Polarization in the Maine Senate and House continues to increase

November 20, 2022 — One discovery we made in the Maine Senate and House data is that between 2017 and 2022 average voting polarization in the Maine Senate and House has increased from 60% to almost 80%. Sadly, but unsurprisingly, over this period, the percentage of bipartisan votes, where most Democrats and Republicans vote together, decreased from 19% to 10%, and the percentage of polarized votes increased from 32% to 61%. Some, but not necessarily all, of this increase is due to Republican legislators starting to vote more unanimously (like their Democratic colleagues).

Increasing polarization in Maine Senate and House votes between 2017 and 2022 (sessions 128, 129, and 130)

Our website (http://dash.democracygps.org) allows visitors to see for themselves which bills were most and least polarizing.


Easy access to Maine Senate and House voting histories for undecided voters

November 19, 2022 — To help Maine voters make their final decisions for the Maine Senate and House of Representatives elections next week, we developed a new website (https://dash.democracygps.org) that allows visitors to easily explore and compare the voting histories of Maine politicians. For example, visitors can compare the voting histories of Nicole Grohoski and Brian Langley, who were both running for the Maine Senate District 7 seat. Grohoski has voted mostly (94% of the time) with her fellow Democrats, but Langley’s voting record is more liberal than many other Maine Republicans, having voted with the Democratic majority 50% of the time.

Polarization and party agreement for the 2022 candidates for Maine’s Senate District 7 election

The website provides a view of all recent Maine Senate and House members that shows how often each politician voted with the Democratic or Republican majorities and a measure of how polarized their voting records were (negative for more agreement with the Democrats and positive for more agreement with the Republicans).

Comparison of candidates Grohoski and Langley to other recently elected Maine politicians

The website also lists some of the most independent or bipartisan votes for each politician, allows visitors to easily search the complete voting histories of current and recent Maine state senators and representatives since 2017, and shows which bills were most polarizing.


Bernie Sanders would likely have been elected president in 2016 with ranked choice voting

January 20, 2018 — My day job has impeded my progress, but, in honor of the one-year anniversary of Donald Trump’s inauguration as our president, I am releasing the first results from on my ranking voting polling and simulations.

I want to emphasize that this study is not trying to question the actual outcome of the 2016 Presidential election. It is only trying to answer the following questions:

  • “What would have happened in 2016 if ranked voting was used?”, and
  • “Should the United States use ranked voting in the future?”

Based on a May 2017 nationwide SurveyMonkey survey of almost 1300 respondents, and many tens of thousands of voting simulations, I’ve concluded that Bernie would likely have been elected president in 2016 if we had used instant run-off elections to choose the electors in the electoral college.

Below is a set of 15 slides describing this work. Still to come  will be:

  • Analysis of alternate ranked voting methods (e.g. “Schultze”), which also predict high probability wins for Sanders
  • More detailed description of uncertainty analysis and “convergence” of numerical simulations
  • More detailed analysis of poll results
  • Public release of polling and simulation data



Introduction to democracyGPS

September 5, 2016 — Are you frustrated with the overwhelming influence of money in politics and by how little our individual actions seem to affect government policies? Imagine an online system that moves beyond both direct democracy and representative democracy to more directly connect voters’ opinions though decision making delegates to policy and legislation compromises and implementation. This system could be built into current electronic democracy platforms like https://www.brigade.com and https://www.countable.us/.

I’ve posted a few slides from slideshare describing my vision and an implementation plan below. Please comment or contact me privately through the contact link at the upper right for more information.

Last updated: 5/5/19. Previous versions: One Drive

Fixing Our Democracy (CPS Day 2020)

On 1/28/20, I am leading two hour long sessions on electronic democracy at College Prep (a.k.a. CPS) in Oakland, CA. Below are some links to more information.

Operational updates

We patched a security vulnerability on our wordpress blog that temporarily allowed the title to change to an advertisement for a bailbond service. This vulnerability was very unlikely to have compromised any personal information on the discussion pages, and it did not affect the polling data stored on polis.democracygps.org at all.

We also noticed that polis.democracygps.org was not running. We have restarted the server and are writing an automatic restart script.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.


Piedmont Public Safety Cameras

The city of Piedmont, CA is in the process of evaluating and considering an expanded public safety camera program and may discuss further at a June City Council meeting. If you are a Piedmont resident, and to help ensure that the City Council understands your views on public safety cameras, please visit polis.democracygps.org/piedmont-camera to vote on a series of statements regarding the public safety camera program. If the existing statements don’t capture your opinions and feelings, you can add one or more new statements that you agree with. A primary goal is to inform the city council as they decide whether to approve new public safety cameras and to help set policy and safeguards in their use. A secondary goal is to develop a more efficient, inclusive and dynamic platform for debate on city issues. Results from this survey will be submitted to the public safety committee before their next scheduled meeting at the end of November. Thank you in advance for your time and for your participation! And, your opinions will be kept confidential. For a broader discussion, please visit democracygps.org/piedmont/piedmont-public-safety-cameras/.

A Conservative Argument for Algorithmic Democracy

Below is an essay I submitted to the 2016/17 William F. Buckley, Jr. Ideas Forum and Contest. I was not a finalist, but I appreciated the opportunity to make the conservative argument for algorithmic democracy.

Algorithmic Democracy and a Free Society
by C.R. Krenn (democracygps@gmail.com) (11/12/17)

In 1950, William F. Buckley Jr. was frustrated by the state of university education in general and by Yale education in particular, and he was not alone. Today, I am frustrated by the state of democratic government in general and by the U.S. Congress in particular, and I am not alone. Regularly, more than 75% of voters polled disapprove of how Congress is handling its job [1]. We should be frustrated that the current polarization in Congress seems to prevent any meaningful discussion or compromise on issues such as immigration, campaign finance reform, tax reform, gun violence, or climate change. We should be heartened that, although the fraction of voters who disapprove of Congress’s job performance is growing, this has not yet significantly changed the voting rate [2]. And, we should be relieved that, although the electorate is becoming more polarized, there is still significant overlap in political values between self-identified Democratic and Republican voters [3]. We all can and should have a louder voice in our government and in the future of our country.
Continue reading “A Conservative Argument for Algorithmic Democracy”

Survey on possible effects of ranked voting in the 2016 U.S. presidential election

Because ranked choice voting is growing in popularity for state and local elections and because of the particularly fierce competition in the 2016 U.S. presidential primary and general elections, an obvious question to ask is how ranked voting would have affected the U.S. presidential election.
To answer this, we need data, in particular, data from a representative set of voters on how they voted in 2016, and how they would have voted if presidential ranked voting was possible.
For more background information on ranked choice voting and to participate in a five-minute poll on presidential ranked voting, please visit:

Action inspired by the 2016 Code for America Summit and Trump's election

The recent 2016 Code for America Summit was full of inspiring stories of civic tech successes. And, as our country responds to the presidential election, political leadership also matters. The right political leadership is needed to take advantage of our civic tech successes and to enable more in the future.
Is Donald Trump the right leader to do this? Would Hillary Clinton have been better? And, why were our choices for President so limited?
Continue reading “Action inspired by the 2016 Code for America Summit and Trump's election”