Tilting at the Ballot Box

Justin justin-cypherpunks at soze.net
Fri Aug 27 14:49:51 PDT 2004

On 2004-08-27T13:14:47-0700, Steve Schear wrote:
> At 04:12 AM 8/27/2004, you wrote:
> >On 2004-08-25T11:25:09-0700, Steve Schear wrote:
> >> Like a shoemaker who only has hammers in his toolkit, Chaum is trying to
> >> fix the wrong problem.  The problems with voting in the U.S. aren't 
> >current
> >> or even potential fraud at the ballot box its a complete lack of
> >> proportional representation.
> >
> >Is this solvable?  Chaum is solving a problem that evidently can be
> >solved.  Perhaps once those problems are solved it will be easier to
> >direct public attention at other more fundamental problems with our
> >representative democracy.
> Why would u guess this?  These problems have been around since almost the 
> founding of the republic.

What?  I just said that without the distraction of outright voting
fraud, voters may become more aware of the more subtle and more serious
issues with democratic voting systems.

> >You have a strange notion of what the Colonists meant by that phrase.
> >
> >You do have representation.  The fact that your representatives are not
> >the ones you wanted is irrelevant.
> The Colonists had representatives too, its just that they were chosen by 
> King George :)

As I understand it (I wasn't there, but perhaps you were), their
complaint was that their "representatives" weren't from the region they
claimed to represent, and that they weren't chosen democratically.  You
and I have no such claim.  I can't claim lack of representation just
because my fellow citizens are idiots who subscribe to the Libertarian
or Socialist or Zoroastrian platform yet vote for a Republican or

> The fact that 'my' representatives are not the ones I wanted nor any
> of the independent independent party voters wanted is paramount.

What you or I want has nothing to do with it.  I don't get to redefine
election procedure whenever my preferred candidate doesn't win an

I'm not voting for either Bush or Kerry.  Neither represents my views.
No matter who wins, the winner is my president and my representative.  I
can't claim otherwise.  The best I can do is blame all the idiot voters
who cling to party-ID as if it were their only hope of survival.

> Representation is about interests and ideology.  If a 
> significant segment of voters don't get anyone to represent these interests 
> and ideologies bad things can happen (e.g., they can become 
> radicalized).  Representation can be an important outlet for these 
> disenfranchised voters.

Well, one district in TX managed to elect someone who's decent - Ron
Paul.  It's possible.  The fact that libertarians or fascists everywhere
don't get their candidates elected has more to do with the fact that
they vote Republican or Democrat "because a vote for a third party is a
wasted vote."  Blame the morons in the electorate for not electing
representatives that mirror their views.  That's where the blame lies.

What do you want?  Do you want everyone to vote Democrat, Libertarian or
Republican, then apportion the House of Representatives and the Senate
appropriately?  Who picks the representatives?

The reason we don't have any socialists or libertarians or fascists in
Congress is that not a single district votes for one.  The U.S. has this
fixation on voting for one of the two major parties.  Other countries do
not; that's why some of them have multi-(3+)-party representation in
their parliaments.

Incidentally, some northeastern state allows each congressional district
to pick one elector, and the State as a whole picks two.  (Electors =
Senators + House Reps).  If you're complaining about presidential
elector selection, that blame lies with the States; the States dictate
how their electors are chosen.

> >IMO, your complaint about gerrymandering is valid.  There are a variety
> >of formulaic ways to ensure voting district compactness.  See e.g.
> >http://www.hmdc.harvard.edu/micah_altman/disab.shtml
> >Clearly, no matter what you do, there are problems.  If the district
> >size is 1 million, there's a city of 499k and a city of 1501k, what
> >then?  The city of 499k is screwed unless there's a nearby population
> >center with similar culture.  Even then, the numbers won't be equitable,
> >and someone, somewhere will whine about "lack of representation."
> The problem is that use of voting districts seems to have always resulted 
> in gerrymandering in our political system.  A proportional system can 
> eliminate these geopolitical distortions.

State and Federal House of Reps.  are proportional.  (Yeah, I know
Nebraska is unicameral, excuse the generalization).  What part of the
System isn't proportional other than most States' selection of
presidential electors?

"When in our age we hear these words: It will be judged by the result--then we
know at once with whom we have the honor of speaking.  Those who talk this way
are a numerous type whom I shall designate under the common name of assistant
professors."  -- Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling (Wong tr.), III, 112

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