My comments on the Oregon Initiative
donald at mich.com
Thu Sep 11 05:14:18 PDT 1997
Dear Members of the Election Methods List,
In the last two weeks I have sent you copies of the Oregon Initiative.
Those of you that are interested have had time to read the Initiative. Now
is the time for me to comment. My comments fall into the areas of what I
like in this Oregon Initiative and what I would like to see different when
the next initiative takes place somewhere.
I like the fact that something is being done to increase
representation. The Oregon Initiative will increase representation towards
Full Representation for political parties.
I like that the initiative uses a large district. In this case the
entire state is one large district of sixty members. Large districts lower
the threshold from fifty percent for a single seat district down to less
than two percent in this case. I have always felt that we could gain an
increase in the average quality of members if we had a system in which
candidates could win with less expense. The high pressure to raise money in
order to reach fifty percent is a corrupting force. This much smaller
threshold should allow a candidate to get elected with much less expense.
I hope that the initiative is a success. I also hope to see in the
future that the voters will favor voting for independent candidates over
the Party List - this could happen.
This Oregon Initiative is not ideal but because it is off the drawing
board and is going to be voted on by the people that makes it is as good as
any indeal initiative we could compose. And if this Oregon initiative is
voted into law it will be superior to any ideal initiative that is still on
the drawing board. A bird in the hand is better than two in the bush.
But we should discuss what we would like to see different about this
initiative so that the next initiative that takes place somewhere can be a
bit better. In that vein I will now list some points of this Oregon
Initiative that I would like to see different.
The first thing I would like to see different is the part that reads:
"...each voter to vote for the political party or an independent candidate
of their choice." My position is that all candidates should be on the
ballot. Both the Party List candidates and the independent candidates. The
people are still free to vote for a cetain political party by way of voting
for a candidate of the same certain party. The total votes received by all
the candidates of a certain party will determine the number of seats that
certain party will be alloted. It will be more democratic if the people are
free to vote directly for any candidate. it is not democratic if a party
hack can become a member of an assembly without running for office.
The next part I would like to see different in the next initiative is
the part that reads: "Each party shall establish its party list....by a
primary, convention, or other candidate selection process to be established
by each individual party." If we must use the Party List method it would be
more democratic if the list was established by the voters in the election.
The candidates running in the election who were from the same party would
make up the list and the order would be from high vote count down to low
vote count. This gives the people a say in the direction of their party
when they are able to vote for the candidates of their party. And the
candidates that pull the most votes for the party would be favored on the
The next part of the Oregon Initiative that I would like to see
different is the part that reads as follows: "Each party or independent
candidate not receiving votes equal to or exceeding the initial threshold
shall not be accorded any seats, and the votes for these parties and
candidates shall be eliminated from further consideration." This is wrong.
It may be true that they do not have a whole threshold but they do have
remainders and all remainders should be treated equally. These remainders
should be allowed to compete with the remainders from the party lists of
the larger political parties.
By eliminating these votes the initiative is wasting these votes.
Voters are losing their representation. This lost representation is being
taken from some of the voters and given to the larger political parties.
This is not the point of proportional representation(PR). It would be more
democratic if these parties and independent candidates with only a
remainder were allowed to compete on a level playing field.
Another part of this initiative that I would like to see different is
the part about filling a vacancy of a member who was elected as an
independent candidate. The voters that elected this now vacant member did
not vote for a major political party. They voted for an independent
candidate. The governor will fill the vacancy with a person from a major
political party - the governor's party. This is another example of taking
representation and power from some of the people and shifting that power to
a major political party. The solution to this is not to use Party List as
an election method - use Candidate List or Preference Voting/STV. Which
brings me to the next part of this initiative that I would like to see
The next part of this initiative that I would like to see different is
the part about using Party List as an election method. There are other
methods that are better. I have been told that this was done for
simplicity. Simplicity is a valid consideration and it is true that Party
List is simple compared to Preference Voting/STV but there is another
method that is also simple compared to Preference Voting/STV. Another
method that will give us a better balance between reform and simplicity.
That method is the Candidate List method.
Candidate List works as follows: Before the election each candidate
makes up a public list of preferred candidates. Candidates of the same
party will most likely include each other on their preferred lists. When
the people vote for a candidate the vote goes to the candidate. The
preferred list of other candidates is only used in the event there are
votes that need to be transferred - like surplus votes and/or votes of
dropped candidates. Surplus votes are transferred to the first preferred
candidate that needs votes. After all surplus votes have been transferred
then the lowest candidate is deemed to no longer to be a contender and that
candidate is dropped and his votes are also transferred to the next
preferred candidate that needs votes. We keep dropping each new lowest
candidate until we end up with only the number of candidates we are going
to elect - sixty in the case of the Oregon House.
Allow me to compare the three list methods - which are Party List,
Candidate List, and Voter List. Voter List is better known as Preference
Voting or as Single Transferrable Vote(STV).
In Party List a preferred list of candidates is made up by each party.
In Candidate List a preferred list of candidates is made up by each candidate.
In Voter List a preferred list of candidates is made up by each voter.
Party List will give us good proportional representation(PR) - but
only for the reason of political parties - which is important but We The
People want PR for any reason.
Both Candidate List and Voter List will give us good PR for all
reasons including for the reason of political party. These two methods will
give We The People PR for any issue - any concern - any gender - any race -
any ethnic group - any ethics - any whatever - and of course any political
party. Either Candidate List or Voter List is a better democratic choice
than party List.
Let us talk about simplicity. Candidate List is simple compared to
Voter List/Preference Voting/STV. Candidate List does not need nor use
fractional math to transfer votes. Also Candidate List will only have as
many different preferred candidate lists as there are candidates running in
the election. Voter List would have thousands of times as many lists. A
Candidate List election will not need additional computer use over their
current use. Once the first count of the ballots is known in a Candidate
List election most people will be able to compute the results using only
paper and pencil and maybe a calculator.
Candidate List is also able to handle any vacancy without giving undue
representation to the governor's political party.
Candidate List is a better balance between reform and simplicity than
Party List. More information on Candidate List can be found on my web site
I have one last change. While I like the large single district I am
willing to have it divided into three districts. Besides reducing the field
of candidates on the ballot by more than sixty percent this change would
induce the people to get out and vote.
The method of apportionment I favor is to apportion the districts each
election using the current voter turnout. The total votes of all three
districts is to be divided by sixty - giving us a threshold. Then the voter
turnout of each district would be divided by this threshold. The resulting
whole number would be the number of seats alloted to each district. The one
or two seats left over would go to the highest remainder.
Voter turnout can change the number of seats alloted to your district.
So if you want your full representation for your district you should get
out the vote.
These are the differences I would like to see in the next initiative
that takes place somewhere.
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