[EM] NYT/Richie voting reform "debate" next Sunday; write in.

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Thu Feb 9 05:33:27 PST 2012

Here's the first draft of my letter to the NYT. I welcome comments (or
copycats). I'd be even happier if something like this could be signed by
several of us, and I'd happily cede considerable editorial control  I'll
send it around midday Friday to give them time to include it before Sunday.
Here's a google
my letter, if anyone wants to help edit it or sign on; but I'll also
to incorporate any comments made here on the list.
*Since the 1950s, we've known that it's no coincidence that our voting
system leads to a two-party monopoly; it's the inevitable result under
Duverger's Law. Imagine if we had such a monopoly for cars: for instance,
only Ford Focuses and Chrysler Minivans were allowed. Worse, if you tried
to order, say, a Chevy Volt, you'd get the Minivan, the permitted model you
liked least. Ford and Chrysler would happily charge whatever price that
captive market would bear, innovation would suffer, and they'd triangulate
towards the "swing buyer" to further erode buyer's free choices. Indeed,
I'm very happy that in the real world Ford and Chrysler win their
popularity honestly, not by a guaranteed monopoly.*
 * Just as in the analogy, much of our broken politics isn't even the
voters' fault. Voters left and right are incensed by corruption, and yet we
too-often have no real choices. As Mr. Richie points out, a better voting
system could give better results, and there's no shortage of better
options. At BanSingleMarkBallots.com, there's a statement which discusses
the problem and offers several solutions, which has been signed by a number
of voting system experts. We may have some friendly disagreements with Mr.
Richie – for instance, we support simpler, robust systems like approval
voting, while I know Mr. Richie favors instant runoffs – but we commend him
for bringing much-deserved attention to this issue.*

2012/2/8 Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn at gmail.com>

>  Invitation to a Dialogue: A Better Way to Elect? Published: February 7,
> 2012
>    - TWITTER
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>    -  REPRINTS<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/opinion/invitation-to-a-dialogue-a-better-way-to-elect.html?_r=1&ref=opinion#>
>    - SHARE<http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/08/opinion/invitation-to-a-dialogue-a-better-way-to-elect.html?_r=1&ref=opinion#>
> <http://www.nytimes.com/adx/bin/adx_click.html?type=goto&opzn&page=www.nytimes.com/yr/mo/day/opinion&pos=Frame4A&sn2=f8475720/9aad5d74&sn1=82e89b96/89090ad2&camp=FSL2012_ArticleTools_120x60_1787503b_nyt5&ad=TreeofLife_January27_120x60&goto=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Efoxsearchlight%2Ecom%2Fthetreeoflife>
> *To the Editor:*
>  Enlarge This Image
>  Hieronymus
> Every four years a handful of the same old states effectively pick party
> nominees for president, voting earlier and earlier with campaign spending
> mattering more and more.
> The parties should winnow their field with what is known as the American
> Plan <http://archive.fairvote.org/?page=965>, a nomination schedule that
> rewards retail campaigning and gives late-entering candidates a better
> chance. Ten biweekly rounds of voting would be held, starting in small
> states. Delegates would beallocated proportionally<http://www.fairvote.org/delegate-allocation-rules-in-2012-gop#.TzFko1Zjc4T> rather
> than by winner take all.
> Up to three candidates for each party would earn a place in a national
> primary, held in June in conjunction with Congressional primaries.
> Ranked-choice voting — a proven system used in national elections in
> Australia and mayoral elections in a dozen American cities, in which voters
> rank candidates in order of preference — would ensure that winners earn
> majority support in an “instant runoff<http://www.instantrunoff.com/the-basics>
> .”
> For general elections, the nominees of major parties should face more
> competition from third-party and independent candidates by having fairer
> ballot access, inclusive debates, ranked-choice voting and, eventually, a national
> popular vote <http://nationalpopularvote.com/> for president.
> For Congressional elections, creating larger districts with several seats
> and a proportional voting system to allow more voters to elect a preferred
> candidate would better represent the left, the right and the center.
> With these changes, all Americans could be engaged in our presidential
> elections, not just the favored few of Iowa, New Hampshire and the other
> early primary and caucus states. And we just might regularly end up with
> better presidents and members of Congress.
> Takoma Park, Md., Feb. 6, 2012
> *The writer is executive director of FairVote, which promotes election
> reform.*
> *Editors’ Note: **We invite readers to respond to this letter for our
> Sunday Dialogue. We plan to publish responses and Mr. Richie’s rejoinder in
> the Sunday Review. E-mail:letters at nytimes.com*
> ---------------
> Jameson here... I think we should definitely take this opportunity to
> promote reform in general. I'd advise a "yes, and" approach to Richie. As I
> see it, it is definitely not worth trying to talk about the flaws in IRV.
> Richie will get his rejoinder; it's impossible to pre-rebut all of the
> various half-truths or worse that he could come up with, so it's better not
> to try. Also, remember, we want the average reader to go away thinking that
> all the experts agree that election reform is a great idea, not feeling
> that it's a minefield of debate. So say your piece, but be nice to Richie,
> no matter what you think he deserves.
> Personally, I'd love it if the Center for Election Science could have an
> official response. Similarly for all the people with credentials -
> votefair, etc.
> A similar idea: statement signers, do you think we could agree on a
> response in time to get published on Sunday?
> Jameson
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