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The Case for Proportional Rerpresentation


The following article was posted in Usenet worldwide on June 12, 1994 by James Ogle:
Email address from post was joogle@cruzio.com (joogle@cruzio.com)

The Case for Proportional Representation By James Ogle, after John Cleese Presented to the Santa Cruz Greens on February 15, 1994

I'm very sorry to bore you this morning, but this is a political speech and you know how boring those can be. This one is about (yawn) proportional representation, so it will be especially boring.

Proportional representation! What's it all about? Let's look at the 1992 Santa Cruz city council elections. On the chart below, you can see the number of votes cast;

| SCAN-51% | | | IND-39% | | | | | | | | | | ENV-10% | | | | | | -------------------- total votes cast

The civic group called SCAN recieved 51% of the vote, the independents received 39% of the vote, and the Environmentalist Coalition (Members of various parties, including a Green) received 10% of the votes. Now, let's look at the number of seats they got; | SCAN-100% of the seats | | | | | | | | . . ------------ seats won

Oh? SCAN got 100% of the seats!? The independents and the Environmentalist Coalition got no seats? Or, look at it this way; | SCAN-48,012 | SCAN-Won ALL seats | | | | IND-35,966 | | | | | | | | | ENV-8716 | | | | | | | | | . . --------------- --------------- votes cast seats won

On the left, share of the votes cast. On the right, the share of the seats won.

This is ludicrous! Or as a child would say, "That's not fair!" It took 12,003 votes to elect each SCAN member, but with 44,682 votes, the independents and the Environmentalist Coalition did not win a single seat! This left a lot of people frustrated, unrepresented and wondering what to do next.

Well, proportional representation, or PR, is about making the representation proportional to the number of votes cast -- if you get twice as many votes, you get twice as many seats.

Now, I suppose that you'd like to know how it works? I will now give you a twenty second explanation;

[At this time, several Green Party members leave the room to get a Bud]

Instead of placing an X by your choice, you get to rank several choices in order of preference. Your first choice, you put a one. Second choice, a two. Third choice, a three -- up to as many choices (or as few) as you'd like, like this:

Wilson Brown 3 Zhirinouski 2 Rider 1 Ogle None of the Above

That's it! The rest is up to the computer!

I'd like to welcome you all back from your beer! I've just completed a political dream for a mean Green voting machine! OH!! There'll be singing and dancing in the streets tonight!

So, if Santa Cruz had nonpartisan PR elections in 1992, the results would have looked something like this; | SCAN-51% | SCAN-5 seats | | | | IND-39% | | IND-3 seats | | | | | | | | | | | | | | | ENV-10% | | | ENV-1 seat | | | | | | --------------- ------------- votes cast seats won

There! Much fairer. Not only more fair, but more constructive too! Since each candidate wants to win over the other candidates' support for 2nd choice, there's more discussion, listening, debate, respect and positive campaigns. Newspapers sell better, too.

So, if PR gives you fairer results and positive campaigns, what are the objections?

--First objection) Some people say PR is a weird and abnormal idea. Not true. The fact is that 9/10s of the world's democracies use PR, and ALL of the emerging democracies are adopting it as well. Furthermore, of the democratic countries that use PR, certain correlations (with no causitive connections) do exist;

- All democratic countries that have a lower trade deficit than the US, use PR. - All democratic countries that have a lower national debt than the US, use PR. - All democratic countries that have a lower per capita energy consump- tion than the US, use PR. - All democratic countries that have greater reserve assets than the US, use PR. - All democratic countries that have a greater per capita GNP than the US, use PR.

In the last few months alone, South Africa, New Zealand, Russia and Mexico have adopted PR in their national elected governments.

In the US, the city councils of Cambridge MA, Peoria IL, and Alamogordo NM use PR, as well as the New York City School District, The Green Party National Committee and several count- ies in Alabama.

It is our dis-proper-tional US systems that are weird and out of the norm!

In the majority of the world's democracies in which PR is used, there is a greater voter turn-out, and the election systems are supported by all parties because PR gives "universal coverage".

--Second objection) Some people say "Why change the old system, it will lead to instability?" I disagree. One of the primary reasons for advocating PR is that the present system discourages change and forces you to conform to the two-party system. You can only choose between right and left, liberal or conservative, and when change does occur, it's so severe that it makes long- range planning difficult. In addition, the winner-take-all (or first-past-the-post) US system gives the winning majority a false mandate, and leaves the minority parties with no representation at all. Perhaps we are too stable, and perhaps moribund.

--Third objection) Some say coalition governments are weak and indecisive. Oh? Norway, Switzerland, Japan? Poor wretched and weak things! Sweden, Austria, Portugal? They make your heart bleed! Germany, Australia, Spain? They're on the scrap heap too! If only they could get rid of their weak and indecisive governments, they too could have a two-headed, one-party, corrupt political system like ours. California! Thank the Lord! Where the economy is strong and stable, People feel good about represen- tative democracy! Opportunity and fairness for everyone! NOT!!!

--Forth objection) Some people say that PR is too complicated. They say that Californians won't understand it. Well, yes, I'm afraid that if you cannot count up to five, you'll find it a teeny bit complicated!

--Fifth objection) Some ask, "What will happen to our local representative?" A perfectly good question! In Santa Cruz 49% of you wasted your vote anyway, because that's the percent of the vote that went for independents and the Environmentalist Coaltion. But with PR, everyone will have representation, and the highest vote recipients in each self-defined interest group will be the winning candidates. No wasted votes.

For example: Do you know how unrepresented women are in all levels of government? In the nationally elected US bodies alone, there is less than 12% women legislators. But with PR, there will be more w women in government. In three Scandinavian countries which use the Sainte-Lague PR system (with nine-member districts) there is 38% women legislators in ALL three countries' national legislative governments.

In the US Congress, there is only one independent Congressman out of 435 Congressmen,even though more than 30% of Americans consider themselves to be an independent. 20% of the voters which voted for independent presidential candidate Ross Perot in 1992 realize that he did not get one single electoral vote! At the very LEAST, we need proportional electoral votes. Or perhaps, do away with the electoral college system altogether!

Years after women were given the right to vote and before PR was adopted there, Kate Sheppard, leader of New Zealand's sufferage movement had written; "The crudity and the unfairness of the present method of election ... our clumsy system of voting, still goes on sending men to parliament for whom only a small number of their consituents voted, leaving the majority quite unrepresented. As a representative system, it is sham, a delusion, a snare to the unthinking."

In summery; -- PR is used in most of the world's democracies and is supported by all parties. -- PR is change, yes, but change for greater stability and a more open government. -- Coalition governments do better and have better economies with PR. -- More diverse representation will be acheived for all parties, so you will more likely have a representative to talk to that you like. -- PR is too complicated for Californians ... Ha .. ha .. ha.

The greatest advantage is that it will reflect the will of the people instantly. It will give greater diversity in government. As a melting pot, we Americans find strength in diversity. Perhaps we can rediscover that strength?

Lani Guinier states; "The ideal for democracy promises a fair discussion among self-defined equals about how to acheive our common aspirations. To redeem that promise, we need to put proportionality at the center of our conception of democracy."

Thank you very much for your time. Very truly yours, James Ogle

Membership and June 25 forum info;

To become a voting member in the movement for PR, send $5. to;
Northern California Citizens for Proportional Representation
2069 Highland Drive
Concord, CA 94520
jlin...@netcom.com or (510) 527-8025

To become a member in the national movement for PR and to also
receive a bi-monthly subscription to _The Voting and Democracy
Review_, send $20. to;
The Center for Voting and Democracy (CV&D)
6905 5th Street, NW
Suite 200
Washington, DC 20012
(202) 828-3062

To find out information about the public forum "Equal Representation
for Women: What Will It Take?" on Saturday, June 25th, 1-5pm at the
Berkeley Conference Center, call (510) 527-8025.
The Environmentalist Party of America ****========
James Ogle, Secretary ****========
jo...@netcom.com ============
I'm with the Green Party, CPR and a I'm a patriot. ============

Click here to Reply
Lizard In article jo...@cruzio.com writes:
Tim Smith Wouldn't cummulative voting be better? (Twenty second explanation: if there are N seats, you get to cast N votes. Your N votes can be split up any way you like. In the above, for example, if you really like Ogle, you could vote 3 for Ogle. If, ho
Stan Koper : The Case for Proportional Representation : : Oh? SCAN got 100% of the seats!? The independents and
mor...@d0tage.fnal.gov ummm no, it is perfectly legal, that doesn't make it fair.
Marc J. Byrd James, Great to see something in the a.p.reform group about reform, instead of all this shouting of "Thanks, Liberals!". I have thought a little about proportional representation and about some of the specifics you mention. What do you (and others)
Mike Fox About 1 and 2: we could probably convert the U.S. Senate to proportional representation and leave the House as it is and get the best of both worlds. This is just in theory of course, it could only be done if all 50 states agree (U.S. Constitution
jo...@cruzio.com Oh? SCAN got 100% of the seats!? The independents and
Robert L. McMillin So why bother mentioning them?
Christopher J Burian r...@helen.surfcty.com (Robert L. McMillin) writes: ]"Fair" under the PR regime
Robert L. McMillin You may think Bob 'B-1' Dornan is bad, but wait until the Skinheads or a David Duke gets elected. Or maybe one of those unreformed communists we see so frequently on this forum.
Anton Sherwood No, the rest is up to the programmer. I think Mr Ogle has in mind Hare's "single transferable vote" rule, which goes like this (somewhat simplified): Let N be the number of voters, and S the number of seats in the house to be elected. Set Q (quota)
Anton Sherwood In article ,
jo...@cruzio.com Fascism is a one-party system of government (the anti-propoprtionalists) in which the individual is subordinated to the state and control is maintained by military force, secret police, rigid censorship and government regimentation of industry and fi
David Veal One might suspect he could from his opposition. But this is sort of the whole point. If he can't pass any legislation on his own, and you wouldn't want him passing legislation with others, why work out a way to get him there in the first place? If
Don Steiny You are shockingly uneducated. I have no objection to proportional represetnation, though I do not clearly see that it would be an advantage. For instance, most of the countries you cite have unemployment rates greater that 20%, Japan is very racist
Robert L. McMillin No, but he (and others of his ilk) can certainly become a swing vote... No thanks.
Anton Sherwood In article ,
Imi Bokor Robert L. McMillin (r...@helen.surfcty.com) wrote: : Italy and their recently elected neo-fascists are a damn good reason : to avoid proportional representation. The (neo-)fascists have been in the Italian parliament for a long time, over twenty year
Richard Foy In article ,
Robert L. McMillin Fascism does *not* have to be uniparty to be fascism. One may espouse fascist policies without having only one party; the Nazis were a tiny minority party for years in the Weimar Republic before they ascended to power. Did their rise to power sudde
Robert L. McMillin Somebody has been reading too many PhD theses! Gak!
Imi Bokor Imi Bokor (i...@neumann.une.edu.au) wrote:
jo...@cruzio.com Actually Robert, I was reading the defination of fascism out of the Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary.
jo...@cruzio.com At least I'm willing to learn something new. [stuff deleted]
Robert L. McMillin That's ciao, an Italian word. And please, stay there. If you're going to be a guru, you may as well do it at a high elevation far away from the rest of us. -- Robert L. McMillin | r...@helen.surfcty.com | Netcom: r...@netcom.com Surf City Software
Don Steiny That is a pretty weird thing to say. But because in your other posts you apparently looked up the word "fascist" in the dictionary it is now in your vocabulary, you are calling people that in all your posts. I am sure that if you went back to Funk
jo...@cruzio.com they're funnier than me, too. I can't wait to get out of here. And no, I'm not going to be a guru, I'm going there to FIND the meaning of life. (I'll let you know what He said when I get back.) --James -- The Environmentalist Party of America
jo...@cruzio.com Well Don, you started this, by saying that I was unintelligent because I didn't know what a Luddite is. Now I just happen to know that you are registered to vote as a Republican, and that you are not really a facsist. So drop it. I think that our e
Marc J. Byrd In article r...@helen.surfcty.com (Robert L. McMillin) writes: > On 15 Jun 1994 20:56:43 PST, jo...@cruzio.com said: > > --Third objection) Some say coalition governments are weak and > > indecisive. Oh? Norway, Swi
Don Steiny jo...@cruzio.com writes:
Christopher J Burian ste...@steiny.com (Don Steiny) writes: ] Where's the beef? You are just spouting buzzwords again. You
Lizard In article jo...@cruzio.com writes: > Since I'm not running for governor, I am getting a little > bit brazen, I admit. At least there is no censorship here > on internet. I don't see why elected officials do not > use this med
Don Steiny >> Lame, James, very lame.
Tim Smith Good. Now apply your education, and answer the question I asked a while back. Why do you think the Proportional Representation system you proposed, which was ill-defined, since you didn't explain how the votes would be weighed, is better than the c
t...@u.washington.edu (Tim Smith) writes:
- show quoted text -
- show quoted text -
Sorry to butt in, but one reason STV is better than cumulative voting is
in situations where candidates with the same positions or similar
ideologies stand for election. In a cumulative voting system votes would
be divided among the various candidates with no one winning election. STV
minimizes that effect.
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