Why do we have expensive elections when we can have smarter, better, cheaper ones?

Yesterday was an election, and unless you are a political person, you may not have even noticed it.

But, you paid dearly for it. We opened up all 36i0 or so precincts in Dayton, paying rent to churches, schools and libraries (but not nursing homes this time) and paid at least 5 people to sit there all day. We paid overtime for Board of Elections employees. We made candidates spend a lot of money. We had tax levies and charter amendments pass- with a tiny fraction of our electorate making the decisions for the rest of us. And, why?

Because our political system is designed to allow politicians to treat voters like mushrooms. Mushrooms thrive in the dark, while being fed manure.

Now, some of you didn’t have anything to vote for- or if not enough candidates entered the arena- there were no elections held. That too is sad.

That’s why I set up Reconstructing Dayton to help us fix a lot of this. Less elections, less elected “representatives”- and less jurisdictions to cost us so much to keep up. At it’s roots, Reconstructing Dayton is an organization to create interest and informed decision making leading to uni-gov. Less duplication, less overlap, less overhead. But, we’re also here to help create voter information systems, campaign finance reporting improvements, ballot access assistance, and better elections- via Ranked Choice Voting.

So, let’s look at what might have happened if Dayton had implemented Ranked Choice voting that we will be introducing as a charter amendment in the fall (when everyone can vote for it) and just held one election yesterday instead of a thin the heard election followed by an either/or choice.

Instead of having a field of 3 mayoral candidates and 7 commission candidates- we’d have had 10 candidates for you to rank 1 through 10. You rank as many as you want. You don’t have to rank all 10.

Now- this approximation is hard to do- because you had 2 votes for commissioners- and only 1 for mayor.

Jeff Mims would have been Mayor, coming in 1st with 4,865 votes. He would be Mayor until the next commission election, where if the winner there, had more than 4,865 votes, they would be mayor for the next 2 years.

Shenise Turner Sloss- with 3,141 votes would have been a commissioner, as would have Stacey D. Benson-Taylor who had 2,797 votes….

But, WAIT! This is Ranked Choice with instant runoff with “Single transferable vote”- so don’t count your votes so soon or so easy. This is where the beauty of the system- where smaller voices could have a chance.

Let’s rank all the other candidates by vote totals- starting with the lowest vote totals first.

  1. Valerie Duncan, 1074
  2. Jordan Wortham, 1139
  3. Gary Leitzell 1320
  4. Jared Grandy 1933
  5. Rennes Bowers 2145
  6. Scott Sliver 2196
  7. Darryl Fairchild 2613

Obviously, Valerie, Jordan, Gary aren’t really close to winning a majority. So we start by eliminating them as first choice candidates, and the people who voted for them- and others, have their votes switched to other candidates.

Let’s assume that Valeries next choice voters were for Gary and Darryl- and that her voters only ranked 3 people. We’ll split them evenly. 537 votes each.

  1. Jordan Wortham, 1139
  2. Gary Leitzell 1320 + 537 =1857
  3. Jared Grandy 1933
  4. Rennes Bowers 2145
  5. Scott Sliver 2196
  6. Darryl Fairchild 2613 +537 =3150

Now, the three winners were:

  1. Mims 4865
  2. Turner-Sloss 3141
  3. Benson Taylor 2797

But, all of a sudden, things have changed in the winners circle:

It’s now:

  1. Mims 4865
  2. Darryl Fairchild 2613 +537 =3150
  3. Turner-Sloss 3141

Hmmmm. Is that a good thing? Well, the people who voted for Valerie- as their first choice, now have a winner that they voted for. And since all three have at least a third of the vote, we’re done. We were trying to fill three positions with three people who are the choice of the most people. And remember, the votes wouldn’t necessarily split evenly- or the way I did it. But, here we only had one election and saved a ton of money and time. Had we had real rankings, the iteration could have kept going- and going, but, the liklihood of more changes decreases as the gap is too big between the winners and the runners up.

Next round- Jordan Wortham has his votes redistributed. And, let’s say his voters had Bowers and Grandy as second and third choices- and we split them evenly. 669 ea,

  1. Gary Leitzell 1320 + 537 =1857
  2. Scott Sliver 2196
  3. Jared Grandy 1933 + 669 =2602
  4. Benson Taylor 2797
  5. Rennes Bowers 2145 + 669= 2814

This doesn’t change the top three, and we’re still not at a majority. The gap between Bowers and Turner Sloss isn’t going to change things too much as we eliminate low man Leitzell’s votes…but, if you don’t understand this, this video will help:

Now, the problem with all this is most voters stayed home in the run-off special election. The way we fix this, and get more participation is to use vote by mail- where every registered voter is sent a ballot, that they can fill out after doing careful research on the candidates and issues. Obviously, since all 6 charter amendments passed- we don’t have well informed voters. Giving more power and money to the “Board of directors” – the city commission, was an attack on the City Manager form of government.

With your ballot at home, that you simply mail in, we eliminate having to worry about turnout suppressed by the monsoon we had yesterday morning. And, we don’t have to worry about renting all those places, paying all those people to work a 13 hour day, and we give voters more time to research and rank their choices. Take it a step further- and have a site like www.iisidewith.com set up for all elections at all levels- and candidates take the same test – you can almost have a way to rank your candidates for you. This is what we’re working on with The Modern Policy Institute.

All of these ideas are to help voters get better representation through a much more transparent system- and to try to take the money out of politics. It should be about the candidates ideas- and not just how much money they raise.

And, honestly, it shouldn’t be so difficult to be a good citizen and make an informed choice that doesn’t make you feel dirty after the election. For me, I’ll have a hard time voting for Mayor in the fall now- but, had we had ranked choice voting for this election, I wouldn’t be forced to vote for someone I didn’t want to.

If you support these ideas- please consider donating to Reconstructing Dayton or volunteering to help us get signatures to put this charter change on the ballot.

 

 

 

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