Richard Winger: US Electoral Reform Update

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Richard Winger
Richard Winger

To help future “other” presidential candidates, we need a change in the rules for the Commission on Presidential Debates; we need to eliminate the electoral college; we need ballot access reform in many states; we need to advance ranked-choice voting.  There are areas of activism proceeding right now in all those areas:

On debates, we now have the “Level the Playing Field” rule-making request to the FEC, and we have the lawsuit likely to be filed in February 2015 by Gary Johnson and Jill Stein.

On the electoral college, we have the movement for the National Popular Vote, headed by John Koza.

On ballot access reform, we are hoping to have bills introduced in perhaps a dozen states soon, improving the ballot access laws.

On ranked-choice voting, we have the Maine initiative petition, which is probably almost finished by now.

Electoral college reform is badly needed, because a strong third candidate always threatens to send the choice of a president into the US House of Representatives, where all the members are Republicans or Democrats who probably wouldn’t select anyone who wasn’t the Rep or Dem nominee.  The best way to get rid of the electoral college is for the national popular vote plan to go into effect.  If that happened, I believe a constitutional amendment would follow.

Below is the share of the vote received by minor party and independent candidates for president, in each of the last 10 elections.

1976    1.93%
1980    8.24%
1984      .67%
1988      .98%
1992  19.55%
1996  10.05%
2000    3.75%
2004    1.00%
2008    1.42%
2012    1.73%

Phi Beta Iota: Only Ross Perot and Ralph Nader have been serious third party candidates in recent history. The lawsuit by Stein and Johnson is potentially historic, and could be aided by the League of Women Voters reconnecting with their integrity and once again stepping up to host debates that include viable third party and independent candidates, with the questions not provided beforehand. Our general sense is that 2015 is the year in which a variety of public campaigns converge to demand Electoral Reform in time for 2016. Money — and murder — could delay this victory, but we do believe that an end to the two-party tyranny is in the near term future of the USA.

See Especially:

Ballot Access News

Worth a Look: Democracy Lost & Found Essay, Book Review Blurbs and Links [Updated 7 January 2015]

See Also:

Electoral Reform @ Phi Beta Iota

Richard Winger @ Phi Beta Iota