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CLAIM DEMOCRACY CONFERENCE REPORT
NOVEMBER 23, 2003

Synopsis

Well I'm back from the last day. The conference is over. I will stay tomorrow just to go over to see the Capitol and The Mall, but the conference is done. Today was a great day as it was full of exciting events and people as well as a great deal of information relevant to our plans in Ferndale.

The morning started with speeches by a number of people including Ralph Nader. Then I saw a debate (see picture) between Nader and Theresa Amato (Nader's 2000 campaign manager) vs. two gentleman I wasn't familiar with about "whether it is time for multi-party democracy". I found the debate absurd as these two gentleman made ridiculous arguments against multi-party democracy that a high school kid could rip apart, much less Nader and Amato. After, I got to meet Ralph again for a minute and get a pic.

Then I went to a session about ballot initiatives, which is what we're trying to do in Ferndale. It talked about a ton of issues involved in knowing when and how to do one and how to get it passed, etc. Then I had lunch in Chinatown and came back for a discussion with Professors Jamin Raskin and Alexander Keyssar of Harvard about a Constitutional Right to Vote Amendment, same thing Jesse Jackson, Jr. spoke on yesterday. They are just starting this drive for that, as the lack of it is what allowed the Supreme Court to affirm in Bush v. Gore that U.S. citizens do not have a federally protected right to vote. I'm certain people neither realize this is the case, nor do they realize the Supreme Court said this or they'd be a lot more outraged. But it is true that you right now have no federally protected right to vote. It is purely a state issue and states can do all kinds of unfair things in applying that issue.

Anyways, then the last session I went to was with folks from the Center for Voting and Democracy, Californians for Electoral Reform, and California IRV, including people who got IRV to be used at Stanford, Vassar, and Wake Forest for student government. Then I said my goodbyes to all the people from around the country - and also from the UK - who I met. I hope we all get to keep in touch after we go home. So now I'm going to go get something to eat for dinner and come back here and read a little and go to bed to wake up early and head over to the Capitol tomorrow. I'll be coming home on Tuesday and get home late at night on Tuesday. See ya!



Detailed Report as emailed in from D.C.

Well I'm back from the last day. The conference is over. I will stay tomorrow just to go over to see the Capitol and The Mall, but the conference is done. Today was a great day as it was full of unrelated exciting events and people as well as a great deal of information relevant to our plans in Ferndale. You'll see just how much from the length of this email. I know it's long, but I just wanted to get it all out while it's fresh and you can read as much of it now or later as you wish.

The morning started with speeches by a number of people including Ralph Nader. One other speech that I think relates to a lot of what we do was by Stephanie Moore of the Fannie Lou Hamer Project. They are from Kalamazoo, and their mission is to frame campaign finance reform as a civil rights issue. Stephanie helped get the NAACP to support full public financing of elections by showing them how that issue relates to all the things they support. I think this is so key to those of us working on procedural changes to find ways to connect it with the more emotional symptomatic problems they help solve.

Then I saw a debate (see picture) between Nader and Theresa Amato (Nader's 2000 campaign manager) vs. two gentleman I wasn't familiar with about "whether it is time for multi-party democracy". I found the debate absurd as these two gentleman made ridiculous arguments against multi-party democracy that a high school kid could rip apart, much less Nader and Amato. After, I got to meet Ralph again for a minute and get a pic.

Then came the most relevant part to what we're doing. I was in a session about Winning and Losing: Democracy Reform at the Ballot Box. The panel was Kristina Wilfore of Ballot Initiatives Strategy Center, Caleb Kleppner of CVD, Lisa Clauson of Mass. ACORN who is trying to get fusion voting there, and Jon Goldin-Dubois of Common Cause in Colorado who helped with campaign finance reform in Colorado. All of these folks have great experience with ballot initiatives. I had a chance to talk once again to Kristina who I've mentioned several times now. One other person on the panel was particularly interesting and that was Brad Bannon who runs Bannon Communications and does polling and talked in very pragmatic terms about polls and what it takes to convey your message effectively in a ballot initiative campaign.

Then I had lunch in Chinatown and came back for a discussion with Professors Jamin Raskin and Alexander Keyssar of Harvard about a Constitutional Right to Vote Amendment, same thing Jesse Jackson, Jr. spoke on yesterday. They are just starting this drive for that, as the lack of it is what allowed the Supreme Court to affirm in Bush v. Gore that U.S. citizens do not have a federally protected right to vote. I'm certain people neither realize this is the case, nor do they realize the Supreme Court said this or they'd be a lot more outraged. But it is true that you right now have no federally protected right to vote. It is purely a state issue and states can do all kinds of unfair things in applying that issue.

Anyways, then the last session I went to was with Rashad Robinson of CVD, Dan Johnson-Weinberger of CVD and Midwest Democracy Center, Steve Chessin (President of Californians for Electoral Reform), Dave Robinson of California IRV who implemented IRV at Stanford and Mike Fabius (see also) who is CVD's campus coordinator and has gotten IRV implemented on his campus at Vassar and helped get it at Wake Forest also.

Besides all of this I got to talk to a lot of people today including Christina Hollenback of CVD, Rob Richie who is the Exec. Director of CVD, and Gary Krane, Ph.D. of Fair Elections who has a great video of Martin Sheen endorsing public financing of elections that he already has lined up to play on NBC in Detroit among other cities. I wonder if anyone you guys know would be interested and they can contact him about helping play it more or call the station to request it is played at a better time.

Then I said my goodbyes to all the people from around the country - and also from the UK - who I met. I hope we all get to keep in touch after we go home. So now I'm going to go get something to eat for dinner and come back here and read a little and go to bed to wake up early and head over to the Capitol tomorrow. I'll be coming home on Tuesday and get home late at night on Tuesday. See ya!

Back to November 22 Synopsis & Detailed Report | Forward to November 24 - My Day in the Senate Gallery
Back to Main Claim Democracy Page | Lessons About Ballot Initiative Success
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