[EM] CFR and Electoral Reform

David L Wetzell wetzelld at gmail.com
Tue Feb 21 13:04:20 PST 2012

> ---------- Forwarded message ----------
> From: Richard Fobes <ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org>
> To: Raph Frank <raphfrk at gmail.com>, election-methods at electorama.com
> Cc:
> Date: Tue, 21 Feb 2012 10:45:26 -0800
> Subject: [EM] Campaign contribution reform
> [pulled out of message below]
> On 2/20/2012 5:18 AM, Raph Frank wrote:
>  ...
> > I assume you mean campaign contribution reform?  That isn't actually
> > an election method.
> Nope.
> As I see it, using better ballots and better counting methods will cut the
> puppet strings that connect politicians to their biggest campaign
> contributors.

dlw:cut is the wrong metaphor.  If there's rent$ at stake $peech will try
to find a way.

> The main reason money matters so much (in politics) is that money can be
> used to win elections through vote splitting (in primary elections),
> gerrymandering (which affects general elections), and media influence. Vote
> splitting and gerrymandering will disappear when well-designed voting
> methods are used.

dlw:Most election alternatives atrophy the vote-splitting problem a great
Gerrymandering is much better reduced by the strategic use of smell number
forms of PR or quasi-PR.  A heavily democratic local single-winner district
will go democratic almost all fo the time, regardless of the rule used.

> Then money won't matter as much.  (Media influence will continue, but
> voters can ignore it.)

dlw: They'll find ways to attract our attention.  The less educated you
are, the easier it is for advertising to hook you.   But 3-seat LR Hare
circumvents this problem to a serious degree and by denying the ability of
one party to corner the state house of reps, they won't be able to leverage
it to get an advantage in other elections and all of suddent $peech has to
hedge its bets and still cannot corner the public square.

> BTW, lobbyists only have influence because they can (when needed) remind
> politicians about the necessity of having lots of campaign funds.  As money
> becomes less significant, lobbyists loose power.
> To the extent that money can no longer take advantage of vote splitting
> (mainly in primary elections) and gerrymandering, there isn't so much need
> for reforming campaign financing.

dlw: vote-splitting is small potatoes.  If they can't gerrymander, they'll
hedge and still $pin.

> BTW, this is why I oppose public financing of campaigns.  Why should
> taxpayers waste money opposing the money from special interests?

I'm in favor of a mix of progressive taxes on all forms of $peech(as it is
made to be transparent and to go through the state's party leadership, like
before CFR in 1975)  and some subsidies.
But the real kicker is to increase the number of competitive elections,
which is the natural way to reduce the influence of $peech (as in like
makiing "more local" elections become compatitive for the 3rd seat by the
use of PR), and by the election of some 3rd party politicians to at least
the state assembly, since you can't trust the two major parties to enforce
any CFRegulations well, otherwise.

> Using better ballots and better counting methods will eliminate the need
> for reforming campaign contributions, PACs, Super-PACs, etc.

dlw: That's utopic.  It's not good to overstate the likely effects of
electoral reform.  When they pushed for quasi-PR in the Illinois late
1860s, they made it sound like it would inaugurate the second coming of
Christ and when the results were quite different (but not insignificant) it
obviously made it hard to catch on in other states.

> Keeping in mind that I'm the author of a how-to book on creative problem
> solving, I'll repeat an important point from that book: the best place to
> solve a problem is at the source/root of the problem.

dlw: How the system tilts too easily to effective single-party rule, too
many elections are rarely competitive and minorities don't get much voice
because of their low chances of being swing voters?   All of these are
fixed by the strategic use of PR in "more local" elections, not so much
better single-winner elections.


> Richard Fobes
> On 2/20/2012 5:18 AM, Raph Frank wrote:
>> On Sat, Feb 18, 2012 at 8:47 PM, Richard Fobes
>> <ElectionMethods at votefair.org>  wrote:
>>> Another way to understand the second problem is to consider what would
>>> happen if 55% of the voters in a state favor the Republican Party, and
>>> the
>>> remaining 45% favor the Democratic Party, and there is an even
>>> distribution
>>> of these preferences throughout the state.  If STV uses 3 seats per
>>> district, the likely result would be that two thirds of the elected
>>> representatives would be Republicans, and only one third would be
>>> Democrats.
>> If they were single seaters, then it would be 100% Republican.
>> Small districts inherently don't give good PR, but a 1/3 to 2/3 split
>> is better than 100% to one, if the votes are 55% to 45%.
>>  If STV is used with 4 seats per district, in a (different) state that
>>> strongly favors a third party, the fourth seat would yield unpredictable
>>> results.  Here I'm assuming that the first three seats would be filled by
>>> one Republican, one Democrat, and one third-party politician.
>> There would be a little randomness, but it should balance out somewhat
>> when averaged over many districts.  Tiny parties would still have a
>> very hard time.
>> 4 seats means a quota of 20%.  If both Republicans and Democrats are>
>> 40%, then they both get 2 seat each.
>> An odd number of seats has the feature that if a party gets a majority
>> of the vote, it gets a majority of the seats.
>>  In contrast, my view is that first we -- the voters -- need to reclaim
>>> control of the Republican and Democratic parties, and then we can decide
>>> whether we need one or more third parties.  (I expect that we will need
>>> small third parties, but that they will primarily serve as a way for
>>> voters
>>> to steer the two main parties in wiser directions.)
>> The issue is that if the 2 parties work together, then they can ignore
>> the voters, since they effectively hold a duopoly.
>> Everyone must choose one or other, so there is relatively little control.
>> With third parties, it is possible for voters to move to one of the
>> third parties.  Even if only a small number do it, it still acts on as
>> a check, since each voter who leaves represents loss of power for the
>> party.
>> Currently, the only way to leave is to switch vote from one party to
>> the other, which is a big step for many people.
>>  Remember that state legislatures and Congress use a voting method (for
>>> choosing which proposed laws to pass) that works reasonably well with
>>> just
>>> two main parties, but that voting method would break down into chaos if a
>>> legislature or Congress had to form coalitions (in order to get a
>>> majority
>>> of support for each proposed law).
>> Certainly, there would need to be changes in the customs/rules of
>> order in the House.
>> The Senate would likely not be PR based anyway, due to the 2 Senator
>> per State rule.
>>  Also remember that in Congress (and
>>> presumably in state legislatures) the chairmanship of each committee
>>> switches to a committee member who is from the majority party; there is
>>> no
>>> graceful way to choose which committees switch their chairmanships to
>>> which
>>> of three (or more) parties.
>> That could be handled either by having a formal coalition (the
>> coalition agreement would include how to split the chairmanships) or
>> maybe doing it via PR, or some other compromise.
>>  You seem to be focused on accommodating a transition to a three-party
>>> system, without also accommodating a later transition back to a two-party
>>> system.
>> PR is unlikely to switch back to a 2 party system.  There is little
>> benefit in reducing voter choice.  However, if the voters mostly vote
>> for the 2 biggest parties, PR allows it to move back to 2 party.
>>  Election-method reform must (first and foremost) cut the puppet strings
>>> that
>>> currently connect politicians -- of both parties -- to the biggest
>>> campaign
>>> contributors ("special interests").
>> That is one of the main points about PR.  By giving the voters more
>> choice, they can move their support away from parties that don't
>> represent them well.
>> A 2 party system inherently, only has 2 choice.  If a voter hates one
>> party and dislikes the other, then he isn't likely to move his vote to
>> the party he hates.
>> The more voters who are in that situation, the less voter control
>> their is over the party.
>>   That alone will change the political
>>> landscape dramatically, and that change might result in a stable
>>> two-party
>>> system that all the voters like.
>> I assume you mean campaign contribution reform?  That isn't actually
>> an election method.
>> Also, because of the FPTP method, politicians can ignore the public,
>> as long as both parties agree.
>> ----
>> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list
>> info
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