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Redistricting, part two

Sunday, August 12th, 2007

Yesterday we brought you our interview with the creator of the Redistricting Game.

On Thursday, Opportunity 08 – the joint project of the Brookings Institution and ABC News – ran a piece by John Porter, the former Republican Congressman from Illinois. Porter calls “instant runoff voting” the solution to what he sees as the disenfranchisement of moderate voters brought about by redistricting. The gerrymandering of congressional districts “means that the real election is the party primaries where only the most liberal Democrats and the most conservative Republicans are likely to vote,” the article says.

“In a predominantly one-party district, the dominant party’s candidate who wins the primary is very likely to win the general election,” Porter explains.

“Unfortunately, some 70 percent of the electorate is left out of this process. Many moderate voters don’t feel comfortable declaring party affiliation, and many independent voters simply refuse to vote in primaries. And, in some states, people who are not registered with a party — that is, independent voters — are barred from voting in primary elections, even if they wanted to.”

To bring independents and moderates back into the process, Porter recommends “instant runoff voting” in which voters indicate their first, second, third, and even fourth choice for each position on the ballot.

If one candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, he or she wins. If no one receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes loses those votes to the second-choice candidates of the people who voted for him or her.

The process repeats until one candidate has a majority of the votes. In one day the election is over, no party affiliation needs to be expressed, no later runoff is held.

With the size of the presidential field this year, that’s pretty appealing!

One Response to “Redistricting, part two”

  1. Tony K Says:

    Instant Runoff Voting is appealling on the surface, but it still has a lot of issues.

    The main advantage is that it could help prevent third party spoilers from skewing the vote in a way that does not reflect the desires of the populace, e.g. Florida 2000 where the Nader voters would likely hav evoted Gore second on an IRV ballot.

    It has operational issues, because it is computationally intensive.

    A bigger issue though is that it still doesn’t make room for third parties or more moderate candidates.

    There has been a lot of work on this. A better system would be either approval voting (where the voters ismply write in who would be acceptable), or a Condorcet system (rank candidates similar to IRV, but it compares all candidates with each other, like an Instant Round Robin vs and Instant Single Elimination of IRV).

    Condorcet and Approval both have issues, but they would allow the field to open up for politicians with views representative of the American people.

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