[EM] voting reform effort in DENVER - PLEASE HELP

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Sun Jun 11 07:15:22 PDT 2006

Jan Kok Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 7:39 AM
> Denver city councilwoman Kathleen MacKenzie is leading an effort to
> get rid of their Plurality + delayed runoff election method, used for
> electing city council members and a few other city officers, and
> replacing it with IRV.

> Here are several alternative
> voting methods that I think may be viable:
> 1. Proportional Representation. Rob Richie prefers it, several others
> favor it, I fully support it (though I haven't studied it in any
> depth), Gary Swing (a Coloradoan who has some expertise in PR)
> supports it... Where there's a will, there's a way... By the way,
> resistance to change from incumbent council members could be reduced
> by merging districts into one common PR district when the incumbent
> doesn't run for re-election, or loses an election.

Promoters of the many different voting systems need to stand back from all the competing technicalities for one moment
and ask the question: "What is the purpose of this election?"  In the case of Denver it appears to be to elect a 'city
council'  (a body of 13 members) that is supposed to be representative of the community it is elected to serve.
Analysis of election results worldwide shows time and again that the only way to elect such a body that is properly
representative is to use a voting system that gives proportional representation.  All voting systems based on
single-member districts will give PR only by chance.

The question then is: "Proportional representation of what?"  If all you want is PR of registered political parties, or
other formally organised groups, there is a wide range of party PR systems available.  But if you want PR of the voters,
and want to make the elected council members truly accountable to the local electorate, you have only one real choice  -
STV-PR.  Worldwide, we have a hundred years of practical experience of STV-PR.  In Denver, it could be implemented in
one city-wide electoral district, but maybe there is an obvious, community-based, division into two electoral districts,
one returning 6 members and the other returning 7 members.

James Gilmour

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