaired by legislation enacted by elected legislatures, or by regulations promulgated by the executive branch at any level of government (federal, state or local) of the United States. In all other respects the Board of Trustees, the Director and the employees of the Electoral Trust are subject to the laws of all governments of the United States. [MORE]|
|2) Voter Registration.
The Electoral Trust shall develop requirements, facilities and procedures for universal lifetime voter registration of citizens of the United States which shall be binding in elections conducted under the authority of the Democracy Amendment and this Act in every government jurisdiction in which a voter is, or may become, a legal resident.
|The Electoral Trust’s voter registration activities and the voter registration database created therefrom do not replace any voter registration procedures established by state law.
The Electoral Trust will devise a system to facilitate lifetime registration for qualified citizens of the United States. The Electoral Trust will establish and maintain a database of all registered voters that will permit citizens to exercise their legislative power under the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act irrespective of the municipality, county, or state in which they reside, provided that they retained their United States citizenship. Moreover, once registered by the Electoral Trust, a citizen will never have to re-register to vote, regardless of place of residence. Once registered, any citizen will have his or her voting privileges suspended for the duration of the time he or she is incarcerated as a result of having been convicted of a felony crime or is adjudged by a court to be incompetent. [MORE]
|3) Research and Drafting Service.
The Electoral Trust shall establish and operate a legislative research and drafting service to assist citizens in preparing initiatives.
|The Electoral Trust will provide the assistance of a legislative Research and Drafting Service to assist sponsors in drafting their initiatives, to eliminate ambiguity and reduce the chance that an initiative, once enacted, can be successfully challenged in court for technical or constitutional reasons. Such a service is normally provided to members of representative legislative bodies. Such a service assures an elevated quality of initiative texts and uniform legislative practice. Research avoids the creation of redundant legislative proposals and shares a compendium of knowledge relevant to all governmental jurisdictions. [MORE]|
The Electoral Trust shall establish the means, procedures and regulations to facilitate the communication of timely, comprehensive, balanced, and pertinent information on the subject matter of each initiative, which information shall be conveyed to the citizens of the relevant jurisdiction by various media, including radio, television, print, and the Internet and/or other electronic media. The Electoral Trust shall establish and maintain a web site for each qualified initiative that will contain, at a minimum, a summary of the Hearing Record, the report of the Deliberative Committee, the result of the Legislative Advisory Vote, statements prepared by the Sponsor, other proponents and opponents, and a balanced analysis prepared by the Electoral Trust of the pros and cons of the initiative, its societal, environmental, and economic implications, costs and benefits.
|Knowledge is the key prerequisite to good legislative deliberation and offers the best opportunity for a commonsense judgment by a lawmaker. The Democracy Act is designed to provide the voter with the most complete and objective information possible so that the voter will have sufficient knowledge about the initiative to render a competent judgment. This information is provided entirely at government expense, as is the case for representative legislative bodies. This information will be communicated to the voters in a timely manner using a variety of media and taking advantage of available technologies.
When an initiative is qualified for election, the Electoral Trust will create a web site for that initiative to which any member of the public may refer to determine the initiative’s status and to review the information compiled to date on that initiative by the Electoral Trust. The Hearing Report, the report of the Deliberative Committee, the results of the Legislative Advisory Vote, and other information about the initiative will be posted to the web site as soon as they become available. Thirty days prior to the election of each initiative, the Electoral Trust will commence a public information campaign using television, radio, and/or print media; plus a pamphlet mailed to each household in the relevant jurisdiction, to summarize in a balanced and objective manner all the information assembled about the initiative. [MORE]
|5) Hearings and Deliberative Committees.
The Electoral Trust shall organize a Hearing to receive testimony and shall convene a Deliberative Committee to deliberate on each qualified initiative. The Electoral Trust shall provide or arrange for professional Hearing Officers and Deliberation Facilitators, technical consultants and support staff and facilities as needed for the effective conduct of Hearings and Committee activities.
|The Public Hearing will provide an opportunity for proponents and opponents of an initiative to make their case in testimony, to receive testimony from experts, for the public to observe, dialog with and question the Sponsor and representatives of the relevant elected legislative body. The Electoral Trust will provide a venue for this hearing appropriate to the affected governmental jurisdiction. For example, an issue that affects a small town might be held in city hall or even a school auditorium, whereas initiatives affecting a populous city, a state or the nation as a whole might be conducted via interactive TV on a network operated by the Electoral Trust. Because the Deliberative Committee will be made up entirely of citizens chosen at random from the voter rolls, many of whom may have little or no experience in such an environment, it will be incumbent on the Electoral Trust to provide process experts, skilled facilitators and subject matter experts to assist the Committee members in organizing and conducting their deliberations. The Electoral Trust must also provide administrative and clerical support, facilities and equipment that will permit the Committee to perform and record its work and its findings efficiently and effectively.|
The Electoral Trust shall devise and administer policies and procedures to conduct elections of initiatives, of the Board of Trustees, and for the recall of any Trustee or the Director. In doing so, it shall take advantage of contemporary technology in developing procedures for voting and validating votes. All such policies and procedures shall be neutral with respect to the content of initiatives administered and the outcomes of elections conducted.
Budgets covering all elements of the Electoral Trust’s operations and activities shall be prepared and published consistent with government practices and the public nature of the Electoral Trust’s responsibilities.
|Section 5. APPROPRIATIONS.
The People hereby authorize the appropriation of funds from the Treasury of the United States, pursuant to Article I, Section 9(7) of the United States Constitution, to enable the Electoral Trust to organize itself, repay debts herein described, and begin the performance of its duties. Debts to be repaid under this Section are those incurred by Philadelphia II, the proceeds of which were used to pay the costs of preparing for and conducting the election for the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy, which costs shall include, but shall not be limited to, the production cost of ballots, printing, mail, print and electronic communications, including the Internet, and services in support of the election conducted by Philadelphia II, and related costs such as the cost of the legal defense of Philadelphia II’s operations, all of which shall have been audited and certified as bona fide by the Electoral Trust prior to repayment. Hereafter, appropriations shall be made annually to the Electoral Trust as an independent agency of the United States Government.
|As with all agencies of the Federal Government, the operation of the Electoral Trust will be funded by specific appropriations from the United States Treasury. Whereas appropriations for all other federal agencies are authorized by acts of Congress, the citizenry permanently authorize the funding of the Electoral Trust through this Democracy Act. The Electoral Trust’s use of appropriated funds will be subject to two levels of audit: first by an independent audit function within the Electoral Trust; secondly, like all other Federal government agencies, by the General Accounting Office.
In preparing for and conducting the election for the National Initiative, Philadelphia II will rely upon the generosity of donors and may borrow funds necessary to finance facilities, staff, contracts, equipment and/or other legitimate expenses essential to this election. Inasmuch as the funds from these loans will be used on behalf of the People, affording them the opportunity to empower themselves by enacting the National Initiative, it is appropriate that public funds be used to repay these debts, after they have been audited and certified by the Electoral Trust.
The last sentence of this section requires Congress to appropriate funds on an annual basis to support the operations of the Electoral Trust. The amount of these appropriations will, of course, depend on a combination of factors, including the amount requested by the Electoral Trust in its budget submissions, federal tax receipts and competing priorities. If at some time the citizenry come to feel that the Congress is consistently remiss in carrying out this duty, they may, by initiative, adjust the priorities of the members of Congress.
|Section 6. SEVERABILITY.
In the event that any one or more of the provisions of this Act shall for any reason be held to be invalid as a result of judicial action, the remaining provisions of this Act shall be unimpaired.
|This section simply ensures that, if any part of the Democracy Act is successfully challenged in court, only the section specifically invalidated by the courts will become inoperative; the other sections will remain in full force.|
|Section 7. ENACTMENT BY THE PEOPLE.
A. The Ballot.
Philadelphia II shall present a ballot to the citizens of the United States for their legislative decision on the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy by direct contact, mail, print, Internet and/or other media. Regardless of the media through which they are presented and transmitted, all ballots shall provide for entry of the following information:
|The ballot for the National Initiative for Democracy contains sufficient information to permit Philadelphia II and appropriate auditors to verify that the persons submitting ballots are who they say they are, to verify that they are in fact United States citizens registered to vote, and to permit Philadelphia II to contact them to confirm that their votes were properly and accurately recorded. Clearly, not all voters will be able or required to provide all of the information requested on the ballot. For example, some voters will not have an e-mail address. Others may not have a permanent street address or a telephone. As long as the ballot provides sufficient information for Philadelphia II to contact and verify the identity and registration status of the voter, and provides that the submitted ballot contains a "yes" or "no" vote and the signature and date of execution of the ballot, it will be counted in the election. Unlike elections conducted by government agencies, the election for the National Initiative will provide an opportunity for voters to change their votes at any time, as many times as they like, until the election is certified. This provides unprecedented flexibility for voters, permitting them to update their votes when, for example, they receive additional information, or simply have a change of heart. The information collected by Philadelphia II from citizens will not to be used for any purpose other than recording, verification and counting of votes.|
Citizens registered to vote in any government jurisdiction within the United States may participate in the election for the National Initiative by executing a ballot such as described above and conveying it to Philadelphia II. The Amendment shall have been ratified and the Democracy Act enacted when Philadelphia II has received a number of affirmative votes greater than half the total number of government-validated votes cast in the presidential election occurring immediately prior to this election’s certification by the President of Philadelphia II to the government of the United States, provided that the number of affirmative votes exceeds the number of negative votes received by Philadelphia II at that time.
|In order for the National Initiative to be enacted, both of the following must occur:
When both of these conditions have been met, the Democracy Amendment and the Democracy Act assume the force of law on the date that the President of Philadelphia II certifies the election to the governments of the United States, each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the Territories of the United States.
Section 8. DEFINITIONS (omitted)