Thursday, May 31, 2018

Majority Losers

On Twitter Lee Drutman is pointing out how Democrats could win a majority of votes nationally this November—but still be in the minority in the US House of Representatives. This happened as recently as 2012.

How? One factor is Washington’s Redistricting Commission packed too many Democratic voters in Seattle, while other similar voters were sprinkled around other places in the state.

For example, in the 2012 election, the Democrat in Seattle's WA07 won 298,368 votes, for 79.65 percent of the vote. This is in an election with 85 percent voter turnout!

I live in the southwest corner of the state in WA03. In the same election the Democratic candidate earned 116,438 votes for 39.62 percent of the vote.

In WA07, for the all of the turnout, Democrats got one seat. There could have been 100 percent turnout for the Democrat and the result would be the same. In WA03, for a decent showing of 40 percent—Democrats got nothing. This used to be a competitive district, however, it was the first election within the new 3rd district; where the Commission drew Olympia, with all its Democratic state employees, out of the district. This basically made the 3rd a GOP safe seat.

Single-member districts can skew outcomes through arranging voter populations. Combine the Democratic voters in the districts mentioned above and see how 414,806 votes won only a single seat. This leads to how majority Democrats lost the US House in 2012, and very well could wind up in the same place again for the 2018 election.

The way we elect US House members is the result of political decisions made in various states and US Congress. There is no mandate in the United States Constitution for 435 House seats elected with single-member districts. Here is Drutman on the Fair Representation Act. It is about using proportional representation to elect House seats as a way to minimize the wasted votes like we found in 2012's election.

This system is good for urban and rural Democrats. It’s good for urban Republicans. It also creates space for independents and third parties.

Washington’s redistricting commission puts power in the hands of political appointees. Here is an idea for you: How about instead we put power in the hands of voters themselves? Yes, let voters decide who represent them—after all these are the folks who pay the taxes and live under the laws and rules passed by government. We can do this with multi-member districts electing candidates with fair proportional voting rules. No constitutional amendment required.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Transparency is the best policy.

Thump, thump, bam, thump.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting Facebook will be requiring more transparency with political issue ads. “The latest [Facebook] move will cover “issue ads”—those that don’t specifically mention a candidate but weigh in on a divisive issue, including during an election campaign. Such advertisers will be required to confirm their identities and locations with the company.

This is the approach I suggested in a November 1, 2017 Rolling Stone op-ed. Hey Google!!! Are you in?

I want Facebook to know I am happy to help anytime.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Who Will Be Accountable for Limiting Voters Choices?

In 2018, our state legislature is set to pass the Washington Voting Rights Act (WA VRA). We need to support the versions of HB 1800 and SB 6002 that keep voting system options open for local communities when they face issues such as racially polarized voting. Like its federal predecessor, this would allow communities to find their own solutions to changing demographics and how it impacts voting—instead of an overly restrictive mandate from Olympia.

We’ve already seen how mandates limiting local options has had policy consequences.

Monday, July 11, 2016

THE POWER OF ASSOCIATION I: Book Review, The Inevitable Party

Seth E. Masket is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at the University of Denver. His new book is The Inevitable Party, a study of the consequences of anti-party laws in the United States. 

Starting over 100 years ago, would-be reformers have taken power away from political parties in an attempt to remedy the effects of political machines and the bosses that controlled them. Masket tells us how today the new boss is the same as the old boss—as political insiders are resilient. They adapt to rules intended to disburse power, resulting in “reforms” that weaken democracy by fostering lack of transparency and polarization.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Citizens United: The Real Story

By Krist Novoselic

The most notorious Supreme Court ruling of recent times is 2010’s Citizens United v. F.E.C. This ruling has captured many an imagination with the idea that the Court somehow turned “corporations into people” or that money was created into speech. This article is not about propagating these useless catchphrases, rather, it is about how independent campaign expenditure prohibitions bump into 1st Amendment protections. I look at the history of attempts to regulate independent campaign expenditures and how, in the process, a state censorship board was created.