Federal and Minnesota Report

We will start with this, Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN03, Deephaven); you’re wrong. Dead wrong. You should really talk to someone who knows what they are talking about, not Jeanne Massey. If you really are  you as a proud member of the Problem Solvers Caucus, you should ask, what’s the real problem?

Fact: Most people want democracy to work, but many only see benefits in the system when it brings about a result they agree with. Fact: Many people who seek systematic change do so for a direct benefit for themselves. Fact: Many people under the auspices of change and merely seeking new ways to game the system. We know this is a cynical way to look at the “system” and people who are trying to foster change, but change for changes sake is not worthwhile and as has been tirelessly repeated Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) is a solution in search of a problem, because what is proposed doesn’t meet the intended goals.

Yesterday, Congressman Phillips announced his introduction of legislation in the US House along with Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Michael Bennett (D-CO) of the Voter Choice Act. The title of which is flawed at the onset, because Voter’s always have a choice, but when it comes to Ranked Choice Voting some exercise more choices than others. This is a system; his community does not use for voting and so he only has a theoretical perspective, to which we will say, beware the motivations of the advocates.

We will point out, as it was taught at the University of Minnesota, by Professor Charles Backstrom, beware of the “Unintended Consequences,” because no matter what the original intent, there will be an unexpected result.

We wish there was a public debate over this issue and the public really truly was able to learn the flaws in the system, but no one will ever honestly debate the issue. In fact, Checks & Balances Publisher challenges Congressman Phillips to such a debate. During, the debate the two people should be allowed to ask questions of the other, an answer provided, with rebuttal and then follow-up questions.

The questions from this side would start with the following. Congressman, why do you support a voting system the structurally disenfranchises voters? Explanation, when voting by Ranked Choice if the voter doesn’t select one of the final two candidates remaining on the ballot their vote is deemed “Exhausted” in Minneapolis or “Inactive” in St Paul. Short answer, the votes are not relevant tot the final result and the voter might as well not even participated. So, if you are dead set on a particular candidate, you had better be brilliant enough to have picked a final finisher or your vote doesn’t count. Definition of Structural Disenfranchisement.

Another question would be, Congressman, why don’t you support the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution’s provisions of “One-Person, One-Vote” or the “Due Process Clause”? When a person casts a single transferable vote the shifts from one candidate to the other, they are violating the “One-Person, One-Vote” rule and if another voter votes for a single candidate and their vote is only counted once, then its treated differently, which is a violation of Due Process.

Additionally, there is even a stranger twist, in t he case of elections for multiple seats simultaneously as in the Minneapolis Board of Estimation and Taxation and one candidate gets 50%+1 of the votes cast, then counting of their votes cease and then the voters who chose that candidates remaining votes are dispersed to other candidates until they receive 50%+1 and so on until all candidates are elected with a simple majority or the larger total of the remaining votes are tallied for the final candidate.

Congressman, do you support some form of standardization for this type of voting system should it be, three choices as in Minneapolis, six choices as in St Paul, Bloomington and Minnetonka or some other number? And who should set the rules, the city councils who will be voted in by this system, i.e. potential incumbency protection or the formation of independent bodies to set the rules?

Congressman, what blockades would you put in place to prevent collusion by candidates running together and calling on their supporters to select a specific candidate as their second-choice?

Congressman, do you know where FairVote, FairVoteMN get their money? In politics, its always best to “follow the money” and one of the largest contributors in the Arnold Foundation, and former Enron Executive dubbed  John Arnold: The Most Hated Man in Pensionland and funneled $9.7 million through the Pew Charitable Trust to the University of Minnesota, Heller-Hurwicz Economics Institute in the Carlson School of Management to study the privatization of Public Pensions. Remember what we said at the top about people seeking change for direct benefit?

Finally, Congressman, do you support an end-all, be-all result without a Primary like Minneapolis or a RCV impacted Partisan Primary like New York City or an Open Primary with four resultants like Alaska?

The basic point is Congressman, yes people would like more choices, but it that is the case then when next at an ice cream parlor, don’t choose one flavor get them all, because they ability to choose multiple things is better than a definitive, thoughtful choice.

Our democracy, is a result of collective action, and if as is inaccurately portrayed as a method to get to consensus, through a traveling vote, then we ask why this system?

How about the Hare-Clark System, if there are 20 candidates, voters can cast 19 votes dispersed as they choose 19 to one candidate or spread out to others. Or how about a recognition of the first-place votes having a specific value like a factor of 1 and second-place votes ¾ of a vote and third-place votes ½ of a vote and so on and then all of the votes are tallied and the cumulative choice of the voting population is known.

What we really want to know, what’s wrong with a Primary System, where yes, a small percentage of the eligible voters determine the final two voters on the November ballot, and if a voter is disappointed with the final choices, then they understand how their own vote could have had a greater impact, because fewer people made the prior decision. In this case the people who cared enough to vote did and if participation is the issue, then pass a law that sends a ballot to every household every election.

This is nothing more than a marketing scheme, and a game of sloganeering; with its result a money-based pressure politics largely through referendum. City Councils like St Louis Park passed the issue unanimously and the citizens didn’t even have a voice in the process. In Bloomington, the Election Commission recommended against the issue and the City Council put it on the ballot anyway. Then FairVoteMN, not residents of the area, mounted a campaign and spend a large amount of money to say “More Voice, More Choice”, and the matter passed by 97 votes. In St Paul, the issue brought before the voter passed by less than 500 votes, in spite of the “Better ballots Campaign” being found to have lied to voters, and being fined the largest fine ever by the Office of Administrative Hearings, but the election results were not overturned.

It’s Pollyannaish, sophomoric and simple-minded to believe more choices is better when people make decisions, when actually, they normally whittle their decisions down to a few choices and then decide upon one. This is a mature, deliberative and rational decision-making process not ring around the rosy.

If Congressman, Phillips has answers to our questions and a willingness to have a meaningful discussion we are ever ready. We doubt it, because he likely, isn’t knowledgeable about the fundamental downsides, because, the advocates do not discuss these realities, and more voices mean more choices, just not informed thoughtful, reasoned, and wise ones.