The lesser of two evils: that’s what many American voters feel they are faced with, according to Change.org.
You’re going to have to vote for Clinton, or Trump, or none. So it’s a good year for the Center for Electoral Science (CES) to run an interesting poll:
How do people say they would vote under other voting systems, which might give more choice and be more flexible and fair?
Be warned: the poll hasn’t started yet, and CES is hoping you will pledge a bit of money to fund it. Only if and when they’re ready to launch it would CES ask for your dollar.
The current system, “plurality” voting, is, as CES says, “considered among experts to be the worst voting method there is.” It is fair only when there are only two candidates.
I’ve long advocated Approval Voting. CES tends to agree with me, and mentions it first. Approval Voting means that you can give one vote to each of as many of the candidates as you like. For instance, if the options were Trump, Clinton, and Sanders, you could vote for just, say, Clinton, or for both Clinton and Sanders without harming either and without unfairness to Trump. Under the established system, if you vote for the one you really like best, the one who has more chance of winning is weakened and the one you like least strengthened; if you vote for the one who has the better chance, the one you really like will never make headway.
Approval Voting is the second simplest of all methods. It is far simpler than – and would work better than – those that require voters to rank preferences, or that transfer votes and require re-counts..
I think it’s fairly well known that Clinton I won in 1992 because Perot split the vote for Bush I, and Bush II won in 2000 because Nader split the vote for Gore. Approval Voting would have shown exactly how much support each really had.
Another kind of example seems to be expressed by a graphic in the CES website. In the 2007 French presidential election, the candidates Nicolas Sarkozy, Ségolène Royal, and François Bayrou got 31, 26, and 19 percent of the vote. Since none reached 50% there was a runoff between Sarkozy and Royal, which Sarkozy won. However, when voters were asked how they would have voted under the Approval system, the percentages were about 50 for Bayrou, 45 for Sarkozy, and 44 for Royal. Adding up to more than 100, because you can Approve more than one candidate. Bayrou (a “centrist” who calls the European Union “the most beautiful construction of all humanity”) was the most widely approved, but was excluded from the final vote. Shurely shome mishtake, as the editor of Private Eye used to interject.
My friend by correspondence Jan Kok, of Fort Collins, Colorado, told me about CES’s initiative. I thought I ought to pledge something since Approval Voting is my baby and I only at irregular intervals contribute any effort to the quixotic struggle for it. I wish I could live to see it. Democracy matters.