Range Voting

How to Move Beyond the Two-Party System (10/7/2016)

Aren't you disgusted that you have to vote for the candidate most likely to win instead of the one that you like ? A vote for a Presidential candidate is a vote for an agenda, and usually a candidate with an honest agenda is unlikely to have any chance of winning an election. Take Bush for example (please): He was backed by corporations, and he governed FOR corporations. That, by the way, is the definition of Fascism.

When we have primaries in which there may be as many as ten choices for each major party, it would be much fairer if we could rank them according to our individual preference. If there were more than two parties, there need not be 'spoilers'. We need to change the way we vote. Rather than the flawed current technique we use we could improve outcomes by using range voting or Instant Runoff Voting. William Poundstone's book, Gaming the Vote, is a thoughtful discussion of alternative voting techniques and makes a case that range voting would be better than IRV.

Range voting allows rating of candidates on a scale that indicates relative preferences. You could rank each candidate on a scale of, say, 1 to 10.

Our current system is an insult to democracy and it guarantees that we can have only two parties that are pretty much alike. New Mexico had  a Senatorial election in which a Green Party candidate ran strong. Although the majority would not have wanted it, the Republican won. This would not happen using Instant Runoff Voting or range voting.

Using Instant runoff voting (IRV) "voters rank candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with fewest votes are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences (and so on) and all votes retallied, until one candidate achieves a majority. The term 'instant runoff voting' is used because this process resembles a series of run-off elections." (wikipedia points out a number of places IRV is being used. Anyone paying attention knows that there is often little difference between our two major parties, and that third parties are rarely heard. Until instant runoff voting (IRV) becomes widespread reality,  third parties can only be spoilers. Being realistic, we are not allowed third parties.

A modified voting procedure would be the single best change we could make to our elections: it would make more parties possible, enlarge the dialog,   It would be more democratic; it would produce better outcomes. and newer parties would not be spoilers. So why don't we have IRV ? Most likely: our major parties are blocking it.

"in Australia and in Ireland they use a system of preferential voting where voters have the option of ranking candidates in their order of preference and if no candidate receives a majority of first choice votes, the lowest vote getter is eliminated and the ballots of the people who voted for that candidate are distributed to their second choice candidates. And if necessary, this elimination recount process continues until one candidate surpasses fifty percent.

Preference voting insures that the candidate elected has majority support among voters. ...has the added benefit of encouraging greater diversity of candidates since independent and third party candidates do not have to worry about splitting the vote by running and voters are able to vote their conscience without having to worry about throwing away their vote.

This greater diversity of candidates would likely increase voter participation. The other advantage of preference voting is that it creates a disincentive against negative campaigning because candidates would be reluctant to alienate supporters of their opponents because they might still be able to get those voters to vote for them as their second choice."

Many politicians, including Howard Dean and Susan Bysiewicz, publicly support the idea.

With many candidates in each party primary, if democracy is an American value, we should move to a better voting procedure. We should insist on it for elections at every level. 

Try out IRV at ChoiceRanker or, for your first three choices, Democracy for America

voteirv.org Instant Runoff voting is a prerequisite to break the two party monopoly of US elections.

Instant Runoff Voting page of fairvote.org

Instant Runoff Voting Report from the New America Foundation

Comments are here.

See this stern  warning also.

Voting machines with open source code, reasonable security precautions, and verifiable results can easily accommodate better techniques such as range voting.

So why is this issue not on the table ? Maybe it is that the major parties can't stand the competition. One thing I think we have learned from the last few years is that a major party grown too strong can trump the Constitution. That's why we need to reconsider how we vote.

See the elections page also.

Links

RangeVoting.org

Bibliography

Gaming the Vote, Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It): William Poundstone.

See elections.htm for links to related information..

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