I've been grousing about this subject lately so I need to get this off my chest.
How To Support Electoral Reform by tunesmith
- Support preference voting for state issues and national Congress only
- Support nonpartisan redistricting that creates competitive districts
- Do not support electoral college "reform" like:
- Maine/Nebraska "congressional district" EVs
- Colorado-denied "proportionally awarded" EVs
- Preference voting for presidential races
- Work within the two-party system and strenuously oppose viable third parties that run for President.
First, a quick definition. "Preference Voting" refers to any ballot where you rank your candidates. It's a catch-all term to refer to various vote-counting methods like IRV, Condorcet/IRR, Borda, etc. The user interface is the same, counting methods can be swapped out after citizens get used to the ballot. Condorcet is superior but go with whatever has momentum.
Now, here's the justification.
The House is gerrymandered. The House is supposed to be responsive, and reflective of the population's tastes. Gerrymandering - whether Republican or Democratic - works against those aims. Currently, the House is heavily gerrymandered, and not representative of the nation's political tastes. Because of this, an election that goes to the House will result in a president that is not guaranteed to be representative of the nation's preferences.
The electoral college requires a hard 270 votes. If there are multiple candidates, then the winner has to get more votes than all other candidates combined. The more viable a third party, the less likely any candidate will reach 270 votes, because there are only 538 votes available. If no one reaches 270 votes, the presidential election goes to the gerrymandered House.
Congressional district electoral reform (where the presidential candidate gets an EV for each congressional district they win, plus one for each state they win) is not viable, because of gerrymandering. In 2000, Gore won the popular vote, but Bush won the congressional districts 239-196. The House is generally supposed to reflect the popular vote - not exactly, but close. Do not support the "congressional district" EV plan.
Proportionally awarded EVs is not viable, because it drastically increases the possibility that a third party will get an EV here or there. Because of the 270 requirement, this only increases the likelihood that an election will go to the gerrymandered House. Do not support the "proportionally awarded" EV plan.
Preference voting for presidential races is not viable, because it again increases the possibility of a third party getting EVs, and undercutting the 270 requirement, sending the election to the gerrymandered House. Do not support preference voting for presidential races.
All of these schemes increase the odds of a president that is not reflective of the voting population, because of the electoral college, and the 270-vote requirement.
The 270 requirement determines everything. It locks us in to a two party system. If there is a viable third party, then it hurts the main party it is ideologically closest to by taking electoral votes that would have otherwise gone to that candidate, which could then send the election to the gerrymandered House. Third party candidates that insist on participating outside of the two party system should be strenuously opposed by anyone that supports the constructive policy objectives of that third party, because running as a third party by definition undermines those objectives from ever becoming reality through elections. For those that like third parties, "Democrat" and "Republican" should merely be considered empty labels; the two "slots" that our constitutional system has created for real political participation. A third party needs to do the cold calculus to determine which primary they would rather run in, by determining which would be easier for them to win. There is no loyalty requirement in primaries; you can bring your own platform. Work within the two-party system and strenuously oppose viable third parties that run for President outside the primary system.
The electoral college cannot be be changed through Congressional action, because there is not the appetite to create the necessary constitutional amendment. In order for this to be possible, we need different congresscritters. This requires a mechanism that will elect congresscritters that are more representative of the population. In order to do this, the House needs to be more responsive - districts need to be more competitive. Support nonpartisan redistricting that creates competitive districts.
Spoiler problems can happen in local districts, and reasonable representatives needs to be elected, rather than hard-core partisan representatives. Reasonable, consensus representatives can be found using voting methods such as Condorcet voting (far superior to IRV). Preference voting is becoming more popular, and local action can make the difference between it being unknown and being accepted by your local population. Support preference voting for state issues and national Congressional offices.
It is that simple. Everything comes down to the 270 vote requirement, and gerrymandering. If you pretend the system doesn't exist, the system will beat you - and other innocent people as well. To change a system, you either have to know the system and work within it, or you have to destroy it utterly. And no one has been talking about how to do that.