Sunday, September 26, 2004

Why we need to change our voting system before it tears us apart

I think the United Stated is a great country, but a great country with a serious problem. I think that problem begins with the way we elect our leaders.

Never mind the electoral college. That has some issues, but I don't think that's the worst of the problems. I want to go to the problems with the principle of whoever has the most votes wins.

On the surface it's not bad, especially because we have a bill of rights to protect us for the most part from Tyranny of the Majority. However in the case of the United States, I believe that it has led to increasing polarization of the people in this country.

Our economy and society is extremely complex. To winnow our choices down to two people at the end of the day doesn't allow for full expression of views to carry forward. I can hear you thinking, "but there are more than two people. What is to stop one from voting for a Green candidate or libertarian?" Well nothing stops us except the system. Even though I may like a Ralph Nader, if I prefer Kerry to Bush, then a vote for Nader can have the unintended consequence of putting Bush, whose views I like less, into office. This isn't a repulican vs. democrat thing though. It happened to the Republicans too in 1992 with Ross Perot. It will happen again.

The only chance to pull a candidate towards the center, which is in fact where more people reside is by having some people in the primaries who have a strong enough showing that the party will adopt some of their policies.

I personally am tired of having to vote for one of two guys simply because I hate him less than the other guy. But how could this be done better? I'm not any kind of genius, but I suggest you take a look at the link attached to this post. It describes several methods of compiling votes, including Condorcet methods.

The voter actually has the opportunity to put his votes in the order he would like to see them applied (i.e in order of preference). It then builds a table of preferences for all voters and turns the election into kind of round robin, as opposed to our current single elimination system.

Although this is not perfect and does introduce some complexity into the system, it would allow for other voices to be heard in an election, and I believe would bring the whole political discourse to a place where people are trying to find solutions instead of hammering each other with positions.

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