We have the right to vote, but our votes do not translate into our representatives
More than 99% of voters can directly point to the person they voted for in nations with proportional representation. But that is not the case in the United States where only about 60% of the voters can point to the specific representative they voted for themselves — 40% of the voters cannot point to their representative. On average, 40% is how many people voted for a loser in district elections. Does it matter?
How well our representatives listen to us is not based on us, but on the power we have over them.
In our nation, it is considered okay for 2 out of every 5 voters not to be represented by their choice. Yet, interestingly, we tend to not use the word 'discrimination' for selecting representatives in our Republic. With a process based only on equal participation, we accept a slanted outcome that is not based on the voters, but on a game of voters battling other voters over a single seat. That isn't freedom of competition, it's freedom of suppression. That is not what our Constitution promises us.
The dictionary makes it clear that democracy is based on representation. But some folks in the past turned our democracy into a game. They wanted our democracy be based on winners as if it is a game of basketball. No surprise then that our system of winner-takes-all is warped like basketball with close to only TALL folks ending up playing the political game we are seemingly stuck with.
The two voting systems — winner-takes-all and proportional voting — are different already when there are just two seats in total. Didn't you know? Well join the club.
In district elections, a candidate winning a seat is based on voters delivering this person just one more vote than the runner-up. This guarantees that 50.01% of the voters get their choice of representation in office. Whether there are two districts or two hundred doesn't matter: Each district guarantees — with this minimum being 50.01 percent— that a majority receives its representation. And it prevents a minority of up to 49.99 percent in each district to receive representation. The majority can discriminate the minority, because the minority is found nowhere near the table of decision makers.
In proportional elections, shown to the right in the image also repeated below, no preventing forces are at work. Unlike winner-takes-all, the two seats are not voted for in separate districts, but are voted for at the same time within a single overall election. Be aware: in proportional voting, voters get to vote just once and only for a single candidate.
In proportional voting, candidate number one can secure a seat with as little as 33.3 percent of the votes. Number two can also get a seat with as little as 33.3 percent of the votes. With 66.67 percent of the voters, two out of three voters are guaranteed that their candidates represent them at the table of decision makers in a system of full representation.
Important is that each voter gets just one vote, because if each were to get two, the percentage of voters being represented would actually drop towards the lower level of winner-takes-all with more voters getting none of their two choices.
This is just a simple systematic delivery. Please realize that a winner-taking-all system (shown to the left) creates a much stronger resentment than the proportional delivery shown to the right. Being angry about politicians (or worse, having folks start to fight each other when the election result is really close and there is so much at stake) is more common in a situation of winners-taking-all than in nations where all voters are represented according to their actual votes. Of course, presidential elections are always winner-take-all, and never proportional, and the election can potentially cause the greatest anxiety of them all. As we have seen presidential elections can even lead to war.
Let's take San Francisco as an example. If this city had proportional voting, and kept like today eleven seats on the Board of Supervisors, the guarantee to voters would be 11/12th of the voting population: 91.67%. That would then be a guarantee extremely close to 100% of the votes.
Today, however, the level of guaranteed voter representation in San Francisco is just 50.01%, because San Francisco has winners-taking-all elections. In the past, the city had a fling with voting at-large, but in that system the number of votes was not limited to just one vote per voter; each voter would vote for all seats up for election. In such a system, the level of 91.67% of guaranteed representation is simply not achieved, because some voters would get all their picks, and others none of their picks. Today San Francisco has district elections again, with its 50.01% of guaranteed representation. And no matter where you live you can help change that in your city or county.
As the words winner-takes-all clearly show, the personal choice who should represent a voter is far less important than what the collective in our segregated districts decides. In the USA, the individual voice is deemed far less important than the collective voice. Hey, didn't we learn the opposite in school that we are a nation based on individual rights?
Look at the image below, showing the election result of a municipality in the Netherlands, chosen because it also has eleven seats. The results of the 2010 election are shown next to the 2006 results, and the party first shown is a local party that exists in this municipality only; it got four seats in 2010. The other three parties receiving seats are parties known at the national level.
With just eleven seats, a board can be truly representative of the voters when we select our representatives proportionally. As other nations are showing us, we do not have to turn our election selection into a game of winners only.
A very interesting aspect is that the 14th Amendment of our Constitution prescribes equality before the law, yet our district voting system is not based on equality. What we have is separate-but-equal elections. We should have proportional elections based on equality before the law as the Constitution proclaims, and it looks like we can get it at the local levels. What follows is the legal aspect of our struggle to receive Equal Representation.
The elections for the Federal level are probably not possible to change, since they are also prescribed in the Constitution in such a manner that they do not need to provide equality; the Senate is a good example — described in the Constitution — with each state no matter their number of voters receiving two seats. As such, there cannot be a demand for equal representation for the US Senate based on the Constitution.
At the State level, there appears wiggle room to receive proportional representation, but it looks like a legal struggle.
For the local levels of City and County, however, no restriction of our rights is given, and the 14th Amendment is the only prescribed rule in the Constitution that sets the minimum requirement for local elections. From this, it logically follows that we should have local elections with each person casting one vote for a single representative for the entire board or council. Because, right now, only 50%+ of the voters get all the seats.
Equal representation in the United States is guaranteed by the Constitution, except in those specific locations where it is not. The visual to the left shows what the Constitution says about voter equality. Though it is not fully clear what the Constitution says about the State level it is shown here as also a given in the Constitution. To the right, the larger pyramid of inequality is shown with our having winner-take-all elections at the local level, unsupported by the Constitution.
Read more about this visual.
Read more about economic outcomes that differ among the various political systems in the world.
"Two very different ideas are usually confounded under the name democracy. The pure idea of democracy, according to its definition, is the government of the whole people by the whole people, equally represented. Democracy as commonly conceived and hitherto practiced is the government of the whole people by a mere majority of the people, exclusively represented. The former is synonymous with the equality of all citizens; the latter, strangely confounded with it, is a government of privilege, in favor of the numerical majority, who alone possess practically any voice in the State. This is the inevitable consequence of the manner in which the votes are now taken, to the complete disfranchisement of minorities."
—John Stuart Mill, Representative Government, 1861
In nations with the other electoral system there simply are no losers. All voters have the political freedom to choose and be represented by the specific person and party of their own choice. Freedom of choice is what makes their politicians listen much better to the voters. We on the other hand select together — collectively — between winner and runner up, and a person more accurately described as an ambassador becomes our representative. The other voters from around the world can vote based on their individual wishes and beliefs; we vote in a district as a collective.
A system of proportional representation,
established by lawyer/mathematician Victor D'Hondt in 1882, realized proposals already made by Thomas Jefferson in 1792. The calculations are based on a simple algorithm that dispenses
seats according to the voters' wishes. Others
in other nations enjoy these fruits of labor, but we are kept from
truly all getting our own representatives in California or the United States. A basic color copier
contains more colors already than our political system.
The system to the left is the one we use to
select our representatives, and while it may be strong in some respects, it delivers
tell-tale shortfalls in other specific fields that do get addressed in other nations using the system of full representation to the right; we therefore invite
you to join us in making our politicians work for all of us again.
Proportional elections in specific make equality go hand in hand with our own democratic ideals, something currently not available to us. Isn't it true that many of us, and not just the more outspoken parts of our nation,
but also the silent majority, have voiced dissatisfaction with the
political outcomes even when our own candidates won the elections?
Many people realize that, despite the world famous economic freedoms
of the United States, we are stuck in a political two-dimensional
system with a limited choice.
Just red and blue may appear colorful and special together, but just two colors never deliver the
real full-color prints.
Many US voters receive nothing after they cast their vote. Even
people voting for second best all end up empty-handed. Also, no practical
alternatives are available in the voting booth next to the
two top candidates because it takes a majority — often translating
into obstacles such as money and influence — to win a seat.
After the election the single winner takes all. The difference could not be more obvious: in winner-takes-all the pie is divvied up beforehand and you get to fight over a single piece of the pie, but in proportional elections you get to enjoy without a fight how to divvy up the entire pie.
Local situation is worse
Locally, our US choice is worse, for a true political monopoly exists
all across the nation with only one of the two parties in control
of the city or county for many years in a row. Have a look at Local
Party's Political Tour to find out more about the peculiar outcomes
of political systems, and read about the three basic differences in democracies: 2 party systems, 3 to 5 party systems, and fully proportional
In California, when
no longer satisfied with the local political outcomes, the only
way out is to pack up your things and move to a place where you can be in the majority. To make matters worse, third parties are
actually very active in our system: they are the many groups of
special interests of well-off entrepreneurs and strong local ad
hoc grassroots movements that seem to not have a problem
getting our politicians' attention. Special interest groups have
taken over the role we the people were supposed to
play in our democracy. Our organization, LocalParty.Org,
delivers various ways out and helps us voters get back in the political
seat. Citizens made a historic request on June 15, 2008 in San Francisco, followed by a similar request by citizens of Oakland on October 1, 2008.
Are you politically
dissatisfied? Well — join the club!
The headquarters of
this political movement — LocalParty.Org — has three
goals. The first goal is to create successful independent local parties that immediately compete with the party that is in
control right now by cleverly mimicking their agenda, making the
politicians pay more attention because an alternative party now
The second goal is to improve representation at the local
level for all by changing the local system as soon as we can: when
we achieve the majority of seats on city council or board of supervisors.
The third goal is to educate all Californians about the severe
restrictions and limitations of the current winner-takes-all system,
and especially its monopolizing effects at the local level, because did you ever read in a paper or heard on tv why the other
systems are better? Have you ever received fair information comparing
our system to the various other ones? If you did, you will not be
amazed for one second about the electoral information we offer on
Finally, joining the club does not cost you a dime: LocalParty.Org
does not charge you any fee because this is only the overall organization.
Not we, but the Local parties — and there may be one in your city or county already — are happy to get your help.
Take the Tour to discover what LocalParty.Org
has to offer, or find out by clicking the Engine button how our district system of winner-takes-all diminishes the
voters' importance in the outcome. We are a democracy, but our color
prints are red and blue only.
us for equal representation at the local level!
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