Tag Archives: YDA

Corruption at YDA and a Modest Proposal for Change

I was hoping to finish the political blogging from this weekend’s Young Democrats of America national convention and get back to economics blogging, but there are too many issues that I feel are unresolved. The most pertinent ones right now are the rather credible (in my eyes) allegations of voter intimidation, outright bribery, and other mechanisms of vote fraud that came out of the election.

The basic problems are these. Voting at the YDA elections happens via an open ballot as per DNC bylaws. What this allows is for state chairs to functionally control their voting delegates: there were numerous allegations of blatant voter intimidation that came to my ears. The basic scenario is that state presidents can control their delegates by holding things like the plane ticket home as leverage.

There are two solutions. The first is obviously moving from an open ballot to a secret ballot. However this involves changing the DNC national bylaws, which might not be politically possible given the resources of those concerned with YDA elections. The second is to introduce some kind of structural change to the election process itself, where the people (state presidents) who are in charge of their delegation’s votes can’t control their delegations. Allowing state presidents to be the ones signing off on the legitimacy of the votes cast by their delegates allows them to control those votes and auction them off to the highest bidder. In this election, that’s precisely what happened; I know personally that a political deal was struck that cut Missouri’s votes in half and I have heard very credible allegations that the delegation from Washington D.C. received $2,500 to vote one way.

So what kind of structural change would fit the bill? I have a suggestion: use Twitter to conduct elections. The basic framework is that you have delegates register their twitter names when they register for the national convention. As candidates come up for election, all eligible candidates tweet their vote using a randomly selected hashtag. Now we are looking at an election where votes are not filtered through state presidents and a system where vote fraud is a lot more difficult. You can only count votes from twitter handles that have been registered, so you can ensure that the people casting the votes are the people who registered. And you make all votes 100% transparent, which massively increases the amount of leverage that any single entity has to have over voters to control their votes.

There are a couple objections. First, it’s possible that outside parties could try to hijack the hashtag and spam votes. However, the use of hashtags that have been randomly selected immediately prior to the vote makes this difficult. And the fact that Twitter is searchable means that you could create a simple program to filter out only the votes cast by registered delegates. Second, not everyone has Twitter; but that’s not a truly meaningful criticism, since signup is easy and free and it takes less than a minute to learn how to vote.

This obviously wouldn’t work or necessarily be appropriate for real governmental elections, which are conducted by secret ballot. But YDA isn’t a governmental organization and it isn’t even that big so it’s not plausible to imagine anyone having the resources to make a serious attempt at rigging the vote or crashing Twitter. If Twitter got involved as an independent third party and and set up/managed the back end of open elections, we can eliminate all the problems associated with the status quo and the massive conflict of interests involved. This might even be a viable revenue stream for Twitter.

I will posting more emails from Martin Casas and the St. Louis Young Democrats bearing out my allegations of misconduct and corruption in that organization either today or tomorrow.  I don’t want him to be able to continue to operate in ways that are unethical if not blatantly illegal and hopefully my small corner of the internet will be a place where that can happen.

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YouTube Videos of YDA Candidates

I have YouTube video of Chris Anderson, A’shanti, and Rick Puig here. Anderson is running for President; A’shanti is running for Executive VP, and Puig is running for VP. I’ve blogged about them below and we would appreciate the support of YDA delegates at the convention here in Chicago.

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More YDA Blogging: Why I’m Voting Chris Anderson for YDA President

As part of my 2009 YDA convention blogging, here’s why I advocate electing Chris Anderson president of the Young Democrats of America. Chris is currently the Executive VP and is running on a ticket that includes A’shanti Fayshel Gholar of Nevada for Executive Vice President, Zack Hawkins, Rick Puig, andJen Bissett for Vice President, Amy Groya for Treasurer, and Amanda Nelson for Secretary. Here is YouTube of Chris Anderson’s 2007 YDA speech, accepting the nomination for Executive Vice President.

I am personally impressed with Chris’s drive and cool, even-handed personality. With a record of service with YDA that began with a role as founding Young Democrats chapters at his high school and college, he’s demonstrated a commitment to the YDA that has taken him through every level of the organization. To my knowledge, he’s been to every YDA national meeting, facilitating training sessions that are critical to getting American youths involved and empowered in the democratic process.

Chris is also part of the first openly gay leadership team to successfully run for executive office in the YDA national organization and a strong advocate for LGBT rights. In a nation where the Republican party refuses to even engage a meaningful or fair dialogue on LGBT rights (read: human rights), this is incredibly important.

I plan on voting for the ticket headed by Chris Anderson this weekend. It seems to me that the ticket as a whole (and particularly the candidates who I know personally) represent the qualities that Young Democrats need in leadership: motivation, perspective, and perhaps most importantly, intelligence. If that strikes you as a cause that you would like to support, I ask for your votes at the National Convention this weekend.

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On YDA 2009

Tomorrow I’ll be in in Chicago at the Young Democrats of America National Convention and will be (live)blogging about what I’m up to with the contingent from the University of Missouri-Columbia. I’ll also be suppporting the Chris Anderson/Rick Puig ticket as they present themselves for consideration for the presidential and vice-presential positions. I’ll follow later with a post about Anderson; for now I’d like to introduce my friend Rick Puig and his candidacy for vice president.

The story of how I met Rick is kind of boring, so I’ll skip that. What delegates voting at YDA should be familiar with is his academic and work record. Rick is one of 60-65 people who was awarded the Truman Scholarship , a very prestigious scholarship awarded by the Harry S Truman Scholarship Foundation in recognition of his exceptional commitment to public service. Here is the wiki on the Truman; the list of former recipients is fairly impressive.

Part of Rick’s work in the public sector has been for current US Senator Claire McCaskill (@ClaireCMC), current Missouri governor Jay Nixon, and current Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster. Those are fairly impressive credentials and should indicate to you that the people that Missouri has chosen to represent us both in the state government and on the national stage share my view that Rick is not only an exceptionally competent and intelligent person, but is also trustworthy and committed to public service.

Rick’s organizational work for YDA has also been impressive. He was formerly the president ofthe Missouri Young Democrats, and his organizational work in the South Central region was extremely meaningful in the last election cycle. Rick’s statement on his website is here.

I’ll be advocating strongly for Rick’s candidacy at the convention in Chicago. The position is a meaningful one; the Young Democrats of America face new challenges, both fiscal and political, as the next election cycle approaches. The goal here is to preserve the organization as a viable tool for democratic activism and youth mobilization and it’s my argument that Rick’s experience is a valuable thing for the Young Democrats of America to have.

We’ll see you in Chicago tomorrow; tonight I’ll be in my home city of St. Louis to see family and friends before our contingent heads to Chicago.

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Going to Chicago!

I’m leaving Wednesday for Chicago to attend a big emo convention the Young Democrats of America national convention. My friend Rick Puig is running for the Vice Presidency of the organization and I’ll blog later about what it means and why it’s important. If you have recommendations for restaurants and cultural things to do in Chicago, please leave them as comments on this post. I will be live tweeting and videoblogging from the conference and as I stumble around Chicago.

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