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Vote on Tuesday!

Have you heard about the big election reform referendum up for, um, referendum this Tuesday? Basically, it would combine all parties' primaries into one super-primary in June. Top two vote-getters go up against each other in November. It's sort of like Instant Runoff Voting, which allows Ross Perot and Ralph Nader supporters to avoid throwing their votes away.

The Democrats are in an uproar, but i don't think it's because of left-wing ideology but rather because it threatens The Man in general. I bet the Republicans would be against it if they could (What are they going to do, come out against Bloomberg and Giuliani, their two New York City heroes?) and I bet they're grousing about it behind closed doors, because those two guys i just mentioned would each have been able to become mayor without having to pretend he's a Republican.

The counterargument, of course, is that a candidate who would win a general election might not make it past the primary because of thinning out of the vote. For example, if ten members of Party A run and each take 7% of the vote and two members of Party B run and each take 15%, the two guys in Party B would run in November despite their party being outnumbered 70-30. However, the big parties are organized entities, and i think they'd figure this out. Hell, the Republicans figured out how to avoid fracturing their electorate in the Schwarzenegger election.

Anyway, big surprise, the Times and Newsday are against it, but big surprise (no, for real this time) the Post is also against it, while the Daily News, Observer, and the freaking Voice support it!

It's gonna be a close election. Vote in it.

Mike Schiraldi
Friday, October 31, 2003

I'm also in favor of the non-partisan primary: it would create a way to vote third-party without throwing your vote away.

Ultimately, it would be good to have national elections work this way; but then ANY change in the way national elections work would be an improvement.


Charles Lewis
Friday, October 31, 2003

New York has enough problems without screwing around with its elections. Can't we let some other cities try this, and then see what the results are before we do it to ourselves?

I have no particular fondness for Newark. Why don't we try it there first?

All the primaries do is consolidate the votes of the members of a party into one block, rather than forcing it to be fractured.

As a party member, I think that's a good thing.

But, in general, I vote against every referendum.

Gustavo W.
Friday, October 31, 2003

Gustavo said: "Can't we let some other cities try this, and then see what the results are before we do it to ourselves?"

The CSM said, "New York and Philadelphia are the only major cities in the country that don't have a nonpartisan process for gaining control of City Hall."

Mike Schiraldi
Friday, October 31, 2003

Partisan primaries are a bad thing because they prevent the most popular candidates from reaching the general election.

Here is a perfect example: If California had non-partisan primaries, then McCain would have been able to get enough Republican, Democrat and independant voters to beat Gore AND Bush. He was the most popular candidate among the general populace. However, Bush was more popular among Republicans so McCain lost the Republican primary and didn't have a chance to go up against Gore. Of course Gore ended up winning CA in the general election.

Setting aside my personal political preferences, it is clear that partisan primaries prevent the most popular candidate from reaching office, and they should therefore not be used.

My source for this information is an article I read in Discover about different voting systems. We typically use a plurality system (most votes wins), quite often with partisan primaries (although some states have non-partisan primaries). The article also discussed systems like instant-runoff, ranking, rating, etc. All systems commonly used for polling, board of education elections, etc. But for Presidential elections, our only national election, we use the most single flawed voting system conceivable! Our democracy is completly broken as a result.

Saturday, November 1, 2003

We should use Google for elections. Instead of PageRank we'll have PoliticianRank. Poltician with the most "hits" wins.
Saturday, November 1, 2003

ha ha

anyway, that system is used out here in the west a lot. washington has had a blanked primary for *all* races for a long time, some races are non-partisan (top two vote getters go to final), some are partisan (top vote getter in each party which has > 5% of the votes goes to final). but the parties (democrat & republican) have sued the state multiple times recently even though the system is extremely popular. this year it was ruled illegal again, so either we'll switch to a 'cajun' system (top two vote getters win) or drop primaries all together (why should the gov't pay for an internal party meeting?).

philadelphia has a real wacky system--two seats on city council are reserved for people not in the majority party. does new york have any such thing?

Sunday, November 2, 2003

>(why should the gov't pay for an internal party meeting?).

That's really what irks me, too.  The instututionalized two-party system strikes me as only incrementally different than an institutionalized single-party system sometimes.

Ever notice how when new democracies are formed they never emulate our system?  It seems like they usually follow a parliamentary model (says the computer scientist, with no formal education in political science).

Charles Lewis
Monday, November 3, 2003

If you are interested in fair electoral systems you could do worse than look at the Australian systems (yes we like playing with ours too).

We gave the world the Secret ballot, we were second after New Zealand in giving women the vote way back in the 19th C. And with one shameful exception (Aborigines) we granted full universal sufferage immediately on federating in 1901. The Aboriginal aberation was quickly rectified in the 60's by overwhelming referendum when the general public was made aware that the Aborigines were not on the electoral rolls.

We also established an independent Electoral Commission whose role is to supervise and monitor elections of all descriptions even union or organisational elections.

To solve inequities with the poor tending not to vote as much as the wealthy, who control both the economy and government, voting has been always compulsory.

The problem you describe here has been long solved by our preferential system where numbering candidates in order of preference means that the least popular are eliminated in sequence and votes are redistributed till a majority is achieved by one candidate. An electoral "Survivor" method, but done in the one ballot.

We also have fixed "Donkey Voting" where lazy people vote for whoever is top of the ballot, by issuing multiple versions of the ballots so all candidates have an equal share of ballots where they are at the top.

In my state the ACT (actually a Territory), Tasmania and the Australian Senate, the best of representative and proportional voting is achieved by the Hare Clark system of multiple member seats. All the above methods are applied to voting in a number of members in each electorate. So all but the smallest minority in an area have a representative who truly represents their interests.

Our Electoral Commission helps apply these impartial and generally beneficial sytems to our neighbors in the Pacific region on request. Unlike some countries we relish both the notion of democracy and its implementation both for ourselves and others.

The only flaw with all of this is that, like in all Democracies no matter how hard we try, we still vote in Politicians and that is where the problem lies.

Peter Breis
Friday, December 19, 2003

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