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View Diary: Constitutional WA Legislative Redistricting + Single-Member House Districts (19 comments)

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  •  Tipped and rec’d for a lot of reasons (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    James Allen

    You obviously did a lot of work. And WA is dear to my heart (I lived there from 1988 to 2011 -- 23 years -- before I moved back to Minnesota, where most of my family is).

    And I’ve done that whole spreadsheet thing, analyzing the individual (state) districts in WA. Here’s a link to what I wrote about the 2010 election in Washington: The 2010 Legislative Elections in Washington State, where I predicted the State House would have 59 Dems to 39 Reps and the State Senate would have 29 Dems to 20 Reps. 2010 was the Tea Party Year and I think I was a little bit too optimistic, but I don’t remember the exact numbers.

    I suppose I could google it.

    --

    Let me now say where I disagree with you. I’ll try to be diplomatic and polite. The biggest problem in the Washington-state political system is not the redistricting of state and federal election boundaries, which actually works pretty well, in my opinion, because it‘s set up in fair way that doesn‘t favor Dems or Reps.

    In my opinion, the biggest problem in WA by far is the top-two primary (which really really really sucks).

    --

    I’ll talk about redistricting in WA first.

    The redistricting system in WA is relatively fair. Two Democrats and two Republicans are appointed, plus a non-voting chairperson. If the commission doesn’t get a majority of votes (3 of 4), it goes to the State Supreme Court (which nobody wants to happen). The governor can't veto the plan, plus the legislature can vote yes or no. And there are limits on amendments by the legislature.

    This is a much better system than most states have (where whichever party currently rules the legislature can gerrymander to their hearts’ content). Gerrymandering is bad. WA has a pretty good system because, ultimately, the voters decide who gets elected to the state legislature instead of a biased redistricting commission that favors Republicans or Democrats.

    --

    Now let’s talk about the top-two primary. Have I mentioned that it sucks?

    It sucks. It contains enormous amounts of suckage.

    For one thing, any candidate can list any party as his/her preference. A tea party Republican running in a Democratic district can outright lie and list his/her preference as “Liberal Democrat.” Or someone can list a preference as “Pot-Smoking Small Government Party” or whatever. In 2010, several candidates claimed to be GOP" instead of "Republican." I guess they thought it sounded better.

    But let’s say the candidates tell the truth and you have a district that’s split about 50/50 between Republicans and Democrats and that they all correctly list either “Democratic Party” or “Republican Party.” However, let’s say there are two Reps and four Dems in the primary and they split the vote relatively evenly -- the two Reps get about 25% each and the four Dems get about 12.5% each -- because they split the vote evenly. Understand? Then in the general election, voters in that legislative district will have two choices, both of them Republicans who ended up in the top two. 50% of the voters are Democrats but they'll be forced to choose between two Republicans in the general election.

    That's an awful system. The math is all wrong.

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    If I still lived in WA, I’d be fighting to change the insane top-two primary, not fighting to change the redistricting (which is not bad).

    I’m not arguing against you, I’m just saying there are better and more worthwhile battles to fight in WA.

    --

    One more thing. Ranked choice voting (which they use in Minneapolis for mayoral elections) is an intriguing idea. It gives you a top two, but in a much better way than what WA currently does. If you're a Democrat in Minneapolis, you can choose different Democrats as your #1, #2, and #3 choice -- then the two most popular go to the general election, but if your #1 choice doesn't make the cut, then your #2 choice gets your vote (and so on). I do like that system.

    In that system you can vote for whatever (Green Party or Vegetarian Party or Elvis-Lives! Party) as your first choice, knowing that they won't win but that your second choice (Democrats) will ultimately get your vote.

    So -- just a few thoughts from me.

    "Stupid just can't keep its mouth shut." -- SweetAuntFanny's grandmother.

    by Dbug on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 12:17:35 AM PDT

    •  Top-two (0+ / 0-)

      I'm not saying that redistricting is the #1 problem in Washington, just "a" problem that should be addressed. I don't like the top-two system either and both parties fought hard against it, but fell short - for the time being.

      I would disagree with your assessment of the Washington Redistricting Commission. It doesn't so much favor Democrats or Republicans, because its bi-partisan. But it does, like a laser-beam, focus on protecting incumbents. None of the Democrats or Republicans want to endanger, or even worse in their mind, displace one of the legislators.

      You should look at some of the Redistricting meeting videos, particularly at the end. When they were getting close to an agreement, possible solutions (like the non-voting Chair asking 'Why can't we keep Pasco together') would be instantly shot down because "that'd displace one of 'our' legislators" when that should have no bearing on their decisions.

      You should read that TNT article I link to also. Its so blatant and pathetic the level of lobbying to the Redistricting Commissioners by incumbents to protect their seats. Possibly most irritating is former Sen. Pridemore complaining (article) about early drafts by the Commission to make his 49th LD redder, while making the 17th LD bluer. In the end, the 49th LD remained deep blue and uncompetitive, while the 17th LD got redder and Democratic Rep. Probst lost his race in the 17th LD to defeat Republican Sen. Benton by only 78 votes.

    •  You can thank the political parties (0+ / 0-)

      themselves for the top two system. The old and wildly popular primary system where everyone, from every party, in each race, was all listed on the same ballot, and the person with the highest vote total for each party would move onto the general, was struck down in court because of the state Democratic and Republican parties wanted a "closed" primary system.

      The voters went into backlash mode and this was what we got. And because of that, I don't think you can expect any changes to the primary system.

      If it helps, I think your worries about the system are a bit too much. While the situation you describe with the district that’s split about 50/50 can happen, it would be very rare. In fact, it actually has not, at least in WA, happened. There have been a handful of races that feature only Democrats or only Republicans, but these have been in only very lopsided districts around Seattle or eastern WA.

      Age 25, conservative Republican, WA-03 (represented by wonderful Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler)

      by KyleinWA on Thu Sep 19, 2013 at 08:24:26 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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