Missing: Female Representatives

The USA 76th in world ranking female representatives.

Photo by Olga Guryanova on Unsplash

When the Supreme Court decision was leaked that Roe v. Wade may be on the chopping block, it made me think about the US political arena and how few females are actually found in the ring. For sure, a number of female representatives are pushed forward on television and in leading political positions because it makes us look good in the eyes of the world. Yet we rank 76th in the world with a truly limited number of females sitting in our most important seats (2022).

What is going on? Why are there so few women in politically important places in the United States?

For one, it is the voting system.

When New Zealand got rid of its two-party system in 1996, the number of female representative rose with almost 50 percent in a single election.

[moved from 21/100 to 37/120, which is an increase from 21% to 30.8%.]

Today, almost the exact same number of males as females are found in New Zealand’s most important political seats.

San Francisco had at-large elections up until 2000. While at-large is not the best voting system, there are some generalization available that can benefit females. Yet the more important part of mentioning San Francisco is the enormous shocker that occurred in 2000. Where prior there were five out of eleven Supervisor seats occupied by women, right when district elections was put in place, that number of females fell to 1.

Over the years the Democratic Party did its best to put females in seats, but that was tinkering by a political party that has full control over all eleven seats. The rise in females did not occur because the voters picked the women; it was manipulated in place because voters wanted to believe that their democracy worked well. Plus it made San Francisco look good.

Did you know that female Senators are actually richer than their male counterparts?

Too bad that is only shows that women can indeed overcome sex discrimination in the US Senate. All they need to do is bring more money than everyone else and the doors open wide for them.

As they say, exceptions always confirm the rules, and in this case the rules are not about gender but about money. The larger the district, the more money you gotta bring. Male, female? Not an issue.

Here is an image of the democratic world according to the definition of what a democracy is.

Voting systems in 2006, showing democratic nations

The United States and the UK are not shown on this map as democratic nations because they do not have a system of representation of all voters. They have a system of either winner-take-all or first-past-the-post and neither system guarantees voter representation. Rather, voters compete with voters for the win, with either the majority or the plurality getting the seat. Everyone else goes home empty-handed.

These nations also have (much) lower voter turnouts because voters are not dumb. People know when they partake in a game or if they are given fair representation.

Yellow: Winner-take-all. Green: proportional. Blue: mix.

No yellow in top of this list. People stay home in greater numbers when they are not given a mature opportunity for representation.

(P.S. some nations had mandatory voting in place, so they got a higher position due to people being required to vote.)

(P.P.S this data is taken over more than 50 years and very solid, but some shifts of relative importance have taken place since.)

Here is an image from the local voter turnout perspective, this time just European nations are shown:

Source: https://www.ssb.no/en/valg/artikler-og-publikasjoner/lower-voter-turnout-than-sweden-and-denmark

Here are some interesting voter-turnout numbers for local elections in the United States:

The USA would sit lowest in that European graph. Notice how low the UK ranks in voter turnout for local elections here as well.

One way of getting more females in seats in the United States is by shaming the two political parties. A ranking of 76th in the world is simply shameful. It tells us that something is off, and as San Francisco has shown us, the two parties can indeed fix up the outcomes. That means they are partly responsible for the low number of females. They did not do their best over the years to deliver a more balanced outcome.

Another way to improve female representation is through voting reform. Ranked Choice Voting may help a little because the harshest aspects can be taken away from what is often a bullfight between neck-and-neck candidates. A softer, more humane candidate can get picked by more voters for the second slot and therefore win a seat.

Yet the real benefit occurs when voters are all respected, and all voters go home feeling good about their pick of candidate and a system that will actually lead to all voters getting the representatives all voters wanted.

Fighting for the win or just simply getting what you picked?

In this quick example of a city council with eight seats, green represents the voters that are guaranteed their pick. White represents the maximum lack of voter empowerment.

With the eight districts to the left, voters have a far greater chance to walk home empty-handed, shown in white, with up to as many as 49.9% of the voters getting nothing.

With the eight seats all elected in a single election to the right, 11% is the largest possible percentage of all voters going home empty-handed.

It is not a surprise that the honest system benefits female representation. The system does not discriminate systematically like we have in our system. A group as small as 11% of all voters can get the representative they want in the better voting system. That means political freedom, not political repression.

If you want full political freedom for holding local elections in your city or county, consider contacting or joining the Local Revolutions grassroots organization.

We follow the legal route, and we claim that your city or county election should already follow the proportional system. The Founding Fathers are with us.



Structural Philosopher

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