Voting systems

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see also voting


At this point I'm advocating range voting for pretty much everything, because of all the systems in existence, it provides the minimum outcome error and is also easiest to evaluate in various contexts.

This page is for looking at suggestions that other systems work better in some circumstances.

Ranked Voting


Ranked voting is better than range voting because...

[...] any system which doesn't give candidates an incentive to work for and with voters strikes me as a system that doesn't fulfill the needs of voters.

In ranking, candidates need to get support in order to win. In range, they just need to suck a tiny bit less than the others. They may well be able to do that without doing a single thing to actually earn support.

It's possible [that "sucking just a little bit less" would also get a win in ranking], but less likely. In ranking, you need some way to get ahead. Everybody's getting all the votes, and you want more appeal than the next one to rank higher. But in range, it's possible to have all candidates have negative scores or a tie among them all, which isn't possible in ranking.


1. There's always competition

It seems to me that even if one set of politicians decided to be lazy about whatever work they should be doing towards earning votes, there are always other potential candidates who would be more than willing to put in the extra effort. The only way you get "laziness" in politics, as I understand it, is when the system makes a seat "safe" somehow -- either because their electoral district naturally leans heavily towards a particular party, or because a district has been Gerrymandered to heavily favor that party. Range voting certainly does not create those conditions.

Further, range voting increases the competition because it allows a larger slate of candidates to have a decent chance of winning -- see #3 about the two-party system.

2. Actually, we don't want that

Having to "work for votes" is actually a large part of what's wrong with US politics. Right now, elected officials have to spend a huge percentage of their time courting donations for the next election, instead of working on the actual issues. We should be able to choose our leaders by what policies they support rather than by how many photo-ops they've attended or babies they've kissed.

The same goes when the vote is on an issue rather than a leader: we should be able to choose the one that seems best, rather than the one which is able to put out the largest number of slickly-produced focus-group-tested ads.

3. The Two-Party System

With regard to leaders, specifically, a lot of this campaigning is only made necessary by the two-party system, which range voting weakens or eliminates. First you have to campaign in the primary, and then (if you win) again in the final election.

When people can only vote for one candidate out of a list, it's in the interest of the public to sort themselves into large groups who can agree at least somewhat on policy so that each group can back a particular candidate in the final election; otherwise, the odds are good of "splitting the vote" among several agreeable candidates.

If every voter can rate every candidate on the list according to how satisfied they'd be if that candidate were elected, however, then there's no need for the "elimination round" of primaries -- and no structural need for parties to organize a group decision.

More significantly, "strategic voting" is eliminated: you don't have to worry about voting for a candidate whose chances seem poor (because they haven't spent much money, are supporting an unpopular position you happen to like, etc.); you can fully "vote your conscience" without "wasting a vote", because you can still rate all the other candidates -- so your influence among those likely to win is undiminished.

(As long as money has a major influence on elections, parties will probably continue to exist in order to maximize the impact of that spending -- but even today, many large donors will give to both parties because that way they have clout with whoever gets elected. The more we weaken the party system, the larger the number of candidates that have a meaningful chance of winning -- and therefore the influence-buyers will have to split their donations among that larger number, thus making that kind of influence more expensive.)