Individual Candidate & Interviews Debates
Government owned media should air both debates between candidates and interviews with individual candidates for public office to the extent that at least one radio and one television station in each market carries the broadcast. In markets which may not have government owned media, then significantly government funded stations (at least one television and one radio station) should be required to air such broadcasts. If no significant government funded stations exist, then private radio and television stations should be required to fulfill this requirement and come to an agreement amongst themselves regarding which one will provide such broadcasts. All candidates receiving at least 1% of the popular support (determined by taking an average of several recognized polls) should be allowed to be included in any broadcasted debate or interview held for that office. Internet broadcasting and archiving should also be required for all debates so that any person anywhere and anytime can view them.
Such debates and interviews should last for hours, and be comprehensive in nature. Members of the press or other informed people (but preferably not common members of the public) should be the ones asking questions of candidates for state or national office. There should be fewer restrictions on who could ask questions in lower level races. Time limits shorter than 5 minutes should not be placed on responses unless they are filled with political babble (as determined by a poll of the panel of questioners). These formats would afford the candidates less rushed and more relaxed responses. In addition, candidates should be given at least a partial list (a full list would be better) of questions days or weeks ahead of time to allow them sufficient time to formulate a thought-out, structured, and prioritized response. After all, when decisions need to be made in the real world, solutions are hardly ever required within one minute. It would be unwise and just plain wrong to judge a candidate on how he responds to questions if he had only a few seconds to think about it. Truly valuable candidates are often not the ones that can provide the quickest answers; they are usually the ones who think a lot before they talk. If people want well thought out solutions, they should also demand well thought out responses to questions. Other than to provide the candidate with questions in advance, there is no other way to effectively minimize useless political rhetoric during debates and interviews and get an accurate perception on a candidate’s policy perspectives.
Audiences during debates should be kept to a minimum or should be non-existent. Their cheering, jeering and other reactions just add unnecessary emotions to the discussion, and reduce the quality of the debate by consciously or unconsciously encouraging the candidates to appeal to the audience. It also adds an unnecessary element of nervousness to the candidates that can only further reduce the quality of the discussions.
Political Candidate Position Statements
All candidates running for elected office should be required, at a minimum, to state their positions on a variety of topics listed on a questionnaire. They should also be encouraged to thoroughly express their positions, reasonings, and goals in written form as soon as possible so people could begin to make educated decisions. A picture or multiple pictures of the candidate should also be submitted. All of this information should be published on some government election website and candidates should be able to update their information whenever they wish. In addition, a summary of each candidate’s positions, reasonings, and goals should be published and included in official election information materials mailed to the voters to ensure that all voters are easily able to compare the positions of all the candidates.
Accountability for Elected and Appointed Officials
All elected and possibly some appointed officials must have yearly or biyearly (twice a year) progress reports published by an independent government organization, and made freely available to everyone or at least to the people in that elected official’s district. Publishing these reports on the internet on some official government election site would be the best way to go and constituents could request physical copies mailed to them if they so desire. These reports should include a record of all votes submitted by the official, speeches delivered, official meetings attended, and other official business of significant relevance engaged in by that official since the time that the previous such report was published. It may also include certain evaluations made by other significant or important people, including co-workers. The elected official may also include position statements and an unlimited length online essay (10,000 word limit for essays published on paper), also free of charge, so that communications to constituents and everybody else could be made at any time.
The tax returns should also be publicly released because they are documents that effectively contain essential character questions and other fundamental descriptive truths that are beneficial for the public to know.
Ballot Measure Historical Summaries
Voter information booklets and/or sample ballots should include within their descriptions of each measure a section dedicated to analyzing the relevant history of the subject related to the measure. Some examples of useful information to include in these sections would be a list and summary of similar measures in the past, when they were placed on the ballot and whether they passed or failed, relevant legislative action pertaining to the topic, the state’s history of debt and current and past credit ratings, and what its debt and credit situation would most likely be if the measure passes.
Releasing Election Results
In all public elections, no projections should be made and no results (including polling results) should be made known or broadcast through any mass media (including the Internet) to the public beginning at 12 AM on the day prior to election day and lasting through election day up until all the polls have closed in all the jurisdictions participating in that race.
All This Information Made Available On Single Government Website
All the information described above should be made available on a single government website so that any person could go and find virtually all the relevant information they could ever want to know about any candidate or issue in order to make a well informed decision during the election. A user should only need to type in their address and all the relevant elections in which he is eligible to vote in should appear. The voter could then pick one and begin his search for information about a particular candidate or issue.