Voting Methods

As I mentioned earlier this week, there are several methods for placing a vote, and counting votes. I said that I was leaning towards instant-runoff, but since then I’ve changed my mind.

Our current system (plurality I think), each person gets one vote and whoever gets the most votes wins. It’s easy to understand, and easy to execute. Unfortunately, it almost always forces people to vote strategically instead of voting their wishes. It also puts third parties at a significant disadvantage. Unless you think that there are always two sides (no more, no less) to every issue, then it’s obvious that a duopoly (two party system) is bad. Not to mention that sometimes the two major parties will be on the same side of an issue.

The solution: change our voting methods. First of all, instead of just having to pick one candidate it would help a lot to be able to pick multiple candidates. Beyond that, it would be nice to be able to rank your preferences. We should also use the most effective for counting votes that will most respect the voters wishes.

The Condorcet method allows voters to specify their preferences by ranking the candidates, and then provides a mathematically sound method for taking those votes and selecting the candidate that most people prefer. Unfortunately, it’s not the easiest method for the layman to understand, and would require computers to do the counting (not always a bad thing). It will be a tough fight for supporters of the Condorcet method to get it implemented.

Approval voting works by allowing voters to select all of the candidates that they approve of. It doesn’t allow them to rank their choices, but it’s easy to understand and easy to tabulate. It’s also better at allowing voters to speak their mind, and it gives third parties a real opportunity to win by avoiding strategic voting caused by the spoiler effect.

If you’d like to learn more about different voting methods click on over to ElectionMethods.org.

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