Back To The Old Drawing Board..

If the last few elections have taught me anything, it’s that we still need to revisit how we handle elections in this country. Voting fraud aside (save that for another post), I have never been convinced that our monolithic two-party system serves us best. How many times have friends or family members spoken about “choosing the lesser of two evils,” or “choosing either is the same as choosing both?” Regardless of majority or minority, neither party ever has anything to lose because they are always represented on the Hill, in one branch or another. As wacky as he might have been, I remember when Ross Perot really shook things up when he dove into the race. I rather liked the idea of shaking up the establishment, because the perception of power loss really whips these people into shape. Our ace in the hole, as it were.

But, how do we buck the system without feeling like we’re throwing away votes that would otherwise ensure an assclown doesn’t get elected?

Dan Cantor, the executive director of the Working Families Party, blogged today at TPMCafe about his ideas on fusion voting:

What is fusion? Also known as open ballot voting or cross-endorsement, fusion allows a candidate to run for office as the standard-bearer of more than one party. Suppose the WFP decides to cross-endorse the Democrat. That candidate will show up twice on the ballot, and voters will get to choose to support him or her on the party line of their choice. The votes will get counted separately but then added together to determine the final outcome of the race.

[…]

So why does it matter? Scott Shields put it well in a MyDD post:

Well, by supporting Eliot Spitzer as a Working Families Party candidate rather than as a Democrat…voters send the message that the issues Working Families champions – universal healthcare, a living wage, strong labor protection – are very important to a significant segment of their base. It also gives independent voters an excuse to vote for major party candidates that they might not otherwise vote for.

If I read this right, this method sounds like a demographic tool to inform the winning candidate which supporters voted under which platform of importance. This is all fine and good, but the cynical part of my brain is asking how this would affect anything. Even if a candidate wins by overwhelming endorsement from WFP voters, why would that fact provide any impetus for the candidate to address WFP’s issues with a higher priority over the candidate’s own party? I’m not seeing how the end result is different than what we already have.

What other election/voting ideas have you come across?

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11 Comments

Filed under 08_space_cowboy

11 responses to “Back To The Old Drawing Board..

  1. Melissa McEwan

    Love. That. Picture.

    why would that fact provide any impetus for the candidate to address WFP’s issues with a higher priority over the candidate’s own party?

    Good question.

    Do you think they’d address WTP voter issues?

  2. Do you think they’d address WTP voter issues?

    Only if Mama Shakes was the standard bearer. 🙂

  3. Melissa’s question gets to the heart of the matter. It’s rare that a major party and minor party will disagree over an issue. The problem more often than not is a lack of, shall we say, enthusiasm. Look at raising the minimum wage or bringing the troops home from Iraq.

    The Working Families Party takes a strong progressive stance on a limited number of issues, for example in support of raising the minimum wage and bringing the troops home from Iraq. Voters show they agree by voting for a major party candidate on the WFP ballot line.

    Votes on the WFP ballot line are a concrete demonstration that people will vote based on the issues championed and a needed push to get elected officials to take action. Being able to say people support this and will vote accordingly while pointing to actual election results is incredibly powerful.

  4. Brian

    This probably sounds radical, and I don’t even know how you would do it, but why not pick a non-partisan representative and have the electorate vote what *positions* he should take? If you pick a non-partisan rep that’s required to follow the “issues votes” of the constituency, wouldn’t that really be more representative?

  5. Proportional representation, like they have in the UK, India, Israel, etc. Other than issuing each citizen 18 and older a Blackberry and having a direct democracy, that’s the best option I can think of.

  6. Arkades

    I want proportional representation and a parliamentary system (including Votes of No Confidence). Or, at the very least, instant run-off voting.

  7. I like the idea of a ranked ballot, with a Condorcet count using a method like Ranked Pairs. This tends toward a candidate that is not extremist in any direction, but is acceptable to the greatest number of people.

  8. Our method of First Past the Post (also called Plurality voting) tends to create exactly two parties, as we see in the US now.

  9. I agree with Arkades: instant run-off is a great idea. I’d also support a parliamentary system. Anything where we could, for instance, have Bush voted out of office.

  10. Being able to say people support this and will vote accordingly while pointing to actual election results is incredibly powerful.

    Only if they care what we think, and if they’re getting elected anyway, why the heck should they care?
    ~
    I agree with Arkady – instant runnoff, and public monies ONLY for elections.

  11. Without getting into the debate about alternative electoral systems, I’ll respond to SBGYPSY by pointing out that current events show that as soon as elected officials get elected one of the things they’re most concerned about is getting elected again. So, yes, they do care about what people think, if you can show that people will vote based on those thoughts, which fusion does.

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