Democracy is not a spectator sport.
The Citizen's Election Assessment Hearing
Testimony of David Cobb before the Citizen's Election Assessment Hearing
Distinguished members of this Citizen's Election Assessment Hearing,
My name is David Cobb. I was the 2004 Green Party candidate for President of the United States . I am proud that my campaign demanded the recount in Ohio which helped shine a light on the outrageous voter suppression, allegations of intentional fraud, and reports of widespread voting machinery and technology failures.
Both of these organizations are committed to helping to realize the currently unfulfilled promise of democracy in this country.
I begin my substantive comments with a sobering observation: An increasingly high number of Americans have completely lost confidence in the integrity of elections in our country.
Indeed, many American believe either that voting is irrelevant as a tactic for pursuing genuine democratic social change, or that casting and counting ballots is the sum total of democracy. Sadly, current US elections are indeed a farce. If we are serious about creating an actual democracy (where "We the People" actually rule our own lives), voting is a necessary mechanism to ensure that people can meaningfully participate in making the decisions that affect their lives.
That is why I proudly join the call for a broad and deep people's movement to "democratize" elections in this country.
Such a movement must strive to fundamentally transform US elections by nurturing a powerful new voting rights movement that will implement the fundamental and systemic electoral reforms encapsulated in "The Voter's Bill of Rights." (Described in detail below).
This movement is both moral and pragmatic. It is be moral because it claims these reforms as rights that are the long-sought fulfillment of the promise of democracy in the United States. And it is pragmatic because each reform is a concrete and tangible issue that can be achieved as a stand-alone measure. (And in some cases can be achieved at the local or state level before advancing to the national level).
The movement taps into and builds upon the widely held (and absolutely correct) opinion that our system of elections is currently corrupted and does not serve the interests of the people.
There are currently three views: those who are completely disaffected and typically do not vote at all; those who are outraged by the cheating evident in the last two presidential elections and want to "restore" elections; and those who seek deeper electoral reforms that would open up the system to broader changes.
In my view, the challenge is to create a movement that expands and deepens the notion of elections and democracy itself. The "Voter Bill of Rights" strives to do just that.
And this new voting rights movement must become the successor of the prior civil rights and racial justice movements, building on their accomplishments by bringing them to fuller fruition. So we must reach out to and make alliance with particular constituencies for whom these historical movements have special resonance, most importantly, communities of color, women, and labor. Each of these constituencies is highly disaffected with the current electoral system and important elements within them have even toyed with the idea of forming their own political party as a consequence of their frustration with elections.