Nonpartisan Electoral Reform by Jim Turner and Terry Patten

Recommendation: Foster Meaningful Electoral Reform by Incentivizing Nonpartisan Citizen Redistricting Commissions

Our electoral process is in need of major reform of many kinds—including campaign finance reform. Given our current political gridlock, we’d like to draw your attention to a kind of reform that is not already the subject of a partisan divide, one we hope the administration will act to foster and support—incentivizing nonpartisan citizen redistricting commissions.

The current process of drawing congressional and other districts as administered by the states is outdated, politically distorted, and fails to accurately represent the demographics of the United States of America.

In the 2012 election for example, a greater number of votes went to Democratic congressional candidates than to Republican candidates, and yet Republicans hold a sizeable majority in the House of Representatives. This is a stark numerical expression of the inadequacy of the existing districting process.

The districting system was conceived to fairly represent the people of this nation and it does not.  As the states are responsible for redistricting, it falls to the administration to incentivize states to address this imbalance.

Fortunately there are models and legislation already in place that testify to the feasibility and success of redistricting.  One of the stated goals of Help America Vote Act (Pub.L. 107-252), or HAVA Federal program is to establish minimum election administration standards. Demographically accurate districting falls within the perimeters of this goal. Thus, HAVA provides an existing legal channel through which funding can be released by the federal government to incentivize states to implement nonpartisan redistricting boards.  This can be hugely significant.

In establishing minimum election administration standards, you can draw from the model adopted by California constituents in response to an initiative put forward by former Governor Schwarzenegger. The Voters First Act was funded in part by Mayor Michael Bloomberg an active proponent of election reform. These two Republican boosters clearly establish the trans-partisan nature of this approach. The act established an independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw districts based on strict, non-partisan rules. It requires support from Democrats, Republicans and independents for approval of the redistricting plans. http://ag.ca.gov/cms_pdfs/initiatives/i746_07-0077_Initiative.pdf

Though the measure was narrowly passed in 2008, it was affirmed by 71% of voters in 2012. An op-ed from the Washington Post reflects on the dramatic impact: “Last week’s election was the first conducted using the new [CA] boundaries. Some longtime incumbents (among them Democrat Howard Berman and Republican David Dreier) were displaced, and some rising constituencies were empowered; California’s new congressional delegation will include five Asian Americans, nine Latinos and 18 women…” http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/harold-meyerson-gops-gerrymandered-advantages/2012/11/13/4785e4d6-2d2f-11e2-a99d-5c4203af7b7a_story.html Iowa too has successfully implemented non- partisan districting.

In establishing minimum election administration standards, you can also draw from principles included in New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Electoral Reform initiative for New York State. His funding for California’s Voters First Act is an extension of this. Many of its propositions can be applied at the national level, including:

  • Creating a Democracy Index to include metrics to assess the effectiveness of the election administration process, focusing on easily comprehensible performance outputs related to registration, voting and tabulation, rather than complicated policy inputs.
  • Support of National Voter Registration Modernization Effort
  • Support of Federal Effort to Institute Weekend Voting

Additional info on Mayor Bloomberg’s election reform can be found here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/19621252/Election-Reform-Plan.

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4 thoughts on “Nonpartisan Electoral Reform by Jim Turner and Terry Patten

  1. Gerrymandering is a bad thing and I oppose it. But some folks who are wokring for non-partisan redistricting believe that it can perform the miracle of making single-member districts both representative and competitive at the same time. Non-partisan redistricting criteria can favor representativeness over competition, or vice versa. But single-member districts cannot provide both simultaneously.I think that the real value of proposals for redistricting reform is that they provide an opportunity to educate people about PR.

  2. Ensure every citizen has the right to vote and make it easier for voters to cast their ballots.

    • Redistricting IS one of the greatest pmrelbos with our system since it’s inseption. This practice creates a Home Field advantage for the incumbent (especially when his/her party is already in control) by making sure that this individual keeps getting voted into office. To defeat this, a challanger has to raise exhorbent sums of money which ofcourse put them in danger of being a pocket aide of the people who put them their. Before we can fix the national party system, we have to start making local reforms and get more people from various socio/ethnic backrounds involved.

    • I think if each state had their own Health care reform plan there still would have to be geirealnzed rules/procedures for all across the states. Otherwise you would have people moving to other states to get into the best plan they thought fit their families particular health needs and fiances. (thus where the follow-up question you asked comes in)So in that aspect I don’t think it would work as efficient as having a Government plan where it is the same across the whole US.ORMaybe there should be some type of Healthcare reform where it is mandated strictly for the Health Insurances carriers that we already have. It seems they should be regulated more on making affordable pay scales for various types of income with better and more flexible coverage and payment plans. Private Insurance carriers are owned by individuals and corporations, they are in the business to make money as that is their business just like any other business they want to make a profit. It is not about healthcare it is a business nothing more and nothing less. In otherwords make it more structured and competitive so that new Insurance carriers can come into the market thus giving more options on carriers for everyone in all types of income levels. Right now it is very limited to only a handfull of carriers that own the whole Healthcare Insurance Industry so yes in CONTROL of your health. They can and do deny procedures and healthcare services all the time this is nothing new.Health care cost would have to be regulated also as of now the sky is the limit on what they charge. If you have insurance they charge the Insurance company about 40% sometimes up to 70% less then what they charge a person who has no insurance for the same procedure. I know this as fact as a clinic once explained it to me and how it works if you have insurance and those that do not. They explained this to me in detail when they asked if I had insurance and I asked what does it matter if I do or if I don’t as long as I pay the fees.So maybe if the Private insurance carriers and healthcare facilities, Pharmacies etc. had certain rules and payscales to follow then it might work otherwise I do not see it working if it was strickly state by state.The healtcare system is not working the way it is now and is out of control, this I think everyone can agree on, that something indeed needs to be done.

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