[EM] Election layering effect (or why election-method reform is important)

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Fri Apr 27 12:26:11 PDT 2012

Recently I realized that in our Declaration, and in our discussions, we 
have failed to explain and explore the "amplification" effect that 
occurs as a result of, for a lack of a better term at the moment, 

Here is how I explained it in the proposal I referred to earlier:

"Winning an election with less than half the votes might seem like a 
small unfairness, but the effect is huge because of a layering effect. 
Although each Congressman typically got a ballot mark from about one out 
of two voters in the general election, he or she got a ballot mark from 
only about one out of four voters (based on cross-party counting) if the 
Congressman competed against a strong candidate in the primary election. 
Another layer occurs because only slightly more than half the members of 
Congress need to vote in favor of a new law to get it passed, so just 
those Congressmen got ballot marks from only about one out of eight U.S. 
voters, which is about 12% of U.S. voters. Yet even more layers are 
involved because most Congressmen first serve as state-level officials, 
and the state-level election process similarly filters out the 
problem-solving leaders that most voters want. Adding in two more layers 
to account for mainstream-media influence and low voter turnout easily 
accounts for how each law passed in Congress represents the desires of 
only 1% of the U.S. population."

(The full proposal is at: 

I'm interested in any ideas for how this concept can be explained more 
clearly, especially if someone can think of an appropriate analogy or 
metaphor or diagram.

Richard Fobes

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