Monday, May 23, 2005

Mail Bag
We get a fair amoung of comments e-mailed to us. Most are pretty interesting. Here's a recent one that I thought I'd share with readers:

Dear The Rest of Us,

I read the article on Commondreams by Derek Cressman entitled "It?s Time
to Cap Runaway Campaign Spending" and of course agree with it heartily.

I have had a proposal on the wire for years http://www.28amen.org/ to
limit campaign finance and refer you to it now. The idea is to obviate
the Buckley vs Valeo problem by amending the Constitution.

It now occurs to me that voting and campaign finance reform must form
the nucleus for the Third Way that is so obviously required to bring
back representative government to the United States.

The idea is that the argument for a transparent, repeatable count for
all elections (http://evm2003.sourceforge.net/) and the legislated
equality of all campaign contributions can be presented independently of
"political philosphy".

One may remain a Libertarian, a Green, a Conservative, a Liberal, even a
Republicrat-Demoplican and still work for these essentially mechanical
reforms of the political process itself.

I imagine a Mechanics' Party, whose membership determines not to solicit
or offer contributions in excess of a week's wages at the minimum wage
to any candidate for office and whose candidates pledge to work firsrt
and foremost for vote tallying by a human verifiable medium as well as
for campaign finance reform.

Mechanics may be members of any political party they see fit, but will
campaign for other Mechanics and will work as hard to warn their
neighbors of the danger presented by the other, bought-out candidates in
any election, and will campaign against them.

Please found a Mechanics Party in CA and work to elect your fellow,
unbought Mechanics in the coming election in 2006. It is possible to
return representative government to the United States of America.

John Francis Lee

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North Carolina House Passes Instant Runoff Pilot Program

this is an audio post - click to play

As the Myrtle Beach Sun News reports, the North Carolina House passed HB 1024, a pilot program in which up to ten counties have the option of choosing instant runoff voting for their elections. The bill now goes to the Senate for approval.

In this version of ranked voting, voters rank the candidates in order of preference. If one of the candidates tops other candidates with more than a "substantial plurality" of the votes (more than 40% of the vote), that candidate wins the election. If none of the candidates wins more than 40% of the vote, the top two candidates advance to a second round.

In the second round, the ballots which didn't select one of the remaining two candidates are counted towards whichever of the two candidates is ranked higher.

Ranked voting forces candidates to appeal to a broader section of the electorate in the case that they are in a runoff and need votes beyond those of their core supporters. It also generally results in more a accurate representation of voter preference and intent by shifting a person's votes in a field with multiple candidates to the candidate they next prefer in the case of a run-off.

The bill that passed is a pared-back version of an earlier bill that would have offered ranked voting in partisan primaries for statewide offices and appellate court races in some cases. It's good to see the folks in North Carolina taking a commonsense yet experimental approach to dealing with some of the issues facing their democracy.

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