Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Fixing the Florida Legislature, pt4

Continued from Part 3

            I have tried to establish 3 things to this point, one per blog.  1) the current Florida government is laid out in a fashion that is undemocratic and corrupt.  2) a new system that is more democratic is possible once you move away from emulating the US federal system.  3) a parliament like those found in many other countries is a good model to emulate.
            To illustrate how a parliament would be put into effect in Florida all that is really needed is to 1) figure out how many seats you want to work with, 2) determine the population of Florida, 3) divide the map of Florida into zones, 4) determine how what percentage of people are in each zone, 5) use that percentage to determine how many seats a zone will get, 6) have the parties create a list of candidates, and then 7) have an election.  Clearly the last two steps are not going to happen, that would demand participation from the parties and the state government, and as we have established, those are corrupt and not going to change for the benefit of the people.  But this is an intellectual exercise that I can point to when anyone asks, "Well, if you know better what would you have us do to fix things?"

I'd say, "Let's at the very least get rid of all the black magic," as a possible fix, but since black magic isn't real I almost prefer corrupt individuals to keep wasting their time on it, instead of figuring out how to work the system even more.
Step 1: How many seats do we want?
            This is actually one of those great questions when creating any representative body, currently the United States' Congress has 435 seats, but had less than 70 when originally created, and only had 13 under the Articles of Confederation.  The number only became fixed at 435 when they all had the collective realization that they would run out of chairs in the Capital building if they kept trying for some sort of perfect representation model.
            The more members you have the more accurate your proportion system can be, if you have 100 members then you can dived things along percentage points rather elegantly, one percent of the vote means 1 chair.  If by contrast your zone ends up with 17, then how do you distribute 5% fairly?  5% of 17 means somebody will only get .85 of a seat.
            Florida has a population of 19,560,000 people (roughly), so you are going to need a good number of people to give a flexible number of seats to work with.  There are currently 40 Senators and 120 House members, so 160 might be a good number to go with, but (to look back at Part 3) Austria has a population almost half our size but has 62 Federal and 183 National seats for a total of 245.  In my mind, I think the difference should be split, and we should look at 200 seats, that means a candidate would need at least .5% of the voters to get a single seat, that seems like a low barrier to entry, but at the same time that is still nearly 98,000 votes per seat.

Step 2: What is the population of Florida?
            I already mentioned that, 19,560,000 (roughly).  The Federal Government takes a census every 10 years and Florida already uses it as a guide to redraw lines, instead it will now just be used to allocate seats.  Done.

Step 3: How do we divide Florida into zones?
            This might shock a few people, but Florida is already sectioned off into zones by numerous governing entities, crusading organizations, and crazy people like me.  None of them use the same zones ultimately, but comparing them gives us all a good range of possibilities to work with.
Here is one with only 3 zones used by the Florida Prison facilities.
            I hate this one for multiple reasons, primarily that 3 zones is too few for the prison system let alone a voting system.  Look at the vast size of zone 3, imagine some poor fool whose family lives on the East coast, but he is imprisoned on the West... Think he gets a lot of visits from his family?  Think that helps with becoming a reformed citizen?  Well it will be pretty shitty at creating a coherent area to advertise and mobilize votes in too.  (Here is an unrelated video about why prisons in the United States and Florida in particular are bad).

Here is a map by... Somebody.  For... Some reason.
             I actually think that this has a lot of the same problems as the Prison map, this is not a good number of zones.  Especially the purple area, the East coast has a much higher population than the west and they have very different voting patterns (and different television markets, Sarasota, the second county from the top of the purple on the West Coast for instance, watches Rays' baseball games, the East coast watches the Marlins.  As silly as that may sound, parties would have a hard time finding a good time to buy commercials for the election targeting sports fans if this market split existed).

Here is how the Future Business leaders of America see Florida.
            This is actually pretty good and 5 would probably be the minimum number of zones the breakdown would need to insure that no region of Florida is being overlooked with representation.  But the Red Region would still have counties on both the East and West sides of Florida.  And the panhandle is distinctly larger than the others with one key issue: it is in two time zones.

This map is used for Nursing Administration in the state.
            Since it is already used in some governing capacity it would be the easiest to integrate into existing documents.  It breaks thing up into regions that are distinct from each other, and somewhat internally harmonious.  There might be some wiggle room around the edges, I bet Citrus county is more tied into Pinellas County than to Taylor, but this looks pretty good.  And I believe the split in the Panhandle does run along the timeline break (if not that might be an issue to be targeted for fixing).

This is the last map I found from the Libertarian Party of Florida.
            This is probably the most regions that could be reasonably carved out of Florida before things start to get too targeted.  It works well enough, but having there be 11 zones (an odd number for dividing things) seems a little silly, and the way they chose to number them is also off (we would obviously change that for simplicity of reading, but this one's presentation is pretty rough and contributes to me not liking it).  I can also see that their Region 3, while internally consistent will be under populated compared to 1, 2, 7, 9, and 10.  I would say this is a little too much division, but I included it to illustrate some different ways things could be done.
             Overall I think that the Nursing map is the best bet, it has 8 zones, none of which reach across the width of the state, none of which have strange overlapping media markets (that I am aware of).  I will continue along the steps using this map in Part 5.

The "winner", I'll be using from now on.

             (If you have a criticism of what I have written, please comment.  If you like what I wrote, please share this on your various social networks and +1 it on Google+.  I would like more people to be aware of the failings of not only Florida, but State Governments all over the US, and this is as best attempt I can muster to illustrate the problems while still having enough humor that people can stomach reading the whole thing.  Thank you.)

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