[EM] California Dreamin', Take 2
drernie at radicalcentrism.org
Wed Aug 25 17:01:38 PDT 2004
Thanks to everyone, especially James. Enclosed is a shorter and
hopefully wiser proposal; I think the PR bit is in pretty good shape.
Anyone want to comment on my suggestion for write/edit bicameralism?
-- Ernie P.
Reengineering California: Towards A 21st Century Legislature
Draft 2, 8/25/2004 Ernest Prabhakar <DrErnie at RadicalCentrism.org>
Despite Arnold's best efforts (which, frankly, are better than anyone
else has done here for decades) California appears to be in the grip of
a perpetual governance crisis. The result is that at least one
well-known columnist is calling for radical reforms, including
proportional representation (PR). So, I figured this is a good time to
map out a structure for a legislature that reflects everything I've
learned from this group. If things go well, I hope to start shopping
the idea around with other local reform groups (suggestions welcome!).
My vision is to have a bicameral legislature, with an PR
(proportionally represented) lower-house (Assembly) to write bills and
a Condorcet single-winner upper-house (Senate) to edit them. The idea
is that the Assembly would draft bills, but that amendments proposed by
various factions would be separate items rather than in-place changes.
So, for example Bill 42 would have amendments A, B, C, and D attached.
This would take advantage of the energy, diversity and creativity of
PR, and provide a low barrier-to-entry for factions to make their
By contrast, the job of the Senate is to filter out the various ideas
and find the optimal compromise. Debate in the Senate would be
focused on simply identifying the interesting set of options, e.g., i)
42, ii) 42AB, iii) 42AD, iv) 42C. Again, it would be a low barrier
(15%?) to nominate an option; they'd of course use Condorcet to vote
amongst the options, so more choices wouldn't hurt. In case of a
cycle, the whole Smith set would go to the governor and he/she could
Crucially, though, the Senate would not be allowed to write new
language. This should eliminate a lot of the sleaziness (and time
wasting) that currently goes on in conference committee, as well as
make the Senate focused on legislative review (something California
sorely lacks at the moment). I'm toying with the idea of making the
Senate term eight-years, with no re-election option, to diminish their
need for campaign fundraising; the flip side is that I'd make them easy
to recall, say by a white-ballot vote every two years.
For the Assembly, experts suggest we need around 300 representatives to
maintain contact with the population. The optimal district magnitude
for PR is usually considered around seven (7), giving a 90% confidence
that a voter would get a candidate they agree with. This number could
vary from 4 to 10, based on local geopolitical boundaries, giving
roughly 43 districts. These would thus be comparable in size to the,
say, fifty (50) Senate districts (all of which would have equal
population, of course).
Assembly members would be elected every two years using STV-PR based on
individual candidates, with a 'quickfill' option for those wanting to
vote an entire party line. Senators would be elected to staggered
eight-year terms using a Condorcet-compliant method, with a reasonable
tiebreaker in case of cycles (e.g., Maximum Majority Voting). As a
bonus, the Four Color Theorem ensures that no two adjacent Senators
would need to be elected at the same time (except in case of a recall).
As part of this effort, there would also need to be electoral reform
for statewide offices (based on Condorcet), as well as lobbying reform
(based on the idea of real-time transparency), but that is outside the
scope of this paper.
Election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list
More information about the Election-Methods