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Electoral reform

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Electoral reform projects seek to change the way that public desires are reflected in elections. They include measures to reform parties, redefine citizen eligibility to vote, alter electoral constituencies and their borders, design new ballots, counting procedures or equipment, tighten scrutineering (by the parties or other observers), ensure safety of citizens voting, limit the influence of bribes and coercion, and often to alter the rules by which the legislature and executive organize themselves given the ballots, e.g. runoff voting, instant runoff voting, approval voting, referendum, representative recall, party disapproval[?], or proportional representation (see voting systems for more examples)

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Continuous change

There are many such movements globally, in almost all democratic countries, as part of the basic definition of a democracy is the right to change the rules. Political science is imperfect. Electoral reforms seek to make it work a bit better, a bit sooner. The solution to the problems of democracy tends to be "more democracy". Electoral Reform is a permanent feature of any democracy.

Nation building

In less democratic countries, elections are of course demanded by dissidents; therefore the most basic electoral reform project is to achieve a transfer of power to a democratically elected government with a minimum of bloodshed, e.g. in South Africa in 1994. This case highlights the complexity of such reform. Such projects tend to require changes to national or other constitutions, and to alter balances of power. They are always by definition politically painful.

United Nations role

The United Nations Fair Elections Commission provides international observers to national elections that are likely to face challenge by the international community of nations, e.g. in 2001 in Yugoslavia, in 2002 in Zimbabwe, etc..

The United Nations standards address safety of citizens, coercion, scrutiny and eligibility to vote. They do not impose ballot styles, party diversity, or borders on electoral constituencies. Various global political movements, e.g. labor movements[?], the Green Party, political Islam, political Zionism[?], advocate various cultural, social, ecological means of setting borders that they consider "objective" or "blessed" in some other way. Contention over electoral constituency borders within or between nations and definitions of "refugee", "citizen", and "right of return" mark various global conflicts including Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, the Congo and Rwanda.

National reforms

National electoral reform projects tend to be simpler and less focused on life-and-death matters. Australia and New Zealand held Royal Commissions to find the best form of "proportional representation" of parties in the legislature, and redesign ballots to select or elect these Members of Parliament.

Electoral Borders

Electoral constituency (or "riding" or "district") borders also tend to be set by such national projects at regular intervals, or by statutory rules and definitions. Some electoral reforms seek to fix these borders according to some cultural or ecological criteria, e.g. bioregional democracy which sets borders to fit exactly to ecoregions, to avoid the obvious abuse of "gerry-mandering" where these borders are set deliberately to favor one party or another, or just to improve management of the public's commonly-owned property.



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