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CNES

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11-08-2017

Who Benefits

THE NEW POLITICAL LANDSCAPE

 

The most important feature of  The Colorado New Democracy Initiatives  is that because they  offer benefits to all voters and to independents and major and minor parties and their candidates, they  would – unlike proposals that undermine one or more of the major political parties – get a fair hearing on the ballot and attract widespread, bi and non-partisan support.

 

Adopting such an elections system wouldn’t just change the way elections are run, it would change the way the American political system operates in Colorado and it would change the way government is run. The significant benefits include:

 

For candidates:

·         No more having to appeal exclusively to the narrow range of party purists who vote in primary elections.

·         No more fear - once elected - of being “primaried.”

·         No more having to change political stripes after the primary election to win votes in the general election, i.e. do the “etch-a-sketch”  dance.

·         A level playing field, with major party, minor party and independent candidates governed by the same rules (the current system has a byzantine set of rules and regulations that differentiate between minor and major party candidates and independents, including a provision prohibiting candidate from running in a  primary unless they are registered as a voter in that party by the first of January, and others rewarding party candidates by allowing them to raise twice the campaign money as independents on the grounds that they have two elections to compete in  (the primary and the general election) whereas independents have only one, even though most primaries are uncontested.)

 

For parties:

·         The right to place up to two candidates for every office on the ballot, thereby preserving the party-building benefits of caucuses, assemblies and conventions.

·         The flexibility and freedom to decide for themselves how – and whether - to endorse candidates.. They can use polls, caucuses, conventions or assemblies, they can endorse before the first round in some elections but not others, and they can change their endorsements (or non-endorsement) between the first and second round.

·         No more costs if they decide to endorse whichever party member gets the most votes in the first round.

·         The ability to have their endorsements appear on the ballot.

·         No more allowing the small minority of their members who vote in primary elections to control the nomination process and decide which candidates in their party appear on the general election ballot.

·         Protection through the instant runoff against losing an election because two candidates from the same party split the vote of their ideological compatriots, allowing an opposing candidate to win. That can’t happen under the instant runoff system because candidates cannot win with a plurality, they have to get a majority.

·         Meaningful competition both within the party and from other organizations on the same side of the political spectrum, the kind of competition that sharpens and helps define.

·          An alternative to the “Big Tent” approach they are forced to abide by now that dilutes their message and agenda and forces them to accept in their ranks some people and agendas they wouldn‘t otherwise.

·         An enhanced ability to nominate candidates in the inner half of their membership, thereby vastly improving the ability of their candidates to win where the votes are: clustered around the center.

·         No more resources wasted on bitter primary fights.

 

 

For aggressive partisans:

«   No more having to read the mind of a candidate and guess whether

they are true believers.

«   No more wasting time, effort and money electing candidates who prove

to be someone other than who they said they were, and then having to defeat them in the next election, and search for another true believer.

«  Can create their own parties (e.g., Republicans for Life, Democrats United with Working Families) by collecting 54,000 signatures, run candidates without fear of throwing the election to a candidate on the ‘other side,” endorse candidates and get those endorsements on the ballot, and demonstrate the power of their cause with that candidate’s first-choice ballots.  

 

For minor parties:

·         any candidate who finishes at least third in the first round or gets at least 3 percent of the vote gets more attention and campaign money  in the final round, and therefore gets a more viable path to broadening their base of support and getting elected.

·         Minor parties can establish their political viability and build support by becoming endorsing parties and using the leverage of having their endorsement on the ballot to negotiate with candidates.

·         General election voters no longer have to be concerned about “throwing away” a vote on a minor party candidate, because they have the option of voting for a second-choice, knowing that their “second-choice” vote will be just as important as their “first-choice” vote if no candidate gets 50 percent of the “first-choice” ballots in the first ballot tabulation.

 

For independent candidates:

«   Can run for any office regardless of voter registration (although voter registration as of one year prior will be reflected on the ballot).

«   No more fundraising disadvantage created by allowing candidates from major parties to raise twice as much. 

«   General election voters no longer have to be concerned about “throwing away” a vote on a minor party candidate,  because they have the option of voting for a second-choice, knowing that their “second-choice” vote will be just as important as their “first-choice” vote if no candidate gets 50 percent of the “first-choice” ballots.

«  Any candidate who finishes at least third in the first round or gets at least 3 percent of the vote gets more attention and campaign  money in the final round, and therefore gets a more viable path to   broadening their base of support and achieving major party status.

For voters:

·         Much less negative campaigning, because candidates will be competing to win 2nd and 3rd choice votes and undermine those goals if they alienate supporters of other candidates with personal attacks.

·          Every registered voter gets to vote in both rounds.

·         More ballot choices because there will be more candidates in the first-round because every registered voter can vote and that will attract more candidates, and it’s much more likely that every political office has at least three candidates competing in the final round.

·         More centrist candidates who reflect the political positions of moderate voters, who comprise the vast majority of the electorate.

·         No more voting during summer vacation/adventure season.

·         Weak  candidates that don’t have a chance of being elected are weeded out because they won’t appear on the first-round ballot unless they can get 3 percent of those voted for that office in the last election to sign their petitions. As it is, the Colorado system makes it so easy for minor party candidates to get on the general election ballot there were 16 parties with presidential candidates on the 2012 general election,  ballot of whom only one (Libertarian Johnson)  received more than 1 percent of the vote and that candidate only barely received one percent. 

 

For taxpayers:

·         End of public subsidy for major political parties that occurs when government pays for primary elections.

·         Three elections for the price of two because of the use of the instant runoff voting in the final round.

 

And finally….

 

 

For democracy:

 

·         The campaigning up to first-round of the election is more spirited and attention-getting because independent candidates and candidates from major and minor parties would campaign against each other regardless of their party affiliation, and:

o   Colorado would host debates among the independent presidential candidates and the candidates from any party , for example, something that wouldn’t be happening in any other state until fall, and then only between the nominees of each major political party.

o   There would be precious few uncontested races (in the current system, primary challenges are rare).

o   Major party candidates would be competing head-to-head  against members of their own party, members of other parties, and independents.

 

·         Voter participation is much higher in the first round than in the current primary election because:

o   The campaigns leading up to the balloting are much more likely to have captured their attention.

o    independents are eligible to vote.

o   Presidential candidates are on the first-round ballot, making Colorado the first state in the country featuring a head-to-head contest between presidential candidates from different political parties.

o   The first-round is held while school is in session, instead of during vacation season.

o   All candidates compete on a level playing field regardless of party affiliation, generating more voter choices and thereby more voter interest.

o   There will be more major party candidates to choose from in each round, because ballot access is easier because no major party candidate has to run  through the gauntlet of  assemblies, conventions or caucuses to get on the first-round ballot,  and  because candidates can run without having to be nominated by a party.

o   Candidates from political parties are more likely to be from the inner half of their party ideologically, and are therefore more likely to appeal to moderate voters, who comprise the vast majority of the electorate.

o   More non-voters will become voters because they will have more choices.

 

 

·         Voter turnout in general elections is much greater because the elections are far more likely to be sharply contested because they are as likely to feature two or more candidates from the same political party as two candidates from opposing major parties. As it is, only three of the seven congressional contests were competitive (the winner getting  less than 55 percent of the vote) in 2012, and only a quarter of the state House elections (17 of 65) and only a third of the state Senate elections (6 of 20).   The elections were blow-outs (the winner getting more than 60 percent of the vote) in just more than half of the State House elections (34 of 65) and just under half in state Senate elections (9 of 20). Why vote if the underdog doesn’t stand a chance?

 

·         Gerrymandering becomes a far less potent political weapon because there is no longer much  incentive to draw districts to reflect partisan interests because the general election ballot is likely to reflect two or more candidates from the same party in districts in which one party dominates among registered voters. Clustering voters with the same party registration in districts still makes electing candidates from that party more likely, but one of the purposes of gerrymandering is to make districts so prohibitively imbalanced that no serious candidate from the other party bothers to run, and then campaign money can be diverted to the few races in competitive districts. That’s not going to happen nearly as often anymore, because even in imbalanced districts campaign money will be needed for contests between two or more candidates from the dominant party.

 

·         Stridently partisan candidates who campaign strictly to their base of support are less likely to win because they will have to appeal to voters other than those in their base to get above the 50 percent threshold, forcing them to campaign for “second choice” ballots just as hard as they do for “first choice” ballots unless they’re confident they can get to 50 percent with just the “first-choice” ballots.

 

·         Political parties are stronger because they’re given the freedom and flexibility to decide how they want to  advocate for their positions and candidates. They can endorse any candidate at any time (before or after the first-round), using whatever method they prefer (caucuses, conventions, assemblies, etc) to determine which candidates have the strongest support within the party. They can then  promote the candidates they’ve endorsed as strongly as they wish in whatever manner they chose. And if they want to have their endorsements appear on the ballot for any office, they can become “qualified endorsing parties” simply by submitting petitions with the signatures of 5 percent of those who voted in the last election for that office.

 

·         An erosion – over time – of the bitter political discourse that dominates today and that turns off so many voters, and the emergence – over time – of more discussion and less vitriol because the tenor of the political conversation changes:

 

o    No longer will partisans retreat into their corners, read articles and books exclusively by the like-minded, listen to talk-radio hosted by like-minds, and throw brick-bats at those on “the other side,” because that isn’t nearly as likely as before to win elections.

o    The dominant political power will be straddling the center,  and “expanding the base” by generating higher turnout isn’t nearly as likely to succeed at the ballot box as expanding the base by attracting support from among the large cluster of voters toward the middle of the political spectrum.

 

 

And finally and most importantly…..

 

·         candidates who reflect the electorate much more accurately are more likely to win, and, once in office, are more likely to recognize that winning re-election means being a part of coalitions that get legislation passed and problems solved, moving Colorado and eventually – as the country follows its lead – out of political stagnation and into a brighter future, not because the laws passed are always going to work, but because once enacted, they are tested, and then subsequently modified or junked, and new ideas tried. Public-policy formulation would once again be flowing through the country’s political veins.

 

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