In close follow-up with my desire to see political parties abolished, we also need to rethink how voting is done.
In the United States, you can only voteÂ for a single candidate for most positions (town councils are an exception).
You do not have the opportunity to say anything more than a binary yes|no to a given person for a given office.
You can voteÂ for Bob for mayor. ButÂ not voting for Mary, Quentin, and Zoe doesn’t really say anything about what you think of them – just that you liked Bob the best.
And there is theÂ problem. There is an explicit elimination ofÂ relative preference when voting: all you can do is vote “yes” for a candidate.
That isÂ very different from voting “no” against a candidate.
What should happen instead is you should vote for your favorite candidates in order of preference, so Bob is number 1, Zoe number 2, Quentin number 3, and Mary number 4.
Then when I vote, and rank them Mary 1, Zoe 2, Quentin 3, and Bob 4, we can get a picture of the relative preference of any given candidate running for the office.
Do this across all voters in a given election, and assign the winner to the person with the lowest score (in the numbering shown above – flip the values to assign the winner to the person with the highest score).
Perhaps even look at the top 3 or 4 after gestalt ranking, then vote again to determine the winner (this would be ideal for a Primary-then-General Election method).
What research shows is that while you and I may wildly disagree on “best” and “worst”, we’ll probably be pretty close on who we think is “good enough”.
In the Bob-Mary-Quentin-Zoe example with two voters, Mary & Bob both got 5 points. Quentin received 6, but Zoe earned 4.
The two voters, therefore, think Zoe is “good enough”, even though they part ways on “best” and “worst” (Bob & Mary).
Combine such a ranking system with a fully-open Primary election (ie you go rankÂ every candidate regardless of “party”), and we would see much more representative-of-the-citizenry candidates appear at final Election.
Comments on “a simple restructuring of elections”
Interesting. What “value” do you assign when someone doesn’t place any vote for a candidate (due to lack of information on the candidate in question)?
I would default all NULL votes to one higher than the highest value (in a lowest wins / golf methodology).
What if the possible votes in a primary consisted of “I would like this individual to hold this office”, “I would not like this individual to hold this office”, “I don’t care if this individual holds this office”, and “No opinion”. In keeping with your golf-style scoring, the “scores” could be 1, 3, 2, and NULL. You can then take the best X candidates and run them in a general election. The goal here would be to remove the people that get a strong “do not want” or “do not care/do not know” reaction from the voting public before whittling down the “good enough” candidates in the general election (your candidate pool now consistently of “good”, or “don’t care either way” possibilities).
Instead of counting NULL as “severe dislike”, you can either use the percentage of people with an opinion on a candidate to weight the results in favor of candidates with a high participation rate or to set a minimum threshold of participation before you count their votes.
It’s more complicated, but it removes the incentive to not vote for candidates you rabidly oppose because it’s a “higher” score than casting a ranking.
I could see that working, too – especially with long-enough lists of candidates
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