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Editorial Commentary: Ken Ciboski

Ciboski: Democratic Change


The new Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives has as a priority to strengthen our democracy. This includes campaign finance reform, an expansion of voting rights-- including automatic registration for voting-- and reform of legislative redistricting.

A number of provisions in our Constitution have less than democratic outcomes. One is inequality in representation in the United States Senate where, regardless of its population, each state has two senators. Also, in the Electoral College, a Wyoming resident’s vote is worth about four times the vote of a California resident.

Our single-member district, winner-take-all system of elections for legislators can result in the losing party and its followers not being represented in the legislature at all, even if their share of the vote total was very near that of the winner.

Some proposed reforms can also result in problems. For example, if we elected a president with a direct popular vote only, the outcome could result in a nation-wide recount, which could take months or a year or two or more to decide who was elected. Also, only a few highly populated states could elect a president.

For legislative redistricting, the proposed method is to establish a “citizen’s committee” to create districts for a state’s legislature and the U.S. House as a way to avoid gerrymandering. I would suggest that a more objective procedure would be to put down concentric circles on the map of a state and then create the number of districts needed from these circles. Of course, all districts are expected to meet the Constitutional requirement of one-person, one-vote by being equal in population.