Election Reform Sept. 15th

Americas system of electing representatives is the costliest and in many ways one of the least efficient electoral systems in the world. Electoral reform should be one of Congresses highest priorities. http://www.thenation.com/blog/172385/election-reform-should-be-top-priority-new-congress# 

America has a history of making it difficult for minorities to register to vote. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 tried to minimize racial discrimination but is now under attack. The National Voter Registration Act of 1993, also known as the Motor Voter act, allows people to register wherever they get drivers licenses. The  Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act of 1986 makes it easier for citizens overseas to vote, and the  Help America Vote Act of 2002, helps people with disabilities. http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/rightsandfreedoms/a/voterlaws.htm

Since the 60’s we have made progress in making it easier to vote, but since 2008 thirty states have passed laws making it harder for people to vote. http://www.fogcityjournal.com/wordpress/5029/restrictive-voting-laws-making-it-harder-for-some-to-vote/

Another problem is that in many states former prisoners have lost their right to vote. Thirty five states have laws restricting the right to vote for millions of ex-offenders. Since minorities are disproportionately sent to prison, this is  another way to disenfranchise minorities. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/felon-voting-rights_n_1924535.html

What would an ideal system look like? We have seen long voting lines and waiting times to vote which discourage hundreds of thousands. Most States are moving to more early voting and absentee voting to relieve these problems, why not let everyone vote by mail like we do here in Oregon? http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=3790039

Gerrymandering is another problem that allows the party in power during the census to re-draw voting districts to favor that party. Because of this, in the last election Democrats received 1.4 million more votes for the House of Representatives, yet Republicans won control of the House by a 234 to 201 margin. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/03/opinion/sunday/the-great-gerrymander-of-2012.html?pagewanted=all

Now they are trying to rig the presidential elections so that these gerrymandered districts determine the winner. Since Republicans dominate the rural areas with the most districts and the Democrats dominate the urban areas with fewer districts it would guarantee more GOP victories even when the Democrats win the popular vote. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/01/gops-election-rigging-plan-explained

A better plan would be to eliminate or work around the obsolete electoral college system by getting states to agree to give all of their electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote. On March 6 the Register Guard had a good editorial advocating this move to the National Popular Vote. http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

One of the main reasons for our dysfunctional government is the two party system. These two parties have formed a monopoly and put roadblocks in to the formation of other parties. A majority of people think that it is time for third parties, even if they wouldn’t support one. A recent Gallup poll found that 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats and 27 percent as Republicans. Considerably more—40 percent—are independents, disdaining both parties. http://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2012/03/27/in-the-magazine/trends-and-opinions/time-party.html

One of the main reason people would not vote for a third party candidate is that the third party would only be a “spoiler vote” giving the election to the worst choice. One way to avoid that is with instant runnoff voting. http://www.fairvote.org/what-is-irv/#.UTmDdRwqY3M

One of the main reasons for the political gridlock and the incivility of government is winner takes all politics. If preferential voting were used on three or more bills, the lawmakers would be forced to cooperate and compromise to attract the second choice votes that would win passage of  a bill. In a preferential vote of three proposals The Democrats would make one proposal, the Republicans another and an independent or third party would provide a third centrist or compromise plan. Lawmakers would give 2 pts. for their favorite bill, 1 pts. for the second choice, and no votes for the bill they dislike the most. Generally the compromise proposal with the most points would win.

Here are several alternative voting systems. http://bcn.boulder.co.us/government/approvalvote/altvote.html

Most of the other democracies in the world do not have winner takes all elections. They have proportional representation. http://www.proportional-representation.org/


About altruist1

I am a raging progressive and a writer. I received Bachelors degrees in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Arts with a Secondary teaching certificate and a minor in Physics. I taught for about ten years, then did various jobs including welding,fabrication and traffic engineering, and am now retired. I am interested in science, energy, the environment, and architecture.
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