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If Congressional Elections Were Like Proposed NMB Union Elections Final

If Congressional Elections Were Like Proposed NMB Union Elections Final

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Published by mjeltsen

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Published by: mjeltsen on Mar 28, 2011
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 March 28, 2011Dear Member of Congress,Elections in our nation operate by a fairly basic principle
count the ballots actually cast. Yet aprovision in the House version of the FAA Reauthorization legislation would eliminate these fairelection standards for aviation and
rail employees’
union elections, overseen by the NationalMediation Board (NMB). This provision would count eligible voters who did not participate in theelecti
on the same as having voted “no”
an undemocratic and unfair standard different fromevery other American election.Since some Members of Congress are proposing such an inherently skewed election standard forNMB elections, we thought you would be interested to see how congressional elections wouldproceed if they were conducted under these proposed rules. If congressional elections proceededunder the proposed rules for the NMB elections, in which non-participants were counted as votesfor the opponent, then none of the current Members of Congress would have won election in 2010.The report on the following pages highlights the consequences of holding congressional electionslike proposed NMB elections.The current rule is working and brings NMB elections in line with basic democratic tenets of fairelections. Don't hold union elections for aviation and rail employees to a different standard thanany other American election. Congress should ensure that the proposed repeal of the currenNMB elections standards does not advance and that all elections in this nation remain fair anddemocratic.Sincerely,Communications Workers of America
What if Congressional Elections Were Like Proposed NMB Union Elections?
If Unfair For Members of Congress, Rules Are Unfair For Airline/Railroad Workers
Elections in our nation operate by a fairly basic principle
count the ballots actually cast. Eligiblevoters who choose not to vote in an election certainly do not have their vote preferences assignedin one direction or another. These are fundamental cornerstones of elections that Americansconsider fair and democratic.Yet an under-the-radar provision in the FAA Reauthorization legislation moving through Congresswould eliminate these fair election standards for airline and railroad union elections overseen bythe National Mediation Board (NMB).
 A provision in the House version of the legislation would count eligible voters who did not participate in the election the same as having voted
Counting non-voters as
voters is a flagrant violation of fair election standards and would stack the decks against unions
 Applying the Proposed Standard to Congressional Elections
Since some Members of Congress are proposing such an inherently skewed election standard forNMB elections, we thought it would be interesting to see how their elections would proceed if we
adopted these Members’ appro
ach for congressional elections.In the 2010 midterm elections, 40.9% of eligible voters cast ballots nationwide.
Would it be fairor principled to assign a vote preference to the 59% of voters who did not participate? What would the electoral impact be for Members of Congress if they faced the same standards some of them are proposing for NMB elections? Well, we crunched the numbers and found out.
If congressional elections proceeded under the proposed rules for the NMB elections
 None of the current Members of Congress would have won election in 2010 underthis standard.
For each of the 435 House races in the 2010 elections, if you added the non-voting eligible voting population in a congressional district to the actual vote total cast forthe opponent(s) of the current Member, then not one Member would have mustered themajority of votes needed to win election.
On average, actual 2010 congressional race winners would have received only 26.1%of the votes in 2010 House elections if they had been conducted under the proposedNMB election standard.Fewer than 2% of Members would have even mustered 40% or higher
. Only 6 of 435current Members of Congress would have received 40% or higher in their electioncampaigns under the proposed NMB election rules standard.
More than 1 in 10 Members would have received less than 20% of the vote in theirelections
. 48 of 435 current Members of Congress would have received under 20% -- 11%of the total Members in the House.
One Member’s Plight 
To illustrate the consequences of this proposed NMB elections standard,
let’s take a look at what 
would happen to Rep. John Mica (R-FL), the Chair of the House Transportation andInfrastructure Committee and the lead driver behind the insertion of the NMB electionsprovision into the larger FAA Reauthorization bill
. Rep. Mica received support from 69% of the voters in his district who cast a ballot in his successful 2010 re-election campaign, amountingto slightly over 185,000 actual votes tallied for him.However, if you add the over 83,000 voters who voted against Rep. Mica to 312,000 eligible voterswho did not participate, then Rep. Mica would only muster 32% of the overall total
falling farshort of the majority needed for election. Rep. Mica would lose handily
to the 68% of “voters” who
chose his opponent or were non-participating voters whose absence was counted as a vote for thealternative.
While this may seem a ridiculous model for conducting a congressional election, that’s
exactly the point.
If the NMB elections provision moves forward, union certification for airlineand railroad workers will rely on just such a standard. Non-voters in the election will be counted
as “no” votes and tallied the same as voters who actually voted “no.”
If such a standard is unfairand ridiculous for Members of Congress, it is unfair and ridiculous for all elections in ournation
.The only votes that should count in an election are ones that are cast. This is not ideology, this iscommon sense. Keeping airline and ra
ilroad elections fair isn’t inherently pro
-union. But workingto ensure
that unions can’t win elections is inherently unfair and un
What it Means and Why it’s Important 
The National Mediation Board (NMB) adopted a rule change in 2010 to bring NMB elections in linewith the same democratic principles as we use in other American elections: only count the ballotsof those who vote
. Updating NMB’s elections standards received bi
-partisan support in the 111
 Congress, with 13 House Republicans sending a letter of support to the NMB.

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