Lots of blanks

I filled out my sample ballot last night. There was not much to fill out, actually. While there are several propositions and I am voting on all of them, I will not vote in legislative general elections under California’s new top-two exclusionary electoral system. Unlike some districts around the state, I don’t have any races in which the only two candidates are of the same party, but I also can’t vote for a third party candidate. I often vote for Libertarian legislative candidates, not because I like that party, but because I don’t like the big two, the districts I live in are safe, and the only third parties that used to be on my general election ballot were Libertarian and the far-far-right American Independent. (I am willing to vote lesser of multiple evils, but not of two!)

I am not voting in the school board race because none of the candidates has anything appealing to offer. I am not voting in the hospital board because why should anyone? I am not voting in the Ramona Planning Group election for two reasons: (1) the electoral system is stupid (top-8 plurality, with 10 candidates) and (2) this board twice has unanimously voted against a solar-energy generating field in Ramona (though the County Planning Commission recently overruled the board) and none of the non-incumbents has a different position. I will vote for one of the incumbents on the Palomar Community College district board, but only because I know her (the wife of my former train conductor–how’s that for a real social network?).

Is there anything else on this ballot? Oh, yes, I will vote for President–or rather for a slate of 55 presidential electors–but not for Obama. Again, because the electoral system is stupid, but at least here I have a choice among irrelevant options. I am voting for Jill Stein. I did vote for Obama in 2008, and I think he’s been all right under difficult conditions. I look forward to another four years, given how bad is the alternative that Ohio swing voters could inflict on us. But I have a long list of grievances against the Obama government, I live in one of the safest of safe states, and I am a dissenter against the partisan duopoloy.

I wish I could vote Green for congress and have it matter. The only Green on my ballot is Jill Stein and her running mate, and they have my vote.

56 thoughts on “Lots of blanks

  1. John Carey has an article on the virtues of the Chilean/Pinochet system: http://www.scielo.cl/scielo.php?pid=S0718-090X2006000100016&script=sci_arttext#a

    It uses “sistema binominal,” so it would appear that the English “binomial” is simply a mistranslation of the Spanish for “two-member system.”

    I would absolutely agree that it isn’t a system to be copied on the whole (I’m frankly surprised the GOP hasn’t proposed it for congressional elections), but I would argue that the biggest flaw in the system is extreme malapportionment, and that the system would likely perform admirably were that not the case. In particular, the “reasonable mix of representativeness, governability, and individual legislator accountability” is something that most systems do not achieve, either in being far too proportional, and therefore inefficient (Israel’s current Haredi-versus-Lapid coalition negotiations come to mind), or in the FPTP flaw most prevalent in the UK, Canada, and the USA of not representing the votes of the majority of the population in the legislative majority. Were Chile fairly apportioned, I think the system would end up reflecting a Concertación majority until the right actually won more votes.

  2. As for not representing the center well, as alleged earlier, I think that’s unfair in that the center in Chile is largely the PDC (Christian Democrats), which have chosen to cooperate with the Socialist/Radical left over the right. They don’t have enough support as an individual party to take many seats, but then again, no party in Chile has enough support outside a few districts to do well on its own; if, as it has from time to time been suggested, the PDC and Renovación Nacional (the more moderate of the two main right-wing parties) formed an alliance, I think said alliance would take one seat, if not two, in most districts.

    I think the M=2 system’s impetus to form pre-election coalitions, rather than contentions negotiations after elections, is one of the system’s strongest virtues.

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