[EM] The art of the possible, & request for info

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Wed Jul 9 09:56:33 PDT 2003

John B. Hodges said:
> Greetings- In the past few days I've noticed that the folks at
> www.fairvote.org, the Center for Voting and Democracy, are not only
> pushing IRV as a political reform here in the U.S., but also have  begun
> pushing for cumulative voting in 3-seat "superdistricts".
> (Cumulative voting is where you have one vote per open seat, i.e. in
> this proposal 3 votes, and you can allocate them among the candidates
> however you wish; 2 for one and 1 for another, all 3 for one, or one
> each for your favorite three candidates.)

I see both of these as improvements over the status quo.  I believe
Approval is better than IRV, but since Approval is untested it should only
be recommended as an improvement over plurality in places where IRV is not
gaining support.  Clashing with IRV supporters in real-world campaigns (as
opposed to debates among geeks like us who enjoy these topics) is a waste
of time.  Better that each side sticks to its own territory.  I also see
3-seat cumulative voting as a positive step, even though I might see some
methods as being better.

As for whether the Dems would support these things:

The Dems might support IRV for now, while the Green Party is nipping at
their heels in close federal elections.  But the Libertarians have done
some damage to the GOP in close federal elections, and so the Dems also
have something to lose here.  I think they'll keep a poker face on the
question of IRV.

As for modest Proportional Representation efforts (e.g. 3-seat
cumulative), here they might be more natural allies (for now).  Ethnic
minorities in the US tend to prefer the Dems to the GOP (statistically
speaking, making due note of the many illustrious individuals of color who
prefer the GOP).  Modest PR efforts like 3-seat cumulative have been
proposed as color-blind ways to achieve better minority representation. 
The Dems may support that, but only in places where they don't control the
gerrymandering, um, I mean redistricting process.


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