Tuesday, November 10, 2015

For the people

Two hopeful items from last week's election:

Ohio passed an issue to prevent gerrymandering. It passed by more than 70%. The way it works:

* Establish a seven-person bipartisan commission, with at least two members of the minority party.

* Explicitly ban drawing districts primarily to advantage or disadvantage a political party.

* Require that districts reflect how voters actually voted.

* Shorten the time a map will be in effect if it doesn't have at least two minority party votes.

This link has details, including a discussion of gerrymandering and why it matters. Interesting that the diagrams are the same as what I saw in the League of Women Voters presentation a few weeks ago.

There was lots of news out of Ohio about the defeat of the marijuana issue, very little about this one.

Seattle passed an Honest Elections Seattle initiative. It passed by 60%. It is a bit complicated, which is one reason why many urged to vote against it. Again, there was very little mention of this one in the news. It works like this:

For each campaign season, each registered voter is given four vouchers, each for $25. The voters give them to candidates they like – which means the candidates actually have to engage and please the voters. The candidates redeem the vouchers to fund their campaigns. The whole thing is funded by an $8 property tax on homes worth more than $400K.

Another aspect of the initiative is that corporations that do more than $250K in business with the city in a year are banned from donating to candidates.

Terrence Heath references the campaign literature and adds a few comments. The initiative would:

1. Limit big money interests in city politics.

2. Ensure candidates listen to voters, not corporations. Citizens may donate to a campaign beyond their vouchers, but are limited to $500 total in an election cycle. In addition, top city employees must wait three years after leaving office before becoming a lobbyist.

3. Increases transparency through electronic disclosure of campaign funds.

4. Enables ordinary citizens to run viable campaigns against big money candidates.

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