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Quorum call

4 Oct. 1998

Election season and muck is in the air ... again.

And why shouldn't the candidates go negative? It works. Why? Because it helps just as much if you get an opponent's supporter to stay home as it does if you persuade someone to come out and support you.

The math of the campaign strategist undermines democracy.

There's a way to avoid this.

Groups that vote -- from legislatures to civic clubs -- use it all the time. It's called a quorum. You have to have at least a certain percentage of your members participating in a vote or it doesn't count.

Apply this rule to elections. Didn't get a quorum to vote in the senator's race? OK. No senator this term.

This makes it more important to stand for something -- something important enough to persuade people to support you -- and less rewarding to trash your opponent.

Set the quorum percentage high enough to make it a challenge to the candidates -- 65 percent, say. And make that 65 percent of the eligible voters. (Make it registered voters, and the old math will still apply, in slightly different form.)

A snowball's chance in Hell? My cynicism rises. If there's evidence to the contrary, let me know.

Copyright © 1998 John Spragens


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