The U.S political system is broken. President, Congress, state and city governance, they are all broken. Voting rights are suppressed. Third parties are kept out of debates. Not every vote counts because of the first past the post winner take all voting system. The electoral college gives elections to candidates with fewer votes (Bush vs Gore). Primaries are decided by the time some states vote because of first past the post, making those votes wasted. Corporations can buy politicians and own the two major parties. Lobbyists get more time with representatives than voters do. It’s all broken. To fix our broken political, we need proportional representation mixed with ranked choice voting.
PR (proportional representation) is multi-member districts rather than single member districts. Single member districts is what we have today, where whoever gets the most votes wins. It creates a climate unfavorable to third parties, voters themselves, and democracy. In a three way race, the Democrats could win 34% of the vote, the Greens could win 30% of the vote, and the Republican wins 36% of the vote. In single member districts, the Republican had the most votes, thus he/she wins that district, even though 64% of people in the district voted against the Republican. This is how congress is 54% Republican, even though in the 2014 mid-term elections, 52% of people voted for Democrats. Even in a two person race, the voters of the losing candidate are left with nobody to represent their views, thus the votes of losing candidates in single-member districts are wasted. Under PR, every vote counts, and everyone is represented.
PR means multi-member districts. I’m also going to use ranked choice voting, which means rather than voting for one party/candidate, you list the order with which you want your vote to be counted. In this case, let’s say it’s a five member district, so you need 20% of the vote to get a seat. Each party has at least 20% so they all get one seat. The Greens have the least amount, with 30% of the vote. After 20%, the remaining 10% of votes get transferred to their 2nd choice, being the Democrats. This brings the Democrats up to 44%, but they only need 40% for two seats, so the last 4% gets transferred to the voters third choice, the Republicans, pushing them to 40%. So in the end, the Greens have one seat, the Democrats and Republicans each with two seats. 64% voted for “progressive” parties, so they end up getting 3/5 of the members in said district. So whereas under today’s single member winner take all districts the Republican wins with only 36% of the vote, PR means the district is represented the way it voted. Now, just in case conservatives are reading this, let me demonstrate PR in a way to win you over as well.
Let’s say in your district, the Republican wins 34% of the vote, the Libertarian wins 30% of the vote, and the Democrat wins 36% of the vote. Under today’s winner take all system, you get the idea. The Democrat wins your district. Under PR and ranked choice voting though, the Republicans win two seats, the Libertarians win one seat, and the Democrats win one seat. So your district is represented the way it voted. Everybody’s vote counts, and everyone is represented.
So, on a national scale, how would I do PR? By the way, consider this my platform on campaign reform were I to ever run for president. Anyways, considering the ability of the internet to reach everyone and get information out there, I’d make congress, both the U.S House of Reps and the U.S Senate, consist of many more members. It wouldn’t result in a crowded Washington D.C, because representatives would be able to vote on bills via congressional websites, allowing them to stay in their districts, allowing more town halls to let their districts guide them on how to vote and for local debates among the members of said district.
U.S House of Representatives: I’d have 1 seat for every 100,000 people. Being that PR is multi-member districts, I’d make every district consist of 10 members. So, every district is one million people. Being that the U.S population is around 320 million, yes, it means there’d be roughly 3,200 U.S House Representatives. Again though, most won’t be in D.C often. Since cities are more populated than rural areas, they’d be more represented by the U.S House of Reps, meaning more populated states have more representation than smaller states, but that’d be balanced out by the U.S Senate.
U.S Senate: As is today, each state is a district. Instead of two seats decided by two single member winner take all races in the state, each state would have 10 members decided in a multi-member PR ranked choice voting system. So each state gets 10 members, meaning the senate is 500 members. U.S territories not included, because they’d be given their freedom.
State legislatures would also become proportional with ranked choice voting. Similar to the national legislature, states would have 10 member districts. The more populated the state, the more people per district for state houses of representatives. States under three million people would have 50,000 person districts. States of 3-10 million people would be 100,000 person districts. 10-15 million = 200,000 person districts. 15-20 million = 300,000 person districts and 20 million and above states would have 400,000 person districts. My home state of Washington, with just over seven million people, would have 70 districts, with 700 state representatives.
For state senates, every state would have 100 senate members. State senates would be 10 districts of 10 members each. State senate districts would be drawn according to the geography of the state, with all 10 districts covering an equal amount of land. This allows for every part of the state to be equally represented in the senate, balancing out the stronger representation urban areas will have in houses of representatives.
For City Councils, I’d make it so for 100,000 people, you get two districts of five members, for 10 members. For every doubling of population, you add two more districts of five members, so another 10 members. So small cities like Eugene and Spokane would have 10 city council members. Seattle and Portland are both between 400,000 and 800,000 people, so they’d each have 30 city council members. Chicago would have 50 city council members. NYC would have 70 members. LA would have 60 members and yea. New York City is as large geographically as it is populated, so 70 members with five member districts means you’d have 14 districts. That allows for every part of that huge city to have representation.
For both national and state congresses, the district parties would hold primaries and conventions to nominate their candidates. Each district party would nominate five candidates and decide on which order they appear on the ballots. Up to 10 parties can be listed on the ballots, with their top five candidates. You would rank by party choice.
In terms of debates for national and state legislature districts, there’d be one debate session a week for the 12 weeks leading up to Election Day. If there are 7-10 parties running candidates in a district, there’d be two debate groups for each debate session. The parties could have one candidate do all the debates, or choose to rotate which of their candidates appear in each debate.
Now, in most countries using PR systems, they have a parliament. The leader of the party with the most seats is Prime Minister and gets to try to form a coalition government. It’d be next to impossible to switch to a parliament and PM system here because it’d require changing the constitution, so I’ve tweaked things a bit. There would still be presidential and governor races. Whoever wins has to deal with however the congress is put together, although generally speaking people would likely vote for the leader of the party they voted for in legislature elections, so the president and governor would likely be the leader of the party which wins the most seats. Being that under PR, a governing party rarely wins over half the seats, coalitions would form. Even though the President is just one seat, it wouldn’t be a winner take all single member type election. For Presidential elections, the candidate with the most votes becomes President, the candidate with the 2nd most votes becomes VP, 3rd place becomes Speaker of the House, the person who sets all the rules in the House, and 4th place gets to be Secretary of State or any cabinet position of his/her choosing. This way, most if not all the votes for President are represented at the top levels of government in some fashion.
Once you get past primary season, the official campaign season would be 12 weeks, or roughly as it is today. Instead of three debates, there’d be 12. One debate a week for all 12 weeks leading up to Election Day. If there’s seven or more candidates, the first six weeks of debates would feature two debate groups. The upper candidate limit would be 12. After each of the debate sessions, people would rank on the official website of Free and Equal from 1-12 who they thought did the best. After six weeks of debates, the field would be narrowed down to six based on the online rankings. In order to be in the debates, a candidate or his/her party must be registered in all 50 states. Every debate would be hosted by Free and Equal and televised on all media channels, not just one. So CNN, ABC, NBC, MSNBC, CBS, FOX.. every media outlet would televise the debates.
For Presidential party primaries, primary season would be 24 weeks long. 12 weeks of debates and campaigning, and then 12 weeks of primary voting. It’d be one debate session a week for the first six weeks, then three debates every other week the next six weeks, to allow the candidates to campaign more in the early voting primary states. In the 12 weeks of primary voting, there’d be seven stages of states voting. Weeks 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22 and 24. Each of those weeks, eight states will vote, and it’ll go by population of those states, from small to big, so every vote matters. It means everyone campaigns until the end because the big populated states could help you overcome a deficit. The smallest eight states go first, followed by the next eight bigger states and so on until week 24, when it’d just be the two largest states left, California and Texas. In between each voting week, there’d be one debate session, so another six debate sessions. A week after California and Texas votes, every party has their party convention to officially nominate their candidate for President.
After the party conventions, the candidates get four weeks to campaign for themselves and their party before the Presidential debates begin. Also, no person can announce they are seeking their party’s Presidential nomination until it is one year prior to Election Day. Party debates start at the turn of the new year. This makes it so party primaries are six months long rather than 10-12 months. It also makes the whole election process, from candidates announcing they are running all the way until Election Day, take a year at most, rather than the nearly two years it takes today. It’d still be the longest election cycle in the world by far, but it’d be cut in roughly half. Not only does trimming the election cycle in half benefit the public by creating less saturated politics coverage in the news, but it helps those thinking of running for President to stay focused on their current jobs for another year. Case in point, Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz missing a ton of Senate votes because of the incredibly long campaign season. It also means that once mid-term elections pass, the media doesn’t immediately jump into who is and who isn’t going to run for President.
Those running for Governor must be registered or have their parties be registered in all 10 of the state senate districts to appear in the debates. Governor races would be 12 weeks long with one debate session each week leading up to Election Day. Governor debates would be televised by all local media channels and hosted by state chapters of Free and Equal or other groups which emulate Free and Equal. Governor primary races would be 20 weeks long. First 10 weeks for debates, one debate a week. Next 10 weeks for primaries. Each week, one of the 10 state senate districts votes in the party primary. It’d go from the least populated district to the most populated district, so every vote counts. All state parties have the same primary schedule. Following the nomination of party governor candidates, they get four weeks to campaign before the state governor debates start. Nobody is allowed to announce or campaign for their party’s nomination more than a month prior to the start of the party debates. This prevents anyone from getting a head start while also limiting the whole process to under 10 months. To make Governor elections not a single member winner take all race, the winner of the most votes becomes Governor, 2nd place votes is 2nd in command to the Governor, and 3rd and 4th places would get some place in the top state governing body.
The main election years would be Presidential election, U.S House of Reps elections and State Reps elections. The mid-term elections would be Governor elections, U.S Senate and State Senate elections. This way, everybody sees the importance of voting in both the main election years and the mid-terms.
Campaign Finance & Voting
Election Day would be a national holiday. I’d have automatic voter registration at the age of 16, not 18. If you’re old enough to drive a car, you’re old enough to vote. I’ve also read that young people are more likely to vote if the voting age is 16 rather than 18, because if you’re 16 during a Presidential election year, you don’t get to vote for President until you turn 20. If you’re 17, you have to wait until you are 21 to vote in a Presidential election. That contributes to young people to not voting, because waiting a few years after you turn 18 to vote can wear on your excitement. So yea, I’d make the voting age 16, so young people turn out to vote.
Elections would also be publicly financed. Just like the newly established Seattle model, every citizen gets a $100 voucher to give to any campaigns they want. This means the rich and powerful wouldn’t be able to buy candidates. SuperPAC’s would be banned. Corporations and unions could endorse candidates, but not contribute financially to their campaigns. However, if there isn’t an overturning of Citizens United or constitutional amendment stating that corporations are not people, then I’d make any candidate receiving corporate money to wear a NASCAR style suit with the logos of their corporate donors at all times on the campaign trail and while in office.
So yea, these are the electoral reforms I would make. More representatives representing everybody using proportional representation and ranked choice voting with election season cut in half with publicly financed campaigns where everybody can vote. What’s not to love? Sooooooooooooooooooooo…. What do you think?!