The System is Rigged — So Change the System!

The U.S. election system is rigged against third parties. With Plurality Voting most third party candidates suffer the Lesser of Two Evils Dilemma. I have found a couple of loopholes. (Read the book!) But there may be an easier solution: change the system.

That’s right: easier!

Changing the Constitution is hard, so I’m not suggesting that we can easily fix Presidential elections. But states and localities have control of elections further down the ticket, and history shows that states and localities are open alternative voting systems.

Furthermore, election reform is a transpartisan issue. Here, libertarians, progressives, greens, good government types, conspiracy theorists, mainstream media, etc. can work together.

In fact, there is momentum happening right now — for the wrong reform. Maine has enacted a Ranked Choice method (specifically Instant Runoff) for future elections.

I could tell you in great depth why I think Ranked Choice is the wrong reform, but I won’t (for now). Instead, I wish to show you. Over at my older quiz2d site, I have created poll for the 2020 Presidential primaries using multiple voting systems: Plurality, Approval, Range, Ranked Choice, and Range with Runoff. Give it a try yourself. Notice the complexity of Ranked Choice: both for filling in the ballot and for viewing the results.

In the future I will post deeper arguments. For now let reality do the talking. Take the poll and encourage others to do the same.

An Easy Plan of Action

The time for lobbying is not yet. To change the system we need more people to understand the problems with Plurality and to fully understand the alternatives. My online poll is a start.

A good next phase is to encourage people to try alternatives in smaller groups: social clubs, fraternities, sororities, church groups, school clubs, corporate boards, etc.

To some degree we already use Range Voting in these situations. A voice vote is a Range vote. Loudness is a measure of passion. Not just head count.

Perhaps the simplest reform would be to replace Robert’s Complicated and Easily Gameable Rules of “Order” with Approval Voting when people want to amend a motion. One way to kill or pervert a motion is to quickly offer an amendment. Debate can run longer on the amendment than the motion itself. This happens frequently at Libertarian Party conventions.

One particularly dirty trick is to offer an amendment to make the main motion worse in hopes of killing it. We have some bad laws on the books from times when this dirty trick backfired.

Approval Voting makes it possible to debate and vote on multiple versions of a motion in parallel. Just have a vote on all the versions, allowing people to vote Yea on as many versions as they approve of. The version with the most Yeas wins. (Or Nay wins if none of the versions get a majority.)

If this is not good enough, Range Voting would be the next step. This works well in a small group, like a committee even without electronic tallying. I first experienced Range Voting when I was on the Libertarian Party’s Strategic Planning Team. It worked well. This says a lot, since the LP leadership is nearly as good at gaming parliamentary rules as the U.S. Senate.

For a bigger group, electronic counting would be the next step. If I had the time and/or the money to pay some developers, I’d write a web/phone app that clubs could use for electronic voting at conventions and other largish meetings. Better yet would be a free software project so clubs could own their databases. (A shared service concentrates power. Mmmmmmmm, power…)

When enough people have seen the benefits of better voting systems in practice, taking it up to the government level will be fairly easy.

Voting on the Start of Life

Just in time for Mother’s Day, a rather long article on just when motherhood begins: Toward a Democratic Consensus on the Start of Life. If you care at all about the abortion question, read it. It’s big, but important. You will learn:

  1. Why the Court was correct to demand more than mere legislation to outlaw abortion.
  2. How we can meet this demand and legally do something about the casual disposal of humans.

It’s over 2000 words, a rather large time investment, but if you care about Life, it is required reading.

A few tidbits:

Suppose we were to outlaw abortion based on a mere majority vote. And suppose half the population was strongly pro-life and nearly half strongly pro-choice. Would such a law be enforceable?

Not if we had randomly selected juries! It takes a unanimous jury to convict an abortionist. If roughly half the available jurors are pro-choice, then the odds of getting a unanimous pro-life jury is 0.512=0.024%. Hardly worth the effort.

Only by non-random juries and/or intimidating juries to vote against their conscience could convictions practically be obtained for laws for which only half the voters support. Where the general population is interested and divided, a stronger consensus is required. On this the Supreme Court was correct.

In many states we probably have such a strong consensus. And that is the subject of my rather extensive article: how to measure the level of consensus to provide hard data to the courts. And yes, given my close reading of Roe v. Wade, such measurements could sway the courts given the correct arguments to go along with the data.

Read more and come back here to comment.