[EM] Conceiving a Democratic Electoral Process

Fred Gohlke fredgohlke at verizon.net
Thu Jul 12 13:51:33 PDT 2012

Good Afternoon, Don

I'm glad you're enjoying the discussion and decided to pitch in.

re: "I think you missed the point of the post."

You're right.  I did miss the point of your post.  I went back and read 
it again and now have a clearer understanding.  In addition, I agree 
with your conclusion.  If we change the electoral method as you 
describe, one of the results will be to weaken the strongest parties and 
may (I have to think more about this one) make the result more moderate.

[If you wonder why I have to think more about the result, please 
consider this:  If, in the days of the "Southern Democrats", a radical 
third party had formed, I think it's effect would have moved the result 
closer to an extreme.  I've no wish to examine this possibility in 
greater detail because I consider it a digression.  I mention it merely 
to suggest that the results of political change can be indeterminate.]

re: "If you note that the M (the non-partisans candidate) wins in
      every one of my examples (with a different voting method)."

In your original post, you equated M to non-partisan/independent and 
thereafter spoke of the M (or Moderate) candidate in a way that suggests 
there is a party of moderates or independents.

I tend to think that those who join a party (even of moderates or 
independents) are no longer non-partisan.  Please don't consider this a 
quibble, it's an important point.

In terms of party politics, I tend to think of non-partisans as people 
who do not belong to (support?) a party.  This raises an issue we may 
need to resolve.  As you'll see below, I, too, classify Independents as 
non-partisans in a way which you may not approve.  How important is this 

re: "If you change the voting method parties will be weaker and
      non-partisan candidates will be stronger."

May we change this to:  "If you change the voting method the major 
parties will be weaker and non-major party candidates will be 
stronger."?  If so, I agree.

re: "I don't believe that non-partisans are a majority of the
      register votes, and even a smaller percent of the voters.

I agree that non-partisans are not a majority of the registered voters. 
  As to the percentage of non-partisans among the voters, I disagree. 
I'm not an actuary or even a good researcher, but here's how I arrived 
at my estimate.  I started, not with the number of voters, but with the 
number of potential voters:

 From the U. S. Census:

Voting Age Population, 2010:    234,564,000

Percentage of voting age population casting votes for U. S. 
Representatives in the last 6 elections (in 1,000s)

                 Voting        Votes
                   Age     Cast for U. S.
         Year  Population  Representatives
         2000    209,787        98,800
         2002    214,755        74,707
         2004    219,553       113,192
         2006    224,583        80,976
         2008    229,945       122,586
         2010    234,564        86,785
               ---------       -------
               1,333,187       577,046

   577,046 / 1,333,187 = .432832003312 = 43.3%

Using an average of 43.3% (which is higher than the actual report of 37% 
for 2010) of the voting age population as the number of voters and 56.7% 
as the number of non-voters, 132,997,788 people did not vote.  We don't 
know whether they failed to vote because they thought their vote 
wouldn't matter or for some other reason, but we do know they did not 
support any party's candidates and may properly be called non-partisan.

The percentage of partisans (32% Democrats and 24% Republicans) voting 
in the 2010 election was taken from Pew Research:


These values leave 44% Independents, which is a bit higher than the 
Gallup estimate of 38% you cited.  I treated the Independents as 
non-partisans because they supported neither of the major (viable) 
parties.  In addition to this, Pew estimates that 75% of the party 
counts are registered party members and the other 25% are 'leaners". 
Leaners are people who are not party members but vote with the party. 
They are forced to lean toward one of the parties because they have no 
better options.

Using Pew's values, about 24.4 million voters were registered Democrats 
and 18.3 were registered Republicans.  Since these two parties fielded 
the only (viable) candidates, about 42.7 million people chose the only 
candidates a nation of 234.5 million people could vote for.  That is my 
rationale for believing non-partisans greatly outnumber the partisans. 
An electoral system that excludes over 80% of its people from the 
process of selecting their elected representatives cannot be called a 

With regard to the question of classifying Independents and 
non-partisans, my usage here inflates the number of non-partisans in a 
way that may not be proper.  My problem is that I can't figure out how 
to classify the 'leaners".  I don't believe they have input into the 
selection process and have no viable way of influencing their 
government, except by voting for one of the choices controlled by the 

re: "... without parties under a first-past-the-pole system (with
      an L, M, and a C) the L or the C would win the election."

I'm not an advocate of the "first-past-the-pole system".  I think we 
need to conceive an entirely new way of selecting the people who 
represent us in our government.  I think the most fundamental failure in 
our political system is that it denies the people the opportunity to 
search among themselves for their best advocates.


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