Krist’s Political Agenda

Electoral Reform

Krist’s main political platform resides with electoral reformation. Essentially, Electoral reform is change in electoral systems to improve how public desires are expressed in election results. That includes reform of:

  • Voting systems, such as instant runoff votingproportional representation
  • Vote-counting procedures.
  • Rules about political parties (typically changes to election laws).
  • Eligibility to vote.
  • How candidates and political parties get their names onto ballots (“ballot access”).
  • Electoral constituencies and election district borders.
  • Ballot design and voting equipment.
  • Scrutineering (election monitoring by candidates, political parties, etc.).
  • Safety of voters and election workers.
  • Measures against bribes, coercion, and conflicts of interest.
  • Financing of candidates’ and referendum campaigns.
  • Factors which affect the rate of voter participation (“voter turn-out”).

Instant Runoff Voting

Three is a crowd in our current voting system. Plurality voting, where the candidate with the most votes wins, is dysfunctional when more than two candidates run. It promotes zero-sum politics that discourage new candidates, suppress new ideas and encourage negative campaigns rather than inclusive efforts to build consensus.

In contrast, instant runoff voting (IRV) elects candidates who have majority support, accommodates voters having better choices and encourages winning candidates to reach out to more people. Join with us to seek IRV to elect our top local, state and national leaders.

As chair of FairVote, Krist ensures that IRV America program advances IRV through research, outreach and advocacy. We assist in every step of what it takes to implement IRV from initial community education to researching past elections and laws, advising campaigns and assisting implementation. We also help with increasing understanding of IRV through its use in student elections, online voting and much more.

Proportional Representation

“Winner-take-all” is a term used to describe single member district and at large election systems that award seats to the highest vote getters without ensuring fair representation for minority groups. In the United States, these are typically single-member district schemes or at-large, block-voting systems. Under winner-take-all rules, a slim majority of voters can control 100% of seats, leaving everyone else effectively without representation. Problems this leads to include:

  • Severe under-representation of women, communities of color, third parties, young people, and major party backers stuck in areas where another party dominates.
  • Since many areas are dominated by a single political viewpoint, winner-take-all voting systems will often result in no-choice elections where one party has a permanent monopoly on power, and the winner is effectively predetermined.
  • High percentages of “wasted votes” (that is, votes cast for candidates who do not win). Winner-take-all elections frequently result in more than 50% of votes being wasted.
  • Undervoting. Under at-large systems in particular, voters who feel strongly about a single candidate will be likely to “bullet vote” (that is, use only one of their votes) to help their preferred choice win election.
  • Decreased voter turnout. With limited choice, and little chance of influencing the outcome of an election under winner-take-all rules, many people will unsurprisingly choose not to participate.
  • Divisive campaigns that fail to address challenging issues and ignore entire constituencies. Under winner-take-all, there is no incentive to reach out to opponents or build cross-party support. Negative campaigning is often a sensible and effective strategy.

Winner-take-all systems are an anachronism in the modern world, as nearly every emerging democracy has rejected their use. They were introduced to America by the British during the colonial era, and are virtually unknown in other developed countries. Their failings lie at the root of many of our current political problems.

Grass roots political reformation

grassroots movement (often referenced in the context of a political movement) is one driven by the constituents of a community. The term implies that the creation of the movement and the group supporting it is natural and spontaneous, highlighting the differences between this and a movement that is orchestrated by traditional power structures. Often, grassroots movements are at the local level, as many volunteers in the community give their time to support the local party, which can lead to helping the national party. For instance, a grassroots movement can lead to significant voter registration for a political party, which in turn helps the state and national parties.

Grassroots democracy is a tendency towards designing political processes where as much decision-making authority as practical is shifted to the organization’s lowest geographic level of organization.[clarify] To cite a specific hypothetical example, a national grassroots organization, such as an NGO, would place as much decision-making power as possible in the hands of a local chapter instead of the head office. The principle is that for democratic power to be best exercised it must be vested in a local community instead of isolated, atomized individuals. As such, grassroots organizations exist in contrast to so-called participatory systems, which tend to allow individuals equal access to decision-making irrespective of their standing in a local community, or which particular community they reside in. As well, grassroots systems also differ from representative systems that allow local communities or national memberships to elect representatives who then go on to make decisions.

The difference between the three systems comes down to where they rest on two different axes: the rootedness in a community (i.e. grassroots versus national or international); and the ability of self-appointed individuals to participate in the decision-making process (i.e. participatory versus representative.)

Washington State Super Districts

Under Krist’s “Super Districts” proposal, Washington would be split into nine large districts rather than the 49 that currently exist, and each district would elect 11 legislators to the state house.

In addition to the physical reorganization of the state’s political boundaries into the nine super districts, under Novoselic’s plan legislators would be elected by a proportional model, and minor parties would not be shut out by the Democrats and Republicans.

Every political party in a given district would submit 11 candidates, ranked in order of preference by the party members. Voters in each district would then cast their vote for a party, rather than an individual, and legislative seats would be awarded based on the percentage of the vote each party gets.

For example, if Democrats got 45 percent of the vote in a district, Republicans 35 percent, and the Green Party and Libertarians each 10 percent, then the 11 seats would be filled by five Democrats, four Republicans, one Green and one Libertarian. “Something similar has been tried in New Zealand, and in my research I found that voter participation has increased, “Novoselic said. “Also, people generally feel better about their democracy.”

One problem with the idea is that voters tend to vote for personalities, not parties, but Novoselic said that the Super District plan would only apply to the state House of Representatives, leaving the Senate as a personality-driven electoral arena. Also, since each party would choose the list of 11 candidates from which its legislators would come, voters would have more incentive to get involved in the political process.