Monday, April 06, 2009

One Member, One Vote, Several Opinions

Grab a beer, sit back, and get ready for a stimulating post on the nuances of internal party electoral reform!

As you may have heard, the Liberal Party will be voting on changing its leadership selection process from the current system of choosing the leader at delegated conventions (when we feel like it), to a weighted one member one vote system (WOMOV). This is basically the system the Tories use - every riding gets 100 points and if you win half the riding you get 50 points, if you win a quarter of a riding you get 25 points...the math is fairly easy to figure out so I don't think I need to include any other examples.

So what do I think about this and the proposal to set "youth quotas"? What system would I like to see? Glad you asked!


The Leadership Selection Process

First off, I don't think the current system is quite the affront to democracy it's often made out to be. For all intents and purposes, we currently have a WOMOV system since, instead of 100 points, every riding gets X delegates. In both cases, the points and delegates are divided based on the percentage of votes a candidate receives.

So if you "cleaned up" the current system by removing ex-officios and delegates from clubs and commissions, the only difference would be that the delegated convention transfers the second choice vote from everyone to Liberals elected as delegates.

It also has the added benefit of making for one hell of an exciting show - and I don't think that's something that should be discounted completely when it comes to getting Canadians and Liberals excited about the party and the new leader.

That said, WOMOV is a fairer system, so I'd be supportive of making the change.


Youth Quotas

The Young Liberals have proposed amending WOMOV to WOMOVW25QFY - Weighted one member one vote, with 25% quotas for youth. In short, at least 25 points in every riding would be reserved for youth. I know a few of my young Liberal friends will disagree with me on this one, but I'm not a big fan of this amendment.

For starters, it really defeats the entire purpose of "one member, one vote", and if you argue there should be quotas for youth, there's no valid reason to argue there shouldn't be quotas for the other commissions - that means points for women, seniors, and aboriginals. Hell, it also means there's no valid reason to argue there shouldn't also be quotas for immigrants, farmers, or bloggers.

But the main reason I don't like this amendment is that I don't think it's needed. Youth still get their delegate spot quotas for conventions which means they still have their previous influence when it comes to policy, party executive positions, and constitutional amendments (such as this one). The main argument for having youth delegate quotas before was that it got more young people to conventions, getting them excited about the party, and making them members for life. Is there anyone out there who can really say that a youth who knows his or her vote is worth 1.5 points is going to be more excited than a youth who knows their vote is worth 1.3 points?

In the end, if the intent of WOMOV is to democratize the party, then let's go all the way on it.


My System of Choice

As mentioned above, WOMOV lacks some of the excitement you get from conventions. So, to remedy this, I'd propose the following version of WOMOV (copied somewhat from the primary system):

1. Carve the country up into, say, 30 regions of around 10 ridings each - so, for example, Edmonton would be a region, BC Interior would be a region and so on...it doesn't really matter how you divide them up.

2. Randomly divide up the voting schedule so that it takes place over 4 weeks. I'd set it up where you had 2 regions voting the first week, 4 the second week, and then 12 each of the last two.

3. On the final weekend, you could also hold a series of provincial or regional "mini-conventions" that anyone would be free to attend, to watch the results come in - this would include the reading of the second choice votes if candidates fail to reach the necessary majority on the first ballot.

This would give you the New Hampshire/Iowa/Super Tuesday excitement of the US primary system condensed over a month and, since the order would be drawn at random, it wouldn't favour any one particular region. You'd get Canadians more excited in the entire process, compensating for the loss of convention pizazz.


In Conclusion

My sense is that there's enough support for WOMOV that it will pass at the convention. So the real question becomes what kind of WOMOV system we get.


See Also
A BCer in Toronto
Scott Tribe
Far and Wide

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