District elections for_city_council


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District elections for_city_council

  1. 1. At-Large vs. District Elections Consequences for Representation
  2. 2. Advantages of At-Large Systems <ul><li>Members represent the whole city, not just their own district. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reduced divisiveness and factions. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Voters can choose from a broader base of candidates. </li></ul><ul><li>No battles over how to draw district lines. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Advantages of District Elections <ul><li>Encourages personal campaigning. </li></ul><ul><li>Encourages attention to neighborhood concerns. </li></ul><ul><li>Easier for new candidates to win election. </li></ul><ul><li>Lower cost of campaigning. </li></ul><ul><li>Enhances descriptive representation and shared policy views/ideology. </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Voting Rights Act of 1965 <ul><li>Original goal: eliminating Black disenfranchisement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>when a group is prohibited or discouraged from voting. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Later extended to vote dilution of Blacks and language minorities. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>when the votes of a group are manipulated to count less than those of another group (Whites). </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><li>Reynolds v. Sims (1964) </li></ul><ul><li>Voting includes “all action necessary to make a vote effective.” </li></ul><ul><li>White v. Regester (1973) </li></ul><ul><li>Multimember districts are unconstitutional if they dilute minority votes. </li></ul><ul><li>Thornburg v. Gingles (1986) </li></ul><ul><li>At-large elections often present an unconstitutional dilution of minority vote strength. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Use of Electoral System by City Size Source: National League of Cities, 2003. Small (<25,000 pop.) Medium (25,000-199,999) Large (>200,000) At-large 59% 58% 13% District 24% 27% 49% Mixed 17% 18% 38%
  7. 7. How At-Large Systems Dilute <ul><li>City X </li></ul><ul><ul><li>9 seats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2/3 White </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1/3 Black </li></ul></ul>Likely result of at-large elections: 9 White council members White Voters Black Voters
  8. 8. Music for the Prom <ul><li>10 students gather to choose five songs to feature at the school prom. Six students like top-forty. Four prefer hip-hop. </li></ul><ul><li>Under normal circumstances, the group might agree to choose three top-forty and two hip-hop tunes. </li></ul><ul><li>However, if they voted using the winner-take-all voting method, all five selections would be Top Forty. </li></ul>Source: Lani Guinier: The Tyranny of the Majority (1994)
  9. 9. How District Systems Help <ul><li>City X </li></ul><ul><ul><li>9 seats </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2/3 White </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1/3 Black </li></ul></ul>Likely result of district elections: 6 White council members, 3 Black White Voters Black Voters
  10. 10. Complications… <ul><li>If racial and ethnic groups are not residentially segregated, district elections will not result in proportional representation. </li></ul><ul><li>Cracking & Packing </li></ul>
  11. 14. The Bottom Line: <ul><li>While the ability of at-large districts to represent Blacks has improved dramatically in recent decades… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>… Blacks are most equitably represented by district elections . </li></ul></ul>
  12. 15. Black Representation <ul><li>All cities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>.82 in at-large systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1.06 in district systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.77 in mixed systems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Southern cities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>.71 in at-large systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.95 in district systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.72 in mixed systems </li></ul></ul>Source: Susan Welch, “The Impact of At-Large Elections on the Representation of Blacks and Hispanics.” Journal of Politics 52, 4 (Nov. 1990). Representational parity = 1.0
  13. 16. <ul><li>Latinos are abysmally underrepresented in all systems. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>District elections do not promote more equitable representation for Latinos. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Latinos have fared quite well in at-large systems in California. </li></ul></ul>Latino Representation
  14. 17. Latino Representation <ul><li>All cities: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>.47 in at-large systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.38 in district systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.56 in mixed systems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>In California: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>.48 in at-large systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.27 in district systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.17 in mixed systems </li></ul></ul>Representational parity = 1.0
  15. 18. What Helps Latinos? <ul><li>Latinos do better under district systems in cities with more residential segregation. </li></ul><ul><li>Latinos do better under district systems as their proportion of the population increases (>20%). </li></ul><ul><ul><li>.65 for at-large systems </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>.71 for district systems </li></ul></ul>
  16. 19. What About Hayward? <ul><li>Would district elections bring descriptive representation for Hayward Latinos? </li></ul><ul><li>Latino Residential Segregation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Menlo Park: .75 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Oakland: .70 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hayward: .29 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Fremont: .18 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alameda: .18 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>San Leandro: .19 </li></ul></ul>Source: US Census
  17. 20. Guinier’s Critique <ul><li>District elections are a short-term fix that merely move the effect of racial prejudice from the voting booth to the process of government. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Elected minorities are then outvoted by more numerous White elected officials. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Surrounding districts are made even more white. </li></ul>
  18. 21. What is Representation? <ul><li>Descriptive Representation vs. </li></ul><ul><li>Substantive Representation </li></ul>
  19. 22. Summing Up <ul><li>District elections are better at providing descriptive representation for blacks, but have a mixed record for Latinos. </li></ul><ul><li>District elections may hamper substantive representation and ultimately limit minority political power. </li></ul>