June 21, 2003
The Greens—Fair Elections

(See this post for background on this series.)

Proportional Representation: Elect legislative bodies by proportional representation where each party has representation in proportion to its total vote.

I discussed this in the previous section. Proportional representation doesn't work outside of a parliamentary system.

Preference Voting: Elect single offices by majority preference voting where voters rank candidates in order of preference and votes are distributed according to preferences in instant runoffs until a winner receives a majority of votes.

This is a good idea, and I support it. Australia uses this system for all of their elections. Right now, several states have runoffs if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, but it requires a second election, which is wasteful from both a fiscal standpoint and a temporal standpoint. Instant runoffs are an idea whose time has come.

Public Campaign and Party Financing: Equal public campaign financing and free broadcast media time for all candidates who agree not to use private money. Equal free broadcast media time for party broadcasts. Public financing of parties through matching funds for party dues and small donations up to $300 a year.

No, no, no. I will discuss this in a later post, but governmental mandates on broadcasts are a bad idea. If they wish to require free airtime, PBS is public broadcasting; make them carry all the debates and party statements.

Fair Ballot Access: Federal legislation to require each state to enable a new party or any independent candidate to qualify for the ballot through a petition of no greater than 1/10th of 1% of the total vote cast in the district in the last gubernatorial election, with a 10,000 signature maximum.

This sounds like a wonderful idea. However, it is the proliferation of candidates that led to ballot issues such as the infamous "butterfly ballot" in Palm Beach County, and the "Two page ballot" in Duval County, where presidential candidates appeared on two separate pages. Both of these were due to relaxed ballot access laws in Florida, which resulted in ten parties having presidential candidates on the ballot. Thousands of ballots were spoiled (due to overvotes) or allegedly mismarked (due to confusion over the butterfly ballot). Six of these ten candidates received (together) 6,640 votes, or about 1.1 percent of the vote (as a group). Raising the limits slightly might have eliminated a lot of the marginal candidates.

Eliminate Mandatory Primaries: Allow parties the right to nominate by membership convention instead of state-run primaries.

This means that working people won't have a say in the procedure; it's easy to duck out of work during lunch to vote, or before or after work; it's quite another to attend a convention to select a candidate. In addition, it creates more polarization, as the candidates are more likely to be acceptable to core constituencies, but less likely to attract support from anyone outside the party.

posted on June 21, 2003 08:50 PM


Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember your info?

Back to Horologium