Content Authored by Dean Searcy

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  • The End of the Election Assistance Commission?

    The future of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent bipartisan government agency tasked with making elections fair and accessible, is in question. Amid the intense debate in Washington over government spending, this small agency could be terminated, some of its tasks being relegated to the Federal Elections Commission, in order to save the taxpayers $14 million a year. In the United State House of Representatives, H.R. 672, a bill introduced by Rep. Gregg Harper (R-MS), seeks to terminate the EAC. The bill has made it through the Committee on House Administration along party lines, and will now move to the House for a vote. 

  • Utah Redistricting: Avoid controversy with a statewide plan for House seats

    Following the 2010 Census, Utah is gaining another Congressional seat for a total of four seats. As might be expected, the addition of a fourth seat has thrown the state legislature into partisan conflicts because the strongly Republican state legislature is seeking to dismantle the more Democratic concentration in the second district by cutting it into three pieces. Senate President Michael Waddoups wants to draw lines north to south instead of focusing on compactness, leaving Democrats concerned the new plan will divide their county into three parts and weaken their meager base that helps them elect Democrat Jim Matheson to the U.S. House. Clearly, partisanship is an issue -- one that the state could avoid by adopting a proportional voting in a statewide race.


  • New Mexico Redistricting: Super Districts for U.S. House

    When it comes to the complexities of redistricting, New Mexico is no exception. On May 14th, It's legislative leaders named an 18-member committee to work on the monumental task. In the past, several Congressional redistricting maps have ended up in the courts due to fights over partisanship and incumbent protection - leaving the judicial system to redraw the lines. In the 1960s, however, New Mexico elected its U.S. House seats at-large - and should do so again in a single "super district," but this time witih a proportional voting system providing fairer representation.


  • Missouri Redistricting: Super-districts are Superior

    On May 4th, the Missouri legislature voted to override Gov. Jay Nixon's veto of House Bill 193, a bill which would redraw state lines using the 2010 census. In an unexpected turn of events, seven Democrats joined with the Republicans in a 104-44 vote to override Gov. Nixon's veto and pass the new lines into law, the first occurrence of such an event in Missouri history.


  • Indiana: A Better Redistricting Plan with Super Districts

    After much debate, a GOP Congressional redistricting plan was approved this past week by both the Indiana House and Senate. Despite the Republican Party's efforts to quell allegations of partisan gerrymandering, it is quite clear that partisanship has been a factor.

  • Florida: Flashpoint in the Debate about Voter Fraud

    Florida has joined Texas, Wisconsin, South Carolina, and Indiana among states either passing or seriously considering requiring a government-issued photo ID to be presented whenever any individual votes. Florida's House Bill 1355 and Senate Bill 2086 would: require all voters to present a government issued ID at the polls, mandate the use of provisional ballots if an eligible voter moves to another county, tighten rules on voter registration groups, and shortening the validity of voter signatures on citizen initiatives.

  • Voting: A Right, A Privilege, or A Responsibility?

    When Americans talk about their democracy, they typically emphasize the importance of the right to vote. But the fact is that, unlike other democratic rights protected in the First Amendment, voting rights do not have clear constitutional protections. State legislatures have the right to appoint electors in presidential races without holding elections, for example, and states can enact a variety of policies that directly or indirectly infringe on suffrage rights. While strengthening voting rights in the Constitution would seem like a logical step, there's a potential political barrier: confusion about the meaning of "right."


  • Louisiana Redistricting: A Better Method

    Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is about to sign legislation establishing a redistricting plan that distorts partisan representation, breaks up natural communities, underrepresents racial minorities and creates largely noncompetitive races. Super districts with  two three-member districts and a non-winner-take-all voting systemn would dramatically boost fair representation and give all voters competitive choice.

  • New Jersey Redistricting: A Better Method

    States around the country are plunging into the famed "political thicket" of redistricting. States having to move the fastest are those like New Jersey that this year will hold state legislative elections in their new plan. With winner-take-all rules, the impact of how lines are drawn is enormously point - that's why FairVote suggests giving more power to voters and less power to mapmakers through adoption of forms of proportional voting. New Jersey's state legislative districts provide a good example.

    New Jersey's Apportionment Commission is a bipartisan body which is responsible for appointing the state's 40 legislative districts following a census every ten years. Each state legislative district elects one state senator and two state assembly members. After the usual  impasse between the five Republican and five Democratic commission members, the tie-breaking member of the commission (one selected with the goal of being independent and representing the public interest) went with the democratic plan. Below is the final appointment plan they agreed upon.