26.11.05

election reform: End First-Past-the-Post

I just found an opinion piece by Rob Richie, director of the Center for Voting and Democracy. Check it out:
This November, some reformers pushed redistricting reform measures in Ohio and California. Both initiatives had serious money behind them, along with political stars like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and Common Cause's Chellie Pingree. And both went down in flames - California by 19 percent and Ohio by a whopping 40 percent.

So what now? We can't simply throw up our hands and let the "people's house" lose all electoral connections with the American people. But we need to be both smarter and more open to challenging ideas. We must start with two key points about the limitations of any strategy founded on maintaining all single-member districts:
  • Winner-take-all gives huge power to whoever draws the district lines. Just changing how one draws district lines means taking the power over representation from one set of political elites and giving it to another. We should give that power to voters.
  • Winner-take-all districts simply cannot accommodate three fundamental principles of free and fair elections: universal voter choice, leadership accountability and fair representation. That means anyone truly serious about the problem of lack of voter choice must confront that we have reached winner-take-all's endgame: it just doesn't work effectively in modern politics. We need some kind of multi-seat proportional voting method - ones tested around the world and in a growing number of American cities where voters have several representatives and will likely elect a representative of their choice.

Q: Why can't Minneapolis or Saint Paul be one of these growing number of American cities that is on the cutting edge of the election reform movement?

A: Because DFL powerful work to undermine truly democratic representation. (See: Minneapolis redistricting or the IRV movement in Roseville.)

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