Jason Carter on Government Reform
Jason has championed a number of proposals that would bring transparency, accountability, and integrity to state government, including caps on gifts from lobbyists, the establishment of an independent (and fully funded) ethics commission, and redistricting reform.
Jason has been awarded Common Cause's prestigious Democracy Award for promoting ethics reform, and he will continue to fight for increased enforcement of the ethics laws that are on the books to increase transparency and restore public faith.
A: I would rather see a paper trail. I have personally monitored elections in other countries. One of the most important aspect and credibility of those elections is a verifiable paper trail that people can look at and see that their votes have been counted. In order to achieve it, we have to figure out how much it costs. We have to do all the things that are required to make a real policy out of it. As a concept, I wish we had a paper trail. I would certainly call for it. I think it's important for credibility of that system. People need to know that their votes are counted.
Most people wanted to know how we did things in the greatest country on Earth. "Is there apartheid in America?" "No," I said quickly. "There is no apartheid." "So, then black people and white people just live together?" "Well, not exactly." "Do black people live in locations?" "No," I answered. "They live right in the center of town." I marveled at my answer and wondered if that makes some sort of difference. "Do black Americans speak many, many languages?" "No," I said, "not like South Africa. Most speak only English." "It must be so easy for black people and white people to communicate!"
We discussed what we might say onstage. I knew that he was going to speak about the widening global gap between the rich and poor, how stingy America is in giving foreign aid, [especially to] Africa. I would talk about being young, a member of my generation. I tried to explain why we often don't vote or seem to care about world issues. I told him we were alienated from the world's debate over "major issues" because we did not see how those issues affected us. We could not muster the energy to march for small changes in the tax laws on international capital mobility. We needed some new rallying cries, something to latch onto as a cause.
I had seen elections in 5 countries. Without a doubt, the ones in the US are the least joyous. I talked to one girl my age who was voting for the first time. She said she had practiced making X's all morning so that her first ballot would be perfect. The community was jubilant, and I went home at the end of the day excited and full of hope. I wrote an e-mail to everyone I knew saying that Election Day should be a national holiday and a celebration of democracy at home in the US.