Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Slating Fight Imminent in Dem At-Large Race


When the voters in the Democratic Primary or the November General Election get a chance to select candidates for the four At-Large City-County Council seats, they will do so without regard to seat or slot. After all, that is what "At-Large" is supposed to mean...no district or seat. That, however, is not the case in the race for the Marion County Democratic Party's slating endorsement in the At-Large race.

In a letter sent last week to potential slating voters, candidates, and elected officials, Party Chair Ed Treacy said that the Marion County Democratic Central Committee gave him the permission to create slating filing rules based on slots to combat the phenomenon of "bullet voting" which Treacy said has "hurt good candidates' chances."

What is bullet voting? I'm glad you asked (because I wasn't quite sure either). Bullet voting is where one candidate in a multi-choice race encourages his or her supporters to only vote for him or her and no other choices. If that happens, then it could have the effect of pushing one candidate ahead of others because the other candidates are not getting those votes.

Let's look at an example. Voters at this convention will get a possibility of four votes for Councillor At-Large. There are currently five names in the race, and more may join. Rather than putting names to this, we will number our candidates for this simulation as candidates 1-5. If candidate 1's supporters are encouraged to only vote for candidate 1, they are not voting for candidates 2-5. If that person has 200 supporters, then 200 people ONLY voted for candidate 1.

Enter candidate 2 with his 340 supporters. For the sake of argument, let's say Candidate 2's voters voted for candidate 2 and they all also, suspending reality, voted for candidate 1. Candidate 1 now has 540 votes whereas candidate 2 has just 340. That's bullet voting in a nutshell.

In the slotting method, four slots have been created, and the candidates sign up, first come first serve as they wish. The voters are now voting based on who is in the slot over who is in the entire race. Now, candidates 1-5 have to choose one of four slots. So, candidates 1-4 file first in slots A-D. Candidate 5 (and each additional candidate) has a choice. Who do I try to beat? My supporters can only vote for me, but, instead of affecting the entire ticket, it only effects my race in my slot.

Let's leave hypothetical land behind and go back to reality in the Marion County race.

Joanne Sanders, Zach Adamson, and Annette Johnson have filed and are, so far, unopposed. John Barth and Pat Andrews have filed in the same slot. From here on out, it definitely gets very interesting as more candidates potentially file and make strategic moves.

The reaction of the rank-and-file Democrat has been mixed. I have spoken to a few other potential voters and some of them agree with this method and others are calling shenanigans. Some believe the entire system was designed to protect or defeat a candidate, and others are just looking forward to watching the gamesmanship develop down the stretch.

When I first heard about the decision to organize the At-Large Council slating in slots, I was against the idea, but I am starting to warm up to it. The potential for wild cards and late filing surprises is intriguing. I will be interested to see how it all plays out. While I wish that slating were simply the top four vote getters win, I can see the concern of the MCDP is also possibly warranted.

Things are sure to happen at a rapid pace from here on out. Slating is scheduled for Saturday, February 12. Look for more fireworks ahead!

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Isn´t Pat Andrews a republican?? How can a republican run n a Democratic slating convention__

Jon E. Easter said...

Anon 1:59 a.m.
These Republican rumors and Pat are absolutely ridiculous. While Pat and I sometimes disagree on many things party-wise, she has been a longtime Democratic Precinct Committeeperson (longer than I've been involved in the party), and she is most definitely a Democrat.

If it sounds like I'm defending her, I am. She's a friend.

Anonymous said...

this process is the most fair and I am glad the party is doing it this way. There should not be "at large" candidates in any event. It is anti democratic. We have an at large person and that is the mayor. Each councillor should represent a district. This will in part help highlight that issue. As to some thinking it is a trick.... I fail to understand why. This is a slating convention and the party can make their own rules at a convention and this gives the party the best chance to preserve diversity on our ticket and since we Democrats hold that value fairly high we have a right to put in rules to make it more likely.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Okay, Jon, you're not going to sell me that the at-large slating process the Democrats are employing is about getting the "best" candidates. Been around too long for that.

I don't know why anyone would think Pat Andrews is a Republican. Sure she is fiscally responsible, but we Republicans have proven during the last 3 years locally that being a Republcian on the counciil, has little to do with fiscal responsibility.

Pat Andrews on the ticket would be a stroke of genius. Where is the one area in the county where the Democrats are weak? The three southern townships. If you pick a candidate from down there, you start to make inroads into the Republican's Marion County strength. Ed Treacy would be wise to promote more geographic balance on the ticket.

Plus, Pat Andrews is heads and shoulders more astute about city finances than anyone on the council, including Jackie Nytes. Her knowledge of things like TIF districts, inter local agreements, etc. is off the charts. She would be an enormous asset to the D's not only in the campaign, but on the council.

Can you imagine Pat Andrews up against Angel Rivera in a debate on city finances? She would rip him apart without even trying.

Anonymous said...

Jon, I continue to hear that Vop Osili is runing for CCC. I think that it would insure a victory for Melina if he did. Vop got over 87,000 votes in Marion County in the last election.

Anonymous said...

It's too bad Pat chose to run in the slot against John Barth... I would have gladly supported her in another slot, but John got my commitment months and months ago...

Jon E. Easter said...

I wasn't trying to sell you on the explanation, Paul.

Anonymous said...

Vop has publicly stated that he is NOT running at large....I think that the poster who keeps mentioning that is a Republican who wants to stir a pot of dissention that is not there.

Jon E. Easter said...

Anon 12:22 a.m.
Where and when did he state this because I have heard no such denial from him on this office.