Friday, November 10, 2006

Voting by Approval

Following is an email from a Libertairan email list I am on. Neil puts forward some great ideas, and so, I am sharing those ideas.


Thank you, Lorenzo, for your encouraging words. And thank you Kevin
for making your run and giving it your all. I appreciated being able
to cast a vote for you.

I would really like to take this opportunity to propose to all
"alternative" parties to consider making it a long term goal to press
for a very easy but very significant change in the voting system. I
think this would do more for us than anything else we could realistically
imagine. It's Approval Voting. It requires no modification of any
paper ballots except to erase the printed "vote for 1" and similar
phrases preprinted on them, and very little modification to any vote
counting tools.

I mentioned it before but to recap, Approval Voting is different from
the current system only in that it allows people to grant a vote for as
many candidates as they want no matter how many seats are open, thus
"approving" or disapproving of each candidate. All votes for all
candidates are tallied and the highest vote-getter wins. A voter might
vote for all candidates, but the effect is the same as voting for none.
A vote for all but one would effectively be a vote against that one
candidate, or the person might choose to only approve of one like they
do now. There are no run-off elections, instant or otherwise, and no
complicated ranking of candidates to confuse simple minded voters.
Approval voting is simple and allows voters to express opinions about
all the candidates and not just one.

The current one-vote system is very restrictive and thereby promotes
the 2-party duopoly via the "wasted vote syndrome" which, in spite of
our campaigns, IS a very real obstical. Approval voting, on the other
hand, grants 3rd party candidates true viability. Stated another way,
multiple candidates for a single seat are no longer competing against
other candidates for each voter's vote, but instead are competing alone
for each voter's approval. When voters understand this, they will then
have a reason to turn to consider "third" parties.

Given the merits and ease of which approval voting could be implimented,
it should be considered an insult for voters to be restricted to
expressing their views on only a single candidate, which the current
system does. In all likelihood it is an archaic system simply left over
from the days when people voted by placing cards with hidden names written
on them in a box -- obviously it wouldn't do then for someone to stick 2
cards into the box as they might be for the same candidate, so they were
resticted to one.

But there is NO reason this archaic system should have been brought into
the 20th century (much less the 21st). We have the technology. We can
make it better that it was. And we should.

We really need to wake up, smell the coffee and see the reality of what's
plaguing us and promoting this duopoly, and frankly, understand that unless
and until this diseased system (I'll call it that) is cured, we will continue
to struggle against not just the media but the very voting system itself.
We can (and certainly will, in my case) continue to rattle the cages of the
republicrat voting base of the futility of voting either democrat or
republican, but I fear that the best large scale benefit to that will be
stirring some people academically.

Consider further this. How many of us who have arrived to our third
party homes have done so with the realistic expectation that we can win,
without first realizing that we *can't* truely win in either of the big
two. Is there any among us that still holds on to some substantial degree
of allegience to the R or D? I think the answer is "no" because anyone
of us holding such such allegiences would simply not be here. You'd
still be an R or D where you believe your vote "still counts".

... which tells us what we're really waiting for, which is nothing less
than for existing Joe Sixpack and Susy Soccermom republicrats to also
come to this same realization. But it never quite happens on any real
scale. They just flip flop from R to D and back again looking for integrity
and common sense and they don't stop hoping.

I really think we need to focus on the voting system. I think all of us
in all parties should give some formal consideration to approval voting
and push for it. It probably wouldn't be easy to get it legislated but
the mainstream parties might go for it if they think it would let them
gain third party votes for their candidates...... and dang, we could even
bill it to them as our wanting to vote for one of them while still staying
loyal to our own affectionate puppy-dog 3rd parties and they might be stupid
enough to believe it. There were a few races where the difference between
the R & D candidates was less than the independent/3rd party vote.

This might also be something that mainstream voters actively support.
Unlike just about every other measure like lowering sig requirements
for candidates and such, anyone who's even moderately fed up with the
R&D parties would have a reason to support it. They'd not be favoring
it just on the principles, they'd favor it because it actually gives
them a stronger voice.

If there's an effort to be made for 3rd party legislation wise, I raelly
think Approval Voting is where that effort is best spent. I dare say
even at the expense of party recognition, if need be. Could this be made
into a Constitutional Amendment ballot initiative?

I'm very serious about this.