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Reasons for not voting by district

By Kathie L. Russell
Posted Tuesday, October 24, 2006

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Chatham County, NC - Does district voting disenfranchise minorities? I don't have the answer. Please check out the organizations that have formed to educate us about this issue - Take Back Our Vote and Citizens for Countywide Voting - to get the facts, and make your own decision. I haven't looked into it but I suspect they have a good case.

But to answer Steve's question, are there other "reasons" for not voting by district? Yes, in fact, there are other reasons. Voting by geographic region (or "district") works great on a national, and even state, level. Why?
Because of the vast diversity of interest and geographic distance, each state obviously has concerns that need to be protected which differ greatly from each other- e.g., Ohio and California might need to compete over attracting a certain industry to locate there. This can also be true of different regions within a state. This is the reason for localized representative voting, to protect the interests of your region.

At the county level, this becomes not only unnecessary, but problematic. A county is a small enough unit that there is no need for districts within one county to compete against each other. Instead, the county should be working together as a whole, for the common good of the county. Not to advocate for
Silk Hope over Bonlee, or vice versa.

What is good for a district is good for the whole county. Therefore, we don't want our commissioners to favor one district of the county, and work harder to get more benefits for that district. If they are elected by district this will naturally occur, since they will want to please their electorate and thus assure their re-election. Their votes on issues affecting many things, including schools, development, and funding would be biased in favor of their district. While this works on a national level with a huge national budget, on a county level it simply leads to gridlock. Nothing ever gets done because instead of considering the overall needs of the county, the commissioners are unduly concerned with district issues.

In addition, district voting could end up giving unequal power to certain parts of the county - which is the very thing it is purportedly proposed to prevent. As the northeast grows, new districts will eventually be added there.

Ultimately, this will give the northeast more commissioners working for their districts, so other parts of the county will be underrepresented. Since this is what the plan is supposed to protect against, it seems to me the plan is flawed.

 
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