A simple redistricting proposal: a bigger table

The argument about gerrymandering in Ohio has been going on for a long time. Now with computers to help in slicing and dicing the electorate, we’ve gotten so good at drawing lines on a map that we can draw one right around Mike Turner’s former house on Linden Avenue- just to make sure that the district formerly known as OH-3 went from Democrat to Republican and included him in the new R- district.

The Ohio Senate and House have different plans- and even Martin Gottlieb weighs in with:

Reform is necessary because political parties can stack the deck in ways that all but prevent lawmakers from having to compete for their jobs. Some districts are drawn so they’re always won by Republicans, no matter what; others are drawn so they’re safe for Democrats.

via Editorial: House right on redistricting — for now | A Matter of Opinion.

The problem is, no matter which plan the current legislators adopt- it’ll still do its best at keeping the existing people in power.

In this case, for the voters to be honestly represented we have to stop believing that the two-party system is functional- and that doesn’t mean go to the Courts either- where we stupidly elect judges- even though they can’t do any campaigning whatsoever.

How about we start by recognizing the third parties? Let the Socialists, the Greens, the Libertarians and even the “tea party” people (once they formally create a party) to the table and make the decisions through compromise and negotiation. It would be in the third parties’ best interest to keep the districts as compact as possible- within single media markets (to cut the costs of campaigning). They would also look toward constituencies that they feel are UNDERrepresented- and try to make sure they have a chance.

Much simpler solution- and one that may actually start moving our State forward. Of course, changing to an instant-runoff style ballot may work even better- once the district is drawn in a sensible manner, but, one step at a time.

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2 Responses

  1. truddick June 2, 2010 / 2:06 pm
    Why not go one better?  Eliminate districts altogether!
     
    Simply declare that each citizen gets one vote for every elected office regardless of the number of openings available.  Then each candidate runs state-wide/county-wide/city-wide.  The highest vote-getters occupy the offices open.
     
    Let’s look at how that would change, say, Dayton City Commission elections.  Currently, if there are 3 openings, each voter gets 3 votes.  That means that the Dems can field 3 endorsed candidates and just about guarantee they’ll win.  Change it so that each voter gets 1 vote, and perhaps a Rep or an Ind can outpace one of the Dems–and there will be other voices on City Commission.  Same with school board, county commissioner, etc.
     
    Where state offices are concerned, it seems likely that Senators and Representatives would still be mostly Dems and Reps from large cities.  But the chances improve for the Greens and Libertarians to get a candidate in the top 99–and then we’ll have more than two parties in Columbus.
     
    Note that we currently elect US Senators from Ohio that way–albeit only one at a time.  We ought to be able to elect US Representatives that way too.
     
    Big idea.  Will it ever fly?  Only if people quit rearranging the current bad winner-takes-all system and replace it with something that gives disenfranchised voters something to get motivated for.

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  2. David Esrati June 2, 2010 / 2:37 pm

    @Truddick- you forget- we have primaries for the major parties for Senator- and until this year- third parties weren’t even allowed to add party affiliation to their name on the ballot. Plus, the signature requirements have differed. I’m not sure that Changing the number of votes- or districts is the answer- it’s much harder to connect with bigger numbers of people.

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