1. Ensure Ballot Integrity

A Plan to Renew the Promise of American Life, Plank 1

previous plank summary | contents | intro | next plank

Plank 1. Ensure ballot integrity.

Specific Recommendations

1.1. To safeguard the sanctity of the ballot: 1) ensure that registration and voting are as secure and fraud-proof as possible, 2) require state and local government officials to keep their voter lists current and cleaned up on a continuous basis and penalize those who fail to do so, 3) encourage states to join an interstate compact for sharing voter-registration information on a real-time basis, 4) permit only citizens of the United States to vote, 5) require a valid form of identification for in-person voting, 6) prohibit election-day registration unless it is as fraud-proof as pre-election registration, 7) require that all absentee and online ballots be notarized or verified in a truly reliable way, 8) prohibit unsolicited vote-by-mail schemes, and 9) prohibit and punish ballot-harvesting and the fraudulent production and bundling of mail-in and absentee ballots.

1.2. To maximize voters’ confidence in election results, require that paper ballots be made available to voters in all cases and make machine and online vote-counting at least as secure as online banking. To prevent ballot-stuffing, canvass and count all early and absentee votes prior to the start of election day voting. Canvass and count ballots in the presence of independent observers. Permit voters to photograph their completed ballots for future reference.

1.3. To ensure a reasonable simultaneity of voting, require all votes to be counted by the end of voting on election day, with no exceptions. Do not for any reason count any votes received after the close of election day voting. Restrict early-voting periods to no more than, say, the ten calendar days immediately prior to election day, with a mandatory pause of, say, three days prior to election day, to ensure that all early votes are counted before the start of election day voting. To reduce gaming and coercion, do not allow ballots to be ‘corrected’ once validly cast.

1.4. To encourage voters to do their duty voluntarily, publish the fact of whether a voter has voted in a given election, after the polls have closed, without revealing how he or she voted.

1.5. To restore voter sovereignty and the benefits of healthy political-party competition: 1) abolish all non-partisan voting schemes (such as so-called jungle primaries and top-X-number-of-candidates elections), 2) allow only declared party members (as defined by the party, not the government) to vote on internal party matters, 3) safeguard the right of political parties to make their own rules for choosing nominees, including by holding conventions or caucuses instead of primary elections, and 4) protect the right of political parties to hold closed primaries (primaries open only to declared party members). To make it easier for voters to send specific policy signals to the two major parties, make it reasonably easy for minor parties to secure a place on the ballot. In doing these things, always strictly enforce the civil rights of all citizens.

1.6. To increase the likelihood of electing public-spirited reformers instead of special-interest puppets, employ where feasible a so-called Smith-efficient Condorcet method of voting such as pairwise comparison.

1.7. To ensure that voters choose their representatives and not the reverse, take all reasonable steps to minimize the evils of legislative gerrymandering. For example, have truly independent nonpartisan commissions draw legislative district lines after each census, guided by one simple rule, ‘keep districts compact, simple, and roughly equal in number of voters,’ modified only by a subsidiary rule to ‘follow existing community lines, where possible, regardless of partisan and demographic considerations.’ To ensure that redistricting commissions are truly independent, select their members by lot. Do not stack them for partisan or demographic ‘balance.’ Do not under any circumstances allow judges to draw district lines.

1.8. To keep federal representatives and senators dependent on their constituents, reject proportional representation schemes. Stick with single-member geographic districts.

1.9. To encourage wiser deliberation in lawmaking, avoid plebiscites and end such ‘direct democracy’ reforms as initiative, referendum, and recall. Instead, leave all merely legislative, policy, and personnel questions to the people’s elected representatives. To ensure a salutary stability in the law, require that state constitutional changes receive the assent of a supermajority of voters in a regularly scheduled general election (or alternatively a simple majority in more than one successive election).

1.10. To prevent a few populous states from dominating presidential elections, preserve the Electoral College and reject such misguided schemes as the so-called National Popular Vote Compact.

1.11. To bring the House of Representatives closer to the people, expand it to 600 members and thereafter maintain a ratio of six representatives to one senator. Whenever a new state joins the Union, expand the House by twelve seats, distributing the new seats by population as is done after each decennial census.

1.12. To make senators and representatives more productive, compensate them on a per diem rather than a salaried basis, paying them only for days actually worked, and permit them to vote remotely at, say, half-pay from a district office or their state’s capitol building.

1.13. To diminish political corruption, abandon the hopeless goal of ‘getting money out of politics’ and instead dramatically shrink the size and scope of government, especially the federal government, and restore strict constitutional limits on government power — the only reforms that can even hope to actually reduce corruption and the influence of money-in-politics. Repeal all existing campaign-finance laws, except those prohibiting contributions by foreigners, and leave it primarily to states to regulate the conduct of election campaigns according to common sense, as the Founders intended.


These recommendations should be relatively self-explanatory. My apologies if some of them seem boring or trivial. This plank is a bit of a catch-all, gathering into one place a whole bunch of recommendations related to voting, campaigns, parties, and representation.

I placed this particular plank first because without ballot integrity, the rest of the reform plan is hopeless. The goal of this plank, as of the entire plan, is to restore popular sovereignty. The primary means employed in this plank is to reform voting and representation. But ultimately all of those things rest on one thing: ballot integrity. If we can’t trust the results of elections, we can’t know who among our fellow citizens have been chosen by the voters to carry out the constitution and laws. Also, enforcing strict ballot integrity encourages democratic participation by giving citizens the confidence that their vote counts.

This plank focuses primarily on federal elections, and most of its recommendations are addressed primarily to state governments rather than Congress. Under the federal constitution, states and Congress have a concurrent power to prescribe the times, places, and manner of holding federal elections and who may vote in them, subject to certain constitutional limits, but state governments have the primary role, since they actually conduct the elections.

Frequency of voting. Online voting seems inevitable, but legislating through online plebiscites would be taking things too far. Direct democracy is too tumultuous. There is no substitute for choosing representatives who are wise, virtuous, and public-spirited at regular intervals to make public policy, and to hold them accountable at the ballot box.

Parties. Political parties are voluntary associations of private citizens who have banded together to influence public policy. Our federal constitution cannot function effectively without them. But to do their job, parties must be independent, privately run, and self-governing, consistent with civil rights. Parties are a good thing, but progressive ‘reforms’ have foolishly weakened them, and they have become captive to special interests.

Number of House districts. The original ratio of persons per federal Representative in 1789-1790 was 30,000 to one. Today that ratio is more like 750,000 to one. That’s too many constituents per House member. To keep the House close to the people, the number of House members was increased after every decennial census from 1790 to 1910 but has been legislatively frozen at 435 since the 1910 census. It’s time to unfreeze it. But how? If we were to go back to the 1790 ratio, the House of Representatives today would have 10,000 seats! Some smart people favor adoption of a so-called Wyoming rule, which would require that no House district could include more residents than does the least populous state. That’s a good rule, and if implemented today would give us a House with 550 to 600 seats. My own preferred solution is simpler: fix the ratio between House and Senate seats at 6 to 1 — six Representatives per Senator. (In 1790 this ratio was 2.5 to 1. If we went back to that rule today, the House would have a mere 250 members.) My proposal is to increase the number of House seats to 600 immediately, and then adhere to the 6-to-1 ratio going forward.

Campaign finance.  Efforts to ‘get money out of politics’ through strict campaign finance laws, public funding of election campaigns, and so on are doomed to fail and, more importantly, misguided. They target the symptoms rather than the disease. Our institutions are corrupt not because special interests bankroll politicians. Rather, special interests bankroll politicians in order to capture government’s unlimited power. The only way to reduce political corruption is to restore tight limits on government power.

Constitutional Amendments

This plank does not require any constitutional amendments.


Strengthens confidence in our public institutions.

Ensures the people rule the ‘rulers’ and not the reverse.

Ensure voters choose their representatives and not the reverse.

Gives voters real choices.

Promotes the election of reformers instead of puppets.

Revised: November 24, 2022.

First published: June 21, 2013.

Author: Dean Clancy.

previous plank summary | contents | intro | next plank

One Reply to “1. Ensure Ballot Integrity”

  1. I would also like to see a mandatory jail sentence of five years for anyone convicted of voting illegally. The presiding judge should have no power to reduce or eliminate the sentence. If the fraudulent voter is here illegally he or she should be immediately deported upon completion of the full sentence. Again, the judge should not be allowed any discretion in reducing the sentence.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *