Democracy is Dead

— at the local levels in the United States

The United States would take up last spot on this European list.

“The percentages seen for voter turnout at local elections [in the USA] show a range of “15 to 27 percent of eligible voters cast[ing] a ballot in their local elections.” Source: National Civic League.

Let’s tell each other the truth about our democracy. While the races at the Federal level get all the attention, the voter turnout is actually a bit low. Still, politics is alive at the Federal level. Not so at the local levels.

Democracy is dead at the local levels in the United States.

Don’t be fooled by the spin now applied to voter turnout. What is shown in the newspapers is voter turnout based on registered voters and not all eligible voters. In the European list above, all eligible voters are automatically registered voters; they are one and the same group.

Of course there are exceptions to the low voter turnout for local elections in the USA. Think governmental cities like Washington and State capitals and the turnout is of course higher. Governmental workers will have a personal attraction to participate in elections for their government; consider it part of their jobs. But overall, we don’t give much about our local democracy.

This is not a surprise because voters are not valued.

Look at the European list, and the nations in top all have voting systems in place that value the voters. They made the voters the most important parts of the elections.

Toward the bottom, the voters are not valued all that much. The United Kingdom, for instance, uses a system of first-past-the-post, something local governments can also use in the United States. That voting system gives the seat to the plurality of the voters, not necessarily the majority.

  • The less your vote matters, the lower the voter turnout.

In the USA, the local levels are manipulated by local officials to the point few voters vote, and rather use their feet to express themselves. We are not empowered in local elections.

One way local officials diminish you, the local voter, is through elections for just half the seats per each election cycle. It means you cannot even declare yourself in specifics what you want, what you desire, how you feel about your local government because your option to do so got cut in half. You might as well stay home, right?

  • When there are four seats on the council, then we can try to express ourselves via these four people. Yet when there are just two seats per election cycle, then getting a foot in the door got made twice as hard. The next time around, the odds are just as bad. It is quite obvious: City Hall does not like us.

Next, cities often use either district elections or they use at-large voting.

With district elections, City Hall rounds us up in districts and each group gets to pick one candidate. The group decides and we can try to nudge the group’s decision into our direction, but we cannot point out well who we like to represent us. We find ourselves unable to express ourselves well.

  • If you like Cobalt Blue, but the real choice is between Lemon Yellow and Tangerine Orange, are you then going to vote? Likely not.

With at-large elections, City Hall provides the option to pick multiple candidates at the same time. Yet some voters get all their picks, some voters one or two, and some voters get none of their picks. The system setup makes you work for it, but there is still no guarantee you get what you picked.

  • If you like Cobalt Blue, but just three candidates can get picked (from particular parts of the rainbow), then you are lucky if one of them is blu-ish. Your chances did not improve by much and many still end up empty-handed.

City Hall does not value you. They don’t care.

In Proportional Voting — the system that Thomas Jefferson first devised — all voters are fully empowered. Everyone gets to pick the one they want and they either get the candidate of their choice or they get a candidate that is very similar to the one they wanted, sitting in a council seat.

These voters are then represented by their actual choice. The group did not influence who your representative is going to be. The voter that wanted Cobalt Blue will get to pick Cobalt Blue and got for certain a person from the blue category to represent that voter. That vote will not go to Lemon Yellow or Tangerine Orange.

The top nations in Europe in the list above all use Thomas Jefferson’s clean voting system. The local voters are valued. No one tinkers with this voting system; its pure and has an inherent mechanism that empowers the voters. These voters come out in droves, even for that seemingly not that important local election.

The minute City Hall tinkers with the voting format, that is then also when a separate-but-equal method got instituted that will minimize your power.

  • Proportional voting is the only system in which tinkering is not included; no internal walls are raised. All voters are valued equally in the outcomes.

Naturally, City Halls are not allowed to build separating walls inside our elections, but nobody tells the Emperor that he is not wearing any clothes. Everyone is too busy with their own affairs. Besides, who cares about local elections anyways.

National elections — voter turnout — 55 years of data.

For the National level, we see similar results. All national elections garner more attention from voters everywhere we look than local elections, but the USA is still found at the bottom.

Where Democracy is dead at the local levels in the USA, Democracy is anemic at the Federal levels.

We spend the most money per election per capita in the world, and still we show up last on all lists. Overall, we are not doing well.

In Yellow, the graph shows nations that use separate-but-equal in their voting formats. None is found in top.

In Green, these nations use a Thomas Jefferson voting version.

In Blue, a mixture of the two voting systems.

Notice how this graph is based on 55 years of data.

Sick and tired of our voting system? Haven’t gone to the voting booth in years?

Join Local Revolutions grassroots organization to make the change we all desire — a change that is US Constitution approved so we can implement the first step today. Or have you tuned out completely already and don’t care about the truth anymore? Then you belong to a very large club.

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