I posted this on www.jregrassroots.org and on the One America Committee blog (formerly JRE campaign blog) on March 06, 2004:
Primaries: Most small parties do not have primaries. They decide their nominees at Conventions or in smokey backrooms. No TV for them. One of the big parties usually has an incumbent President or VP who is a de facto nominee. Even if that party has a primary, it is of no importance, thus no TV.
Those parties that have competitive primaries need to set a date for announcements, and need to submit the full lists of valid candidates to the media by a certain date. Thus LaRouche, sorry, no TV. Independents, sorry, join or form a party or no TV.
While the candidates are free to traverse the country, give interviews if invited, buy ads in newspapers etc whenever they want, there is only a limited TV season just preceding the primaries. That season starts a few weeks before the first primary and lasts through the last primary. There is a complete media blackout starting at midnight prior to primaries, ending at the time when all votes have been counted.
Democratic Party: Primaries are held all on the same day, or, there is a set of 10 primaries, five states each, two weeks apart. At each date, one of the states is NE, one is SE, one is SW, one is MW, one is W. (e.g., first date: IA, NH, SC, NM, WA, two weeks later MO, VT, NC, AZ, OR, etc.). At least one TV debate between each two dates. No endorsements allowed until the season is over. No superdelegates. All primaries open, or all states forced to allow change of party affiliation on the spot. Similar rules for primaries in local and statewide elections, with local TV stations.
The nominee of each party has equal TV time. Those are public airwaves and not businesses - they better give us back what we gave them. Local stattions similarly cover local races. The TV season lasts for 4 weeks prior to the election. Total media blackout starting at midnight prior to election, ending once all the votes have been counted.
In general (both primaries and the general election):
No electronic voting. Pull the lever, check your ballot, keep the receipt. Recounts made very easy to trigger by narrow margins, complaints, etc. No polls published prior to any vote - they are for internal use of campaigns only. Exit polls may be analyzed publicly the day after the vote. No candidate can accept any donation from any ORGANIZATION, just individuals who are NOT at the time registered as Washington lobbyists. Limit of $2000 seems right.
Think these through. What unintended consequences did I miss? Any other ideas?