Democratic elections are thought to be designed to provide an accurate statistical sample of the political will of the people. In many democratic elections this has not turned out to be the case. Even in the United States of America the general electoral system can, and has, left the nation with incumbent leaders for whom greater than 60% of the population did not vote. This has led the electorate to wonder just how democratic voting systems are. Is there a better way to provide democracy representative of the will of the people?
This topic is about how to reform voting, vote taking, and electoral procedures to provide a more true representation of the democratic will of the populace.
Types of Voting Systems[edit | edit source]
Types of voting systems are:
- First Past The Post: This method is used to determine the electors for the US presidential election, and to decide most US elections. Voters are presented with a list of the eligible candidates and are asked to vote for one. The candidate with the largest vote total is declared the winner. This system is tolerable if there are only two candidates and only one position to fill; for any more complex situation there are considerable flaws. Imagine for a moment that in the 2000 US presidential elections all voters who preferred Bush to Gore would have also preferred Nader to Gore and all who preferred Gore to Bush would also have preferred Nader to Bush. Add to that the votes of those who ranked Nader first and Nader would be the winner in a race between either Nader and Bush or Nader and Gore. The specifics regarding the candidates in this example are not realistic, but the situation is entirely possible and demonstrates the flaws associated with the first-past-the-post system. This problem is largely responsible for the creation of the two party system. Since ignoring all but voters' first preferences allows for votes to be split, and thus wasted, voters are discouraged from voting for any but the strongest opponent of their least favorite choice. This reduction of choice hides the inherent flaw.
- Single Transferable Vote
- Instant Runoff Voting: Voters are presented with a list of eligible candidates and are asked to rank their choices. The candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and those votes are redistributed to those voters' second choices. This process continues until a candidate has a majority of the votes. While better than first-past-the-post voting, there are some circumstances in which a winning candidate can lose by being ranked first by more people. However, this chance is slight and the flaw would be nearly impossible to purposely exploit.
- Borda Count: Voters are presented with a list of eligible candidates and are asked to rank their choices. For n candidates first choices are given n-1 points, second choices given n-2 points, and so on until last choices are given 0. Points are totaled and the highest total wins. While this is better than first-past-the-post voting, some people are concerned with the fact that sometimes a voter's second choice may defeat that voter's first choice, meaning that the voter had contributed to his own first choice's loss.
- Electoral Fusion or Cross-endorsement Voting: This is a system whereby two or more political parties can nominate the same candidate. Thus an injdividual voter has the ability to support the platform of a minor party while still supporting the major party candidate that is the closest to the minor party on the issues. Fusion has been criticized as confusing to voters because it leads to the same candidate appearing more than once on the ballot, and because some fear it would lead to less minor party involvement rather than more if minor parties only endorsed other candidates rather than putting up their own. Proponents believe that the power of a minor parties ballot line would be in holding politicians accountable for their campaign promises as well as giving a minor party time to grow before having to field its own candidates.
- Condorcet voting
Types of Representation Systems[edit | edit source]
- Proportional Representation: This is less of a voting system and more of a criterion for a voting system to fulfill when there are more than one positions to be filled in a single election. Ideally, positions should be handed out in proportion to the share of the voting population that favors a party. For example: if a city council has five seats, and that city has a voting population that is 60% republican and 40% democratic, that city's voting system would be proportional if it awarded three seats to republicans and two to democrats. Typically in the US multi-seat elections are divided into smaller single-seat elections. Assuming an even distribution of republicans and democrats across the city, republicans would be awarded all five seats.
- Election Lottery
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- Voting and Electoral Reform Wikis