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Thread: Real Electoral Solutions

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    Real Electoral Solutions

    Ok, so I'm a big fan of proportional representation (PR) and parliamentary government, but I understand the impractibility of either of those things happening in the US. Proportional representation would confuse many voters and would likely require several constitutional amendments. The federal structure of government also makes PR awkward. Not to mention, absent any real threat to one of the major political parties (either from the right or left) there is no reason to make PR happen here in the US.

    So here are what I see as some more practical solutions that will make a few people happy and maybe help us solve some of our problems:

    1. Instant Runoff Voting: This is the most imaginable change to US elections that I can see. If Libertarian voters cost Romney this election, Republicans have a real incentive to call for a change to government, and an amendment to allow IRV would be one of the most practical. This way, dedicated ideologues could vote for their favorite candidate, and the top two vote getters would move on to a second round of votes. This way it is more likely that a third party can get into the top two, increasing their money raising capabilities and possibly allowing for more voter participation.

    2. End or Reform the Commission on Presidential Debates: A nonprofit corporation created by the Democratic and Republican Parties, the CPD gets to set standards for who is allowed in the presidential debates. They decided that candidates need to poll at 15% nationally to get into the debates. Most polls don't ask about third party candidates by name, however, and 15% is a pretty high threshold when you consider that most Americans are painfully aware that they must vote Republican or Democrat and live in a swing state for their vote to count.

    3. Amend the Constitution to allow for campaign finance reform:
    Of course it's unconstitutional. But the Constitution can be amended, and sometimes it should. Allowing campaign finance reform should be a priority for most Americans, especially considering that big money donations to a candidate's Super PAC could easily translate into special favors from that candidate once in office. I'm not sure how special favors for certain special interests suit the ideas of a Constitutional Republic, since they often lead to very unconstitutional actions, so Americans sohould be concerned about the extreme amount of money in politics.

    4. Term limits: I'm a fan of single term limits for federal politicians. I think that if people are given the right incentives, they will slightly improve their behavior. Politicians have an incentive to work for the next election. Some think of this as a good thing, saying it keeps them on their toes and makes sure politicians are responsive to their constituents. In real life, this is only somewhat true, because most politicians don't avoid actions that stick in the craw of most voters, and then call for more spending and protect entitlements to make sure they're safe in the next election cycle. If politicians weren't able to continue their career in Washington, they still might try and appease special interests, perhaps hoping for a lucrative position in some company after they leave office. This too is regrettable, but maybe there are other ways of giving politicians an incentive to govern responsibly along side term limits.

    What are some of your ideas?

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    My thoughts are radical and not practical at this juncture, but say:

    1) Major and minor parties represented by popular vote, for Congress only. Major parties would include "Conservative" and "Liberal" and minor parties would be derivatives of them ("tea party", "green party", etc.) but would all be proportionately represented in Congress. POTUS would be which ever major and/or minor party that candidate would choose.

    2) Expanded debates that would include ALL viable candidates, separate debates that would include selected candidates as well. Expanding the debate structure follows #3 below.

    3) Capped floor & ceiling on spending (not contributions necessarily). Each valid candidate MUST spend between a floor and a ceiling to be considered a valid candidate and that spending in my structure would be significantly reduced. Say between $1m and $5m for starters. Expanded debates would make up the balance of potential voter exposure - and the medium these debates would also need expanded to be readily available rather than just coverage on network TV. Perhaps a fixed portion of ALL campaign contributions would fund this aspect.

    4) Term limits are tricky. On one hand you have Congress and POTUS making short-term decisions for political reasons over what needs long-term consideration. Not sure how to approach this at this point, but at the very least Congress should be restricted - say to 2 current terms.
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    I like the floor and ceiling idea. Enough to keep out the crazies while still giving candidates a modest spending limit.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    I like the floor and ceiling idea. Enough to keep out the crazies while still giving candidates a modest spending limit.
    A significant portion of our voting set are idiots and throwing money at them for votes is undemocratic IMO. This would eliminate the phenomenon of the biggest campaign war chest being the most likely winner.

    But at the end of the day, I might as well throw in a 7" $#@! for myself - because none of it will ever happen. Big money/power runs the show, not voters.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    A significant portion of our voting set are idiots and throwing money at them for votes is undemocratic IMO. This would eliminate the phenomenon of the biggest campaign war chest being the most likely winner.

    But at the end of the day, I might as well throw in a 7" $#@! for myself - because none of it will ever happen. Big money/power runs the show, not voters.
    Unfortunately I think you're right about that last point. There are very few scenarios that would motivate the powerful to make a change, especially while most Americans continue to reward the dysfunctional two party system with their votes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    Unfortunately I think you're right about that last point. There are very few scenarios that would motivate the powerful to make a change, especially while most Americans continue to reward the dysfunctional two party system with their votes.
    And it's further moved out into deep space considering that a significant portion of our voting populace just doesn't give a $#@!. As long as they have their I-pods, hummers and NFL Sunday Ticket, why $#@! with it?

    Real conflict brings real action. Consider that our most productive points on our historical timeline was when we were in significant conflict (significant danger of losing our freedoms) like WWII for example, times of relative security bring relative complacency.

    It's going to take a major disaster to wake us up from our political slumber in other words, and it may be forming now with the global debt crisis.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Obvious View Post
    And it's further moved out into deep space considering that a significant portion of our voting populace just doesn't give a $#@!. As long as they have their I-pods, hummers and NFL Sunday Ticket, why $#@! with it?

    Real conflict brings real action. Consider that our most productive points on our historical timeline was when we were in significant conflict (significant danger of losing our freedoms) like WWII for example, times of relative security bring relative complacency.

    It's going to take a major disaster to wake us up from our political slumber in other words, and it may be forming now with the global debt crisis.
    I don't think it would necessarily take a major disaster. The way I see it is the two world wars caused people to see more dysfunction in their lives, dysfunction they thought the state could address. Those people went to ideological extremes, which threatened the left and right status quo parties. When those parties felt threatened by the far left and right they responded by creating different electoral systems that would concede some seats to others but would allow them to stay in power. So, if either party felt a strong enough threat from the left or right, we could see some sort of electoral reform in this country.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    Ok, so I'm a big fan of proportional representation (PR) and parliamentary government, but I understand the impractibility of either of those things happening in the US. Proportional representation would confuse many voters and would likely require several constitutional amendments. The federal structure of government also makes PR awkward. Not to mention, absent any real threat to one of the major political parties (either from the right or left) there is no reason to make PR happen here in the US


    So here are what I see as some more practical solutions that will make a few people happy and maybe help us solve some of our problems:

    1. Instant Runoff Voting: This is the most imaginable change to US elections that I can see. If Libertarian voters cost Romney this election, Republicans have a real incentive to call for a change to government, and an amendment to allow IRV would be one of the most practical. This way, dedicated ideologues could vote for their favorite candidate, and the top two vote getters would move on to a second round of votes. This way it is more likely that a third party can get into the top two, increasing their money raising capabilities and possibly allowing for more voter participation.

    2. End or Reform the Commission on Presidential Debates: A nonprofit corporation created by the Democratic and Republican Parties, the CPD gets to set standards for who is allowed in the presidential debates. They decided that candidates need to poll at 15% nationally to get into the debates. Most polls don't ask about third party candidates by name, however, and 15% is a pretty high threshold when you consider that most Americans are painfully aware that they must vote Republican or Democrat and live in a swing state for their vote to count.

    3. Amend the Constitution to allow for campaign finance reform:
    Of course it's unconstitutional. But the Constitution can be amended, and sometimes it should. Allowing campaign finance reform should be a priority for most Americans, especially considering that big money donations to a candidate's Super PAC could easily translate into special favors from that candidate once in office. I'm not sure how special favors for certain special interests suit the ideas of a Constitutional Republic, since they often lead to very unconstitutional actions, so Americans sohould be concerned about the extreme amount of money in politics.

    4. Term limits: I'm a fan of single term limits for federal politicians. I think that if people are given the right incentives, they will slightly improve their behavior. Politicians have an incentive to work for the next election. Some think of this as a good thing, saying it keeps them on their toes and makes sure politicians are responsive to their constituents. In real life, this is only somewhat true, because most politicians don't avoid actions that stick in the craw of most voters, and then call for more spending and protect entitlements to make sure they're safe in the next election cycle. If politicians weren't able to continue their career in Washington, they still might try and appease special interests, perhaps hoping for a lucrative position in some company after they leave office. This too is regrettable, but maybe there are other ways of giving politicians an incentive to govern responsibly along side term limits.

    What are some of your ideas?


    None of that is proportional representation as was laid out here in British Columbia which was a confusing array of transferable ballots. It was trounced in a referendum by nearly 70%

    Run offs aren't all that instant, and if you look at the European models I think you will find that voter turn out declines rapidly with each wave of voting. In the end the decision is often made with less than 30% of the voters, in other words 15% + of the eligible voters.

    What work way back when in some Canadian jurisdictions was the preferential ballot, 1, 2, 3. It was abandoned because it took weeks to count the results. But now, with computerized voting it is going to be tried in some municipalities.

    Here's a for instance based on what we know. Capt O voted Johnson as a kind of protest - 'none of the above'. Had he had the option of a preferential ballot, he could have voted Johnson 1, and when Johnson failed to get a pre set qualifying percentage, he drops off and then the next preference on Capt O's ballot would count.

    The other problem with proportional rep, or pop rep as we call it, is that where it is being used - Malta I think - voting is mandatory. You get fined if you don't.


    You want that?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Fearandloathing View Post
    None of that is proportional representation as was laid out here in British Columbia which was a confusing array of transferable ballots. It was trounced in a referendum by nearly 70%

    Run offs aren't all that instant, and if you look at the European models I think you will find that voter turn out declines rapidly with each wave of voting. In the end the decision is often made with less than 30% of the voters, in other words 15% + of the eligible voters.

    What work way back when in some Canadian jurisdictions was the preferential ballot, 1, 2, 3. It was abandoned because it took weeks to count the results. But now, with computerized voting it is going to be tried in some municipalities.

    Here's a for instance based on what we know. Capt O voted Johnson as a kind of protest - 'none of the above'. Had he had the option of a preferential ballot, he could have voted Johnson 1, and when Johnson failed to get a pre set qualifying percentage, he drops off and then the next preference on Capt O's ballot would count.

    The other problem with proportional rep, or pop rep as we call it, is that where it is being used - Malta I think - voting is mandatory. You get fined if you don't.


    You want that?
    I have no idea what you are talking about, F & L. Proportional representation is used in more countries today than the Plurality-Majoritarian systems that are used in the US, UK and Canada. Malta is one of many, many examples. So are Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and most of continental Europe. But that's not actually what this thread is about anyhow. I had another thread for that, also in the poli sci room.

    I don't like the preferential ballot, mainly because it takes away the possibility of a protest vote meaning something. In my case, my vote is going for Johnson this election as a way to express my dissatisfaction. The Republican Party used to be a Grand Ole Party that housed several different views, and it was able to do this primarily by being concerned primarily with scaling back federal power. Now more than ever it seems to be narrowly focused on neo-conservatives, shutting out the large number of paleo conservatives, libertarians, isolationists and traditionalists it used to support.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kathaariancode View Post
    I have no idea what you are talking about, F & L. Proportional representation is used in more countries today than the Plurality-Majoritarian systems that are used in the US, UK and Canada. Malta is one of many, many examples. So are Germany, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, New Zealand and most of continental Europe. But that's not actually what this thread is about anyhow. I had another thread for that, also in the poli sci room.

    I don't like the preferential ballot, mainly because it takes away the possibility of a protest vote meaning something. In my case, my vote is going for Johnson this election as a way to express my dissatisfaction. The Republican Party used to be a Grand Ole Party that housed several different views, and it was able to do this primarily by being concerned primarily with scaling back federal power. Now more than ever it seems to be narrowly focused on neo-conservatives, shutting out the large number of paleo conservatives, libertarians, isolationists and traditionalists it used to support.
    My mistake.

    I was referring to the single transferable ballot system which was soundly trounced here. It is not used bvery many places.

    But if PR is not the subject I suggest you could have started off the OP about what the thread is about.


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