By Chris Jerdonek
Published October 9th 2003 in Davis Enterprise
To the editor:
Re: "Thomson may run for Senate," 9/30/03. The
state redistricting process is a questionable system. Every
decade a small group of legislators handpicks the voters who will
elect them the next time around. This results in a bunch of
safe districts that effectively strips voters of any
choice. Democracy gets short-circuited.
This time around it also unplugged the political futures of at least five women in the assembly, including Helen Thomson. Redistricting is inherently partisan and subjective, no matter who draws the lines.
The solution is to adopt the system used by most of the world's democracies: proportional representation. First districts are combined to form large, multi-member districts. This is similar to how five at-large councilmembers represent Davis. Then the representatives in each district are elected proportionally.
With large districts, specific boundary lines are not as affected by tampering. And with a proportional system, elections award voters with real choices and a greater chance of representation.
Multi-member districts also increase representation for women. In the United States, with its single-member districts, only 14% of Congressional representatives are women. That's abysmal compared to the 25-45% realized by many countries using proportional representation.
Our state representatives should sponsor legislation to form multi- member districts. In the meantime, they should co-sponsor SCA 14 which would implement both non-partisan redistricting and instant runoff voting.
The students of UC Davis got it right last year after their landslide vote of 67%. They now use proportional representation to elect their Senate and instant runoff voting to their elect executive officers. That's the way it should be done.