The Rules of the Game
September 30 and October 5
How to elect our leaders?
Seems simple enough: select the candidate preferred by the most voters.
Easy enough with two candidates: one wins, one loses, and there are only two ways to order preferences.
Gets messy with three or more candidates:
– Possible to win with less than a majority (indeed, possible to win with 1/3 of the vote +1), or possible that the winner is disliked by a sizeable majorities
– How to reflect intensity of preferences?
– “cycling” phenomenon, when no outcome is universally preferred to others
Outcomes depend on process: therefore, in most cases, how we elect our leaders may determine who is elected.
How the votes are counted
– Plurality (most votes wins),
– proportional (allocate representation based on % of votes received),
– Majority runoff systems (winner must have majority of the votes).
More complex systems
– Cumulative voting – get to show intensity by clumping multiple votes for one candidate.
– Borda counts – like balloting for the AP basketball poll or MVP.
– Instant Runoff voting – cast ranked votes for all candidates, if nobody has a majority, drop the last place candidate and reallocate his/her votes to the remaining candidates.
– Approval Voting – one vote for every acceptable candidate.
Ranking Preferences with 3 or More Candidates
Normally think of choices in binary terms: we either choose A or B, vote yes or no, prefer one candidate over the other. What happens when there are 3 or more options?
– What decision rule to we use?
– What if, in opting for our first choice, we wind up with the least preferred option?
2006 AL-MVP and 1992 pres. election:
– Morneau, 15-1st, 8-2nd, 3-3rd, 2-4th, 320 points (14 for 1st, 9 for 2nd, 8 for 3rd, 7 for 4th, etc.)
– Jeter, 12-1st, 14-2nd, 1-4th, 1-6th, 302 points
– Who would win the 1992 presidential election with MVP-style, Borda count voting?
2000 Presidential election
Preference rankings with 3 candidates in 2000 (hypothetical, but likely). Why are Bush and Gore reversed and Nader at 5% rather than 3%?
In straight-up popular vote with everyone voting sincerely, Bush wins, 48-47-5; also Bush won the electoral college 271-266 (1 abstained).
How would the election have turned out with alternative vote-counting rules?
2000 Presidential Election, cont.
Gores wins under all alternatives:
– If Nader is not on the ballot, Gore wins 52-48 (assuming Nader voters still vote).
– If there were a runoff election or instant runoff voting, Gore wins 52-48.
– With approval voting, Gore wins with 100 votes, Nader comes in 2nd, with 52 votes, Bush finishes third, with 48 votes.
– Borda count (3,2,1 scoring), Gore gets 247 (47x3, 5x2, 48x2), Bush gets 196 (48x3, 47x1, 5x1), and Nader gets 157 (5x3, 48x1, 47x2). (cumulative voting can’t be determined).
Example of Majority Vote
Special election in California’s 50th Congressional district, to replace Randy “Duke” Cunningham in 2006
– 1st round, a “jungle primary” in which all candidates from all parties run. If one candidate receives more than 50% of vote, she or he wins. If not, the top candidate from each party face each other in a runoff.
– Generally considered a Republican district
– 18 candidates ran: 14 Republicans, 2 Democrats, 1 Libertarian, and 1 Independent
First Round (138,000 votes):
l Francine Busby (Dem) 43.7 %
l Brian Bilbray (Rep) 15.3 %
l Eric Roach (Rep) 14.5 %
Second Round (134,000 votes):
l Brian Bilbray (R) 49.5 %
l Francine Busby (D) 45.3 %
Bottom line – all methods have their advantages and disadvantages. Australia example of instant runoff voting.
Ballot design – infamous “butterfly ballot” in Florida. Who gets to be first? Party column vs. office block. Straight ticket option?
Voting technology: ATM-style machines (paper trail or not), optical scan, punch card, paper ballots, lever. Controversy over Diebold machines and lack of a paper trail. Legislation proposed in Congress to require a paper trail. However, it is easy to hack in and steal votes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JESZiLpBLE
Human error: Franken/Coleman recount.
Picture -- Butterfly ballot
Example: Florida 13th, 2006
Combination of ballot design and voting technology. 13th Congressional District election in Florida between Democrat Christine Jennings and Republican Vern Buchanan --- in which some 18,000 votes disappeared on Sarasota County's paperless touch-screen machines in a race decided by just 369 votes. Undervote of nearly 14%, compared to 2.4% in same election in counties not using the ATM-style machines. Ballot design? Probably not.
Criteria for redistricting: population equality and race come first and then compactness, contiguity, partisan bias, protect incumbents, geographic boundaries, and respect for existing communities (split municipalities).
redistricting process – state legislatures, the courts, and non-partisan commissions. What data can be used?
the 1965 Voting Rights Act: access to vote. Mississippi redistricting. The right to a “meaningful vote.” Then Mobile v. Bolden (1980) – intent to discriminate, not effect.
The 1982 VRA Amendments reversed the Mobile decision. Thornburg v. Gingles (1986), three-prong test for vote dilution.
The 1992 redistricting process: maximize the number of minority-majority districts.
Racial redistricting, cont.
Shaw v. Reno (1993) and progeny. Race cannot be the predominant factor. The question of legal standing and its implications for these cases.
Status of racial redistricting today. Easley v. Cromartie (2001). 2002 round – tension between VRA and Shaw. Georgia v. Ashcroft (2003). LULAC v. Perry (2006).
Racial representation may also be affected by at-large versus single-member districts.
partisan redistricting. Historical examples. Veith v. Jubelirer (2004). LULAC again.
The 1992 North Carolina House Plan:
Money in congressional elections
How much money?
Campaign finance law
– FECA of 1974, Buckley v. Valeo.
– Soft money, PACs, independent expenditures, candidate expenditures, leadership PACs.
– McCain/Feingold. Upheld by the Supreme Court in McConnell v. FEC (2003). New loopholes – 527 groups now 501 (c) groups.
– Citizens United case, potentially huge.
Money and influencing the legislative process. Untangling the causal web.