Platform of the Democratic Party of Texas
Eighty percent of success is showing up. – Woody Allen
Living in the State capitol I was able to mosey on by a meeting of Legislators and party activists charged with revising the 2006 Texas Democratic Party Platform. Among those present were a former State Speaker of the House and other former Committee Chairmen.
Since my special interest is reform of campaigns and elections I raised my hand to be on a committee of 5 to revise the section of the platform focused on “Protecting Democracy” The text of that section is below.
I invite your comments with the rare assurance that they will be heard by people who can actually do something about it. However what ends up in the final draft will be decided by consensus and a vote of Statewide Delegates.
I will have posts on our progress and a near final draft of recommendations.
The democratic process depends on open, accountable and ethical government, secure and verifiable elections, and fair and enforceable campaign laws. The faith of the people in their government has been shaken by Republican cronyism, corruption and abuse of power. As our gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell has said, “the problem with Texas ethics isn’t what is illegal so much as what is perfectly legal. The culture of corruption is so entrenched in Texas politics that it is now a radical notion to apply common sense to something as basic as right & wrong.” Texas Democrats believe existing state laws must be enforced and strengthened and new laws must be enacted to protect our democracy and restore the public trust. To ensure the fundamental right of voters to cast their ballots in a system that is free from intimidation, discrimination, or abuse by partisans or state and local officials; we support:
• extension and enforcement of the Voting Rights Act and the right of all Texans to participate in the political process, including improving access to accurate instruction for using voting systems to ensure no voter is denied their right to vote due to language
barriers or new and confusing voting systems;
• securing the integrity and outcome of election results by requiring that electronic voting systems provide a paper printout to allow votes to be verified, counted accurately, certified, and recounted, including a requirement that a voter verifiable paper ballot serve as the official ballot in recounts;
• a constitution prohibition against mid-decade redistricting unless a court order determines that a redistricting plan violates legal or constitutional standards;
• a certification and selection process for voting systems is open to public review, testing and analysis, including rigorous oversight by a non-partisan commission consisting of qualified computer experts and programmers who would perform logic and accuracy tests prior to deploying machines for elections, as well as parallel testing during the election;
• a requirement that the TDP State Chair be allowed to obtain “read and write” access permission to all Texas Election Administration Management (TEAM) database tables and fields with complete documentation and appoint two liaison persons who are required to attend all meetings called by the Secretary of State on TEAM matters and report findings on data security to the TDP State Chair; and
• reform of the electoral college.
To ensure that our campaigns are financed legally, fairly, and transparently, and an open and accountable government that honors the public’s right to know, we support:
• full and timely disclosure of campaign contributions, expenditures, lobbying and other activities that can influence elections and government operations; Strengthen reporting laws to require that fair market value of gifts to public officials be listed as a way to ensure public access to financial backing and possible conflicts of interest that have allowed public officials to hide conflicts of interest;
• a ban on corporate campaign contributions and sham “issue ads” funded by undisclosed donors within sixty days prior to an election;
• prohibiting former legislators and state agency executives from going through a “revolving door” to lobby former colleagues or previous employers for a specified length of time after leaving their office or position;
• enhanced funding and enforcement tools for the Texas Ethics Commission;
• requiring the Texas Legislature to record all votes, comply with open meetings laws, and provide real-time internet access to voting records and amendments so the public can hold their elected officials accountable;
• requiring state agencies to follow strict contracting guidelines to eliminate favoritism and “sweetheart” deals in awarding state contracts and to document any meetings or contacts with registered lobbyists or paid consultants regarding a state contracts;
• continuing to elect judges while working toward a more diverse judiciary and meaningful judicial campaign finance reform;
• public financing for general election campaigns for elective office at all levels;
• strict enforcement of the prohibition forbidding the use of state tax money to pay lobbyists to lobby members of the Texas state or congressional delegation;
• reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine of the Federal Communications Commission to prevent using exclusive federal licensing of broadcast frequencies as a prior restraint on speech;