Saturday, December 6, 2008

December Elections



Although Louisiana's new electoral system for Congressional races was adopted to avoid the disadvantages resulting from December elections, we still ended up with December elections in two of Louisiana's Congressional races.

Republicans won in each of them. Joseph Cao beat incumbent William Jefferson in the Second District and John Fleming won in the Fourth District.

I'm surprised by the results in the Second District. I figured Jefferson would pull through. I'm very curious to see how high black voter turnout was for that election. I was actually hoping that Jefferson would win, so that he would be removed from office after he's convicted. Then, there could be a new election with a Jefferson-free field of candidates. (By the way, Louisiana's new Congressional delegation will have no black members for the first time in 18 years. However, Cao will become the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress. Just last year Louisiana elected the country's first Indian-American governor. Who would have thought that Louisiana would be such fertile ground for Asian-American politicians?)

Cao, Fleming, and Bill Cassidy (who was elected in the Sixth District last month) all won their elections with less than half of the votes cast. This is significant because that would not have been possible in Louisiana prior to this year.

Cao, Fleming, and Cassidy are all going to Congress to represent Louisiana even though a majority of those casting ballots in their respective districts voted against them.

The outcomes of the Second and the Sixth District races are especially bothersome because it seems likely that Cassidy would have lost to Don Cazayoux in a runoff and it's possible (though probably not likely) that Cao would have lost to Jefferson in a runoff.

Michael Jackson and Malik Rahim may have drawn enough black support from the Democratic nominees to swing their elections to the Republicans. (I certainly don't blame Jackson and Rahim for this. They each had the right to run and their campaigns added much of value. The new election system is just very, very flawed.)

If Louisiana had adopted instant runoff voting, we could have:
  1. avoided the expense of a three-stage election,

  2. avoided a December election, and

  3. elected Representatives by majority vote rather than by plurality vote.

2 comments:

Terry Bouricius said...

IRV is an important pro-democracy reform. My own city of Burlington, VT started using IRV in our mayoral elections in 2006. We had five candidates with no concerns about "spoilers." Exit polls showed that voters overwhelmingly preferred IRV to the former election method. And voters had
no difficulty with the ranked-choice ballot. Fully 99.9% of the votes cast in the mayor's race were valid. The polls closed at 7 pm and by 8:37 pm election night the IRV tally had been completed (since no candidate received a majority of first choices), and the winner was announced. IRV
worked great. I hope more jurisdictions adopt it.

aaronson said...

Hey I know of a really cool website called the voting site . The sites mission is to evangelize the instant run off voting. Users can create there own instant run off elections and vote in other peoples instant run off elections. The site does a good job of showing how instant run off voting works.