Should the majority rule? Should the (political) minority be represented? Should LWVBAE Adopt Proportional Representation by Concurrence? Proportional Representation is a voting method for multi-seat elections that can permit the majority view to win, but also permit the view or choice of a substantial minority to win some representation. The LWVBAE Board is currently discussing whether to put this question to the membership at the May 11 Annual Meeting or at some future general meeting.
Many Leagues around the country, both at the state and local level, have taken positions in favor of voting methods that provide for both majority rule and minority representation, known by some as fair representation methods. The Vermont League supports these methods “as a way of achieving both competitive elections and fair representation of both majorities and minorities within a district.”
These methods result in the portion of legislators representing a certain viewpoint equal to the prevalence of that viewpoint among voters, which is why these methods are also known as proportional representation. The Arizona League “supports changing the present election systems so that they more accurately represent the wishes of voters: Adopting the Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) system for single seat races; adopting proportional representation for multi-seat races, specifically Ranked Choice Voting.”
None of the voting methods used to elect bodies in Berkeley, Albany, or Emeryville provides fair representation for political minorities.
Berkeley uses Ranked Choice Voting [RCV] or Instant Runoff Voting for a single seat in each district and for Mayor. RCV ensures that the winning candidate gets at least 50% plus one. LWVBAE and LWV of California policies supports this method.
The Albany and Emeryville city councils, the school boards in all three cities, and the Rent Stabilization Board in Berkeley asks voters to fill several seats on the body at the same time. The top vote winners get the available seats. This can result in minority rule, since the top vote winners may not win a majority of votes cast. Neither LWVBAE, LWVC nor LWVUS has a policy supporting proportional representation.
LWVBAE’s League Board is currently considering placing concurrence with the Washington State League’s position EM-5 in front of the membership. That position “supports adoption of election methods that produce proportional representation when electing representative government bodies such as councils, legislatures and Congress.” Of all the Leagues with such positions, the Washington State League’s position was selected for possible concurrence because the study materials and consensus report leading to its position are available.
Note that fair/proportional election methods are sometimes confused with the parliamentary system. However, rather than an election method, the parliamentary system is a form of government in which the executive branch is appointed by the legislature. In other words, fair/proportional election methods and the parliamentary system are apples and oranges. Fair/proportional methods can be used to elect members to any level of government without changing the structure of that government.
Please let the Board know what you think by email to me at email@example.com. I will report any responses to my fellow Board Members.
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