Here's a little something to get you laughing, courtesy of Monty Python and the US voting system. When I talk to folks in the USA

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25 Years Later, We're Still Not Nearly as Politically Progressive as Monty Python

Here's a little something to get you laughing, courtesy of Monty Python and the US voting system. When I talk to folks in the USA about the proportional representation form of voting, too many think they know what it is by responding, "Oh, that's a parliamentary system." No it's not! Here's the distinction: A parliament is the rules the government operates under. A voting system is the way the government is elected.

The United States has a different form of government than the United Kingdom. What is similar is the way elections are held. Members of both the US House of Representatives and the UK Parliament are elected with single member districts. The top vote getter in the district wins the seat in government. People in the US get confused because European parliaments use a proportional systems of voting - where members of government win seats according to the share of votes they get.

With single member districts, imbalances in the distribution of votes means vote share doesn't automatically translate into seats. How so? Just ask John Cleese in this video (above) about proportional representation from twenty five years ago. It still rings true today!

The next election for the UK House of Commons is May 6th. While there will be plenty of jokes about it, and I'm sure you UK readers are already in the thick of the hilarity, here's a great one I heard the other day. According to Dr. Ken Ritche of the UK Electoral Reform Society, "the election is already over in most of the country, thanks to a system that leaves most seats safe as houses. In large parts of our cities, and in whole counties, the winner could be announced today."

Prime Minister Gordon Brown is proposing election reform for the UK . I hope David Cameron, his Tories and others agree that this needs to be done - "nudge nudge, hint hint hint; know what I mean, know what I mean?"

Krist Novoselic is Chair of FairVote. Dr. Ken Ritchie also serves on the FairVote Board.

 
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