Monday, May 12, 2014

Voting Rights: A Case for Party-List Voting Instead of Candidates.

In many countries, elections are not conducted in the same manner as they are in the United States.  Actually when looking at other nations' electoral systems, The States are actually a black sheep.  Most nations have some form of parliamentary system.  Canada does, most of Europe does, Russia does, Australia does, New Zealand even does.  But what does this mean for the United States exactly?

There are several types of ways to elect candidates in parliamentary systems.  One is by direct election of representatives like we do here...and like many other electoral systems do.  Then, there are other ways like party voting.  Party voting basically means that you elect "the party" to govern.  The party then keeps a list of candidates to represent each "riding" or district.  

For example, say Washington decides it wants to do party-voting.  Washington would place all political parties meeting the criteria be placed on the ballot, on the ballot, your elections for the State's congressional delegation.  On your ballot, you would see something like this:

For Congress, do you prefer Republican or Democrat?

You would check either of those as your choice.  Your party then would have a list, a candidate for each district.  After tallying all the votes, the number of representatives sent to Washington would be proportional.  So if it's 70% to 30%, Democrats to Republicans, and Washington has 10 congressional districts (it has 11, but for math's sake)...then we would send 7 Democrats and 3 Republicans based on a State-wide vote.  Its a system that does away with the concept of gerrymandering because the drawn districts are no longer relevant to the electoral process other than to round up 700,000 people and declare "this is a district, drawn for logistical purposes and nothing more."

So now the next question...what about primary elections?  Instead of sending out a state-sponsored election ballot for election day, your party would send out ballots to vote for the list if people it believes best represents the party's views.  The first round of singling out candidates for consideration would be to have the party's convention affirm a list of about 20 potential candidates.  Then after receiving a majority from the party caucus, those candidates would move to a kind of General Primary election, where those voters decide which 10 of those 20 chosen will move on to the general election list.  A list might look like this:

Please number from 1 to 20 which candidates you would like to see represent you in the House of Representatives

Candidate A _____
Candidate B _____
Candidate C _____

and so forth til all 20 names are numbered 1-20.

Then at the general election, You vote Republican or Democrat, and the top names on those party's lists are sent to WA DC to serve as our representatives.  No gerrymandering, no disenfranchised voters, no voter fraud.  Every vote matters, every vote counts, and every voice has a voice.  

It's a system that would entirely do away with the idea of gerrymandering, and ensure that voices in Congress are representative of the will of the voters.  It's a completely non-partisan way.  It also gives potential for 3rd party candidates to gain office without the hassle of needing 5% of the vote to be put on the ballot, because every political party would be permitted to be represented on the ballot.  All they would be required to do is to attain enough votes in the general election to win a seat...which currently is about 700,000 votes.

Gabriel Givens
@gdgivens for Twitter

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