SPONSOR: PLATFORM STANDING GROUP
CURRENT PLATFORM PLANK
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.