Election Reform - 2 Choices?

I have to start this with a disclaimer: I have no interest in politics. Only in living in a logical democracy (i.e. even if one party is in power, they acknowledge those that disagree). I don’t think we’re living in anything near that, and I would like the rules to change to make democracy an ongoing philosophy, not a left-right-left-right obstacle course.

I also have a problem with the many recent very close elections at every level won by just a few votes - not enough to even cause a statistical blip.

What happens now when you go to vote, you get one choice. You may believe in the Peace & Freedom or Libertarian platform, but you know they haven’t got a chance, so you’re forced to vote Reb. or Dem. if you want your voice to be heard.

So, would it be possible to change ballots to first and second choices? You could vote your heart as #1, and your brain as #2. (i.e. I believe #1 would serve my (and my country’s) interests best, but they don’t have a chance in hell, so #2 would be my choice between those with any possibility of being elected). If an election is close (1-2%?) second choices would be tabulated.

This would give people more scope to state their true beliefs. I don’t think either major party could oppose it without losing credence

I think the technology is out there. (Hey, if my grocery store can itemize my purchases by type, why can’t the dam govment)

I would like replies regarding:

Technological feasibility

Would the 2 major parties accept this

Would the populace accept this

Is there any legal/constitutional problem with this.

I’m going to be watching this, but probably not posting again, since I don’t know any of the answers.



There have been many discussions and debates about this on SDMB.

Search for Instant Runoff.



There are several groups pushing for election reform right now. There are three major voting systems that have the suppport of activist groups:

[li]Approval voting. In this system, you’re presented a list of candidates, and you vote for all the ones that you approve of. Whoever gets the most votes wins.[/li]
[li]Instant runoff voting (IRV). In this system, you rank all the candidates in the order that you prefer them. The votes are tallied among everyone’s first choices, and the loser is eliminated from the election. This process is continued until only one candidate remains, and that candidate is declared the winner.[/li]
[li]Condorcet voting. The ballot for a Condorcet election looks identical to an instant runoff ballot, but after the votes are collected, the lists are converted to direct elections between each pair of candidates. If one candidate wins all of his direct elections, he’s declared the winner. Otherwise, a simple procedure is used to compute a winner based on margins of victory.[/li][/ul]

Of the three, Condorcet has the nicest properties, while IRV has serious flaws and should not be considered for use in elections. Approval voting is definitely better than the existing plurality method.

Now, how likely are these to be accepted? Not likely at all. Technology is only an issue for IRV due to the storage required, but that can be taken care of. The two parties in power now are very unlikely to endorse an idea that has a realistic potential to take them out of power, and very few voters care enough to inform themselves of the issues and take action. That’s the real problem here.

Thanks, Bearflag. (No. CA, I presume?) I did search using election reform and voting procedures. Off to Instant Runoff.

Thanks, Ultra. I was searching for previous threads under voting procedures and election reform, so didn’t find the earlier SDMB discussions of this.

We might as well give the three methods a test run.

Here’s your list of candidates available for ranking:


Order the candidates based upon your personal preferences, post your choices and Cecil and his staff will determine the winner.

C’mon, we can’t even get our crazy-ass electoral college system changed. We can’t even get the business of supervising elections out of the hands of the very pols who are elected by it. Jimmy Carter said that the American electoral system would never pass muster if it had to be validated by a third party as a legitimate voting system, and I know what he means.

And te real problem with the razor-thin margins we now see in national elections is that they make electoral fraud so frickin easy. Especially as the electoral machinery in each state is run by reps of the party in power.

The American political system is stoopid. Dog stoopid. But as long as the Dem and Pub leadership feel they stand to gain by it and the gucks vote 'em in, it won’t change.