Voting is speech. Voting is a fundamental individual right. But probably most importantly, voting is an expressive outlet for your opinions and feelings. Governmental limitations on ballot access grossly distort the substance and texture of what voters have to say. My analysis takes this an important step further. We, the people, have the right to hear the full range of voter opinions. Maybe an extreme example proves my point: In 2002 Saddam Hussain got 100% of the vote because he was the only candidate on the ballot. We, the people, learn nothing and hear nothing from voting without options. All voting laws, both federal and state must comply with the 1st Amendment right to the freedom of speech. No government has the right to limit expression because of its substance. If the state attempts to limit speech, such as preventing ballot access or Gerrymandering, the state must carry the burden of proving that its regulation is the least restrictive means of accomplishing a compelling state interest i.e. it must pass strict scrutiny.
Current restrictions on ballot access and Gerrymandering are both unfair and unconstitutional. They would fail strict scrutiny. The following policy recommendations are the least restrictive of our fundamental right to express ourselves through voting.
(1) Universal Ballot Access. Every person who seeks public office should be allowed on the ballot. The only interest the government could possibly claim as compelling is to prevent voter chaos, i.e. 50-100 candidates running for a single office. Such an eventuality could justify signatures of say .1% of those who voted in a prior election.
(2) Ranked Choice Voting. This voting system gives voters the right to rank their preference among the candidates. If there are 3 candidates, each voter could vote for his or her 1st, 2nd and 3rdchoice. If no candidate receives a majority, the last place candidate is dropped. Then a recount is conducted using the 2nd choice vote of the dropped party and so on until someone receives a majority. This allows the government to express its preference for majority rule without limiting ballot access.
(3) Cumulative Voting. Cumulative voting ends the need for districts to elect multiple representatives, i.e. it would end all Gerrymandering. If there are 7 representatives for a given state, every voter could vote for 7 different people or vote 7 times for a single person. Those who receive the most votes would be elected. We don’t need the chaos created by the formation of deep sea creature-like districts every 10 years.
Let’s make voting meaningful again.