[olug] OT: PSA

Tim & Alethea Larson thelarsons3 at cox.net
Tue Nov 9 01:58:32 UTC 2010

On 11/2/10 8:04 PM, Dan Anderson wrote:
> We are certainly a 2 party system - which is a type of plurality
> voting system characterized by elections that are generally between
> people of 2 parties.
> Suggesting that we are not a 2 party system because we have a
> plurality voting system is like suggesting that a dog is not a canine
> because it is a mammal .

Perhaps I should have been more clear.  We have a de facto two-party 
system (as a consequence of plurality vote - Duverger's Law); nowhere is 
the pre-eminence of the Duopoly prescribed by law.

> Be that as it may - my point was that exactly what you would expect in
> a 2 party system would be contests between, more or less, 2
> people/parties.
> If we don't have more then 2 candidates - I don't see any point to
> Condorcet voting other then to complicate the process.  Really, the
> bar to get on the ballot isn't really that high here.  It's possibly a
> chicken and egg thing to some degree, but until/unless we had a viable
> third party - it doesn't seem useful to complicate things.

My point is that it IS a chicken/egg problem.  If you look at the voter 
turnout from 1960 to 2004 in presidential years, it is a steady downward 
trend EXCEPT for 1992.  Why?  Ross Perot.  The idea of a viable third 
party energized the electorate.  Most polls on the subject find that 
~60% or more of voters WANT another choice.  Yet if this is the case, 
why don't we see more votes for the 3rd parties already on the ballot? 
Because in the end, we understand the dynamics of the voting system 
(even if we can't articulate what we understand), and how it forces us 
to choose "the lesser of two evils" else "waste your vote".  I firmly 
believe that if we had a system that allowed for more choice without a 
perceived sacrifice, a large segment of the pragmatic voters would put a 
different choice in their #1 spot.

If there are only two options, Condorcet devolves to simple plurality, 
and is just as easy to tally, so there's no harm at all.  But if there 
are more than two choices, the increase in expressiveness is invaluable 
in determining the true will of the voters.

> I suspect that some of the reason for the lack of competition in some
> races here is due, IMO, to too many positions being partisan elected
> positions. As I recall, Assessor, Clerk, Sheriff and Treasurer were
> uncontested on my ballot.  I'm not sure that there is a point to any
> of those being partisan contests.  I'm also not entirely convinced
> that they all shouldn't just be employees and not elected officials.

I like the idea of some official in the system being directly 
accountable to the voters, rather than having the entire department left 
to the bureaucracy.  Other than instances of fraud or other ethical 
violations, there's probably not going to be a lot of interest in 
non-policy-making positions.  Doesn't necessarily mean we should reduce 
accountability though.


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