In a previous life, I promoted new records full time. It used to be that the marketing of my latest labor of love meant spending months in a van or bus, interviews with journalists, and plenty of waiting around until I hit the stage. I still get excited about my music projects (a new Flipper out May 25) . . . but as regular readers of my column know well, one of my main passions is election reform.
Krist Novoselic's column runs every Tuesday on the Daily Weekly.
This Friday I will be in beautiful Vancouver, B.C. at the invitation of the pro-STV campaign to promote election reform before the province's May 12 vote. Like when I was promoting new records, I'll be on a rock station, only this time I'll be touting the benefits of the Single Transferable Vote. (I'd like to play some new Flipper too, if they let me!!!) I'll also do more radio and television. In the evening I'm going to participate in a forum discussion.
For the last year and a half, I've served as the chair of FairVote, the Center for Voting and Democracy here in the U.S. We recognize that there are better ways to elect our representatives in government. These reforms speak to the demands of the 21st century.I promote election reforms like STV because I recognize our current system of voting is failing. It's unacceptable that there's such a low turnout of voters and candidates for our state and local elections. And it's not that there's less awareness and will for people to come together (something that's happening spectacularly online with the information revolution). The core of the problem is our outdated voting system. I've written about the ways our legislative elections are skewed, so I won't go down that road again.
The biggest problem with advocating reform is the political establishment. The insiders like business as usual because it keeps them in power. And they'll spout all kinds of un-founded arguments that prey on many people's fear of things that are different. But these fogies won't even bother to apologize about our democracy's sorry state of affairs. Most people can't even name their representative. And worse, the vacuum of awareness is filled by the special-interest culture that dominates our state and national legislatures.
In B.C., there's a strong Green Party that usually pulls in around 10 percent of the vote. With their current plurality voting system, having more than three parties or candidates can split a side of the political spectrum. Most voters pick either of the major parties only because they don't want to waste their vote on a third party. They'll hold their nose and vote--or, more commonly, stay home on Election Day. With a reform like STV, they'll be able to vote their conscience, perhaps even their passion, instead of strategically settling for someone only because of their dislike for another candidate. You know the saying--the lesser of two evils.
57 percent of B.C. voters already approved STV in 2005. However, the provincial legislature placed a 60 percent supermajority threshold on the vote. Because so many voted yes, to appear more democratic, the provincial legislature put it on the ballot again--and with the same supermajority requirement.
A poll last week reported that 74 percent of voters between the ages of 18 and 34 were going to support the May 12 measure. It's no surprise that a modern voting system like STV speaks to the tech-savvy sensibilities of youth.
Look at our lackluster state and congressional elections, and ask yourself: Is this the best our democracy can get? B.C. voters have the chance--again--to say no to the status quo and yes to inclusive and fair elections. This is why it's important to pass STV in British Columbia. We also need to defeat the repeal of ranked choice in Pierce County. There's a way to make change and it can happen.