Tilting at the Ballot Box

Steve Schear s.schear at comcast.net
Mon Aug 30 17:40:25 PDT 2004

At 05:23 AM 8/30/2004, Justin wrote:

>On 2004-08-29T20:55:19-0700, Steve Schear wrote:
> > I am not discussing presidential elections, this is another matter.
> > > Steve Schear wrote:
> > >> 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.
> > >
> > At 02:49 PM 8/27/2004, Justin wrote:
> > >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?
> >
> > The part that isn't proportional has to do with the very establishment of
> > 'voting districts' within the states that are the key to the two major
> > parties maintaining their electoral monopolies.
>Oh, you want to eliminate voting districts.  I apologize for not reading
>your intentions into your earlier comments.
>Are States "geopolitical distortions" as well?  Are countries?
>If you're going to propose an alternate system, please clearly identify
>1) the voting pool, and 2) what they're voting for.  If the pool is
>voting for a party instead of individuals, how does a winning party pick
>representatives?  Is that selection method fair?

While this is certainly a value judgement, almost every other nation thinks so.

Its fair if each party is free to select its own basis for selecting 
candidates.  That way voters can take into consideration both the party and 
individual ideology and any geographical interests before deciding what 
party to vote for.  The most important thing, in my opinion, is that the 
number of seats is awarded by, in our situation, state election results and 
not solely by district where independent candidates will almost never 
represent a majority and thus never get elected to office.

In some countries parties select candidates to fill seats awarded in an 
election, in others candidates for each party are selected in a primary 
election and (e.g., based on votes per candidate received) seat the 
candidates in order of popularity, in still other countries voters are free 
to write in candidate names.  I prefer some combination of the last two 
methods plus some localization means to prevent the major population 
centers from monopolizing candidate selection.  This might involve some 
sort of district rotation or randomization so that primary election 
candidates would be required to come from only those districts in the 
rotation.  I am sure there are other means to address this issue.

>There are many, many ways to conduct elections, and your proportional
>representation system has serious problems of its own.  It
>underrepresents regional interests, and doesn't guarantee a
>geographically diverse set of representatives.  You could complain that
>geography (and in general physical boundaries) isn't important, but
>you'd be wrong IMO.

I agree that without geographic adjustments other unfairness would become 


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