Thursday, April 25, 2013

Changing our election system won't be as difficult as many believe

One argument I have heard from people about how moving to a ranked voting system won't work is because they think it will take a constitutional amendment. They are right that the Presidential elections will take a constitutional amendment, but the House and Senate won't.

All the Constitution says about the election of Representatives is that the electors must have the same qualifications as for the most numerous branch of the State Legislature. That's it, nothing more.

For the Senate, it gives the same requirements to vote, and says that they must be elected so that roughly 1/3 of the Senate is elected every two years and each State elects its senators in different years.

All other laws governing elections of the House and Senate are mostly in the United State Code. These only take a passage of a normal bill to change. The rules for the House of Representatives is codified in United States Code Title 2 Chapter 1 Section 2c.

In each State entitled in the Ninety-first Congress or in any subsequent Congress thereafter to more than one Representative under an apportionment made pursuant to the provisions of section 2a (a) of this title, there shall be established by law a number of districts equal to the number of Representatives to which such State is so entitled, and Representatives shall be elected only from districts so established, no district to elect more than one Representative (except that a State which is entitled to more than one Representative and which has in all previous elections elected its Representatives at Large may elect its Representatives at Large to the Ninety-first Congress).

The rules determining the law for the Senate is codified in United States Code Title 2 Chapter 1 Section 1 and it makes absolutely no mention as to how Senators are to be elected, or what system must be used beyond what is specified in the Constitution.

So, in order to change the laws regarding the election of Representatives in the United States all we have to do is change the law to something like this:

In each State no less than 5 and more than 7 Representatives will be elected from each district. The Representatives will be voted on in a ranked voting manner so that every Elector can rank all candidates in order. The candidates with the fewest votes will have their ballots be redistributed to their Electors next choice until the number of candidates standing is equal to the number of seats available. States with less than 5 representatives must form an interstate compact with neighboring states so that each Elector will have between 5 and 7 seats to vote on.

If we replaced Section 2c with that we will make all the changes necessary to insure a more accurate election system and give third parties a chance to get elected. It doesn't violate the 10th amendment any more than Obamacare, laws against child labor, or laws against segregated schools. In fact, according to Article 1 Section 4 of the Constitution the House and Senate have every right to change the laws for electing people to their chambers. This is 100% constitutional and only requires a regular bill.

Washington State used to have at large members of the House from 1889 to 1909, so having an at large district has been done before. If Congress receives enough pressure from their constituents, this can change. In terms of the Senate, all we have to do is pass a law requiring Senators to be elected using Instant Runoff Voting, which will be as easy as the last bill to pass.

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