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the ideal vote

October 19th, 2004 Posted in Politics

With all the current discussion of abolishing the electoral college and the nightmare scenarios that could arise come November 2nd, I thought I’d throw out my ideas for the ideal voting setup.

My perfect vote is simple: proportional electoral college allocation in every state, combined with instant runoff voting (IRV). It would work like this:

  • Voters rank the candidates in order of preference on the ballot.
  • Electorates (the count of which continues to be determined by representation in congress) are allocated proportionally for each state based on voters’ initial preferences (their number one choices).
  • If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the least number of electoral votes is removed from consideration and the vote of any person who ranked that candidate as their first choice are reallocated to their second choice.
  • Electorates are reallocated based on the new votes and the process continues until one candidate has a majority.

Sounds more complicated than it is, but the basic idea is simple. Essentially, you rank which candidates you want, and then your vote will be cast for the first guy in your list who has a shot at getting 50%. Here’s why I like this system:

  • Small states maintain their increased representation by still getting slightly more electoral votes than they would based solely on population.
  • Swing states are eliminated; since electorates are now split along the lines of the vote, Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania no longer control the election. Accordingly, presidential candidates will be more inclined to politick in all states and be forced to listen to all their constituents instead of just those that throw the election.
  • Voting for a third party candidate no longer throws away your vote (or even worse, helps your least favorite candidate). Ralph Nader could be on the ballot without fear that voting for him will help elect Bush, since you can still rank Kerry above Bush.

Make sense? I think so. And even if you disagree with keeping the electoral college or dislike proportional representation, it’s hard to find any argument against IRV. It has been implemented with a large success in Berkeley and San Francisco, and is simply a better method of choosing a candidate.

That said, this is really really hard to implement. The swing states won’t want proportional representation, but that’s not so bad because 44 states would benefit from that change and only 38 are needed to ratify an amendment. No, the hard part is that the two major political parties don’t want IRV because it opens the door for third party candidates. Truly a shame.


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