September 29, 2002October 20, 2002Meeting Report

October 4, 2002

Pete Martineau

Electoral Reform

UUSS member Pete Martineau spoke on the topic of electoral reform and the need for more citizen participation in elections.

He lamented the relatively low voter turnout in the United States, compared to that in other developed democratic nations. He attributed much of the problem to the structure of our electoral system. We have winner-take-all elections with third party candidates, if they exist at all, either being irrelevant or serving as "spoilers." Most legislative seats are "safe" for one party or the other. If seats are not "safe," the election will be decided by the swing voters, who are the least educated of all voters on the issues and the most likely to be swayed by negative advertising. People of the minority political persuasion in a district can easily feel that they are without representation.

Mr. Martineau proposed a mixture of proportional representation and instant runoff voting. Instant runoff voting would allow voters to make a second choice of candidate. At its most simple, if one's first choice of a candidate ran third or worse, the vote would then go to the voter's second choice. A majority, not a mere plurality, would be required to win in such a system.

At the close of the meeting the members present (who were there in sufficient numbers to qualify as a quorum) ratified the 2002-2003 HAGSA budget that had been presented by the HAGSA Board.

Report prepared by Wayne Luney, Recorder

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