Possible Language for a Ballot Initiative for "Democracy Improvement"

[The hyperlinks lead to additional explanatory or justifying information. In item III we are not fixated on the range 0 to 99 and are fully amenable to other ranges such as 0 to 9 or, less desirably -10 to +10, if those are felt superior; the range 0-99 is chosen merely for concreteness.]

  1. We hereby outlaw gerrymandering: All N election districts shall be drawn by the following completely unbiased automatic procedure:
    1. Start with the boundary outline of the state. (Note: for states containing major separate islands or pieces such as Michigan or Hawaii, the pieces must be pre-joined by line-segments to create an artificial all-enclosing boundary. Each line used must have the property that the entire state lies on one side of it. Second note: The procedure described holds for congressional districts and statehouse seats. For county or city governments based in districts within that county, the same procedure must be used but starting from the county or city outline not the state outline.)
    2. Let N=A+B where A and B are as nearly equal whole numbers as possible. (For example, 7=4+3.)
    3. Among all possible dividing lines that split the state into two parts with population ratio A:B, choose the shortest. (Note: since the Earth is round, when we say "line" we more precisely mean "great circle." If there is an exact length-tie for "shortest" then break that tie by using the line closest to North-South orientation, and if it's still a tie, then use the Westernmost of the tied dividing lines.)
    4. We now have two hemi-states, each to contain a specified number (namely A and B) of districts. Handle them recursively via the same splitting procedure.
    5. (After this initiative is passed, redistricting to meet these standards must happen within 365 days. After that, exactly one redistricting must happen between US censuses, and it is to be conducted within 365 days after the census data is made public. Exception to the preceding 2 sentences: we allow redistricting caused by any successful court challenge arguing that our rules were not followed during those district drawings. The maximally-populous district must have population at most 6% higher than the minimally-populous one, otherwise our rules have not been followed well enough.) For examples of how all 50 states would look if districted in this manner, see splitlinings page.
    6. If anybody's residence is split in two by one of the splitlines (which would happen, albeit very rarely) then they are automatically declared to lie in the most-western (or if line is EW, then northern) of the two districts.
  2. We hereby enact Uniform ballot standards:
    1. Uniform rejection-standard: each voter's ballot must be immediately checked for validity, and the voter immediately notified of its non-validity so that he/she can try again to produce a valid ballot. Voting machines that silently reject invalid ballots are hereby illegal. (Exception: in locales that use hand-counted, not machine-counted, ballots, this statute is dropped since it would conflict with the desire for ballot secrecy and anonymity.)
    2. Uniform format: In any statewide race, all ballots for that race must have the same format statewide wherever the same type of voting machine is used.
  3. We hereby improve the voting system to allow voters to express more information in their votes and to reconcile the desire to express their opinions honestly in their vote, with the desire not to be strategically foolish:
    1. Each vote in an N-candidate election with N>2 (Note: N includes all "write-in" candidates, if they are allowed) shall consist of one numerical score from 0 to 99 awarded to each candidate (for example "57, 0, 34, 99" could be one vote in a 4-candidate election);
    2. Voters are allowed to fill entries with an "X" ("intentional blank") if they desire not to express an opinion about that candidate (for example "57, 0, X, 99");
    3. A candidate's "total" is the average of all his non-blank scores;
    4. The candidate with the highest total wins.
    5. (Exception: to prevent candidates admired by a small group but unknown to everybody else from winning, each candidate is pre-awarded K artificial zero scores, where K is 5% of the number of voters in the previous iteration of that race. This also is intended to remove any fear from voters about honestly putting "blank.")
    6. Any illegible or out-of-range score shall be treated as "blank" so that the rest of that ballot's scores still get used.
  4. We hereby democratize ballot access: Anybody can get on any ballot for any office provided they collect at least 2,500 signatures of citizens legally qualified to be voters, or at least the square root of the number of voters in the preceding election for that post (if there was a precedent, otherwise 100 signatures will suffice), whichever is fewer; and provided they submit this petition a month or more before election day.
  5. We hereby free access to election information: All election results including precinct by precinct counts (where those precincts produce them) should be publicly posted on the internet within 5 days of the election as some measure of protection against fraud.

Mathematical facts about the "range voting" system in III: Please note that awarding a high or low score to candidate C in no way affects the battle purely between candidates A and B, so that voters may feel free to express their honest opinion of C without fear of hurting A by "denying him your vote." Also please note that if candidate A has several "clones" A2, A3, then that will neither hurt nor help them, unlike in the old system where the clones might "split the vote" and lose. Also note that, surprisingly, it is known how to run this kind of election on any voting machine in the USA with no modification needed. Finally note that voters now can express information about all the candidates instead of just one, or, by voting like (0,99,0,0), can choose to act just like voters in the old system.

Historical facts about ballot access in IV: In all US history since the age of preprinted ballots began (about 1890) up to 2005, there have only been two cases where a ballot for some statewide office (or US presidential race) has ever had more than 10 candidates on it, provided at least 2500 signatures were required to get on ballot (and even in those cases, there were ≤12 candidates). (More facts)

Postscript: The following US states allow statutes to be passed by "initiative":
    AZ, AR, CA, CO, ID, MO, MT, NE, ND, OK, OR, SD, UT, WA.
The following US states allow constitutional amendments to be passed by "initiative":
    AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, IL, MI, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OH, OK, OR, SD.
We recommend constitutional amendments since we wish to prevent legislatures from simply overturning the law and re-gerrymandering whenever they feel like it.

The usual procedure is, you formulate the wording very carefully of your initiative, then you collect signatures to get it put on the ballot. Your state's "secretary of state" office should probably have info on how to go about it and how many signatures are required. If anybody collects that information please let us know, and we will post answers.

Top 10 Things to Think Through Prior to Launching a Ballot Measure Campaign (from the "Ballot Initiative Strategy Center")