Wednesday, May 5, 2010


PRETTY RANK: Hear that sound? It’s the roar of poll-addled 1st congregational district Democratic progressives falling over each other to abandon Colleen Hanabusa in favor of Ed Case so as to make sure Republican Charles Djou doesn’t win the special election to place their butts in now gubernatorial candidate Neil Abercrombie’s former U.S. House seat.

Yet apparently most of them are dragging themselves with a knife to their own throats a la Cleavon Little’s “nobody move or the sheriff gets it” scene in Blazing Saddles, bemoaning how they are forced to vote for a pseudo-Democratic DINO because, not just are they good little democrats but due to a series of circumstances that have conspired to force them to acquiesce to their own threats upon themselves.

In case you haven’t seen the polls- and why should you read them if you don’t live in “urban” Honolulu?- two polls, one by local news outlets and another by the Democratic National Committee have shown the two Democrats splitting the vote in the winner-take-all, special-mail-in election show Case with either a six or 14 point lead over Hanabusa respectively.

Even the usually politically astute blogger reporter and sometimes political staffer Ian Lind headlined a piece yesterday entitled 1st District–If Hanabusa can’t win, I would prefer Ed Case over Djou.

The forty comments that followed typify those in other articles and popular political blogs, blaming and bemoaning Neil Abercrombie for resigning, the winner take all election, the outside influences and money and any of a dozen targets.

Even President Obama is playing the game taping a robo-phone-call message that, although it doesn’t specifically mention Case, reminds voters not too subtly that he needs a Democrat in the seat implying “so vote for someone who can win”.

The one target for blame the Democrats leave out is of course themselves.

For many years third party and independent candidates have been given the shaft by the very election laws passed by the duopolists with Democrats and Republicans who can’t agree on anything except the fact that they’ve got a good thing going in playing salugi
with the votes of anyone not willing to play the game by their “heads I win, tails you lose” rules.

It’s not like a solution to the vagaries of plurality-based, on-and-off elections like these congressional fill-ins and “top two” non-partisan elections- the type we have in local elections non-partisan balloting in Hawai`i, where if no one gets 50% in the September “primaries” the top two vote-getters go to a November runoff- hasn’t been suggested to them for many years.

It’s called ranked choice or Instant Runoff Elections (IRV) and while it’s not quite sweeping the nation it’s gaining ground, especially in California where, while the state parties go back and forth between open and closed primaries, it’s the way many local jurisdictions including San Francisco hold their elections.

Here’s how it works in a 100 word explanation we’ve kept filed away for a decade now.

Each voter has one vote, and ranks candidates in order of choice (1, 2, 3, etc.). The counting of ballots simulates a series of run-off elections. All first choices are counted, and if no candidate wins a majority of first choices, then the last place candidate (candidate with the least first-choices) is eliminated. Ballots of voters who ranked the eliminated candidate first then are redistributed to their next-choice candidates, as indicated on each voter’s ballot. Last place candidates are successively eliminated and ballots are redistributed to next choices until one candidate remains or a candidate gains over 50% of votes.

It not only allows the voters to vote for whomever they want without playing the “I’d better go with the crowd to make my vote ‘count’” game- one we gave up years ago refusing to play the “spoiler” game- it allows them instead to pick the candidate they really want to see in office because if their candidate is eliminated their “next best” vote counts, thus avoiding the dizzying self-fulfilling prophesy of bandwagoning.

Is there anyone out there- other than a party boss- who wouldn’t rather vote for the candidate they like most while not having to fear electing the one they like least?

Not only does IRV make for a fairer election it also saves the cost of a top two runoff.

It also has a sister ranked choice system called Single Transferable Voting (STV) which allows for a similar- though a little more complicated-to-compile- ranking system for multiple seat elections such as the seven at large councilmember elections on Kaua`i.

If the Democrats do lose the special 1st CD they will have no one to blame but themselves for ignoring IRV lo these many years until it’s finally come around to bite them in the ass.

And if it does and Republican Djou wins they’ll probably still be pointing fingers rather than using their vast advantage in the legislature and county councils to pass new voting procedures that insure that it’s the voters who determine who wins, not the parties.


For those who have turned to Peer News’ new Civil Beat and found out you have to shell out $20 bucks a month and a pay pals account to “enter”- although there is a one dollar 15 day trial offer now- and have given up since the “news” articles are unavailable after their official launch yesterday, we’ve got a couple of links to news stories courtesy of former local newspaper reporter extraordinaire Mike Levine who is covering land use there.
Honolulu Civil Beat — First Edition!:

Nonprofits Can't Escape GET, Despite "Tax-Exempt" Status:

Six Years After Plan, Homeless Problem Even Worse:

Are Honolulu Rail Job Projections On the Right Track?:

Mike does promise neighbor island news including Kaua`i in the future


We’re off “on assignment” as they say and will be back Monday.


Blahblahblah said...


"Yet apparently most of them are dragging themselves with a knife to their own throats a la Cleavon Little’s “nobody move or the sheriff gets it” scene in Blazing Saddles"

It was a gun and you wussed out on the quote.

Vote Djou and try again in the fall. Getting stuck with Ed Case is the same as having Djou except instead of a hall monitor you get a sanctimonious prick.

IRV would work fine. 3rd parties not being so off in the weeds might help a ton as well.

Punohu's Politics,Environment and Culture said...

this is my answer to your post. its too long to put it up.

And thanks for bringimg this up.