LWVSC Position11. Adopting election systems that ensure better proportional representation of the varied
segments of our voting population, within South Carolina, by city, county or statewide, as is appropriate. Our present “winner-take-all” system in many instances fails to achieve a goal of fair representation of minorities and women. Most of the world’s major democracies use a form of proportional representation, and we endorse this opportunity for the following reasons:
a. To achieve better election and/or influence for minorities and women in proportion to
their numbers in the population.
b. To lessen election costs, in part by eliminating costly runoff elections.
c. To eliminate redistricting and its frequent abuse through gerrymandering.
d. To lessen the advantages now in place for incumbent candidates over new office- seekers.
e. To lessen polarization among segments of the population.
f. To increase voter turnout and decrease voter cynicism.
g. To encourage election campaigns based on issues rather than personal attacks.
h. To promote a greater opportunity for the voices of third party candidates.
Continued support for the League’s one-person, one-vote position, with added emphasis on the right of each community to develop its own election system, after careful examination of the demography of its community. Systems which may be considered include Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), Limited Voting, Cumulative Voting, and others. Of these, IRV has been used in various states and localities, and is being introduced into various election districts. It is likely to be the most effective and widely accepted new system.
The actions supported below speak to local elections only because it is unrealistic to consider them at a statewide level before actual local practice has taken hold so that the public may be aware of the advantages of a new system, as well as its simplicity in practice. In order to seek the method most suitable for the local population, we recommend that the local League determine whether a form of proportional voting would benefit the community in so far as providing more equitable elected representation and if the result is affirmation, proceed as follows:
a. Determine what alternative election system would be desirable to achieve the above goals.***
b. Engage in a concerted voter-education process within the community so as to gain community understanding and support.
c. Work with the city or county council to change their respective election methods to incorporate at-large elections, as well as a selected alternative election system, either through Council vote or by voter referendum.
d. Work with legislators to change school board election methods. (Any agreement to change the voting method will require subsequent approval of the US Justice Department.)
e. Provide continuing voter education to enhance public acceptance and ease of voting
under a new election system and work with County Election officials to ensure successful execution at the first election under a new system.
Background/Action: A study of alternative election systems was passed at the LWVSC 2003 convention. The number 11 support position was adopted by the state board at its March 2005 meeting. In 2007, with completion of a two-year study of electronic voting in SC, Section 9.f. was amended and Section 12 was added.