Trotter’s Analytic Study: Is the current FDP weighed voting system fair?

US_Democratic_Party_Logo.svgEarlier today on the Political Hurricane, Kartik Krishnaiyer wrote about the weighed vote system for the Florida Democratic Party chair’s race. After this article, one of the respondents said that the vote should be done by population of each county instead of the current formula of the FDP. I decided to look into this matter and see how a changed weighed voting system would work for certain scenarios.

Before we go into this, let’s explain how the current vote is done, using Alachua and Baker Counties as examples. According to the bylaws of the Florida Democratic Party:

“Each county’s vote shall be based upon a number equal to its combined percentages of the total state Democratic registration and the average of the total state Democratic vote for Governor, the total state Democratic vote for President, and the total state Democratic vote for United States Senator, multiplied by five (5), and rounded to the nearest even whole number. The election figures used shall be those certified by the Florida Department of State for the most recent general election for Governor, President, or United States Senator, and the most recent registration figures announced and certified by the Florida Department of State. Each county shall be entitled to a minimum of two
(2) votes.”

Yes, it is a mouthful, but let’s look it over. Currently, Alachua County under this system would get 18 votes. First, they currently hold 1.7% of the registered voters in Florida. Also, in the last Presidential, Governor and US Senate race, they were 1.8% of the total Democratic vote. Add those two numbers together and we get 3.5. Now we have to multiply that number by “5”, which gives us 17.5. Then that number has to be rounded to the nearest even whole number which is 18. Therefore, Alachua County has 18 votes, with each committee member getting 9 votes. (Note: These numbers were done without the 2012 election, so Alachua actually has less votes. For this exercise, we used the 2008 Presidential race and the 2010 Senate race, which would have replicated the votes had Rod Smith had a challenger previously).

In regards to Baker County, they only hold .1% of registered Democrats and only averaged .1% to total Democratic votes in the elections mentioned above, which only equals .2. That multiplied by “5”, is 1. If this were rounded to the nearest even whole number, that number would be zero or two. But since the rules state that all counties must have a minimum of “2”, then Baker County gets two votes.

What we mentioned above is the current system, and those votes are laid out by Kartik in the link above. If we were to look at the current system, the top five counties in Florida get roughly 43% of the total weighed vote. The “Big 3” in south Florida get around 31% of the weighed vote. The I-4 Corridor gets around 25% of the weighed vote, while rural Florida gets around 12% of the weighed vote.

So, let’s go ahead and throw out some other scenarios.

Scenario #1: Let’s say, for example, we only took the total population, while continuing to add the “5” multiplier as well as rounding to the nearest whole number. In this case, the five largest counties in Florida would have only 40% of the weighed vote. The “Big 3” in south Florida would only have 28% of the vote, a 3% drop. The I-4 Corridor would have 27%, a 2% jump. The biggest winner would be the rural counties with 17% of the vote. Still, because we only did population and didn’t do the average of the last three races, the amount of votes have been cut in half. Still, this scenario heavily favors rural Florida, as well as slightly favors Central Florida, compared to the current structure.

Scenario #2: On the other hand, let’s look at the total population and actually add the average of the election results. In this case, the number of votes will double from the last scenario (giving us the same as the current formula) because we are adding the population as well as the average of the races. If we look at this formula, the top five counties control 42% of the vote. The “Big 3” control 30%. The I-4 Corridor controls 25%, while rural Florida controls 12%.

While this seems to be quite similar to the current system, it really isn’t. The regions might be the same, but the amount of votes by each county changes drastically. Currently, both Broward and Miami-Dade Counties have 118 votes each. Under this formula, Broward would get 104 votes, while Miami-Dade would get 126 votes. In the case between Broward and Miami-Dade, population becomes the biggest factor. But let’s look at Orange County vs. Hillsborough County. Currently, Hillsborough County has a larger population than Orange County, which currently results in Hillsborough getting four more votes than Orange. Under this scenario, because Orange highly outperforms Hillsborough, Orange makes up for the lack of population with strong Democratic performances. Therefore, this scenario would have Hillsborough and Orange with the same amount of votes.

Scenario #3: In this scenario, we will only look at registered Democrats. This basically takes the current formula and drops the election result average, making this purely based on registered Democrats. Again, since the election results aren’t added, the vote is half of what is currently required for the chair’s race.

In this scenario, the top five counties in Florida would have 42%. The “Big 3” would have 30% of the vote. The I-4 Corridor would have 26%% of the vote, while rural Florida would benefit greatly with 16.5% of the vote.

Of course there are other possible scenarios that can be looked at, but that could take forever. These are just a few of the weighed options that could be looked at straightforward with a tweaking of the current system.

In regards to this, some of you might ask about the 2010 Senate race and how that might impact the Democratic average, since I used that race instead of the 2012 race. Looking at the stats, it is a non-factor. The largest negative deviation was -1.7% in Palm Beach County with the largest positive deviation being in Miami-Dade County with 2.2%. Overall in the state, the average deviation equaled 0.0%. Therefore, Democrats voting for Crist did not have an impact on how the average is calculated for Democratic votes for the state chair’s race.

So, what is the overall determining factor? Well, let’s look at the rule yet again.

Each county’s vote shall be based upon a number equal to its combined percentages of the total state Democratic registration and the average of the total state Democratic vote for Governor, the total state Democratic vote for President, and the total state Democratic vote for United States Senator”

In this rule, the word “and” stands for “addition”. This means that voter registration is considered one entity while the averages for the races mentioned are another entity, both which need to be added together. This calculation gives the advantage to the larger counties. Looking at Broward, they have 12.3% of the registered Democrats in Florida, while their election average is 11.4% of the total Democratic votes cast. Therefore, their vote number before the 5X multiplier is already 23.7.

Now, let’s look at Gadsden County. Gadsden has the highest Democratic registration of any rural county as well as the highest vote margin for Democrats of any rural county (and in some cases, all Florida counties). But because it is so small, Gadsden Democratic registration number only equals .5% of the state’s registered Democrats. Also, while they vote overwhelmingly for Democratic candidates. their vote average contribution to the state total is only .5% as well. Therefore before the multiplier, Gadsden only has 1 vote, even though it is highly Democratic. So, Broward 23.7, Gadsden 1.

Some might also ask “what if these numbers weren’t added, but were all averaged”? If that were the case, there would be very little in the way of deviation, but the number of votes would be substantially reduced. The largest negative deviation would be Miami-Dade County at 1.5%, with the largest positive deviation being Broward at 2.1%. Again, the overall deviation is 0.0%, so it would not change the overall actual average.

After looking at the research, I have come to the conclusion that the current FDP voting system does disproportionately favor the larger counties in Florida. When the voter registration and election averages are added together, this does nothing but bolster the votes for the larger counties. Because smaller counties have smaller numbers to add together, they cannot compete. So, if all numbers were averaged together, Broward, for example, would have 60 votes compared to 2 votes for Bradford. But once the registration numbers and vote average numbers are added together, Broward jumps to 118 vote, while Bradford stays at 2 votes. The 60 vote total for Broward is representative of population, the 118 number is representative of giving the larger counties a bigger say in the election.

When doing this research, I though I was going to say that the current system is fine and that the large county vote was representative. But it wasn’t, and my own research even shocked me. This doesn’t mean that rural Florida should get most of the votes. No, the larger counties should still have a larger say. But with the current system, the large counties have a larger say…on steroids.

Here are the plans mentioned above:

Scenario 1

Scenario 2

Scenario 3

(A final note…this does not factor in votes by elected officials, DNC members or party officials, only the weighed vote)

2 thoughts on “Trotter’s Analytic Study: Is the current FDP weighed voting system fair?”

  1. Pingback: » Trotter's Analytic Study: Is the current FDP weighed voting system fair?

  2. Eliminate number 2 as that would include non citizens in the count.

    I think realistically we will see no change in the weights although we may see more votes for elected officials.