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Author Topic: Changing the Voting System  (Read 2958 times)

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Offline AndyZTopic starter

Changing the Voting System
« on: January 08, 2012, 04:32:40 AM »
I personally believe that a large problem with America today is that we have a singular vote, which forces us into a two-party system.  Unless you're a Democrat or a Republican, you may as well be throwing your vote away, leaving you to either vote for the person you 20% agree with, try to vote for a third party knowing it'll never happen as things are now, or not vote at all.  This is nothing new.

I've been thinking about this for years, and the obvious solution is to change the voting system.  I doubt it'd ever happen (both Democrats and Republicans have a firm interest in seeing that it doesn't) but they say that if enough people support an idea, it can happen.  Let's see if that's true.

I'll ask that comments remain constructive.  I realize it's unlikely to happen, but I'd like to know if there any possible fixes to the idea as I envision it.  If I've horribly goofed in some way, I'd appreciate having it explained.



Offer a voting possibility of N-1 votes (assuming N candidates), going by 1, 2, 3, and so on.  Count up all the 1s, and see who has the least votes.  Remove that person from the record, and anyone who voted for that person can move down to the next one on their list.

For example, let's say that the candidates are Jack Meoff, Amanda Hugandkiss, Hugh Jazz, Isabelle Ringing and Harry Geezer.  I vote according to the following:

1.) Jack Meoff
2.) Amanda Hugandkiss
3.) Hugh Jazz
4.) Isabelle Ringing

The first person eliminated is Amanda Hugandkiss, with 10% of the vote.  Anyone who had her as #1 moves down to their #2.  After that, Jack Meoff is the least favored, so he's eliminated.  My vote now stands for Hugh Jazz, who may not be an awesome candidate but at least is better than Harry Geezer.

I think this would work a lot better than what we have now.  I would appreciate feedback.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2012, 07:54:15 AM »
I don't vote like that and neither do most people if I vote its on key issues and who is holding what offices, in the upcoming election I am not a fan of Obama but will vote for him to protect the health care reform and to counter a likely Republican gain in the two houses of Congress. I wouldn't choose anyone else.

Other vote based on their party, anger, who looks nicer, faith of the person or gender and/or race. My uncle wouldn't ever vote for a woman or a racial minority and sticks to white, male, protestants of the Republican Party. He didn't vote last time because Palin was on the ticket.

If one takes visceral emotions and people like me that vote on things they want and certain guidelines this cannot work as you mentioned what if everyone would do what I would do and not pick anyone else just the one candidate on the ticket you wanted?

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #2 on: January 08, 2012, 09:55:28 AM »
I don't see this scheme working any better than the current one.

And FYI Ruby.. those type voters are called 'Yellowdog <insert party affiliation>' as they will vote for a 'yellowdog' if it was the right party. It's a symptom of the problem with the system. Too little attempts at voter self-education.

Offline Caela

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2012, 10:52:31 AM »
I think the biggest problem with the system is that we've only got two parties to choose from really. Now and then a third party or an independent crops up but it's unlikely that they'll make much impact on a national scare, the other two parties have too much money and power.

Personally I vote for whichever candidate is in agreement with my values on the most issues not just on one or two. Being conservative this mostly leaves me with republican schmucks but if you gave me a fiscally conservative democrat I'd be all for him/her.

Sadly neither party actually lives up to the ideals they espouse any longer and "We the People" let them get away with their shenanigans by a) not voting at all or b) not voting their butts out of office when they don't do their job to our satisfaction. A good chunk of the responsibility for the current mess is really our own fault. Yes too many politicians seem to be in the pocket of special interests, but how long would that really last if the threat of losing their job held any sway over them? It's not something most career politicians really worry about because voter apathy is just too damned likely to keep them in office.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2012, 11:13:19 AM »
Personally, I think that maybe the Electoral College thing has outlived its usefulness.  Right now, with only two exceptions (Maine and Nebraska), if a candidate wins 51% of the state's popular vote, they get all of that state's electoral votes, instead of the votes being distributed proportionately between two candidates.  It's possible for a candidate to win the popular vote, and still not get a majority of the votes in the Electoral college.

We have the technology now to seriously re-vamp this.

Offline Caela

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #5 on: January 08, 2012, 11:17:03 AM »
Personally, I think that maybe the Electoral College thing has outlived its usefulness.  Right now, with only two exceptions (Maine and Nebraska), if a candidate wins 51% of the state's popular vote, they get all of that state's electoral votes, instead of the votes being distributed proportionately between two candidates.  It's possible for a candidate to win the popular vote, and still not get a majority of the votes in the Electoral college.

We have the technology now to seriously re-vamp this.

I would like to see the EC revamped. Perhaps something more like Maine does so that a candidate can carry a district but not necessarily the whole state. I think it would be helpful in places like CA where sentiment can swing so wildly between the northern and southern halves of the state and it would break up the chokehold that the larger states have on presidential elections as well because then every electoral district would matter as opposed to just the big cities in the big states.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #6 on: January 08, 2012, 11:24:00 AM »
Personally, I think that maybe the Electoral College thing has outlived its usefulness.  Right now, with only two exceptions (Maine and Nebraska), if a candidate wins 51% of the state's popular vote, they get all of that state's electoral votes, instead of the votes being distributed proportionately between two candidates.  It's possible for a candidate to win the popular vote, and still not get a majority of the votes in the Electoral college.

We have the technology now to seriously re-vamp this.

States decide how to use the electors and all but 4% decided to make it winner take all, that is left up in the constitution to the states. A popular vote would demand a constitutional amendment and that would hurt the politicians in the Washington and they could do a Constitutional Convention again if enough states opted in. I don't see that happening. The most Florida ,my state, could do is make it a state constitutional change to split the electors based on percentages and that would demand a ballot referendum and that being won by 60% or more of the voters.

Or the state could pass a law doing the same thing rather unlikely.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #7 on: January 08, 2012, 04:48:43 PM »
I am not convinced it is the two party system that is the true root of the problem.  I am leaning towards it being the Golden Rule that is the true root of the problem.  I do not think it matters how many choices we have as long as our corporate masters determine which choices are available.

Offline Caela

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2012, 05:14:37 PM »
I am not convinced it is the two party system that is the true root of the problem.  I am leaning towards it being the Golden Rule that is the true root of the problem.  I do not think it matters how many choices we have as long as our corporate masters determine which choices are available.

I agree somewhat. There is far too much corporate and special interest money involved in politics, however if the voters weren't so apathetic and would vote out these bozos instead of electing them term after term ad infinitum it would become a much riskier investment to continue paying them off. If corporations watched their money being flushed down the drain, cycle after cycle by a voting public that finally got off it's apathetic ass and used the power the Constitution gives us, a lot of that money would, eventually, dry up until a politician had proven he had some staying power...which would mean he'd have to do his job for US first and the corporations second.

Corporations count on voter apathy as much as politicians do. It's a great investment to get a man elected and know he'll be there to vote the way you want him to for 20 years. Not so much when you have to buy a new Congress Critter every 2-4 years.

Offline Serephino

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #9 on: January 08, 2012, 07:53:20 PM »
The two party system is definitely getting in the way of things.  It's gotten to the point that each party wants it their way or nothing.  Part of why we're in this mess is they refuse to compromise, or at least the Republicans have been digging their heals in the dirt.  I'm not saying the Democrats are angels, just that's what's going on at the moment.  Republicans have a lot of power, and as usual, they're doing whatever they damn well please; screw the consequences.  This wasn't how it was meant to be.  They need to let go of party loyalty and actually do what's best for the country.

I agree the Electoral College is outdated.  It was originally set up because the Constitution's authors felt the common man wasn't informed enough to elect the President.  The common man was just supposed to elect who they wanted to send to vote for them.  Since we can tell who won the popular vote, then that is who should win. 

I remember from high school Civics that voter turnout is made up mostly of people over 50.  I don't remember the exact percentage, but it was pretty high.  My teacher said that was one of the major problems with the system; the minority is deciding for everyone.  That's why career politicians don't fear being thrown out on their asses.  They gained the loyalty of the older generation, and then they got comfortable.

A very good example of this is my former Rep John Murtha.  In 2008 he was up for re-election.  His opponent smeared him good.  He even got a recording of Rep Murtha saying he didn't think Obama would win PA because we were too racist. 

Murtha was silent until about a month before the election.  He hardly did any campaigning.  I saw a handful of ads.  He won by a landslide.  It's my understanding he was the District 12 Rep since before I was born.  So, he had the loyalty of those that do get off their butts and vote.  The only reason he isn't in office now was because he died.  A guy that worked for him now holds the seat.

My boyfriend and I always vote.  It's one of the few things we can do.  I encourage others to vote too because sitting on your ass an complaining won't do anything.  My teacher used to say if you didn't vote you gave up your right to bitch.  I agree.     

Offline consortium11

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #10 on: January 08, 2012, 08:17:53 PM »
With regards to the voting system itself, there's basically three separate options:

1) First past the post. It's the system the UK, the US and a large number of other countries use for a large number of elections. Essentially it's a winner takes all system; whoever wins the most votes in a given area at a given election wins the lot. In the UK an MP can have one more vote than their rival and still command the whole constituency... I believe the system is the same with the electoral college in the US.

2) Proportional representation. While almost all have some form of caveat the basic principle is that if you get 16% of the votes you get 16% of the power. This is often done via a "list" system... you list your candidates and if 16% of the votes = 20 seats, then your top 20 candidates get the role.

3) Hybrids. These are systems that try to combine the best of both, allowing for the fairness of PR with the strictness of FPTP. Perhaps the most well known is single transferable vote, which operates roughly as described in the opening post, but there's dozens of different systems out there.

Each has their benefits and drawbacks.

FPTP tends to inflate the vote of the larger parties while minimising that of the smaller parties, leading to a lot of "wasted" votes. To take the most recent UK election as an example the Conservatives gained 47.1% of the seats on 36.1% of the overall votes, Labour 39.7% from 29% and the Liberal Democrats 8.8% fro 23%. It can be even more stark when you compared the tiny parties that are well organised to those that aren't: the Green party gained one MP on 265,000 votes countrywide... UKIP had no MP's despite getting 919,000 votes. In many ways this seems completely unfair. On the other hand it normally leads to a strong government who are actually in a position to deliver their mandate (even if the issue of a mandate is tricky considering it is unlikely that 50% of the popular vote went to them).

PR has the opposite problem. If dealt with fundamentally (and the only state I know of that has something similar is Israel) it leads to no party having a majority and in many cases the balance of power lying with fringe parties. This has two effects which can be somewhat contradictory; first of it allows parties with a very small proportion of the vote to act as king makers and thus get gain concessions that their voting strength doesn't support and can remain in government virtually in perpetuity. In contrast because of the requirement to form coalitions a lot of the more radical policies will be junked... a party could get 38% of the vote and be the single largest party running on a platform of say hiking taxes on the rich and offering a much wider and more generous set of welfare benefits but in the efforts to thrash out a coalition ends up having to give most of them up. Restrictions on the percentage one must get to take any seats (say 5% or 10%) remove some of the fringe parties but also lead to the problem of fairness arising much like it does under FPTP.

Standard Transferable Vote seems to be the best of both worlds; you get a strong election winner but because votes are much less likely to be wasted (you can vote for who you really want to win first and then give your second preference to the person likely to win who you like the most etc) it seems fairer. The issue here is that far too often the winner is not the candidate who the voters like most... it's the one they object to least. People, especially by the end, are voting negatively and tactically which seems to me a little against the spirit of elections. Moreover, the question of fairness arises once again... if 47% want someone to be their first choice representative is it fair that they are beaten by someone who only 13% of people really wanted and had their vote propped up by people who actually wanted someone else but will just about make do with this guy... especially to keep the 47% candidate out.

Of course, the whole debate is a lot deeper then that but it's a worthy starting point.

I'd also like to point out that actually the US, in having open primaries, has something that I would absolutely love to happen and a genuine positive step-ahead in democracy, even if it does lead to things you may consider ill-advised such as the Tea Party "revolution".

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #11 on: January 08, 2012, 10:01:26 PM »
Quote from: consortium11 link=topic=128807.msg5697474#msg5697474
Perhaps the most well known is single transferable vote, which operates roughly as described in the opening post

Heh, someone already came up with my idea?  Thanks, good to know.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2012, 02:50:30 AM by AndyZ »

Offline Joffy

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #12 on: February 16, 2012, 09:33:42 AM »
I'm from the UK, and I study politics (just started American politics!) here in the UK we had a referendum on reforming the voting system, and in my opinion the new system that was proposed (AV) was a very good alternative.
But it was voted against... In my opinion it was because people didn't really understand it. Most people thought that it would let party's such as BNP get more power, actually this would be quite the opposite.
FPTP has lots of negatives... I think it was 2005 that Labour were elected, despite the fact that they gained less votes than the Conservatives.
Voting systems seem to all have negatives as well as positives.

Offline Zakharra

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #13 on: February 16, 2012, 11:32:49 AM »
 If I understand it right, I don't understand the reasoning behind having an open primary convention. It doesn't make sense to let those who aren't in your party have a choice in deciding who that party will decide who will lead it.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #14 on: February 16, 2012, 11:27:19 PM »
Personally, I don't believe that we should have parties at all.  Perhaps some people can be so easily clumped into groups that they perfectly match the opinions of everyone else, but most people are capable of forming their own opinions.  The parties tend to just be whoever has enough money to strike up ads and sway public opinion, or get enough people to just go along with whatever.

The implication with our current system is that either Obama or whoever wins the Republican nomination is the best person to be president.  Does anyone really believe that?  How many people who vote are just trying to get the lesser of two evils? 

It doesn't take much effort on here to see how much people despise Obama's efforts, but they're too afraid of a Republican winning not to vote for Obama again, and Republicans will vote for anyone who wins the nomination just to get the Democrat out of office.

I'm personally closer to Libertarian than anything else, but even I don't fully believe with everything that the Libertarian party stands for.  I know that many others don't fully believe what the Democrats or the Republicans believe.  Why should these be our only two options?  There has to be a better way.

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2012, 06:53:00 PM »
I can make a bold change, people should all vote for somebody that would be a good start forgeting changing the system we have a decent one if people opt to use it. Why not do that before you bitch about the system maybe its the people in it that are the problem.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2012, 07:08:54 PM »
I am not a fan of Obama but will vote for him

Based on your earlier post, Ruby, are you happy with having a system where your only options are people you don't like?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2012, 07:16:59 PM »
There are several minor parties if the non-voters picked one and went with it then it would no longer be a MINOR party but a player at least where it counts legislatures and other offices where they can demand a say. You take out 30% of Congress and you will force the two parties to either work together or come to the table and negotiate since that 30% can almost pass anything they want.

Is it my fault you and others don't get that the vote is a legal way to destroy one government and put in another and give the poor their say you hold the elected people to their duty or vote them out for other people.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #18 on: February 19, 2012, 07:24:48 PM »
It amuses me that you say that it's my fault for not realizing it, but you yourself say that you won't be voting for a minor party this election, but will vote for Obama, even though you're not a fan of him.  Would you perhaps like to explain why?

Offline RubySlippers

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 09:09:37 AM »
One issue the Health Care Reform Law if he gets in modest gains in the Congress by the other party would be nullified, but I find nothing wrong with a major party the issue is people not voting in their best interests if poor and not being educated on the issues. But if your not happy with a major party and don't vote you can choose a minor party with enough people it could no longer be a minor party.

But if I don't vote for him its not in MY best interests as a poor person the Republicans want to kill the law and if they take both the Congress and Presidency they can do that.

Offline Oniya

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Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 09:21:41 AM »
I think what AndyZ was saying is that

  • You recommend that people vote for a minor party if they aren't satisfied with either of the major parties, so that 'with enough people it could no longer be a minor party'.
  • You have said you are not a fan of the Democratic candidate (i.e., Obama).
  • You have said it is not in your best interests to vote Republican (understandably).
  • Therefore, you are not satisfied with either of the major parties.
  • Therefore, by your own arguments, it would be logical for you to vote for a minor party, so that 'with enough people it could no longer be a minor party'.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 09:25:24 AM »
Thank you, Oniya.  I was trying to help her realize that on her own, but I'm not always very good at that.

I always get confused when someone tells me that I just don't get something that they themselves aren't doing.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2012, 02:44:03 PM »
One of my problems with the way the system is working NOW is that incumbency is wildly out of control. It's around 85% likely to get reelected once you get reelected to the house of representatives. You got people who have been in the same office for FORTY plus years. (John Dingell-D Michigan, 56 years is the longest LIVING rep in unbroken succession of office)

I propose that we make these people WORK for their office again. And get rid of lame duck presidents as well. A simple 2 terms in office then a mandatory term out (or more) before they can get in again. You cycle people in and out, break the long term machines in place (because once you've served, would you step aside for your 'buddy' to take office again?)

We have officials that do what is right for their voters (fewer every year though) and we need to show that we are encouraging folks to step up and serve..not live decades on the voter.

I started thinking about it after my brother lost out on the office he was running for, to a person who was 'johnny come lately' and had next to NONE of the recognition of the candidates that were running till then. But the party backed him, and he won by a narrow margin, though it was easily seen that no one outside the party was going to vote for him.

After that awful event, what did the party ask my brother? They wanted him to run against a woman who has held the same office for FIFTY years in the legislature (state) in a district that she has all but OWNED for even longer. (the only way she would lose an election is if she was struck by lightning while filing for her next run). And would he kindly pay his own way doing it?

Incumbents are the problem. Even sitting a cycle out would make a LOT of them work for their dinner and make it less profitable for special interests to buy politicians.

Of course the other thing is a total revamp of election laws, disclosure laws and putting teeth to any agency that investigates allegations of election fraud.

Offline AndyZTopic starter

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2012, 04:52:54 PM »

Ever heard of gerrymandering?

Basically, Democrat and Republican governors set up voting districts so that rather than an even split of democrats and republicans, multiple areas have a higher number of their favored party, leaving one area that's nearly entirely the other party.  It lets that particular party have a larger control of Congress.

I included a picture of Dingell's district so you can see how they warp the borders, cherry-picking the areas where the voters will want him to stay in.

Now, I'm all for fixing this, but it's something that you'll probably want to know about if you're hoping to inform others of this problem.  Just please don't start saying it's only a Republican corruption.

Offline Callie Del Noire

Re: Changing the Voting System
« Reply #24 on: February 22, 2012, 05:12:47 PM »

Ever heard of gerrymandering?

Basically, Democrat and Republican governors set up voting districts so that rather than an even split of democrats and republicans, multiple areas have a higher number of their favored party, leaving one area that's nearly entirely the other party.  It lets that particular party have a larger control of Congress.

I included a picture of Dingell's district so you can see how they warp the borders, cherry-picking the areas where the voters will want him to stay in.

Now, I'm all for fixing this, but it's something that you'll probably want to know about if you're hoping to inform others of this problem.  Just please don't start saying it's only a Republican corruption.

Yeah I have. Problem is with ALL the special interests kicking up a fuss I don't see any solution working easily.  Back home there was a district that was basically a 5 mile border on I85 for like 20 miles with a knob on the end.  Just ensure that one guy stayed elected.

Problem is, people have come up with programs to neutrally draw it out only to have the farm, inner city! Hispanic, gay and so on special interests kick up a fuss. Everyone wants clear districting as long as they come out on top.