Monday, July 26, 2004

Cambridge event Wednesday on the future of American democracy for DNC groupies

I may not get my press credential, but I'm still going to Boston tomorrow.

Mostly because I helped to put together an event with the City of Cambridge and my part-time employer, the Center for Voting and Democracy.

The forum is on the Future of American Democracy.

Why Cambridge? Because it is the future.

Cambridge uses proportional representation to elect its city council. This is how each state should elect its congressional delegation. Council members are elected citywide. No districts. Voters get to rank the candidates (1, 2, 3). If a candidate earns 1/9 of the vote, she is elected to 1 of the 9 seats.

So Republicans elect one or two council members. Every conceivable ethnic and racial minority has a fair shot. And the council represents all of Cambridge, instead of just the majority of voters of Cambridge.

The forum's information is here and here. (Hey look, I'm on Cambridge's website!)

I just found out that California Assembly Member Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) who is supposed to talk about San Francisco's exciting use of instant runoff voting this November just got the call to get on a plane to Sacramento because the Speaker has reconvened. That sucks for all those California state electeds who have to miss out in Boston. Horrible timing. I was worried the Illinois delegation would end up in Springfield.

Anyway, the forum should be really interesting. Congressional elections are largely broken (95% gerrymandered one-party districts makes for no choices on Election Day). The majority of voters can split the vote (just ask Al Gore). There are easy solutions that most of the world's democracies already practice: proportional representation and instant runoff voting.

Even the Democratic National Convention uses proportional representation to allocate delegates. How else could there *be* any Kucinich delegates? (Quick trivia: Keynote speaker Barack Obama was a delegate for one presidential candidate. Which one? Answer later.)

That's the way our Congress should be -- as broadly representative of the country as the DNC is representative of the Democratic Party electorate. And the way we do that is to dump single-member districts and use proportional representation.

So. . .come to the forum Wednesday from 1-3 pm at Cambridge City Hall! And stick around afterwards for the open house for another two hours.


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