[EM] Democracy Chronicles, answers to interview questions

Andy Jennings elections at jenningsstory.com
Mon Apr 9 13:19:49 PDT 2012

> Question 1.  Your name and the city and country you work in.

Name: Andrew Jennings.  Mesa, Arizona, USA

> Question 2.  What is your Company or Organization?

I'm on the board of the non-profit Center for Election Science, but these
opinions are my own.

> Question 3.  Any contact info you wish to give to be published with
> article for readers (for example your email or website.)

> Question 4. If you have signed the Declaration, is there any additional
> information, beyond what's in your signature, that you feel is important to
> mention?
> Question 5. If you have not signed the Declaration, why?
> Question 6. Briefly explain what characteristics you think are most
> important for a voting method to have?

Should allow many good candidates to run without splitting the vote.

The voting process should match up pretty well with the thought process
voters use to evaluate the candidates.

Never require voters to betray favorites.  If I think John Doe is the
absolute best candidate in the world to for US president, then usually John
Doe isn't in the race.  But if he were, even as a third-party candidate or
an independent and he had no chance of winning, I should be able to rank
him first or give him the highest grade without compromising my voice among
the other contenders.

Should allow, even encourage, honest voting, if possible.  Voting is so
much easier if you don't have to worry about being strategic, and society
is much happier if people don't feel like their opponents cheated to win.

Candidates should come out of the election with a societal grade, so they
really know whether they have a mandate, and so everyone feels like their
vote counts by having some effect on the final scores, however small.

> Question 7. What do you think is the most important election reform needed
> where you live (either locally or nationally)?  Why is this reform
> important?

Both locally and nationally, we need a system that allows many good
candidates to run.  One that doesn't encourage politics of fear.

> Question 8. What is your opinion on other aspects of election reform such
> as reforming money's role in politics or redistricting (particularly in the
> US but very interested as well concerning election reforms internationally)?

I wish there were some way to reform money's role in politics, but I'm
afraid it's impossible.   Politicians have power and money naturally flows
downhill toward power.  Whatever roadblocks we establish for businesses
trying to influence politicians, the money will find a way around them.  I
think the only answer is to try to decrease the power of big government and
bring all important decisions back to the local level.  Unfortunately,
government power and responsibility is much easier to ratchet up than to
ratchet down.

As for redistricting, for a jurisdiction with two legislative bodies, like
the United States or Arizona, I think one body should be elected with an
proportional voting system that ignores geography.  The other body can use
districting, but it should be done by computer (with an algorithm like
shortest splitline) or with a public contest and a predefined rule (anyone
can submit maps and the one with the lowest total perimeter wins).  We
should minimize or eliminate all human judgement in the redistricting
process.  A non-partisan committee is not good enough.
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