July 22, 2011 at 8:23 am | #181
There are two problems with Eureka’s municipal elections.
1. The phony ward system. This is a perversion of the idea of one man one vote and is likely unconstitutional. It is designed to keep the moneyed elite of the city in firm control of the politcial process and it keeps the voices of the neighborhoods muted. This can be fixed by amending the city charter or by legal decision in the courts. The easiest way to challenge it in court is maybe by someone like Larry Glass filing for city council in a ward in which he is not resident. If the city denies his presence on the ballot he can challenge the denial on constitutional grounds. The principal is that the district of candidate eligibility must match the districts electorate eligibility. Imagine a situation where it is required that a California Senator must reside in California but the whole Unitied States would elect him or her. That is what we have in Eureka. If you want to have an at-large system like we have now then the district of eligibility must match.
2. The lack of run offs. The curious first past the post plurality elections here in Eureka are guaranteed to produce winners without majorities, without clear mandates and also typically favor the establishment candidates. This can be fixed in several ways, including instant run off favored by Greens or simply by moving to an open primary in June with a run off in November between the top two candidates. Spoiler situtations will be avoided. Why don’t we do this?
have a peaceful day,
Note: In 2012 the ACLU sued the city of Anaheim over an at large voting system almost identical to Eureka’s system on the basis that it is discriminatory.