Peru State political science class conducts survey of legislative candidates on topic of election reform.

Peru State political science class conducts survey of legislative candidates on topic of election reform.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 3, 2016, 9:00 a.m. CDT
Contact Jason Hogue, Peru State College Marketing and Communications, 402.872.2429

 

Peru, Nebraska- Peru State College hosted a new class on Engagement in the Election Process this semester. As part of the course work, the class distributed a survey with three proposals to all of this year’s candidates to the Nebraska Legislature.

The student letter to candidates begins, “As a public service, our Political Science class at Peru State College, working in conjunction with election reform advocate Larry R. Bradley, is conducting a survey of all the candidates seeking office in the Nebraska Legislature.”

“This survey requests your position on several Election Reform proposals. Our intention is to compile and publish the results of our survey for the benefit of our state’s voters.”

After the initial letter the class followed up with a reminder letter.  The classes received eight responses.  The proposals and responses are included below.

Proposal 1: Eliminate the “spoiler scenario” and affordably and efficiently mandate majority winners in elections by replacing the winner-take-all or First-Past-The-Post ballot Instant Runoff and Ranked Choice Voting ballots.

Favor: Carol Blood, Nebraska 3: No rationale provided.

Oppose: Larry Roland, Nebraska 9: “Each citizen gets a singular vote for an office. Ranked choice eliminates this simple concept.”

Undecided: Sara Howard, Nebraska 9: “No such legislation has been introduced in Legislature. If such a proposal were to be introduced, I would want to see additional research and listen to testimony at public hearing.”

Favor: Larry Scherer, Nebraska 21: “Majority should decide elections.”

Favor: Jerry Johnson, Nebraska 23: No rationale provided.

Favor: Dick Clark, Nebraska 27: “Electoral feedback may be based on a number of factors, both rational irrational (see Caplan’s The Myth of the Rational Voter). A voting system that more intelligently recognizes voter preferences is better than one that offers only a binary choice and could result in better political accountability to the public. These “smart” voting proposals may also provide an opportunity for those with third party sympathies to impact the electoral outcome. “

Oppose: Rick Kolowski, Nebraska 31: “This topic will be very confusing in multiple ways. Perhaps there should be some trial efforts on smaller local elections to work on the process.”

Undecided: Sue Crawford, Nebraska 45: “While I support this idea in principle, I would need to understand how it could be done affordably & efficiently and in a way that voters clearly understand.”

Proposal 2: Provide an incentive for all voters to vote in presidential elections. Take away the ability of a presidential candidate to be awarded electors based on only a plurality of the vote. Instead, use Ranked Choice Voting to determine the top two vote getters in your state. Then allocate the state’s electors based on the system currently in use by Nebraska and Maine and award the Electoral College votes based on each district’s majority winner, plus the statewide majority winner for the 2 Electoral College votes given to all states. Predetermined rounding rules would be applied to make the process fair.

Favor: Carol Blood, Nebraska 3: No rationale provided.

Oppose: Larry Roland, Nebraska 9: “By incentivizing candidates to pick and campaign in only those districts that provide maximum results, this proposal removes the candidate’s obligation to communicate with all voters in a state. Plus, this proposal relies on ranked choice.”

Undecided: Sara Howard, Nebraska 9: “(Repeated from Proposal 1) No such legislation has been introduced in Legislature. If such a proposal were to be introduced, I would want to see additional research and listen to testimony at public hearing.”

Favor: Larry Scherer, Nebraska 21: “Does not disenfranchise votes – especially in very diverse states”

Oppose: Jerry Johnson, Nebraska 23: No rationale provided.

Oppose: Dick Clark, Nebraska 27: “I believe that states are an important check on the federal government in our constitutional republic. I would oppose policy changes that would dilute the power of states as such, including any move toward a national popular vote or other ways of allocating electoral college votes.“

Favor: Rick Kolowski, Nebraska 31: “This works in Nebraska and I would hope we could maintain this process. It works for us but I’m not sure other states could overcome either local or state-wide politics to see this as a valuable process. ”

Favor: Sue Crawford, Nebraska 45: “This electoral system encourages voting across the state, particularly for minority parties in the state that have some geographic concentration.”

Proposal 3: Eradicate gerrymandering and the contentious post-census redistricting process by the unicameral legislature. Implement a redistricting commission, similar to that used in Iowa, comprised of an even number of registered Democrats and Republicans.

Favor: Carol Blood, Nebraska 3: No rationale provided.

Oppose: Larry Roland, Nebraska 9: “Gerrymandering is the check and balance to voter flight (for whatever reason). By creating (another) unelected commission while simultaneously excluding other political parties from participating in this proposal removes some of the power behind each of our votes by eliminating one of the results of winning an election; the power to gerrymander. ”

Favor: Sara Howard, Nebraska 9: [I previously] supported LB 580 that created a Re-Districting Commission. [The bill was] vetoed by the governor.”

Favor: Larry Scherer, Nebraska 21: “People and urban census data; as well as rationale boundaries”

Oppose: Jerry Johnson, Nebraska 23: No rationale provided.

No position: Dick Clark, Nebraska 27: “A yes or no answer is not possible given the wording of the question, which assumes that sentence one of the question would result from the proposal in sentence two. Yes, I would like to “eradicate gerrymandering.” No, I do not believe that the Nebraska Legislature should delegate its redistricting authority to an unelected body that is not directly accountable to the public.

I find especially problematic the suggestion of a commission with ‘an even number of registered Democrats and Republicans. In my legislative district, nearly a third of registered voters are registered third-party or independent. The statewide number of independent or libertarian-registered voters is approximately 252,000 or about 21 percent of the total number of registered voters in Nebraska. Why should the right of these unaffiliated or third party voters to meaningful representation be less important than those of voters who identify with the so-called ‘major parties?’ Why should each of the major parties be given equal representation on the commission given that they do not have approximately equal voter numbers? (Democrats are about 30 percent of Nebraska’s registered voters, and GOP voters make up the difference of approximately 364,000 or about 49 percent). Why not ‘one man, one vote?’”

Favor: Rick Kolowski, Nebraska 31: “I backed this proposal in Nebraska. It was vetoed by the Governor. I hope we can bring this back in the future.”

Favor: Sue Crawford, Nebraska 45: “Prevent a majority party from establishing districts that make elections less competitive.”

Dr. Sara Crook, professor of history and instructor of the new course writes, “This new class was contacted by Larry Bradley of The Center Strikes Back a non-partisan organization to propose some election process changes.  The PSC students reviewed Mr. Bradley’s proposals and altered the last two of the proposals to conform to their beliefs of how the election system could be improved.”

“In particular, the students felt that Nebraska’s process of awarding Electoral College votes by the popular vote in each congressional district was preferable and should be adopted by the other 48 states (Maine uses the same system as Nebraska).”

Crook continues, “However, the students realized that the drawing of congressional district lines would then be even more prone to gerrymandering and revised the third proposal to include a non-partisan commission composed of Nebraskans to draw the district lines.”

###

For more information, visit www.peru.edu or call 1-800-742-4412.

About Peru State College: Nestled in the historic hills of the Missouri River, the “Campus of a Thousand Oaks” is Nebraska’s oldest college and will celebrate its sesquicentennial anniversary in 2017.  Peru State College’s constant commitment to academic excellence has resulted in a unique and innovative mix of online, traditional, undergraduate and graduate programs.  Similarly, the college’s ongoing student engagement promotes inquiry, discovery and innovation on-campus and across the region.  Peru State College is committed to being a good steward of education, students, the region and Nebraska for another 150 years.