Posted on May 31, 2007The Google alerts for YouTube came in, one thing led to another, and I stumbled on this video. Evidently produced by the Ontario Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, it explains what the Assembly was, the process it used to arrive at a consensus, why that consensus was on MMP and just a little bit of how MMP would work in practice.
Technically speaking, we're looking at two votes (one list, one district) with a 3% threshold.
For more on the mechanics of mixed-member proportional voting - how one votes and how it affects the allocation of seats - see a great Flash animation produced by the Citizens' Assembly, featuring Billy Ballot and Nina News. One key point from that video: despite Ontario's "majoritarian" winner-take-all system, there has not been a majority government elected on a majority of province-wide votes since 1937.
Apparently we're to stay tuned for more videos on MMP by Steve Withers. Withers went to New Zealand to help the successful electoral reform push there in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
The Citizens' Assembly process in Ontario is a remarkable thing, and that first video drives this fact home. This is the second time a Canadian province has trusted 'average citizens' to talk about their electoral system - even if the government set the referendum bar a bit too high at 60%. It's also proof that these issues are not as Byzantine as editorial page detractors would have us believe.
FairVote supports this approach to reform, and there's been particular effort to advance a Citizens' Assembly in California. I would be pleasantly shocked, however, if the major parties in any state ceded this kind of power to average people - or to public reason in general. It's easier for them to target the same handful of districts year after year.