Discussion: Platform Amendment - Proportional Representation


PRESENTERS/CONTACTS: Ronald Hennig, ameaag@gmail.com, (925) 708-3907
SUBJECT: Proportional Representation II, Democracy and Electoral Reform, Involved 10 Key Values-Grassroots Democracy
BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE: This plank is meant to supplement or replace the current one on Proportional Representation (see end). This is a new form of Proportional Representation at the federal level that is simpler than and superior to the others. It could also be applied at the State level, but its application at the federal level would be more immediately beneficial to both California and the nation.
(1)Congress can no longer adequately represent the people of the United States. 
(2)Modern people are connected in ways that extend beyond their geographic proximity to each other, and these connections are not captured through the use of congressional districts.
(3)The Green Party of California supports an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that would restructure the House of Representatives. 
(4)Instead of every Representative being elected from a district, there would be one national election with all of the candidates competing against each other. 
(5)The candidates who receive the most votes would become the Representatives, and every Representative would have as many votes as he or she had received in the election.
(6)That is, the House currently has 435 Representatives, and so the 435 candidates who receive the most votes would become Representatives. 
(7)If three candidates received 1,340,592 votes, 223,302 votes, and 14,497,980 votes in the election, then as Representatives they would respectively have 1,340,592 votes, 223,302 votes, and 14,497,980 votes when voting on legislation.
(8)The Senate would not be changed, thereby maintaining equal representation for the States and blocking any irrational legislation that might come from the House of Representatives.
(9)By eliminating districts, this would completely eliminate gerrymandering.
(10)The Green Party of California supports legislative candidates who pledge to vote for this amendment.
The Green Party of California supports the following text of the amendment:
1. The members of the House of Representatives shall be elected by the whole people of the United States. The persons who receive the most votes shall become the Representatives, and shall have as many votes as Representatives as they had received in the election. A group of Representatives whose votes carried are a majority of the votes carried by all of the Representatives shall constitute a quorum.
The House of Representatives shall keep record of how many votes each Representative had received from each State.
The number of members of the House of Representatives shall be determined by Congress.
In the event that multiple persons shall have received the same number of votes and not all can become Representatives, then the House shall choose who among them shall become Representatives.
2. Every Representative shall appoint a Vice-Representative who shall assume the position of his respective Representative should it become vacant. No Executive Authority of a State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies. If the position of a Vice-Representative should become vacant, then the associated Representative shall appoint a new Vice-Representative.
No person shall be a Representative or a Vice-Representative who shall not have attained to the age of twenty five years, and been seven years a citizen of the United States.
By a vote of two-thirds, the House may expel a Representative, Vice-Representative, or a pair of such, thereby leaving the representation vacant until the next election.
3. The number of Electors for President and Vice-President that the States and the District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint shall be the number of members of the House of Representatives divided among the States according to their respective populations, plus one for every Senator to which they are entitled.
The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall appoint one elector for every Senator to which it would be entitled to as if it were a State, but shall in no event appoint more Electors than the least populous State.
In the event that no person shall have received a majority of the votes of the Electors for President, and the choice should devolve upon the House of Representatives, then the vote shall be taken by Representatives, and every Representative shall have a number of votes, equal to the sum of the quotients of the votes had received from each State divided into the total number of votes that all of the Representatives had received from that State. A quorum for this purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the Representatives.
4. Congress shall choose the election in which the first three sections of this article shall take effect.



Proportional Representation 

One of the primary goals of the Green Party is to change our electoral system from winner-take-all, to proportional representation (PR). PR is an over-all strategy for representation that encompasses several types of voting systems. It is used by most of the world's established democracies.

Our current winner-take-all system - where the highest vote-getter represents 100% of the electorate - causes many problems. Among them are lack of choice for voters; gross under-representation of women, and racial and political minorities; low voter turnout; issue-less campaigns; a two-party monopoly; corruption of politics by big money; and gerrymandering of legislative districts for incumbents' protection. PR addresses these issues:


PR gives representation to voters from both minority and majority constituencies. Blocs of like-minded voters win representation in multi-seat districts in proportion to their voting strength. A constituency or party that receives 10% of the vote wins 10% of the seats, 30% of the vote wins 30% of seats, and so on. This way, almost the entire electorate is represented in government, with the majority still ruling.


PR increases voter participation. More people have the ability to elect a candidate who represents them. Turnouts average 70% to 95% in PR democracies, compared to the 51% turnout in the 2000 federal elections, and the 36% turnout in 1998.


PR increases diversity in representation. Compared to the U.S. Congress, which is 88% male, women in the national and state legislatures of PR democracies often have between 25% to 50% of the seats. Racial and other minorities are also better represented under PR. This helps legislatures more closely reflect the composition of the general population.


PR is an effective campaign finance reform. It reduces the percentage of votes needed to win, thus the amount of money needed to win. Minor parties like the Green Parties of Europe consistently win fair representation despite not spending as much as the major parties.


PR also reduces the problem of gerrymandering - where incumbents and their parties get to draw district lines to their advantage. Almost all voters in a district receive representation under PR regardless of how the district lines are drawn.

PR uses multi-seat districts where representatives are elected in proportion to the votes they receive. In the implementation of PR systems, a threshold of votes is usually required to ensure that representatives have at least a minimum base of support. There are forms of PR appropriate for all levels of elections:


List systems - Party based, they elect parties in proportion to their share of the popular vote. These are the most widely used systems, and are appropriate for federal and state legislative bodies.


Mixed systems - Seats are awarded both proportionally and by single-seat districts. These do well in combining geographic and issue-based representation, and are also appropriate for federal and state legislative bodies.


Choice voting (also known as Preference voting) - Candidate-based, voters list their first, second, third, etc. choices for a particular race. Votes are transferred as candidates are eliminated, thus all votes help select the winner. Applicable to all levels of government. Choice voting was successfully used to elect city councils in two dozen U.S. cities, until the 1950's. This success led to its downfall. Political machines resented the loss of control of elections, and anti-reformers resisted diversity, especially African-

Americans in government during a time of racial tension and desegregation of schools.


The Green Party seeks the implementation of proportional representation election systems:


Seek, in coalition with organizations and individuals, the formation of commissions - at local, state and federal levels - to examine alternatives to the current electoral system, and present the findings to the public.


Initiate a referendum asking voters to decide between the current winner-take-all electoral system, and a system based in PR.


Replace the winner-take-all plurality approach with proportional representation systems at all levels of government.


Work to implement PR in local organizations and non-government bodies, such as union locals, schools and school districts, civic organizations, etc.


Eliminate gerrymandering - the dominant parties' ability to create districts that ensure their continued election in the present single-seat system.


Support the federal Voters Choice Act (HR 3068) that gives states the option of electing their congressional delegation by PR (California elects 52 House members).


COMMITTEE DECISION . The revised platform was suggested on October 10 2011 by direct contact of the author with the Platform Co-Cordinator.  The plank was posted on the Platform list serve on Jan 2, 2012; revisions were incorporated on April 1 2012.

RESOURCES: This is complementary or alternative to the existing GPCA platform plank.