This year, I have had the honor of representing the Indiana Green Party as their candidate for Secretary of State. I chose to ally myself with the Green Party because I personally resonate with its core values of grassroots democracy, ecological wisdom, social justice and nonviolence.
I have traveled around the state over the past nine months meeting many thoughtful and concerned citizens, people of all colors and creeds, from many ethnic backgrounds and economic levels. Campaigning has taught me the value of personal connection, and how everyone is important in our great country.
It has also revealed how tired people are of the offensive, irresponsible and adversarial rhetoric coming from our politicians. The majority of Americans want candidates to focus on positive ideas and issues, and work together to move our state and country forward toward greater economic and social equality.
What follows is a list of recommendations I have gleaned from listening to Hoosier voters which, if put in place, would go far to restoring public trust and healing the deep wounds in our democracy.
- Make election day a statewide holiday, requiring businesses to give employees at least 3 hours off on election day to get to the polls. Continue with, and expand, early voting opportunities;
- Allow for same-day voter registration as opposed to requiring citizens to register 29 days in advance as is now the case in Indiana. States with the highest voter turnout (such as Minnesota with 73%) have same-day registration. With the technology we have today, same-day registration is feasible and without risk of voter fraud;
- End partisan gerrymandering by establishing a citizens nonpartisan redistricting commission. Both major political parties have been guilty of gerrymandering. Only a Secretary of State from outside the two major parties can bring an end to this partisan political corruption;
- Stop the discriminatory purging of names from the voter rolls and only remove names if there is documentation that an individual is deceased or has moved out of state;
- Transition Indiana toward a simpler, much less expensive, more reliable, and secure paper ballot vote-by-mail system such as has been used in the state of Oregon. The current Secretary of State, Connie Lawson, has spent $7.6 million on election security. Yet there are still on-going concerns about how vulnerable our electronic system is to foreign intrusion. This cost could be reduced by 75% if we switched to a vote-by-mail paper ballot system.
- Institute Ranked Choice Voting (as has been adopted in the state of Maine) when there are more than two candidates running for a particular office. Ranked Choice Voting eliminates the “spoiler effort” and always results in a majority winner;
- Encourage more independent candidates to run for office by making ballot access laws equal to the current access requirements for Republicans and Democrats. The reason I am a write-in candidate is because, as a third-party candidate, I had to get 27,699 signatures on a petition to be granted ballot access by the Secretary of State’s Election Division office. Had I run as a Democrat or Republican, I would only have needed 4500;
- We need to get big money out of politics by limiting personal and corporate campaign donations. Money and unlimited donations from corporations and special interest groups have a corrupting influence and are a source of distrust toward politicians. As a Green Party candidate, I refuse to take donations from corporations, political action committees or special interest groups. Campaigns should be centered around issues and ideas, not on who has the most money.
Finally, as voters become more aware and informed about these issues, we can restore to Indiana and our nation an inclusive democracy that represents all citizens regardless of ethnicity, religion, age, gender or sexual orientation.
George Wolfe is the Green Party write-in candidate for the office of Secretary of State in Indiana. He is the former Director of the Ball State University Center for Peace and Conflict Studies, is a trained mediator and the author of The Spiritual Power of Nonviolence: Interfaith Understanding for a Future without War. He has been endorsed by the grassroots organization “92 Counties Strategies.”