Political Reform Should Encourage More Competition

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As we see in Hawaii, non-competitive elections lead directly to lower quality of government.

Calls for reforming the political system in Hawaii have grown significantly over the past several years.

Recent controversies range from liability to the Maui wildfire disaster Increasing clarity He caught the attention (and ire) of Hawaii voters during the state’s legislative process.

It gets worse when Hawaii Democrats use their dominant political position Go after freedom The state auditor, after the release of reports critical of the state government.

And we can’t forget key Hawaii Democratic legislators. Irritation Last year for extortion corruption.

What causes decay in our system? An unrivaled political system. Our elections do not reward voters with real choices and incumbents. We need to start by completing the primary elections conducted by the government.

Primary elections often attract only the most powerful Very partisan voters. This skewed electoral process exacerbates the choices faced by general election voters.

Worse, they themselves may not represent the parties at all. In the year In 2016, then-candidate Donald Trump dropped out of the primary race with the lowest approval rating of any GOP presidential candidate.

Representative Bob McDermott He won the 2022 GOP primary for US Senate with 39 percent of the vote. (David Croxford/CivilBeat/2022)

As this went on, Republican Party leaders were powerless to stop him as the primaries surrounded the party.

Closer to home, longtime Hawaii state representative Bob McDermott won the Hawaii GOP US Senate nomination in 2022 in a less-than-stellar campaign with only 39% of the vote! How is that fair?

A sophisticated typical solution to this issue is the so-called “forest” primary. They operate in which all parties compete in a single primary and the top vote-getters (usually two or four) advance to the general election.

The debate provides an opportunity to reward elections in line with voter preferences and rewards moderate voters more.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a moderate Alaska Republican, is up for re-election in 2022. It seems to support thisBut often “forest primaries” only reduce voter choice. Instead of having multiple electoral votes for the US Senate in California, they only faced Democrats in 2016 and 2018.

In the year In 2012 and 2018, California’s 8th Congressional District was contested by Democrats, particularly two Republicans.

Several reforms could increase competition during the general election. Hawaii should be accepted Merge votingWhere political parties support candidates and candidates in general elections. New York exemplifies this system, where smaller parties (conservative, working families, liberal) can influence major party candidates for office.

It can also lead to interesting and diverse political alliances; Sometimes the Conservative Party of New York supports the Democrats! Voters have more choices and smaller parties have more meaningful influence.

For federal offices (U.S. Senate, House) and state races (Governor, Hawaii Senate), we must vote in a runoff if no candidate receives an absolute majority in the first round. This happened in Hawaii in 1994 when Ben Cayetano won 36% of the vote and in 2014 David Ige won 49%.

Internationally, France uses this system to great effect in its elections, while domestically, Georgia uses it primarily.

Sometimes, a ranked choice vote is offered as a solution to a majority vote; But there are problems here too.. Ranked ballots that encourage competition and multiple candidates do not work well. As we saw in 2018, counting in a ranked choice system can be controversial. 2nd District of Maine Home race and New York City Mayor race In 2021

Multi-member house circuits

Most importantly, we need to get rid of single member districts for the Hawaii House of Representatives and move to a proportional representation system. Instead of setting up 51 single-member districts across the state, we can consolidate them into four multi-member districts (aligned with the four districts) where the representatives come together.

Now, that would be roughly eight for Hawaii County, eight for Maui County, three for Kauai County and 32 for Honolulu City and County. Candidates are processed through closed party lists where regional parties create a list of candidates.

General election voters vote by party, not candidate, and the top of the list is awarded based on percentage of the vote. Hawaii Republicans hold 11% of the seats in the Hawaii House and only 8% of the Hawaii Senate, while Hawaii Republicans can get between one-fourth and one-third of the vote. A 5% vote threshold may be set to prevent legal violations.

We can apply proportionality to our award The Electoral College also votes. In the year In 2008, the state legislature overrode Governor Linda Lingle’s veto to tie our electoral votes to the national popular vote.

Why should the other 49 states decide who Hawaii voters choose to cast our electoral votes? The state legislature should repeal this law and give our electoral votes a fair price.

Although we are a small state, we can increase our visibility and competitiveness in presidential elections.

Both parties invested heavily in winning New Hampshire (four electoral votes). Maine (four electoral votes) and Nebraska (five electoral votes) award their votes in proportion, which draws Republican attention to the former (by winning one vote in 2016 and 2020) and the latter increases Democratic attention (by winning one vote in 2008 and 2020).

We must fundamentally change the status quo.

Unrivaled selection leads directly. To the worst quality of government. Today in Hawaii we see a situation where our electoral structure does not create a way to unseat the dominant political actor.

True, Hawaii’s Democrats have done a better job of playing politics in some ways; It’s been 20 years since Hawaii Republicans seriously challenged the status quo, with third parties (Libertarians, Greens, Constitution, Aloha Aina) proving it completely incompetent.

However, structural forces are helping to maintain the status quo. We must fundamentally change that situation.

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