Democratic Reform of Elections

Adam Shbeita on Democratic Reform of Elections

FOR REAL DEMOCRACY. The American political system gives an appearance of democracy, but money, media and election laws combine to ensure that true representative democracy is scarce. Adam Shbeita supports some specific proposals to introduce real democracy to our elections.

MONEY. When the wealthy can pour millions into campaigns, elections are bought and politicians serve the corporate rich. We need to take the money out of politics, give equal time to all qualified candidates in public media, and provide limited equal funding for mailings.

INSTANT RUNOFF. Many countries use Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) to determine winners in one election, eliminating costly runoffs. With IRV, you pick your first, second and third choices. If your first candidate comes in last, your vote goes to your second choice, and so on until someone has a majority. This is an appropriate reform when one person is being elected to an office.

PROPORTIONAL REPRESENTATION. Most democracies use proportional representation in legislative elections. This allows all points of view with substantial followings to be represented. One proposed reform for California, for example, would divide the state into 8 assembly districts (instead of the present 80), with 10 legislators elected from each district. A party with 40% of the vote would elect 4 members from that district, a party with 10% of the vote would elect one, and so on. Winner-take-all single districts leave millions without real representation. Proportional representation would give California a healthier democracy, and your votes would not be “wasted” in districts drawn to elect members of one party. For proportional representation in Congress, the 53 members of the House of Representatives from California could be elected from five districts, two with ten members and three with eleven members. Any party with about 10% of the vote would get a representative. We would all be represented by people close to our own point of view.