Frequently Asked Questions
- Why are we named Democracy Rules?
Our name was chosen to acknowledge humankind's best form of government and also because all our important decisions are decided by the rules of democracy.
- What is the Democracy Rules Pledge?
The combined effort of many Americans working continuously to address specific issues has the potential to solve many of our nation’s problems. However, this is only a secondary benefit of Democracy Rules, which was created to promote democratic ideals. These ideals include the right of each person to participate in their governance, and the right of a nation to be governed by the majority of its people. As such, DR is exclusively dedicated to upholding the principles of democracy and is not interested in moving any particular issue in one direction or the other. To the utmost of our ability, Democracy Rules pledges to unfailingly prosecute the directives of our members.
- How is Democracy Rules funded?
Democracy Rules does not charge membership fees or extract commissions from member’s pledges. The only funds deducted from a deposit into a member’s account are the merchant fees PayPal charges to process checks and credit card payments (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction), and 10 cents for accounting, server and security expenses. The combined amount of these deductions total 2.9% plus $0.40 per PayPal transaction. In other words, excluding fax charges, a member who deposits $100 into their account will have $96.70 available to affect the issues he or she helped elect.
Democracy Rules does not maintain a relationship with any entity unrelated to the operation of our website. We have not and will not accept contributions from any special-interest individual or organization - including any advertiser, advocate, industry or government group. As with our nation's democracy, we will depend upon the voluntary support of our members to survive. We accept and depend upon donations from individuals, and we hope our members will donate at least a dollar for administration costs every month or so. The amount of these donations will determine our growth and the services we will be able to provide, including establishing a physical presence at our Capital, coordinating voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives, and organizing peaceful public demonstrations. The expenditure of excess administration revenue, if any, will be decided by members through the use of our opinion polls.
- Why does Democracy Rules require so much personal information?
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires political donors to report their name, address, occupation and employer if a donation exceeds $50. This information is forwarded to a legislator’s primary campaign committee along with our member’s pledges. The FEC also limits an individual’s aggregate donations to $2,700 for either a primary or general election. Other information collected by DR is used for security reasons and our Regional Stats. Except to comply with FEC requirements, Democracy Rules will never sell, share or voluntarily divulge any of our member’s personal information to any third party.
- Are Democracy Rules' donations or pledges tax deductible?
Democracy Rules is a non-profit 501(c)(4) political lobbying corporation (#68-0486197). Monetary pledges made to affect (lobby) issues are not tax deductible. However, donations made to the Democracy Rules administration are tax deductible.
- What is the Democracy Rules Presentation Cycle?
Democracy Rules’ four-week (21-day) presentation cycle is a process which identifies both our member’s most important issues and their position on these issues. DR organizes 355 social welfare issues into 24 categories ranging from Agriculture to Terrorism. Each category is divided into several subcategories, and each subcategory normally contains 3 issues. After choosing their most important issue in a subcategory, a member may then vote to support or oppose that issue. Typically, there are 6 possible polling options for each subcategory - three issues, each with a support or oppose option. At the conclusion of the 7-day polling period, the option with the highest number of votes in each subcategory will be “presented” to our membership for pledge acceptance. The ensuing pledge period lasts another 7 days, and the minimum pledge accepted is one dollar and the time it takes to write a short note to your representatives, if desired. Those who have pledged to an issue may then vote for the recipient, or trustee, of their pledge group’s funds during the 7-day trustee election beginning on the 15nd day.
A member may join a presentation cycle at any time by pledging before the end of the trustee election on midnight (Pacific Coast Time) of the 28th day. Members may participate in as many cycles as desired, and they may also pledge to an issue without having participated in the issue poll, or if they had voted for a different polling option. Reelecting an issue will allow continued and increasingly-ambitious action on an issue, even when it is out of the media spotlight. A tie in voting during the issue poll or trustee election will be resolved in favor of the option which received the earliest vote. Once a category concludes its presentation cycle, it will revert to the polling section.
For those pressed for time, it may require only about 40 minutes each week for a member to fully participate in each of DR’s 113 monthly presentation cycles – should one decide to merely duplicate previous voting and pledging options. Reading website text, submitting suggestions, and writing letters are not required for participation. Sending a pre-written letter with each monetary pledge will require an additional 5 minutes or so, but it will considerably increase the impact of your efforts to affect an issue.
- What is Democracy Rules’ “Buyer's Remorse” option?
Democracy Rules wishes to ensure members are satisfied with their website interactions. This wish is especially sincere in regards to ensuring a member’s pledge is forwarded to a recipient of their choice. Although we try to make the identity of potential trustees apparent throughout the presentation cycle, it is possible a member may not wish to support the winner of a trustee election. If so, he or she is free to select the “Rescind this Pledge” option, located in the Pledge Activity block on the My Account page. This function is active from the moment funds are pledged until 24 hours after the conclusion of the trustee election. When selected, the funds pledged to an issue will be returned to that member’s account, and the vote cast in that election will be subtracted from the election total. Consequently, the result of a trustee election will only become final after midnight of the 29th cycle day (the day following the completion of a trustee election). All election results are displayed in our archives section.
- What are Democracy Rules’ Direct Legislator Contributions?
The Democracy Rules presentation cycle enables members to elect the recipient of their donations. Our trustee election offers a list of several candidates from which members may choose to support, some of whom have jurisdiction over a bill associated with an issue. However, we recognize members may also wish to contribute to legislators who are not specifically listed as trustee candidates. In addition to our choice of legislative and advocate candidates, DR offers an option for members to contribute to any legislator with a registered election committee. This Direct Legislator Contribution option allows members to select a legislator from the Senate or House drop-down menus who will receive the funds they have pledged to that issue, regardless of the outcome of the trustee election.
- How can one avoid missing a presentation cycle deadline?
The easiest way to avoid missing any polling, pledging or voting deadlines is to log on once every 7 days. DR will poll new subcategories each week, thus ensuring there will always be a new issue poll, pledging period and trustee election every 7 days. Also, please note that in order to ensure all those in the Continental U.S. have until midnight to vote, Democracy Rules operates in the Pacific Time Zone
- How objective are Democracy Rules issue descriptions?
Our issue descriptions attempt to provide brief definitions, histories, statistics and some pro and con positions on some issues. The facts and stats cited in these write-ups are correct to the best of our knowledge, but we expect readers to take or leave the words in-between. DR understands most members have already decided how they will vote on most issues before reading our write-ups, should they decide to do so. We also understand that some of these descriptions could be viewed as taking a proactive stance on an issue. However, many social welfare problems are issues not because they are controversial, but because they are generally-accepted problems in need of a solution. Opposition often comes from entities receiving benefits from the status quo and usually there are few, if any, advocate groups opposing change. Rather than list the pro and con positions of these issues, our descriptions focus on their impact upon society. Democracy Rules does not wish to influence the vote, on any issue, of any uncommitted member. As such, we cannot strongly enough emphasize our desire for members to research the issues on which they intend to vote. We furthermore implore our members to disregard our issue descriptions in favor of their own research and opinions. However, we do recommend paying close attention to the polling options and legislation associated with each issue since these will be the actions taken to affect it. Issue updates will usually be uploaded on Saturdays.
- How is legislation selected for each issue?
The legislation associated with our issues has been determined by our presentation cycle managers to have the potential to best affect that specific issue. When an issue has both a Senate and House bill associated with it, DR will focus on addressing the House version of the bill unless there is sufficient funding to simultaneously address both bills. The reasons for this are that legislation traditionally originates in the House of Representatives, and recent history has shown it to be more difficult to get a bill passed through this body than the Senate.
DR cautions our members that our brief summaries of these bills may be incomplete. We strongly recommend accessing ‘Thomas -U.S. Congress on the Internet’ (http://thomas.loc.gov/) for the complete text, status and summary of all pending legislation, as well as for legislation introduced in previous Congresses. Occasionally, the opaque language used in some of these bills make it difficult to discern their true purpose, but plain-English summaries can usually be found online.
- What is Democracy Rules legislative strategy?
When identifying a legislator to sponsor or reintroduce a bill, Democracy Rules first considers those who have previously authored or supported legislation related to that issue. The next choice will be the Chair of the committee or subcommittee with jurisdiction over our bill. Legislatively, it could be difficult for an outsider to devise a successful bill-passing strategy without knowledge of the inner dynamics of a committee, and the pressure which special interests bear upon it. Democracy Rules intends to request the assistance of our bill’s sponsor to accomplish this feat. Sponsors have intimate knowledge of the forces opposing their bill and should be willing to recommend the best strategy to overcome them. Funding permitting, DR will routinely include a bill’s sponsor with each legislative trustee candidate for the duration of that bill’s legislative process.
Unfortunately, the hyper-partisan behavior demonstrated by our current Congress has resulted in unprecedented legislative gridlock, easily making these past 2 Congresses the least productive in America’s history. Should this situation continue, DR will increase the number of public relations and legal firms offered as trustee candidates. It is thought that funding media campaigns and courtroom contests may have a better chance of affecting issues than does this Congress. It is also possible members could decide to contribute to the electoral opponents of unresponsive lawmakers. However, such negative actions will only be considered in extreme cases, after many attempts have been made to partner with such legislators. The long-term legislative strategy of Democracy Rules is to replace the special interest funding of our legislator’s reelection campaigns.
- What is Democracy Rules trustee strategy?
Trustee candidates will normally be those controlling legislation our members wish to support or oppose. Often, this will mean offering a trustee candidacy to the Chairperson of the committee or sub-committee which has jurisdiction over our bill. Each Congress, the vast majority of proposed legislation dies in committee when “left on the table” –unless scheduled for consideration by the Chairperson, who decides whether a bill is reported for testimony and voted on by their committee. This vote determines whether or not that bill shall advance to another committee or to the floor for a vote by all House members. When attempting to pass a bill and with funding permitting, DR will routinely group all committee members as a single trustee candidate, rather than offer candidacies only to members whose votes are crucial passing that bill. Also, with their ability to waive the requirement for committee review, the Senate Majority Leader and the House Speaker wield much power in determining the fate of a bill. These leaders may be offered trustee candidacies to consider our member’s wishes to defer action on a bill, bring a bill up for a floor vote, or expedite actions of a bill which must be reviewed by a large number of committees.
It is important to remember that awarding pledge funds to a legislator’s re-election committee is not conditional upon any return action by that lawmaker. A quid-pro-quo expectation of such a transaction would be considered a bribe - whether committed by Democracy Rules or any other lobbying organization. Upon the completion of each presentation cycle, all funds pledged to a legislative trustee will be forwarded without terms or conditions. And although these pledge funds are accompanied by an unrelated letter requesting the trustee to favorably consider our member’s wishes regarding that issue, the legislator is under no obligation to do so –and some, if not many, will not. This is the reason writing letters and voting in elections are as important in enacting change as are contributions. Just as a constituent’s letter to a legislator communicates an individual’s support for an issue, a monetary contribution communicates a voter’s support for a representative who acts in a generally responsible and representative manner. Over time, representatives will demonstrate how responsive they are to the wishes of the majority, and this could affect the degree to which they are considered as future trustee candidates.
Democracy Rules also offers trustee candidacies to advocate groups that are working with our issues –as well as legal and public relations firms which can push issues in the direction our members command. One requirement of these groups is to ensure DR funding expands their programs rather than funds their present efforts. Any entity with the potential to positively affect an issue could be considered as a trustee candidate. Should a legal or PR firm be elected to file a lawsuit or create an ad campaign without sufficient funds being pledged for such an action, these funds will either be held until additional funding arrives via future presentation cycles, or credited to the accounts of those who pledged. Members may submit suggestions for trustee candidates to DR administrators during the pledging period of our presentation cycle for possible inclusion in that same cycle or a future one. Once ascertained, trustee evaluations will be displayed in our archives section.
- How are my pledge letters sent to my representatives?
A letter-writing field on our pledge page is provided for you to write and submit your letter, which is then faxed to your senator and two representatives. The 10 cents it costs to fax these letters will be charged to your account with the hope this cost will not dissuade any member from sending these important letters. DR provides the introduction to your letter to ensure proper heading, legislative reference and position taken on the issue. However, the most important message that can be conveyed to your representative is contained in the words you write. We suggest explaining to them the importance of this issue and its relevance to you. We also recommend mentioning your intention to vote in the next election deciding their office. If you do not wish to write a letter, it is still important to convey your views. In this situation, you may send your letter as it is prepared –without adding to it. This action would not convey your personal reasons for your views, but it does contain the polling option you selected for that issue, and it will be recognized as being sent from a constituent. All letters, whether personalized or not, send the message that “This issue is important to me. Beware of how you treat it.”
- What is the purpose of the issue and trustee suggestion boxes?
We ask our members to suggest relevant issues and worthy trustees we may have overlooked. The issue suggestion field is located on the polling page and the trustee suggestion field is located on the pledging page. These suggestions are displayed in our archives section as common-word listings. From these lists, we attempt to discern the most popular and promising suggestions. These issue and trustee recommendations are researched for display in a future presentation cycle.
- What is the Archives section?
Democracy Rules maintains permanently-displayed records to ensure integrity and transparency. This information may also be useful when deciding how to best affect an issue or for reviewing the effects of previous support actions. All current and past information regarding the operation of Democracy Rules is detailed in the Archives section. The opening date of an issue’s presentation cycle is used for reference purposes. Complete presentation cycle data is displayed here in real-time, before being permanently recorded at the conclusion of each cycle. Records of trustee payments, once distributed, and trustee evaluations, once ascertained, are also displayed in the archive section. In addition, all DR financial data, including income, expense and tax information, is displayed in this section. Please note the presentation cycle data displayed in this section before October, 2015 was used for testing purposes only. Lastly, the archive section also displays the totals of our disaster relief and humanitarian aid efforts, as well as long-term campaign totals and the results of our opinion polls.
- What are Democracy Rules Regional Statistics?
Regional Statistics contain the aggregate information found in our archives but are collated and displayed by state, congressional district, zip code, gender, age and employment status. No member's personal information is ever divulged by this, or any other, DR function. A resource for members, Regional Stats also assists legislators in identifying their constituent's opinions on 350 important issues polled, pledged and voted each month.
- What are Democracy Rules Voter Recommendations?
Democracy Rules does not directly participate in elections or recommend specific electoral candidates. However, in advance of national elections, Democracy Rules will send members voter recommendations based on whether their representatives supported the issues to which they pledged. This service attempts to show if the actions of your present representatives are aligned with your own political agenda.
- What are the Opinion Polls?
The function of our homepage opinion polls are solely for the interest of our members and are not related to any presentation cycle. These polls are also used to assist administrators in deciding policy. Results are archived.
- What is a Democracy Rules Long Term Campaign?
The purpose of a Democracy Rules Long Term Campaign is to enable funding for an issue that requires long-term action. Campaigns provide an issue with consistent, prolonged support that is not dependent upon a presentation cycle. Long-term campaigns may used to amend our Constitution, affect an issue or enact a boycott. Once members vote to enact a campaign, it is displayed on our home page and all members are notified of its existence. Members may then donate to a variety of options designed to progress that issue. These campaigns remain active for as long as they receive adequate donations or until the issue has been resolved.
- What is Disaster Relief and Humanitarian Aid?
Democracy Rules accepts monetary donations for humanitarian aid for the populations of countries experiencing disasters, including our own. Members choose what type of aid and which aid agency to support. Democracy Rules does not extract any fees or commissions from these contributions. (Should it not be possible to forward donations to a specific option, these funds will be combined with the next most popular option.)
- What is the My Account section?
Each member has a personalized account in which they may view their Democracy Rules history and edit their account information. Member's deposit, donation and pledge records are privately displayed in this section. Members may deposit funds into their account using their PayPal account or by credit card. Once deposited, issue pledges and administration donations are drawn from this account.
- What is the Merchandise Section?
Democracy Rules offers a line of merchandise embossed with our logo for those who wish to support our organization. Customers must register separately for this section and some items may be slightly different than those displayed online, depending on supplier availability. Please allow 4 to 6 weeks to process an order. Your patronage is very much appreciated.
- What is the purpose of Democracy Rules Blogs?
Democracy Rules blogs are for members to discuss issues with one another. However, these blogs are not integrated into our main database so users must register separately in order to participate.
- What is the Tell-A-Friend function?
Democracy Rules needs broad participation to succeed and we are dependent upon our member's efforts to advertise our website. Democracy Rules appreciates our member's use of social media to propagate information regarding this project. Our tell-a-friend function can also be used to send a description and address of the DR website. To email multiple recipients, separate the email addresses by a comma in the text field.
- What correspondence will Democracy Rules members receive?
Confirmation of monetary pledges (with an option to opt-out) and administrative donations
Re-elected presentations of your previously pledged issues
Announcements of boycotts and other long-term campaigns
Appeals for disaster and humanitarian aid
Voter registration and voting reminders
- What does Democracy Rules require of its members?
In order to continue as a member, Democracy Rules asks all members to respect the one person, one vote precept basic to all democracies. Democracy Rules employs a number of security protocols to prevent multiple voting. For this reason, only one member is allowed to log in from each computer.
- What is Democracy Rules Affiliate Licensing?
The Democracy Rules website can be easily adapted for operation at the regional governmental level to influence local issues. For this reason, we offer state affiliate licenses to those interested in operating a Democracy Rules website in each of our 50 United States. DR may also be capable of affecting issues in other democratic nations as well. We offer residents of each of the 123 global democracies a national affiliate license to operate an individualized version of Democracy Rules. Like DR-USA, these national affiliates will address national issues, and like the United States, the populations of these countries may also desire better representation at the local level. DR offers metropolitan affiliate licenses to residents wishing to affect local issues in each of these democratic nations, including at least 275 metropolises with at least 1 million inhabitants. Democracy Rules employs a self-selection process that simultaneously elects administrators to each prospective affiliate position. Affiliates will operate autonomously but will coordinate efforts with one another when addressing issues common to both affiliates.