Redistricting / Gerrymandering
Voting Rights in Washington State
September 4, 2023
There was a time in my life when I would have signed a petition to decriminalize drugs. After using my own eyes and seeing the pain on our streets, I admit I was wrong. Decriminalization is cruel to individual drug addicts, while straining society. Andre Stepankowsky on Substack cites the facts about how drug courts can save lives.
Cowlitz County is among 27 of Washington’s 39 counties to operate an adult drug court. Those who don’t are generally small counties, such as Wahkiakum. More than 4,000 drug courts operate nationwide, according to state and U.S. Department of Justice statistics. Terminating Cowlitz County’s 25-year-old drug court would leave this area an outlier. Even some of Washington’s most conservative counties — including Lewis — operate drug courts and use a mental health tax to support them. Nearly 72% of the state’s counties impose the mental health tax. This is because drug courts work, even if they cannot by themselves address the enormous scope of this nation’s narcotics problem. Study after study shows that drug courts reduce addiction and criminal recidivism. Stanford University, for example, estimates that $1 spent on drug court saves about $4 in costs for jailing and caring for offenders. Recidivism drops, on average, by 38% to 50% among adult drug court participants.
August 31, 2023
DEMOCRACY IN DIVIDED SOCIETIES: ELECTORAL ENGINEERING TO REDUCE CONFLICT
Australian political scientist Benjamin Reilly reviews the evidence for using Ranked Choice Voting as a means to decrease electoral polarization:
Plurality voting is also a classic zero-sum game: more votes for my opponent means fewer voters for me. Ranked choice voting, by contrast, offers the potential for a positive-sum game: a candidate can benefit from ballots cast initially for someone else, if those votes return to her in the form of second or later rankings. Over time, this can encourage the formation of pre-electoral coalitions, resulting in potentially enduring “coalitions of commitment” in government. There is evidence of both practices occurring under the century-long use of RCV in Australia, via both formal and informal pre-election coalitions underpinned by ranking exchanges.
Such mutual reciprocity should also, in theory, promote more moderate political outcomes, as in most cases, the way to attract wider support is to adopt more centrist or “catch all” policy positions which appeal to the median voter. The exception is where more votes are lost by such moderation than are gained, which is always a possibility in very safe districts or in places with entrenched ethnic polarization. But in most cases, politicians seeking to gain additional votes from non-core supporters should have an incentive to moderate their political rhetoric and broaden their policy positions to pick up additional voter support.
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