a) HALF the FEC money be dolled out to candidates.
In the UK, candidates have to pay a small deposit which is returned if they get enough votes. (It's quite small - £500 I think). There is a valid argument that this might prevent someone from running, but in practice, even joke parties can usually manage to pull this together. Actually giving people money in return for running would therefore seem to be pointless.
In the U.S. people are already given money for running. The FEC doles it out based upon thier parties performance in the last election.
That system is (IMO) assinine in that it only serves to help perpetuate entrenched parties hold on power.
My alternate suggestion is that it is doled out equaly to every candidate that's on the ballot.
Now for state and federal elections you don't get on the ballot simply by registering as a candidate. You need to get a certain number of signatures on a petition before you can get on the ballot. For major offices that number is pretty high and acts as an effective bar against candidates who are not serious about getting elected.
In partice what ends up happening is that in most states (for the Presidential election as an example) you will have somewhere between 6 - 12 candidates on the ballot. The problem is that you will have only had the opportunity to hear anything about 2 of those candidates (The Republican and Democrat). The rest of the candidates you'll have likely never even heard thier name before let alone anything about thier stances.
As a voter you are supposed to make an informed choice but you are only allowed to have information about 2 of the candidates. Guess who is going to end up getting elected.
This is because none of the other candidates can get any exposure to get thier message out. Exposure requires that you either have the cash to pay for it (i.e. mass advertising) or that the press consider you "importantant" enough to cover you.
In practice the press doesn't even normaly report the names of the minor party candidates running for office. The republican and democratic candidates are the only ones that get any coverage. Nor are anyone but the Republican and Democratic candidates invited to any of the debates because they aren't considered "important" enough by the sponsors.
In my living memory Ross Perot was the only 3rd party candidate to ever be allowed to participate in a Presedential Debate.... and that was only the first time he ran.... the second time he was denied participation in the debates... even though he won 20% of the popular vote in the previous election. Just look what happaned to Nader in the last electoral debates.
In practice there are only a few ways that a candidate can get a chance:
1) Get accepted as the Republican or Democratic nominee.... with all the baggage that entails (i.e. accepting the party platform, doing "favors" for party officials)
2) Be a celebrity before you run (i.e. Jesse Ventura)
3) Be wealthy enough to be willing to spend a HUGE amount of your own money on getting elected (i.e. Ross Perot)
4) Have special interests groups bankroll your campaign (i.e. be bought).
This process does a huge diservice to the voters and by extension the country as a whole.
Public Sponsorships of elections... including providing a Public Forumn for EVERY candidate to get thier message out is key to improving government in the U.S. (IMO)
[ Parent ]