Is it too early to talk about election reform?

I don't know about anyone else, but I think the election processs in this country is absolutly fucked. Between the myriad of rules processes and machines involved in any state sponsored election, we have some states that parties must pay for their primaries. I have been an Obama backer from pretty early on, a former Deaniac switched on to politics. I know it's out of the norm to have such a close primary recently, but we had a friggin toss up. My candidate won, but damn the process seems antiquated. My goal for the next few years is to bring democratic change to our complete election processs.

Drewid's diary :: ::
This may very well be a worthless dairy, but it is something I feel needs attention. We can't set about changing GE procedures without addressing primaries, and this is where I want to start. Our primaries are frakked. Dominated so far by small and unrepresentitive states. Many state Dem parties forced to pay for the primary. cuacus or full on primary. Of course a caucus cost less Myself personally, I'm torn on caucuses. On one hand it does deny the right to vote to people who can't make arrangements to caucus. On the other hand it is a decent messure of a candidates depth of support. It can't be disputed that some states have cheaper media markets, so a cadidate doesn't have to spend crazy ammounts of money to run in an early state. As far as the GE, many states have things in the pipes to award the states electoral votes to the winner of the popular vote, and I support that. The question is what do we dems do with our primary process, and what do we work for as standards for national elections. All I know is, Super D's suck, Iowa and NH always first sux,  Limited voting time sux, GE and def caucuses.Either we finance elections, as a party of a government, or we have to live with state parties holding caucuses. We dems should lead by example. We should demand the most democratic and transparent primary from our party. Leave no doubt as to who we voted for, and fight for expanded access to the ballot box acrosss the board, everywhere at every level.
I will post further about it, we have work to do, just wanted to get it off my chest.
Drew

Tags: election reform, Elections, Primaries (all tags)

Comments

14 Comments

It's never too early

I'd like to see:

closed primaries and no caucuses.
Rotation of the primary schedule so no one gets a special role every time.
Regional primaries, so states don't get to go in isolation, possibly overstating their importance and a limit on the role and number of superdelegates, if not their total eliminatino.

by Mayor McCheese 2008-11-07 04:10AM | 0 recs
Re: It's never too early

yeah I like the principals of Federalism and the 10th amendment

my state does caucuses, if MN doesn't want to anymore we will change it.

and I also disagree with closed primaries, well I once again think let the states choose their own processes.

if the citizens in those states don't like it they can change it.

But honestly I don't give a crap what Wisconsin thinks about the MN process. that just means they don't have to copy it.

by TruthMatters 2008-11-07 04:35AM | 0 recs
Not too early, but...

I would be happy with some guidance on primary reform from the top, but it remains something that the state parties should decide.

The variety of types of primaries ensured that the candidates were tested under various different situations:

Caucus: tests candidate's organizational ability
Primary: tests candidate's name recognition and overall popularity
Open: tests the scope of the candidate's appeal
Closed: tests how well the candidate interacts with his or her party
Single: tests how well a candidate campaigns in a single key/swing state
Multiple: tests how well a candidate prioritizes campaigning in more than one area

These are all tests which affect a candidate's electability.  Part of the problem with modern candidates is that many of the primaries are effectively over before all these tests could be run, making our candidate an unknown quality in some respects (would we have known that John Kerry was going to fold like a pair of twos when faced with smears if Edwards or Dean had been able to put up a fight and the media/Republicans got involved like they did this year?  Quite possibly).

What I really think needs to happen is for the party to decide on how many of each type of contest they're going to have and the schedule, and set up a sort of silent auction where the parties of each state "bid" on what type of primary they want and when in the process they go.

Certain slots, like the first four events, need to be smaller states from the four main geographic locations of the country: East Coast, South, Midwest, and Mountain West.  Super Tuesday needs to be slightly limited, and there shouldn't ever be six weeks between any primaries like we had with Pennsylvania (though I admit that it worked out for us pretty well this year).

We can still acknowledge state individuality while still establishing a greater wire frame for them to operate within.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-07 04:58AM | 0 recs
Caucuses DONT ALLOW 99% OF A STATE TO VOTE

Most of us can't afford to fly off to caucuses.. we aren't Party officials..

Caucuses are illegitimate..

The same thing goes for electronic voting machines that register votes electronically.

The ballot should be paper. Its okay if an electronic machines helps make the paper ballot (so it is both machine and human readable) but the ballot and the paper receipt should be printed out by the machine, compared, and the ballot should be put in the ballot box.. Then the voter should be able to compare the registered vote with their own ballot by looking it up on a private web site.

All ballots should be printed in the ballot box and should have a unique serial number.

This could be done in an hour or two using off the shelf cheap computer technology... no custom parts at all.. Linux.

by architek 2008-11-08 12:47AM | 0 recs
On electoral reform

We need to dump the Electoral college, but I don't see Mr. Practical Obama doing it until the beginning of his second term.  Just my gut feeling.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-07 05:00AM | 0 recs
Re: On electoral reform

That would take a constitutional amendment, meaning that once he's president it's the one thing he'll actually lose control over.

I'm actually torn over the electoral college.  I might be in favor of keeping it if you removed the Senate number from the number of electors a state gets - that way it's much closer to one person, one vote.

With the electoral college, you have to campaign everywhere - you can't just run up the score in California or Texas.  That's a good thing.  The occasional fluke where one person wins the EV and the other the PV only happens about once every hundred years, and if you just removed the Senate number from it it wouldn't happen even then.

by Jess81 2008-11-07 07:42AM | 0 recs
Re: On electoral reform

Some states are beginning to bypass the electoral college on their own: http://www.nationalpopularvote.com/

They are passing a law that ties their individual electoral votes to the national popular vote.  The catch is that they don't take effect until 270 EV's worth of states enact the same law.  They are at 50 right now (MD, HI, IL, NJ).  

I'm a bit torn on getting rid of the electoral college.  If people in the middle of nowhere (this means you Wyoming) are too lazy or incompetent to look at media coverage of the candidates, that's their own fault.  As a liberal, I'm also pretty excited about the fact that liberals do better in urban areas, meaning conservatives would need to spread out their rallies much more.  But I also think that candidates on both sides would still go to some remoter areas, knowing that it would pull in citizens from nearby areas.

On the other hand, the electoral college does make things a bit more interesting.  I don't think this election would have been in any doubt (even less than it was) if we went by popular vote.  At the same time, I'm not sure "fun" is a good reason to keep a system.

by ProgressiveDL 2008-11-07 07:54AM | 0 recs
I polled my friends..

Not a single one wanted the "electoral college"

We should also shorten terms of elected officials since time goes faster now..

Tighter feedback loops mean less energy wasted on projects/politicians/parties that dont pan out.

by architek 2008-11-08 12:49AM | 0 recs
You'd still have to campaign everywhere

Conservatives do well in the country, liberals do well in the city, and the mid-size towns (100K or so) all over the country become the new battlegrounds.

One person, one vote.  I don't care if barren wastelands don't get as much representation.  Barren wastelands don't need much representation.

by Dracomicron 2008-11-07 08:36AM | 0 recs
I think that paradigm has reached the end

of its useful life...

Country people have been hit the worst by globalization of jobs. Often, the firms that set up in low wage areas of the US were the first to flee to Mexico, China, wherever...

Those jobs wont come back... The rural areas are hurting.

We can't all be factory farmers..

by architek 2008-11-08 12:51AM | 0 recs
Yes, it's too early.

There are about 800 pressing issues on the plate. Many of these issues have much higher priority.

Furthermore, I would say this.

Currently, the DEM Party does not possess sufficient political capital to accomplish systematic election reform. It simply is not yet a realistic possibility.

We may or may not get to the point where we can take this on. I hope we do, but I don't know.

But I do know that the moment for it is not now. We have many other battles to win first, and if we lose them, election reform will cease to have any meaning.

by Thresholder 2008-11-07 07:36AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it too early to talk about election reform?

I really can't think of anything I want to change from the primary process.  You can even make the argument that superdelegates are okay: they were put in place to give party leaders a permanent vote so that 1980 - a situation where two camps are at loggerheads over the agenda, the platform, and everything, and the permanent members of the party are powerless to step in - never happens again.  They weren't created to overturn elections.

I might put a "standard of conscience" rule in how they can vote on nominees though - that they have to represent the wishes of the elected delegates as a whole as their conscience guides them.

by Jess81 2008-11-07 07:46AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it too early to talk about election reform?

If we just made the requirement be a plurality instead of a majority, it wouldn't be a problem.  Make the delegates forcefully tied to their candidate and you won't have any calls for pledged delegates to switch.  Get rid of all the superdelegates.  Done.

by ProgressiveDL 2008-11-07 08:00AM | 0 recs
Re: Is it too early to talk about election reform?

In 1980, pledged delegates WERE forcefully tied to their candidate.  Also their were only two candidates, so a majority vs. a plurality wasn't the issue.

The creation of superdelegates actually made a lot of sense when you read about what went on in 1980 and why it's a good idea to have a mechanism to make sure that it doesn't happen again.  Contrary to popular belief, it really has nothing to do with making sure the "right" person is elected.  It actually doesn't have that much to do with nominees at all.  Other issues get decided at party conventions besides who their nominee is.  It makes no sense to have them get decided by a different set of people every time.

Oh, but I did just think of something that should be changed - the frontloading of the primaries.  Besides, it doesn't even work: it was supposed to make sure Hillary Clinton would win if she wanted it.

by Jess81 2008-11-07 10:59AM | 0 recs

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