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Debugging democracy: Better election methods

By mbrubeck in News
Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 03:00:40 AM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

It's election season in the United States, and many citizens are expressing concern over the two-party system that currently has a stranglehold on U.S. elections. The Green, Reform, and Libertarian parties are campaigning harder than ever before, and are rapidly gaining mindshare across the nation. But Americans, afraid of wasting their ballots, are hesitant to vote outside the established parties. The two-party system's momentum is unstoppable under the current U.S. election process. Better methods exist, but can goverments be persuaded to adopt them?


Simple election methods break when more than two candidates are available. For example, imagine that a significant minority cast Reform party ballots in the upcoming election. Most of those conservative voters probably voted Republican in previous elections, so this would mean a decreased Republican vote. The only practical effect is to weaken the Republican candidates against their only real rivals, the Democrats. (Similarly, a strong minority turnout for a third, liberal party would in practice serve only to weaken the Democrats.) Therefore most voters feel that alternative candidates not only waste votes, but may even strengthen the major party farthest from them. Add to this the electoral college (a bizarre historical complication to U.S. presidential elections), and we end up with an system that fails to adapt to or accurately reflect voters' wishes.

There is a better way. Game theorists and political scientists have invented and studied a variety of election processes (read the Voting Systems FAQ for details) that allow participants to vote for their true favorite candidates, without fear of helping their rivals. The most commonly advocated methods are "instant runoff" systems, which are quite easy to implement and understand, as well as fairly sound mathematically. The Center for Voting Democracy has an explanation of instant runoff voting for those unfamiliar with the system.

The benefits of these election methods are clear. The real questions are how to teach citizens of the need for fairer elections, and how to force governments to improve the central process of democracy.

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Related Links
o Voting Systems FAQ
o The Center for Voting Democracy
o explanatio n of instant runoff voting
o Also by mbrubeck


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Debugging democracy: Better election methods | 39 comments (36 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Why vote for president at all? (3.00 / 1) (#1)
by End on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 12:14:27 AM EST

I kind of think we should go back to the way it originally was in this country: have congress elect the president. This would remove the whole problem of campaign finance (for presidential elections at least - I think it would be less of a problem for congressional elections anyway, though) and candidate demagoguery. I think it would also get people more involved in congressional politics. I'll admit, though, that I'm not sure what pitfalls would occur and why we switched to the new system in the first place. Perhaps someone else here knows.

Related to this, I would say one of the major problems with A ll Those Other Single-Issue Parties is that they concentrate all their attention on presidential candidates and not enough on electing people into state and national congressional offices. The fact is, there is no national grassroots support for these parties, it's all kind of being orchestrated and engineered. The reason everyone votes either Republican or Democrat because these parties have platform positions that span almost every issue (whether real or invented issues) and that match the most people's opinions.

All that said, I hope that kuro5hin will not continue to become a podium for US-Centric political issues. Remember our friends accross the Atlantic and elsewhere :-) There are other places for that sort of thing.

-JD

Re: Why vote for president at all? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 12:36:18 AM EST

I think you're a little mixed up. The President has always been elected by the Electoral College, never by the Congress. Congress used to break ties in the Electoral College voting, like when Jefferson and Burr tied in 1808(?).

It was the Senators that used to be elected by the State Legislatures.

[ Parent ]
Re: Why vote for president at all? (none / 0) (#10)
by Tr3534 on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 03:12:11 AM EST

>have congress elect the president.

That idea doesn't quite appeal to me, for some reason... maybe it has to do with the idea of 2 or more presidential equivilant elections in every single state.....?

i don't happen to see such as looking very pretty. Though maybe it would be better.

If you ask me, though, lets reset it farther back and use the system they had back in Athens: direct democracy. With the tech we've got these days, it wouldn't be hard even with the huge population we have in comparision.
As for authentication, thats another matter.... Social Security #'s, maybe?

Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
[ Parent ]
Re: Why vote for president at all? (none / 0) (#18)
by cpt kangarooski on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 12:27:19 PM EST

Social Security numbers are useless for anything like a secret used to verify identity. They're too commonly known, too easily forged, and have a host of other problems as well.

I think that it's still best if people consider voting as special, and have to go to the polls. Perhaps it would be best to require employers to give their employees a half-day off for voting we'd have some improvement....

--
All my posts including this one are in the public domain. I am a lawyer. I am not your lawyer, and this is not legal advice.
[ Parent ]
Re: Why vote for president at all? (4.00 / 1) (#15)
by Doug Loss on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 08:22:32 AM EST

Actually, I think it might be best to strengthen the electoral college. The electoral college is seen as just a niggling complication to the election process by most people, but that wasn't it's original intent. It was meant to be sort of a single-issue, popularly-elected legislature, which would review all the candidates for president and then select the one that most electors favored. State laws on the selection of electors (they are selected and bound to vote for a particular candidate differently in various states) have over time made them mere mouthpieces for the popular vote, but that wasn't originally their role.

I'd like to see no direct election for President, but have the electors on the ballot overtly. The electors should also not be forced by law to cast their electoral college ballots for specific presidential candidates. That way the populace would have to get to know their electors and their views, and then select the persons they think best suited to select a president. This would also have the effect of significant campaign finance reform, as there would be only 535 (I'm not sure if this is the right number) people to vote for president, allowing even minimally-financed candidates to meet every elector and present themselves as viable Presidential material. And since the electors would be known by name, I'd hope that they might be pressured into trying to make the best decision they could rather than the one that gains them the most politically. Yes, I know that's probably naive.

I also think that we ought to rescind the amendment that mandates direct popular election of Senators. The Senate was intended to be the chamber that represents the interests of the states in a federal system. Having the senators selected by the state governments (by whatever means they desire) had that effect. Having them directly elected made the Senate into a smaller, more elite House of Representatives, meaning that the various and diverse interests of the states in the federal system are more easily ignored. This was all part of the increasing centralization of power in the no-longer-federal government in Washington. I'd like to see more power closer to the citizenry, and less far away in bureaucracies.



[ Parent ]
Re: Why vote for president at all? (none / 0) (#24)
by Field Marshall Stack on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 12:16:03 AM EST

Related to this, I would say one of the major problems with A ll Those Other Single-Issue Parties is that they concentrate all their attention on presidential candidates and not enough on electing people into state and national congressional offices.
Except the thing is, several states (mostly in the northeast) won't put a party on the ballot for even local elections unless that party received a certain percentage of the votes in the last presidential election. So parties are pretty much compelled to run national campaigns.
--
Ben Allen, hiway@speakeasy.org
"Nobody ever lends money to a man with a sense of humor"
-Peter Tork
[ Parent ]
Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#3)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 12:32:44 AM EST

Simple election methods break when more than two candidates are available.

Do they? Or are the voters just failing to vote effectively?

For example, imagine that a significant minority cast Reform party ballots in the upcoming election. Most of those conservative voters probably voted Republican in previous elections, so this would mean a decreased Republican vote. The only practical effect is to weaken the Republican candidates against their only real rivals, the Democrats. (Similarly, a strong minority turnout for a third, liberal party would in practice serve only to weaken the Democrats.)

I think that Minnesota Democrats and British Conservatives wish that were true, but it's not. Democrats lost against a strong Reform candidate for Minnesota Governor, and Conservatives lost their majority in the British Parliament even with a significant minority of Democrats around.

Therefore most voters feel that alternative candidates not only waste votes, but may even strengthen the major party farthest from them.

This isn't a flaw in the system, but rather a flaw in the reasoning of the voters. There exist third parties representing all sorts of views, not just one. And some parties won't draw votes from just one major party. From whom should the Libertarians take votes?

Add to this the electoral college (a bizarre historical complication to U.S. presidential elections), and we end up with an system that fails to adapt to or accurately reflect voters' wishes.

Maybe you should explain why you call the electoral college "bizarre," and why you think the system fails the people.

Look up the 1860 Presidential election. Was that a failure?



Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#9)
by Tr3534 on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 03:03:04 AM EST

Just because the system isn't totally broken doesn't mean improvements can't be made. Even if instant-runoff isn't nessessary, it still allows far more control over your choice in government... and isn't that the idea behind democracy?
Sigmentation Fault: Post Dumped.
[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#14)
by Wolfkin on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 07:49:25 AM EST

> > Simple election methods break when
> > more than two candidates are available.

> Do they? Or are the voters just failing
> to vote effectively?

Actually, it can easily be shown that it
is possible for a voting population to
"prefer", as a group, each candidate to
every other candidate, when there are
more than two. This isn't a flaw in
the method of voting used, exactly; rather,
it points out the flaw in the idea that
a group can "prefer" at all. Individuals
prefer, act, and vote; extending this
anthropomorphically to groups is a mistake.

Voting is rational if you mean to have
a decision made regardless of the
"meaning" of it. If you think that you
are going to discover what the *group*
wants though, you should check your
premises. :)

Randall.

[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#22)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 09:23:52 PM EST

Actually, it can easily be shown that it is possible for a voting population to "prefer", as a group, each candidate to every other candidate, when there are more than two. This isn't a flaw in the method of voting used, exactly; rather, it points out the flaw in the idea that a group can "prefer" at all.

That is true. So, let's not worry about whether the results of an election agree with what the group "prefers." Once we stop doing that, any system becomes preferable to any other. After all, in an election with three candidates A B C, with people voting for their first choice:

A: 36%

B: 32%

C: 32%

If it turns out that B's supporters prefer C to A, and C's supporters prefer B to A, deciding what is a "fair" outcome is pretty arbitrary, whether this is a single-member district, or a two-member district.

The US has chosen one system, which ensures geographic as well as ideological representation. Israel has chosen another, which leads to different kinds of outcomes

If you think that you are going to discover what the *group* wants though, you should check your premises.

Right. So my answer to these people who insist that system X is better than the US system is always a question: What makes your system better? The poster made claims like the US existing system is "bizarre," without even explaining why.



[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#31)
by i on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 04:58:27 AM EST

I'm new here. Please bear with me.

I think that this difficulty can be avoided by ranking candidates, i.e. allowing second (third etc.) choices. With this system, A will get 36*3+32*1+32*1 = 172 points, and B and C will each get 32*3 + 32*2 + 36*1 = 196 points.

Am I totally off here?

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]

Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#32)
by PresJPolk on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 07:07:06 AM EST

Yeah, but an alternate viewpoint could say this: A majority prefers C to A, and a majority prefers B to A, so the results of any fair election should rank the candidates like this:

C

B

A

(with the order of C and B determined by whoever A's supporters' second choice is).

[ Parent ]
Doh.. I mis-read you. (none / 0) (#33)
by PresJPolk on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 07:09:50 AM EST

OK.. let's try this again:

Another alternate viewpoint could say that any fair system must put A in the top two, since to put B and C higher would disenfranchise that distinct minority that prefers A.

Like I've said.. it's all arbitrary.

[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#34)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 02:20:58 PM EST

Click through to the explanation of instant runoff and you'll see you're right on target.

[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#25)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 10:33:59 AM EST

>Do they? Or are the voters just failing to vote effectively?

Please read the FAQ - and that goes for the other people who responded to this too. It addresses the very issues you're talking about, including the Condorcet rule, tactical voting, etc.

Personally, I favor AMS/MMS as the basic electoral system. It seems to've worked fairly well in the countries where it's used (New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Norway) allowing a great deal of diversity and voter choice without the instability of a pure party list system such as in Israel.

[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#28)
by PresJPolk on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 10:45:58 PM EST

Why do you assume that anyone who disagrees is automatically uninformed?

[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (none / 0) (#38)
by Anonymous Hero on Mon Jul 17, 2000 at 03:31:43 PM EST

Why do you assume that anyone who disagrees is automatically uninformed?

I don't, generally. However, when someone makes a claim that directly contradicts what's in a reasonably authoritative and already referenced document - which, in turn, represents and refers to an even larger body of work by many people - without making any attempt at all to address the basis of that contradiction, I might conclude that they didn't bother to read it.

The referenced FAQ makes it perfectly clear how electoral systems can fail even when people "vote effectively", and even discusses how tactical voting can undermine otherwise-fair electoral systems. If you'd read the FAQ you'd know all this. You'd certainly know that you'd need to do a better job of explaining your views which contradict it, and not expect people to take your word over the FAQ's without further effort on your part.



[ Parent ]
Re: Huh? (5.00 / 1) (#36)
by mbrubeck on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 04:00:18 PM EST

Sorry for the belated reply. I've been busy lately.

I called the Electoral College "bizarre" in an offhand parenthetical comment, without adequate explanation. I wrote the comment in the context of game theory and the mathematics of voting (which after all was the topic of the article).

It is an unusual election method because it creates a system where not all individual votes are equal. It also adds considerations for voters; the same well-informed and rational voter might vote differently depending on where she lives, for example. The College may have a good historical foundation and an important role in modern U.S. election. But from the game theorist's perspective, breaking up a FPTP election into a collection of disjoint polls only exaggerates the fundamental problems of FPTP systems.

I'm sorry that some people were distracted by my clumsy example. I just thought that using real parties competing in this year's election would be more concrete than naming my candidates Alice, Bob, and Clara. The example wasn't meant to be an accurate statement of the relative platforms of the various parties involved.

There are genuine problems with simplistic election systems, regardless of the competing parties' views. In a first-past-the-poll election with three or more candidates, a voter quite often benefits by not voting for his or her favorite candidate. FPTP causes even rational voters to be affected by knowledge of their fellow voters' plans.

These problems aren't competely solved in instant runoff systems (notably, there are pathological cases where voters still benefit by lying about their preferences), but they get a lot better. For the most part, instant runoff at least lets each individual voter cast ballots for candidates he truly prefers without decreasing the chance of an outcome he likes.

Personally, I think that proportional representation is a better solution for a government that really responds to its citizens' wishes. But it would be a major upheaval for an already-established government to switch to a proportional system. Election-method reform on the other hand could be implemented in my lifetime and without other major changes, if the public cared enough to do it.

[ Parent ]

third parties (none / 0) (#7)
by mattc on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 01:28:16 AM EST

The increase in strength of third parties will continue, IMO, as long as the two traditional parties continue to alienate their traditional supporters.

I see Buchanan as the "real republican" and Nader as the "real democrat" -- the two suits in the official parties are just corporate figureheads.

Did you see Bush and Gore grovelling for votes at that NAACP meeting? Just disgusting.

Re: third parties (none / 0) (#8)
by PresJPolk on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 02:11:35 AM EST

Buchanan a Republican? ack. no.

While I may think the Presidental nomination process is broken (thanks in large part to government meddling), I don't think that the results are always wrong. Dole was awful. Bush isn't bad.

[ Parent ]
Party system is wrong! (none / 0) (#11)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 06:53:08 AM EST

Perhaps I haven't spent enough time thinking this through, but I have always felt that the party system of government is wrong to a large extent.

The purpose behind it seems to be to lump groups of like minded people together and to provide a support organisation for each candidate.

Taking the British system as an example - I think it's fair to say that mofst people vote "Conservative" or "Labour" or whatever, usually not for the candidate themselves. In many places where a party is dominant (e.g. Labour in South Wales or North London) the candidate could be a small horse and would get voted for only because "They're not <opposite party> are they!". Once in power, the party is controlled (hmmm?) by the Whips which does away with free thinking. Since it is the MP that will be voting for a given policy, I would prefer to know what his opinion will be rather than that metered out by the party Whips. If he/she supports my own point of view at a local election, I would vote for them, not because they were of a particular party (each individual MP tows the party line some, then goes against on certain issues).

So what to replace the party system with? A central fund provided by the state/soveriegnty [sp?] which all potential MPs can have a share of to run their local election campaigns. Once the local elections are run, all elected MPs are encouraged to vote on their own principles (and hence that of their voters) for bills put forward in the House. The majority would then take it and the bill would be passed.

What's missing? A figurehead to attend things like world conferences. We already have one - The Queen. Why bother with a Prime Minister. This would also reduce the ability of the Media to control the people since they can't point at one man/woman and blame/shame.

Anyone want to slap my silly ideas down?

Bluecycle

Re: Party system is wrong! (none / 0) (#12)
by RedGuard on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 07:22:09 AM EST

If MPs are funded by the state then it's far more likely
that their loyalties will be to however is handing out
the cash than to their electors.

I think what should keep MPs accountable is their
party organisations, even with funding, getting elected
is very difficult without volunteers to knock on doors,
put up posters, etc. The more recent person to find this
out was Frank Dobson.



[ Parent ]
Re: Party system is wrong! (none / 0) (#13)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 07:41:53 AM EST

Frank Dobson had the weight of the Labour political machine behind him and that wasn't enough to secure his vote.

I think he was always going to lose as he is a seriously uncharismatic man.

The funding method would be a single pot of money from which all potential candidates could get an equal share. This would lead to consultancies being set up to run small campaigns (jobs) and would also reduce the influence of "party" donations. If a business man such as Bernie Eccleston wanted to influence Parliament, he would have to make "contributions" to a large number of people which is unviable and could be made illegal anyway.

Then it would be down to the prospective MP to make the most of his money with volunteers, frugal campaigning etc.

I don't think MPs are actually accountable to the party in the true sense. The party (it seems) supports them when they do something wrong (Peter Mandelson), but the judgement should really come from the voters in the constituency.

Bluecycle

[ Parent ]

Re: Party system is wrong! (none / 0) (#26)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 01:20:32 PM EST

Sure. I'd love to. The problem with getting rid of political parties, as ugly as they are, is that they are needed to organize coherent policies and platforms that people can choose between. If everyone is purely locally elected, then they will only attend to local porkbarrel issues. Just look at most town councils. You need some sort of working coalition to be able to consistently pass legislation without having to buy off a working majority for each bill you have to pass. In truth you need a coherent policy platform to make sense of major non-local issues. Breaking up the parties would only make the patronage system worse.

Most of the problems you describe are mostly caused by the horse race two or three party system. Politicians who seriously want to be elected are forced into one of the major parties, and must toe the party lie if they want to continue to stay in the club (and thus have a chance of being re-elected, or of getting their issues listened to). If legislators who were truly opposed to a particular policy had a choiceof alternate policies that they could threaten to defect to, the iron grip of party discipline would be somewhat relaxed.

Of course, a true multi-party system has dangers of its own, as seen in the continually collapsing coalitions of Italy and Israel. Politics is sausage making after all. It's never going to be very pretty.

[ Parent ]

Re: Party system is wrong! (none / 0) (#27)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 03:32:35 PM EST

Parties and special interest groups are pretty much inevitable. The solution is to have so many special interest groups that nothing gets ignored and let them all talk to people. I'm thinking about something allong the lines of online voting with links to the opinions of all the various special interest groups. This might kill the party system if people would learn to join special interest groups (or at least read their opinion) and ignore the parties. The other idea is to allow all these special interest groups to ellect candidates, but most of these candidates would only get fractional votes. Individual citizens could divide their votes up ammong hundereds of candidates.. giving a fraction to each. The candidates would need to work out compramizes among themselves and find coalitions. The only real problem with this system is that it's hard for individuals to research hundreds of candidates. It's easy to know about hundreds of special intrest groups, but not about the individuals which run them.

[ Parent ]
Hey, Americans, remember history? (none / 0) (#16)
by madams on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 09:21:04 AM EST

Oh, now, who was the guy who warned against have a two party system in the United States?

Hm, I remember, it was George Washington

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

Re: Hey, Americans, remember history? (none / 0) (#23)
by goosedaemon on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 09:46:41 PM EST

George Washington warned against parties period. I think his reasoning was related to the way Britain worked and their ... system.

[ Parent ]
Reform, Independence, and the two "major" (3.30 / 3) (#17)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 10:00:10 AM EST

Disclaimer: I live in Minnesota and have voted for candidates if the former Reform party, now the Independence party.

The Reform party has become, due to it being hijacked by Pat Buchananites, far more right wing than the Republicans. This caused the split and renaming of the real Reform (the original Reform) in this state.

The message during the last governor's race was clear:

Democrat: We should keep government out of people's private lives, except reach into their wallets and tax and spend on programs we (who always know better) think will benefit people (and keep getting us re-elected.

Republican: We should keep government out of people's wallets, but we must legislate (our own defintion of) morality and regulate the bedroom.

The guy who won: Keep government out of peoples lives. Tax only what is needed to run government, and be suspicious of that. Keep government out of the bedroom, too. You can't legislate away stupidity, however you define it. But people who do stupid things will have to live with the consequences and not run to government to bail them out of something that got into themselves.

There was much talk about how voting for this candidate was "wasting your vote." The night of the election, in his acceptance speech, he stated that was not the case, saying, "We won with 'wasted' votes."

It can be done. Even with this system, but it takes the right message, delivered by a serious no-nonsense candidate. No, I didn't take him seriously..at first. But the more I heard his interviews and debates, the better he looked. If he didn't know something, he said so. No trying to cover it. If he didn't liek something, he said so, no finessing around it. Did I agree with every little thing he said? Hell no! But I knew there'd be no bullshit. That got the 'vote waster' elected. He made very few campaign promises, and gave a simple reason: He'd only make promises he KNEW he could keep. Amazing, huh?

Both major parties look at that a fluke. I hope it isn't. Sadly, niether has seen the light of the message. The full message. Each still only has half. Each is therefore still vulnerable - if a third party candidate can gain sufficient exposure with the full message and doesn't engage in BS.



Electoral College (none / 0) (#19)
by OKolzig37 on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 01:34:56 PM EST

I'll tell you what else will help: eliminating the current system of new parties requiring to petition in states to field a candidate and eliminating the electoral college (which breeds the two-party system).

Prime example: In 1992, Perot garnered around 20 million votes (or something like that, it's been a while...), however, he had zero votes in the electoral college. None.

Of course, the bottom line is that most people are satisfied with the status quo. The majority of the populous believes (correctly, for the most part) that the world will continue to go on regardless of whom is in office. If people feel a need for dramatic change, a charismatic leader preaching change will garner lots of support (just look at history - Washington/Other Founding Fathers, Lenin, Hitler, FDR).

Mis dos centados.
Ben Dyer
www.imaginuity.com

Oldy moldy, history mystery!
Instant runoff a very cool idea (4.00 / 1) (#20)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 05:42:10 PM EST

For everyone to lazy to click through, instead of picking just one candidate you pick your first choice, second, third...If there isn't a majority counting first choices, you eliminate the candidate with the least first-choice votes, and everyone who picked that candidate first gets their second choice counted. Continue until one candidate gets over 50%. This way, if you, say, hate Gore but really want Alan Keyes, you don't have this dilemma--do I vote for Bush, to prevent helping Gore because I know Keyes won't win, or do I vote my favorite? With computers this system doesn't cost any more, and it gives voters a lot more real choice.

Senators used to be elected by state representativ (none / 0) (#21)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Jul 14, 2000 at 06:43:33 PM EST

Ever since Senators have been elected by people, that is what you see them do, worry about getting re-elected. They were put in Congress to serve states views and generally not those of the people. If the people wanted to remove them from office, they would simply vote for a different state representative that wouldn't vote someone they wanted in as Senator. By electing for Senators directly, pork-barrel spending has hit an all-time high and will only continue to grow. The senate used to keep bills aimed at one thing and one thing only, now what we see is interest groups sneaking all sorts of crap into bills that usually have nothing to do with the bill at all. The 3rd party candidates need to address this issue first, then worry about getting elected. Or promise to do whatever they can to educate people about the dangerous of majority rule, without mentioning any specific term, there was a group at one time in Germany that eliminated all opposition by targeting first one group, thus increasing their majority, then moving to another, increasing it even more and so forth. We need to embrace 3rd parties, especially ones that take the best issues from both sides, like the LP.. www.sheepdot.org

Re: Senators used to be elected by state represent (none / 0) (#29)
by Anonymous Hero on Sat Jul 15, 2000 at 11:06:00 PM EST

Oh yes, what a wonderful idea. Let's just have the states appoint the senators directly! They've been doing this for a long time in Canada and look how wonderful and respected their Senate is! Oh yes, the Canadian Senate is truly and completely freed from pork barrel poliytic and patronage. No senator would ever take his seat as a reward for loyally collecting illegal political donations or doing other dirty political tasks. No Canadian Senator would ever spend most of the year vacationing in Mexico, making Parliament maybe 2 or 3 days a year. Yea, our Senate is a shining example unto the world of honesty and dignity in politics. We proud Canucks would recommend our Senate to any country. No really, please take our Senate. Not just as an example. Far away and as soon as possible, thank you very much. You can pay their multiple pensions though. And of course, the Libertarian Party would make such an improvement in America. Whyt should anyone oppose the unelected power of giant monopolistic corporations? Why should they even have to pay taxes? Heck, why even bother with elections. Just privatize the entire government, and distribute the dividend to the citizens! A magnificent idea! I ought to run for president myself.

[ Parent ]
mbrubeck (none / 0) (#30)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 02:43:01 AM EST

Now I'm interested in where you got your interest in fixing democracy.

http://www.kuro5hin.org/?op=comments&sid=polls&pid=44#49

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

Re: mbrubeck (none / 0) (#35)
by mbrubeck on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 03:29:26 PM EST

Actually, I first learned about election methods while studying game theory and have been interested in them ever since. I'm glad to see that you share the interest, though I'm disappointed so few other k5 readers do.

I hoped that this article would inspire more discussion on the election methods themselves and on whether or how they should be implemented. It seems I spent too many bytes talking about the presidential election, which was I meant to use only as a timely example of weaknesses in FPTP systems. Readers took this the wrong way and launched off into threads on current U.S. politics rather than the (more interesting IMHO) election methods themselves.

Sigh. I thought that on a purportedly geek-oriented site we could rise above mere politics and talk about something important. Like math. :-)

[ Parent ]

Re: mbrubeck (5.00 / 1) (#37)
by Anonymous Hero on Sun Jul 16, 2000 at 06:45:42 PM EST

Don't feel too bad, if nothing else you got me to join the Center for Voting Democracy. I'd never heard of instant-runoff, and as soon as I read the description I wanted to vote that way--bad.

[ Parent ]
Hey AH!! (none / 0) (#39)
by Anonymous Hero on Wed Jul 19, 2000 at 09:03:30 PM EST

Did you look at proportional representation, where 95% of the population has a representative of their choice, instead of the current representation, where only about 51% of the population has someone representing them? (or 49% in Clinton's case)

That's even cooler than IRV, which is limited because of the need to only have one winner.

-- Ender, Duke_of_URL

[ Parent ]
Debugging democracy: Better election methods | 39 comments (36 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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