What is a representative government?

Dear neighbors, 

Even more important to me than running for city commission is living in a representative democracy. And as a citizen of Fargo, I want to be governed by a system that is truly representative of the people it serves. This is democracy.

So the fact that someone running for city commission, someone like me, can win the position with less than 51% of the vote is problematic. In my opinion, it is not democratic, and leads me to ask: 


What is a representative government? 


To explore this question, let’s take a look at how the voting process plays out in Fargo currently. 

To win under the current election process, the most votes win. Candidates only need to have the highest number of votes and not necessarily the majority. For example, it is mathematically  possible that, with 11 candidates running, the vote could be split equally and two individuals could win with only approximately 10% of the votes cast. 

Now, let’s look at how voting could play out under a process called instant runoff voting. This short video does a great job in helping us understand instant runoff voting with the visual assistance of various colored sticky notes:

What I appreciate about this process is that it enables citizens to cast votes for all contenders in a race by ranking them numerically in order of preference. 

Hypothetically, in our city commission race, you would rank all candidates 1-11, thereby casting a second ballot if no one candidate claims 51% of popular vote. Meanwhile, the lowest ranked candidate is dropped, and a vote recount occurs.

With rank voting, we allow for majority vote to truly set our political stage, and we all win because democracy wins. 


As both a citizen and city commission candidate, I want to ask fellow candidates and current commissioners to stand for democracy and reform our current voting process. This is a hope that stretches far beyond my personal campaign. This is something that impacts every person in our city.

If you believe in representative government, then let's implement a voting process that truly represents its constituents. Write to other candidates and current commissioners to tell them that it’s important to you – this is something we have the power to change. 

I’d love to know what you think. 

 

Best,

Joe