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Commentary :: Labor : Politics
Antidote for the erosion of democracy in Massachusetts
10 Feb 2006
Public participation in state politics is near an all time low, with serious consequences for the quality of our democracy and the ability of our elected leaders to make well-informed decisions.

According to the Massachusetts Elections Division, in the 1960 state elections, 92 percent of registered voters participated -- an all time high. Since then however, it has steadily slipped, falling to its lowest point in 2002 when only 56 percent voted.

A related problem is that so few of our state elections are contested. In 2002, 68 percent of elections were uncontested, ranking Massachusetts second to last (just behind South Carolina) in the number of competitive elections in the U.S.

When combined with low turnout in primaries, lack of competition results in an elite group making decisions in September -- when most citizens aren't paying attention -- about who will run in mostly uncontested elections in November!

A referendum question on the ballot in November proposes an election law reform to address both these issues. The Ballot Freedom initiative would make it possible for voters to unite behind a smaller party's platform, but cast their vote in coalition with a major party's candidate.

If passed, this "open ballot" approach would give voters -- regardless of their political affiliation -- a chance to vote their values, while avoiding wasting their vote on a candidate who can't win. Giving new political parties more options will make our elections more competitive. Giving voters more choices will stimulate more citizen participation.
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10 Feb 2006
So I can vote for Dan the Bagelman in the primaries but Jeb Bush in the final elections. Awesome!
Re: Antidote for the erosion of democracy in Massachusetts
10 Feb 2006
Um, yeah, Flipside. Dan's running for governor of Florida?

Honestly, this campaign for fusion voting seems to be more appropriate for states where there often ARE contested elections. In such situations, it allows voters to support a less-bad candidate (i.e., a Democrat) on a third-party ballot line (i.e., the New Party or, in New York, the Working Families Party). That way they can avoid acting as spoilers, but still make clear to the Dems that a large chunk of their base is coming from the left.

But where lots of races are uncontested and won by conservative Democrats, as in Massachusetts, it strikes me as far more appropriate to run an opposition candidate on a third party line. If a conservative Democrat like, say, Phil Travis or Marie Parente is getting the Democratic endorsement, the Greens or Labor Party or whomever can run someone against her. They're not going to need to use fusion, because vthere isn't the risk of being a spoiler without strong Republican opposition.

I respect Rand, and would like to hear his thoughts on this. I certainly don't oppose this measure, but I don't see it as being as helpful here as it would be in some situations.
Re: Antidote for the erosion of democracy in Massachusetts
11 Feb 2006
Conservative Democrats in Massachusetts? You have to be joking. There aren't even conservative Republicans in Massachusetts!