Friday, February 1, 2013

Rethinking IRV, PR, Range Voting, Election Reforms

My interest in has become more mixed.  I like the idea of Proportional Representation, and have proposed an idea for it recently.  I'm less sure about Instant Run-off Voting (IRV) because I'm not sure it will be as effective as Range Voting at defeating Duverger's Law, but I think even the gesture of IRV might increase the visibility of other political parties. (But I think we might be able to do better.)

Some of the other FairVote reforms, I don't like so much.  First of all, I think the 26th Amendment is not a good thing for several reasons.  One is that it takes power away from the States to decide when their youth are entitled to be part of the decision-making, and rather unnecessarily.  The rationale, I believe, was that those young enough to give their lives were young enough to elect the Commander-in-Chief.  (Young women got this benefit for free, since they were never subject to draft -- and feminism was nary so critical of this.)  This was all right as far as it goes.  I would be all for an Amendment that guarantees the right to vote for those serving or having served in the military.  I would be all for there being a separate vote in the Electoral College for those in military service (makes sense to me) and a legal guarantee that their votes will all be counted.  (Did Al Gore do the same thing?)  I think the general effect of the 26th Amendment is that it adds to the pool of votes those more likely to make decisions based on what they were told about history rather than what they've experienced of history.

Plus, the "old enough to die for their country" argument has, I think, a bit of an insidious implication: that somehow youth are being sacrificed by the older people.  We are generally talking about their parents voting for the Congress that declares war (or in the 21st century, the President that unilaterally declares war).  For most youth (hopefully, still) there are two eligible voters that have a vested interest in them not dying.

So all these efforts to flood the polls with a maximum number of "low information voters" who without prompting might decide to go to the movies rather than the voting booth (how motivated are these people to seriously look into issues?) and who will likely make their choices based on feelings and vague impressions ("Romney just seems greedy and uncaring somehow"), they just seem ill-conceived at best, and cynical at worst.  

I would vote to restrict voting to those 25 years and older.  Or even 35.  Maybe even 40.  And I think States should be allowed to have their own restrictions.

Thank you, Bill.  A few months too late though. 
Demagogues push "more democracy for democracy's sake" because a mobocracy gives more power to the few that are good at manipulating the masses.  That's why some progressives are annoyed at the "one party democracy", by which they mean our infuriating republic, with its impediments to simple mob rule.  The opposition to economic restrictions on suffrage, ostensibly about protecting minorities, has only helped create an informed mob eager for money from "Obama's secret stash." It has helped lead to the problem that Bill Maher (see right) has finally got around to acknowledging.  But the decision to override the state prerogative was based on "guilt by association" and "argument from assumed motive" rather than from the potential long-term consequences.

Anywaaaaaay... If would be only about Proportional Representation and Range Voting,(instead of a Constitutional right to vote), I'd be more enthusiastic about it.  I worry now that Instant Run-off Voting is merely a gesture (also this) toward increasing competition in the free marketplace of ideas, compared to Range Voting.

FairVote's plan for California is actually similar to mine, almost better except for something that I still consider worthwhile:  I still think it would be important to have at least 5 Party Seats for those the top 5 party memberships that are less than 30% of the total state population (I originally proposed up to 10).  Doesn't this overrepresent some people?  Long-term consequences, my friend.  There would be a reward for choosing to identify with the party of your choice (your registration becomes a kind of vote).  Generally, the significant numbers of people that do not have a voice for their opinions in Congress.  For every member of the Libertarian Party or the Green Party, there are at least 2 or 3 that would join if they thought these parties had a real chance of representation.  There would be an incentive to defect from an already overrepresented party.

If a party gains more than 30% of the population, it arguably doesn't need a Party Seat.  The other 48 seats (minus the 5 Party Seats) could be allocated in the FairVote way (a nice combination of my ideas for Regional Seats and Proportional Seats).  In time another party could become so influential as to lose its Party Seat and but potentially replace either the Republicans or the Democrats in state influence. makes a good argument that range voting is actually more likely to be achieved than Proportional Representation, even though the latter is Constitutional (possibly even for the House in spite of the apportionment amendment), since Congress has outlawed Proportional Representation for federal elections.  Getting significant numbers of Democrats and Republicans to vote for something that allows voters more choices is unlikely, whether it's repealing a law or amending the Constitution.  So it could be that the  plan for California will never happen, since Populism forced something else on the States.  The best alternative is probably Range Voting in each (currently mandated) single-member district.

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