The Platform

Click on an issue to view policy proposals that could be included as part of a candidate’s plan to strengthen our democracy. This platform was developed by members of the Declaration for American Democracy, a coalition of more than 130 civil rights, good government, faith, environmental, and labor organizations who believe America works best when everyone’s voice is heard, protected and counted.

Our democracy
must include the
RIGHT TO VOTE
and have that
vote counted.

Our democracy
must be HONEST.

Our democracy
must have
meaningful
PARTICIPATION.

Our democracy
must provide
TRANSPARENCY
into our government and our elections.

Our democracy
must be
RESPONSIVE.

Our democracy
must uphold
CHECKS +
BALANCES.

RIGHT TO VOTE

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  1. Voting Rights Act
    Restore and reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.
  2. Automatic Voter Registration
    Enact automatic, online, and same-day voter registration.
  3. Rights Restoration
    Ensure voting rights restoration for formerly-incarcerated persons.
  4. 30 Minute Wait
    Support policies to help ensure no individual waits longer than 30 minutes to vote.
  5. Paid Time Off to Vote
    Require paid time off for voting during early voting periods or on Election Day, coupled with stronger enforcement mechanisms and the establishment of private rights of action against employers for violations.
  6. Early Voting
    Require early voting.
  7. Pre-Registration for 16- and 17-year-olds
    Implement voter pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds.
  8. Independent Redistricting Commissions
    Require districts to be drawn by independent redistricting commissions using criteria that ensure legislators will represent the will of the voters and require transparency and public participation in the process.
  9. State Funding for Voting Improvements
    Provide grants to states to improve voter participation with flexible registration opportunities, early voting, improved voting system security, and automatic voter registration.
  10. Polling Place Accessibility
    Ensure polling place accessibility and develop uniform ballot standards and guidance for polling place resources.
  11. End Voter Purges
    Protect access to the ballot by limiting states’ ability to remove voters from the rolls through purging, caging, or interstate cross-checks; and prohibit the use of false information to discourage voting.
  12. Investigate Foreign Interference
    Require the Director of National Intelligence to determine if a foreign government interfered in a federal election within a reasonable amount of time after every election and impose sanctions if necessary.
  13. Election Assistance Commission
    Reauthorize and fully fund the Election Assistance Commission and require it to develop best practices for states to prevent and deter voting rights violations and model training programs and grants for poll worker recruitment.
  14. Maintain Paper Records
    Prohibit voting systems without a voter-verified paper record.
  15. Mandatory Audits
    Demand mandatory audits of voting systems and provide grants to conduct them.
  16. Chief Elections Administrator Recusal
    Prohibit a state’s chief election administration official from taking part in political campaigns.
  17. Preclearance in Redistricting
    Require states to obtain declaratory judgment or preclearance that any new congressional map does not discriminate on account of race or color in contravention of the Voting Rights Act.
  18. Abolish the Electoral College
    Abolish the Electoral College and provide for direct election of the president.
  19. Fair and Accurate Census
    Ensure a fair and accurate census and prohibit the Department of Commerce from implementing any major operational design that has not been researched, studied, and tested for a period of not less than three years before the date on which the applicable census occurs.
  20. D.C. Statehood
    Ensure that District of Columbia residents have full congressional voting rights and self-government, which only statehood can provide.

HONESTY

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  1. Office of Congressional Ethics
    Make the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) permanent, grant it subpoena power, and establish a similar office for the Senate.
  2. Office of Government Ethics
    Strengthen the Office of Government Ethics (OGE) and ensure the director may only be removed pursuant to a finding by the president of neglect of duty or malfeasance in office.
  3. Office of Special Counsel
    Give the Office of Special Counsel timely access to material available to an agency that relates to an investigation, review, or inquiry relating to whistle-blower allegations or prohibited personnel practices.
  4. Executive Branch Ethics Waivers
    Require executive branch ethics waivers to be made public on agency websites.
  5. Conflicts of Interest Reporting
    Require agencies to report any conflicts of interest for the president and senior administration officials during the rule-making process.
  6. Congressional Personal Financial Disclosure
    Increase disclosure of Members of Congress’s personal finances to include office expenses, gift reports, and foreign travel.
  7. Congressional Voting Record Accessibility
    Make Members of Congress’s voting records more accessible online.
  8. Digitize Committee Information
    Require committees to post public hearings and markup schedules, testimony, and audio/video bill language online.
  9. Supreme Court Audio and Video Availability
    Require audio and video of Supreme Court proceedings to be available online.
  10. Supreme Court Code of Ethics
    Require a code of ethics for the Supreme Court.
  11. Strengthen Freedom of Information Act
    Strengthen the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to require all completed FOIA requests to be available online and fully fund and staff FOIA offices.
  12. White House Visitor Logs Publicly Disclosed
    Require public disclosure of White House visitor information, including records of visitors to any location where the president or vice president regularly conducts official business.
  13. Require Blind Trust for Presidential Assets
    Prohibit the president from holding assets considered a disqualifying financial interest under applicable criminal code – but allow such assets to be put in blind trust.
  14. Require Financial Disclosure of Elected Officials
    Require the president, vice president, and Members of Congress to file a financial disclosure report by May 15 of the year in which the individual assumes office or within 30 days, whichever is later.
  15. Require Elected Officials to Disclose Conflicts of Interest
    Require the president and vice president to disclose and divest any potential conflicts of interest and require presidential appointees to recuse in any specific matters involving the president’s financial conflicts of interest.
  16. Require Disclosure of Presidential Tax Returns
    Require the president to submit tax returns to OGE, including the previous three years’ worth of returns before assuming office; OGE must make returns publicly available on the Internet.
  17. Require Disclosure of Foreign Debt
    Require the president to report income/assets/liabilities owed to foreign country where U.S. is negotiating trade/modifying tariff treatment/etc.
  18. Require Disclosure of Foreign Private Business Transactions
    Require the president to disclose private business transactions with foreign governments during the previous 10 years; require disclosure each month thereafter regarding private business transactions between businesses affiliated with the president and foreign governments.
  19. Prohibit Profiting Off Executive Holdings
    Prohibit executive branch officials from benefiting from government matters where the president has a financial interest.
  20. Limit Non-Commercial Flights
    Limit taxpayer funds for non-commercial flights for cabinet officials.
  21. Prohibit Public Officials from Serving Private Financial Interests
    Prohibit Members of Congress from serving on for-profit boards, trading in individual stocks, and using their official positions to further the financial interests of themselves or their immediate family members.
  22. Expand Ethics in Government Act
    Expand income and asset disclosure requirements in the Ethics in Government Act to include closely-held corporate entities that are controlled by filers.
  23. Require Elected Officials to Reimburse Expenses at Their Own Establishments
    Require the president, vice president, and immediate family members to reimburse Treasury for costs pertaining to stay at hotels or establishments where they have ownership or financial interests.
  24. Prohibit Government Funds Spent at Establishments Owned by Public Officials
    Prohibit agencies from spending government funds for employee lodging at establishments owned by public officials or relatives.
  25. Assess Foreign Financial Influence
    Provide for intelligence assessment regarding efforts of foreign powers to gain influence through the financial interests of the president and family members.
  26. Strengthen Anti-Corruption Laws
    Strengthen anti-corruption/honest services/illegal gratuities laws. For example, modify the definition of “official act” for purposes of bribery of public officials; broaden the definition of official act to include the personal and substantial participation through, or investigation of, a question, matter, cause, suit, proceeding, or controversy.
  27. Limit White House Interference in Independent Agencies
    Codify longstanding norms concerning White House interference with independent executive agencies and functions such as the Department of Justice and the FBI.

PARTICIPATION

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  1. Overturn Citizens United
    Pass a constitutional amendment authorizing Congress and the states to set reasonable limits on raising and spending of money to influence elections; grant Congress AND states authority to distinguish between natural persons and corporations/artificial entities for purposes of campaign spending.
  2. Create Public Financing System for Congress
    Create a small-donor public financing system for House and Senate races that can include innovative programs like matching funds, vouchers, tax credits, and other solutions.
  3. Create Public Financing System for the Presidency
    Repair and modernize the presidential public financing program by establishing a matching fund program for qualified candidates.
  4. Fix the Federal Elections Commission
    Reconstitute or restructure the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break the current gridlock and ensure the agency is upholding our campaign finance laws and has the authority to hold violators accountable.
  5. Revise Super PAC Rules
    Revise the definition of coordination to ensure that super PACs do not operate as arms of a candidate’s campaign.
  6. Close Foreign Money Loopholes
    Close loopholes that allow foreign money into our elections, including through U.S. corporations that are partially or wholly owned by foreign interests.

TRANSPARENCY

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  1. Appointees Disclose Political Contributions
    Establish new reporting requirements for Senate-confirmed and other political appointees to disclose whether they have solicited or contributed funds for political purposes to PACs, trade associations, and certain nonprofits.
  2. Require Disclosure of Political Donors
    Require disclosure of large donors to nonprofits that intervene or participate in political campaigns, such as a politically-active 501(c)(4) organization, to ensure voters know who is behind their spending.
  3. Require Inauguration Committees to Disclose Expenditures
    Require presidential inauguration committees to disclose their expenditures and restrict funds being used on purposes unrelated to the inauguration.
  4. Ensure Transparency for Online Political Ads
    Enhance transparency and disclosure for online political advertisements to ensure digital ad spending is at least as transparent as requirements for broadcast advertisements.
  5. Require Transparency Around Political Expenditures by Public Companies
    Require shareholder authorization for certain political expenditures by public companies, require certain expenditures to require a board vote, and provide investors and the public with more information about political spending.
  6. Online Availability of Public Information About Nonprofits
    Require already public information about nonprofits to be put online in a searchable, usable format.
  7. Permit Cameras in Supreme Court
    Permit television cameras in all open sessions of the Supreme Court unless it decides by a majority vote that such coverage would violate the due process rights of any parties involved.
  8. Securities and Exchange Commission Rulemaking
    Promulgate rulemaking by the Securities and Exchange Commission to require more disclosure of political spending and donations.
  9. Internal Revenue Service Rulemaking
    Promulgate rulemaking by the Internal Revenue Service to bring clarity to rules governing 501(c) political activity.
  10. Disclosure of Political Spending by Government Contractors
    Issue an executive order requiring government contractors to disclose all of their political spending.
  11. Online Availability of Reports
    Require the Government Publishing Office to make congressionally-mandated reports, such as those from the Congressional Research Office, available online.
  12. Availability of Government Data
    Make government data machine readable and in an open format.
  13. Disclosure of Deferred Prosecution Agreements
    Require public disclosure of deferred prosecution agreements.
  14. Disclosure of Industry Giving
    Require public corporations to disclose how much money they give to industry associations.
  15. Accessibility of Disclosure Forms
    Require financial disclosure forms of senior government officials and members of Congress to be better accessible for public review.
  16. New Recordkeeping Requirements
    Address recordkeeping requirements for apps such as “Signal” that do not preserve records.

RESPONSIVE

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  1. Restore Senate Processes
    Ensure all branches of government can function as intended, potentially including restoring the Senate’s processes and reforming the size and structure of the Supreme Court.
  2. Senior Executive Lobbying Ban
    Establish a 5-year ban on individuals appointed to Executive Schedule positions, and senior Congressional staff, from engaging in lobbying activities at the federal level.
  3. Congressional Lobbying Ban
    Enact a lifetime lobbying ban on former Members of Congress.
  4. Revise Lobbyist Definition
    Revise the definition of lobbyist to ensure those who provide paid strategic advice in support of a lobbyist contract must register as lobbyists and lower the threshold of hours required to trigger lobbying registration.
  5. Amend Lobbying Disclosure Act
    Amend the Lobbying Disclosure Act to provide more information (e.g., specific office lobbied, not just “House” or “Senate;” more information about what was asked of a Member of Congress; and information about how a lobbyist urged an office to vote).
  6. Ban Appointee Communications
    Ban communications by a former political appointee with intent to influence officers or employees at their former executive branch agency or department.
  7. Ban Executive Financial Incentives
    Ensure that executive branch officials do not receive incentive “bonuses” from private sector employees for entering government service.
  8. Require Regulator Recusal
    Require senior financial services regulators to recuse themselves from any official actions that directly or substantially benefit the former employers or clients for whom they worked in the previous two years.
  9. Limit Civil Service Careers of Appointees
    Prohibit political appointees from taking career positions in the civil service for two years after the individual separates from a political position.
  10. Limit Lobbyist Contributions
    Restrict the total amount of money a lobbyist can donate to, bundle, or solicit for a member of Congress or congressional candidate to the individual contribution limit (currently set at $2,800 per election).
  11. Ban Congressional Contributions
    Ban contributions to congressional committee members from entities under the committee’s jurisdiction; consider also banning members of Congress and congressional candidates from soliciting contributions from lobbyists while Congress is in session.
  12. Close Foreign Agent Registration Act Loophole
    Close a loophole in the Foreign Agent Registration Act by eliminating a provision that allows persons to avoid registering as foreign agents if they register under the Lobbying Disclosure Act.
  13. Strengthen Offices of Civil Rights
    Grant more independence for agency Offices of Civil Rights to investigate and prosecute wrongdoers.
  14. Create Office of Equity
    Create an Office of Equity (similar to an Office of Governmental Ethics) to examine who benefits from expenditures and policies, through an equity lens.

CHECKS + BALANCES

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  1. Federal Law Enforcement Agency Independence
    Prevent political interference in applying the law by committing to support equal application of the law and guarantee the independence of the Department of Justice, FBI, and other law enforcement agencies. The president should prevent improper White House interference and involvement in specific law enforcement matters and report to Congress and the public on contacts between the White House and agencies in specific cases.
  2. Restore Congressional Role in War
    Restore Congress’s role in decisions of war by making a transparent case to the public, providing the legal reasons for using military force, and consulting with and seeking approval from Congress before proactively launching new conflict.
  3. Congressional Oversight of Emergency Powers
    The president must use emergency powers responsibly by respecting Congress’s authority as a coequal branch, and not use emergency powers to circumvent the normal political process. Restore congressional power by requiring congressional approval for emergencies that invoke significant authorities.
  4. Merit-Based Presidential Appointments
    The president must respect the Constitution by seeking and obtaining Senate approval for qualified nominees. The president should not appoint family members to key positions and should select people based on merit.
  5. Checks on Presidential Pardon Power
    Checks should be placed on the presidential pardon power so that presidents do not use this power to place themselves above the law or dangle the prospect for unlawful purposes.
  6. Protect Civil Servants
    Ensure the independence of civil servants, and ensure that a president does not intimidate, discriminate, or retaliate against them based on political affiliation or work in prior administrations.
  7. Protect Security Clearance Process
    Ensure that the security clearance process is used for national security purposes, not to exercise political favor or retribution.

2020 DEMOCRACY PLATFORM

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