Monday, June 21, 2010

Vote Early And Vote Often

In Port Chester, over the years, they elected trustees by majority vote. This unconstitutional state of affairs couldn't last, of course, so a federal judge had to come up with a different voting system.

This is because there was a sizable number (but not a majority) of Latinos in the area, and, somehow, unlike Greeks or Italians or dentists or teachers or Protestants or Buddhists or most other groups, there's an assumption that only Latinos can represent Latinos. So a new voting system, where everyone could pull the lever six times, and concentrate their vote, was forced on the city. Happily, it led to the election of a Latino, or, presumably, they would have had to try other voting schemes until they hit on one that produced the desired result.

But don't take my word for it. Here's Rob Richie, executive director of FairVote, explaining how the system may be coming to a town near you:

The country's been changing in a lot of places, with minority growth in exurbs and commuter cities, and there will be a realization that those minorities can't elect candidates of choice.

So certain recognized minorities--though you'd think the very word suggests they don't always get to win in a democracy--have a legal right to prevail. Expect more lawsuits.

Funny thing is, I often find myself on the losing side in elections, and for the systematic reason that what I'd like in a representative is not what the majority wants. There are certain responses available to me. One is to grin and bear it--everyone goes in knowing this is how (unrigged) democracy works. No matter how much you want something--no matter how much you need something--you get no guarantees.

Another response might be to change my vote to a candidate who may not be ideal, but can win. (I'm only talking about voting here, of course. That's just one way to express yourself politically.)

Or, if I found out that there was a sizable minority of people who agreed with me, there would be plenty of other things to do. For instance, we could try to get a candidate who's acceptable to us but also enough of a compromiser that he could cross over and get enough votes of others to win. Or we could put out arguments to the public at large explaining why what we believe is a good idea for everyone.

Who knows, this strategy may work in general. And over a series of elections, it may work out that we get four or five trustees who sort of agree with us, instead of just one who agrees with us all the time under the court-ordered scheme. This might work out well for us, but also work out well for the community, bringing us all together and creating a greater integration of interest, rather than a proud, open, state-recognized separation.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why even have voting anymore? Let the judge appoint the right guy and be done with it.

1:12 PM, June 21, 2010  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

If we are going to have this system, or affirmative action, or any other system where race is used as an official factor by the government, I would like to have an open debate about what the categories should be.

"Asians?" Under affirmative action, so-called Asians are disfavored in the University of California system. This compensates for the Japanese-Americans and Chinese-Americans who are on the average overachievers. Even if we stipulate that it is right and just to punish these students for studying on Friday nights, why should we also punish Indonesian-Americans? They aren't overachievers on the average.

Thanks to this new voting system, Luis Marino is on the board. Newspapers call him "Hispanic" and "Latino". Why this term? Suppose you identified him as a Guatemalan-American instead -- would that mean that Mexican-Americans in that district are still not represented? The liberal response is that anyone whose ancestors came from Mexico, Central America, or South America can be TRULY represented by anyone else whose ancestors came from that region. But what evidence is there for this? Has someone actually done a poll of Bolivian-Americans to see if they really feel this way?

4:02 PM, June 21, 2010  

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