Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How you vote is important - Green Party supports real voting reform

So you vote, right?


Everyone talks about who to vote for: the best man, woman, for the job - the smartest or the toughest or the most peaceful or the least peaceful or the tallest or the best looking. People use many different methods to determine who they vote for.

But have you ever thought of how we vote?

For presidential campaigns, each state has a number of votes in the electoral college, so whether you vote for the Green Party candidate, the Republican candidate, or the Libertarian candidate, you're not actually voting for the candidates, you are choosing electors.

So, whichever candidate gets the most popular votes in a given state, gets all of that states electors (with the exception of a couple of states). There is no prize for second place, and if you vote for a third party candidate, you are often mocked for "wasting" your vote.

 If voting for the candidate of your choice is such a big problem, then the Green Party of the United States presents:

Solution time!

Option 1: All independent candidates and political parties who are not the Democratic and Republican Party should be banned! Well, not constitutional, and rather mean-spirited.

Option 2: How about a parliamentary system with proportional representation? Not a bad idea, but it would take one (or more) amendments to the U.S. Constitution, plus possibly amendments to various state constitutions, and other constitutional legal headaches. President Obama taught constitutional law, we could ask him....

Option 3: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) - now here's an idea whose time has come! Instant Runoff Voting allows you, the voter, to rank your candidates in order of preference when there are more than two candidates running for a single office (1992 Presidential campaign: Clinton, GHW Bush, Perot - 2000 Presidential campaign: Gore, GW Bush, Nader) WITHOUT "WASTING" YOUR VOTE.

How does it work?

The short version is: You rank your candidates in order of your preference, 1. Jane 2. Bob 3. Pete
Then, the votes are counted. If a candidate receives a majority (50%+1) then they win and the election is over. However, if none of the candidates get a majority, the Instant Runoff happens. The candidate with the least amount of votes is dropped, and if you voted for that person, then YOUR vote transfers to YOUR SECOND CHOICE. So, it's impossible to waste your vote - your vote only supports candidates you support, and never ends up accidentally helping candidates you oppose.

Looking back, my "short version" is way too long. IRV is so simple and easy to use the liberal Hollywood elite use it to decide the winner of Best Picture in the Academy Awards!

Here is an animated clip from the good folks at FairVote that breaks it all down.:

The Green Party supports your right to a better way of voting! We support Instant Runoff Voting as a way to broaden political participation, and enrich the political culture of our country.

Greens are fighting for a more vibrant democracy. You, the citizen and voter, deserve nothing less.

Like pictures? Here's the flow chart of an election using IRV/Instant Runoff Voting. Pretty......

Daryl Northrop


  1. There are actually (and unfortunately) a whole lot of things to fix with elections - things that have been run as a "pay-no-attention-to-that-man-behind-the-curtain" affair in U.S. politics up to now. Other countries review them on a fairly regular basis; here, you're pounced on for "confusing the voter". G'fig.

    IRV (and similar systems) work for electing a single candidate, such as the President. When electing multiple representatives (as with the House of Representatives, f'rex) proportional representation really is the way to go. Very simple in execution: if you get 35% of the vvote, you get 35% of the seats. Not many people could argue with that. (Yes, there is a form of IRV that works with multiple candidate elections called Single Transferable Vote, or STV, but that can get to be a really complicated process, and it's really just a form of PR to boot...so best to go with something easier!) Practically every Parliament/Congress/Council/Bunch of Muckety-Mucks in the world uses this system - there are flavors called "De Hondt" and "Sainte-Lague", named for the mathematicians who worked on them, if you look 'em up. (They basically give close to the same answer...the main thing they deal with is the fractions left over, such as what do you do with 14.8% of a single seat.)

  2. Good points and thanks for commenting (you're the first on the entire blog!).

    One of the main factors that makes IRV more practical is that it doesn't take a constitutional amendment. Various parliamentary systems/proportional representation are arguably more democratic, but would require significant amendments to the US constitution and possibly state constitutions.