Legislative and Electoral Reform Platform
The California National Party (CNP) is fundamentally opposed to the two-party system of the United States and instead exists to establish political structures and practices that resist the corruption, disenfranchisement, and polarization that have afflicted past governments. Minority opinions must be given a real and equitable public voice, while negotiation, compromise, collaboration, and inclusiveness should form the basis of political discourse. To bring effective representation to Californians, the CNP will work to reform government and elections at all levels, from city councils to the legislature, in order to produce a healthy and robust democracy that better responds to the needs of its citizens.
Perhaps the longest-standing flaws in the United States political system are the methods by which parties and campaigns are privately financed, resulting in a concentration of political power based on wealth. The CNP endorses strictly limiting private financing of candidates, political parties, and other political entities.
- Corporations are not equivalent to human citizens and are not entitled to the same free speech rights as individual Californians, who are real humans and not aggregate business entities. While Californians are subject to the United States Constitution, the CNP supports efforts to overturn the Citizens United ruling, and upon independence we will end equal application of free speech rights to corporations, recognizing the political rights of human beings over artificial corporate entities.
- Governments have the mandate to limit or prohibit contributions and expenditures by both individuals and corporations that could create an excessive imbalance of influence on the election of a person to an office or the outcome of an initiative, proposition, or referendum.
- All political parties should be guaranteed equal access to the media to promote their party or specific candidates, as would independent candidates polling over 1%.
- All levels of government from local to California elections must record all permissible political contributions and expenditures in at least one central registry of such transactions that shall be free and available to be searched by any person. This will combat attempts to hide contributor identities, which provides a conduit for corporate and individual wealth to disproportionately influence elections and legislators.
The CNP supports the adoption of ranked-choice voting for all California-wide candidate elections and will work for its adoption in county and local elections. In ranked-choice voting, voters rank candidates by preference on their ballots. If no candidate wins a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and their votes redistributed to each voters’ second choice until one candidate attains a majority. Such a voting system:
- Encourages candidates to build a coalition of support and avoid negative campaigning because they may need voters to consider them as their 2nd or 3rd choices.
- Results in a winning candidate supported by the majority of voters.
- Provides more choices to voters while minimizing strategic voting.
- Saves money when it replaces primaries or runoffs.
To ensure the integrity of California elections, the CNP supports hand-counting of paper ballots in smaller counties and municipalities. Larger locations, for circumstances in which hand-counting is not feasible, must exclusively use non-proprietary open-source voting (OSV) platforms with the production of paper ballots on devices that are never connected to any computer network.
Both counting methods must be directly observable by witnesses. Vote-counting machines must display an active tally showing the ballot, and the tally increase for each result. The tally process must be captured by video and posted live as well as kept available for review by anyone who wishes to verify the count. Vote counting machines would not be permitted to count faster than the video can capture accurately.
All OSV hardware and software used for gathering, aggregating, and reporting votes to elect public officials need to be secure, accessible, auditable, and transparent, as well as allow all voters the opportunity to cast a ballot regardless of physical abilities. Because the source code is publicly viewable, claims about its integrity and security are independently verifiable as compared to “secret” proprietary software. Such a system would include:
- A touch-screen voter station where the voter selects their choices.
- Alternative voter stations that include accessible features for disabled users such as sip and puff input, a keyboard for write-in votes, voice activation, synchronized audio and video, joystick input, tactile buttons, etc.
- A human- and machine-readable printed ballot that the voter would review for accuracy.
- A scanner to capture the ballot’s image as well as to record the voter’s selections.
It is a guiding principle of the CNP that, as much as is practical, decisions that are exclusively local in scope should be made by the people and elected representatives of that area. While there are undoubtedly many policies that must be universal throughout California—such as civil rights, environmental protection, and resource management—for too long power has been increasingly centralized in Sacramento. The complexity and diversity of California requires the recognition that different regions face many localized needs and obstacles. To make local government more accountable to the needs of all its residents, the CNP will support the following actions:
- Reform medium to large city councils, Boards of Supervisors, and other local elected bodies to mixed-member representation, made up of both local district members as well as at-large members, allowing the voice of both the neighborhood and community as a whole to be heard.
- Support county efforts to formulate and restructure their government in ways that best suit the local constituency.
- Bring greater representation to unincorporated and rural areas within county governments since the Board of Supervisors and other county officials are the most immediate governments for these areas.
- Develop different models of county governance when appropriate, such as a separate elected executive office in large counties, provided they are in compliance with California electoral law and are not disenfranchising groups of voters or designed to give undue power to certain parties, organizations, or industries.
- Support the right of counties, especially less populated rural ones, to construct regional plans for issues such as transportation, or to merge together into larger counties if they so desire.
At present, each member of the 80-person Assembly must represent roughly half a million human beings, while those of the 40-person Senate represent nearly a million. Many members are forced to represent multiple counties across diverse regions, with boundaries drawn not based on the shared interests of the population, but with the interests of the two-party system in mind. This is, in fact, representation in name only. To combat this erosion of effective democracy in the California government, the CNP supports a voter-approved amendment to the California Constitution to enact the following reforms:
- Increase the size of the Assembly to enable each member to represent, and be more directly accountable to, a smaller group of Californians with shared economic, social, and geographic conditions. Rather than fix a number of members, each member must represent no more than 100,000 people. As of 2020, this would set the number of Assembly members at 396.
- Increase the size of the California Senate to 50 members with elections by Party List Proportional Representation, the most common form of proportional representation internationally. In this system, all Californians would either vote for a party, each of which would produce an ordered list of candidates, or an independent candidate who must receive 2% of the total vote to be seated. Parties would receive one Senator for every 2% of the vote. This allows smaller parties that have supporters throughout California, but which are not concentrated in any one place, representation proportional to their following.