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Rage Against the Machine : Why Voting Doesn't Work and What You Can Do About It.

By simul in Op-Ed
Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 01:41:08 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

I was sitting in a bar listening to the presidential "debate", thinking the same thought I always do when listening to politicians.  Why must I choose between two people that I don't like?  Since I live in New York, where Democrats usually win the electorate, should I even bother voting?  Are my votes even counted?

It's always easy to blame the current President for the nation's current problems, and I'll admit that I'm often tempted to blame Bush.  But the reality is that he is not to blame.  The blame can be placed squarely on us, the citizens, and on our unwillingness to reform an outdated voting system.


Only 51.3% of the eligible voters bothered to show up at the polls in the 2000 election.  Clearly American voters are not inspired by their candidates.

So this brings us to the first problem: Why must we choose between two?

Suppose someone likes a Libertarian or Green party candidate more than the "Republicrat" choices.  They well know that if they were to vote for a minority group, their vote would be wasted unless it's for a candidate in a district where that party is polling better than 25%.  Many voters assume that this problem is an inherent fact of democracy, but it is not.  The flaw rests squarely on the U.S.'s archaic election system.

Instead of selecting just one candidate, our voting machines should allow voters to answer "yes or no" to each of the candidates.  The candidate with the most support would then win.  This would safely allow someone to vote for a Libertarian candidate, as well as a Republicrat, without any chance of wasting votes or spoiling an election.  Such a system allows for any number of candidates, and has even been shown to increase voter turnout by as much as 50%.

For example:

*Plurality ballot*
Directions: Vote for one candidate.

( ) Harry Browne (Libertarian)
( ) Pat Buchanan (Reform)
( ) George W. Bush (Republican)
( ) Al Gore (Democrat)
( ) Ralph Nader (Green)
( ) Howard Phillips (Constitution)

*Approval ballot*
Directions: Vote for any number of candidates.
[ ] Harry Browne (Libertarian)
[ ] Pat Buchanan (Reform)
[ ] George W. Bush (Republican)
[ ] Al Gore (Democrat)
[ ] Ralph Nader (Green)
[ ] Howard Phillips (Constitution)

This simple system is known as Approval Voting and used by the American Society of Statisticians, the United Nations and is promoted by many respected political and economic scientists.  It's also just plain obvious why it works better.  For more information on Approval Voting, visit http://www.approvalvoting.org/

This brings us to the second question:  Since I live in New York, should I even bother voting?

An interesting fact of living in the U.S. is that its citizens do not have the right to vote.  Let me repeat this for emphasis: The citizens of the United States do not, yet, have a Constitutional right to vote.  In fact for 30 years our President was chosen by the state legislature.  Section 1, Article II of the Constitution says, "Each state shall appoint, in such manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a number of electors" ... It then goes on to describe how the electors, not the citizens, vote for President.  

The result of this system is that your Presidential vote doesn't carry nearly as much weight as do your state and local votes.  The "electoral college" allows state legislatures to divide up and allocate votes as they see fit.

In fact, nowhere in the Constitution are the citizens of this country given a right to vote and to have their vote counted.  In 1989 an amendment to do away with the Electoral College passed the House of Representatives with 83% of the vote, 338-70. Predictably, that amendment failed in the Senate.

Until we have this right in place, grassroots campaigning and local elections are far, far more important than national elections.

And finally: Are my votes even counted?

The answer is "maybe".

This country has had a long history of voting fraud, about which whole novels can be written, but here are some examples:

When precinct workers in the 1974 Dade County elections discovered that the voting machines they were using were rigged, they walked off the job and refused to certify the election process. Police and fire fighters took over the polling duties. The next day, the Miami Herald reported the walk out, but not the reason. When the precinct workers went to the media to report the election rigging, the media ignored them. So did the local attorney general. So did the FBI. Citizens who tried to observe the next election were arrested for disturbing the peace.

In 1997, the respected Washington, DC publication, The Hill (thehill.com/news/012903/hagel.aspx), confirmed that Republican Senator Chuck Hagel was the head, and continues to own part of, ES&S - the company that has installed and programmed nearly half the voting machines used in the United States.

In 2002, Diebold systems supplied the state of Georgia with electronic voting machines.  In that election, the incumbent Democratic Governor Ray Barnes was defeated, giving the Republicans their first victory there in 134 years. The poll results showed a miraculous 12-point shift in the last 48 hours.  Diebold was subsequently sued for applying a last-minute code patch to the machines that was never reviewed and was also, coincidentally, deleted just after the election.  

In April, 2004 California's Voting Systems and Procedures Panel, by an 8-0 vote, recommended that California cease the use of certain Diebold machines.  

30% of all votes in the 2004 elections will be tabulated by electronic machines that don't have vote-verification systems.

It would be trivial to develop public, open-source devices that use military-grade encryption, and employ modern vote-verification technologies.  Australia already uses such a system, and many local elections use these systems.  (It's important to use open-source code so that the machine's operation and security can be scrutinized by the public for possible flaws and biases.  It also saves taxpayers money.)  

Why are our voting machines owned and operated by private companies?  Perhaps it's because the people in charge got there using an old, corruptible system and they have no interest in changing to a new fair and open system.  Or perhaps it's simply because there's a lack of public interest and support for reform.

Nevertheless, when a voting system is so severely broken in all these ways, it's hard to blame the leaders who got promoted by it.

How do we, as a people, get out of this vicious cycle before the U.S. crumbles into some sort of delusional feudal empire?  We start at the bottom and work our way up.   We can use Approval Voting in school elections, on web polls, and in our daily lives.  We can teach kids how to use simple hand counts, and how to use voting to make group decisions.  We can petition local election boards to move to open, secure, verifiable, and certified voting machines.  As the people grow in confidence with these technologies, more and more educators and local politicians will begin to support vote reform, and the system will begin to shift gears.

Contacting the following groups can help you become a respected "voting rights activist" in your own community:

Citizens for Approval Voting: http://www.approvalvoting.org/
The Center for Voting and Democracy : http://www.fairvote.org/
A technical analysis of various election systems: http://www.electionmethods.org/
Open voting software, used in real elections: http://www.open-vote.org/, http://www.openvotingconsortium.org/
Latest news on the Constitutional Right to Vote Amendment: http://www.fairvote.org/righttovote/

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Poll
Voting Reform
o I like the system the way it is 7%
o I couldn't care less 1%
o We need all of it, now! 15%
o The system's so broken, there's no way to fix it except to tear it down 24%
o If we get close tofixing the system, someone will shoot us for trying 39%
o The emergent intelligence of the system will cause it to repair itself 11%

Votes: 53
Results | Other Polls

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Rage Against the Machine : Why Voting Doesn't Work and What You Can Do About It. | 166 comments (136 topical, 30 editorial, 9 hidden)
Ok, the premise is fine (2.40 / 5) (#2)
by jd on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 02:12:08 AM EST

The US practices "statistical voting" - the votes aren't actually counted, only a sample of them. The winner is extrapolated from that. In addition, you're quite right, voter fraud is rife in the US. Ballot boxes often go "missing". With postal ballots, it would be extremely difficult for a person to prove that who they voted for was who they were counted as voting for.

There's also the absolutism of the US system. Power is confiscated, not shared, which means that the country can only exist in a series of extremes.

And, yes, you're right that other countries and organizations have long since found solutions to these problems. Not perfect solutions, by any means, but solutions that work a damn sight better.

But, as other posters have noted, nothing's going to change and this subject has been thrashed to death before, so nobody on K5 is likely to change their minds now. Stagnation - both of the country and its inhabitants - has already happened. There's nothing you can do about it, except perhaps make notes in the hope that someone'll learn next time.

Not that I expect they will. Humanity is extremely good at repeating past mistakes.

"statistical voting" (none / 1) (#123)
by mlc on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:25:16 PM EST

The US practices "statistical voting" - the votes aren't actually counted, only a sample of them. The winner is extrapolated from that. In addition, you're quite right, voter fraud is rife in the US. Ballot boxes often go "missing". With postal ballots, it would be extremely difficult for a person to prove that who they voted for was who they were counted as voting for.
I'd never heard this before about a month ago, and all of a sudden people keep asserting it without any evidence. Do you have any evidence for this? It seems made-up to me.

--
So the Berne Convention is the ultimate arbiter of truth and morality. Is this like Catholicism? -- Eight Star
[ Parent ]

It is not true. (none / 0) (#133)
by Parity on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:27:32 PM EST

Depending on the state, votes are counted differently, and in some states, it -may- be permissible to stop counting when a change in outcome is mathematically impossible, but I don't know of such a case. Certainly, in every New England state every vote is counted in every election (barring 'lost' ballot boxes and other misbehavior, which, while it may occur, is illegal and represents circumventing the system, not the system itself.)

It -is- true that the statistics as votes are counted are used by the press to color the states in red and blue when they decide it's 'certain enough', and it is true that concession and acceptance speeches by the presidential candidates are made based on those results in the press. After last time, I doubt such statements will ever be issued as hastily as they have been in the past, however.

I think, the fact that the press reports the 'outcome' early confuses people, and they don't recognize that the counting is finished some time later (maybe days later), but final numbers are counted and submitted, state electors are notified, and actually travel to Washington to cast their electoral votes (and some are not actually required by law to vote their party, although most are, again state by state.) Only then is the result actually final and binding.

I would've thought people got a full education on this system four years ago, but apparently not...

--Parity None

 

[ Parent ]

Statistical voting is done only by media. (none / 0) (#157)
by RadiantMatrix on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 04:32:44 PM EST

I've said this before: the media outlets are the only ones who use statistical voting.  They will announce the result of an election based on counts from a few (or sometimes just one) areas.  Usually, it's a pretty good indicator of how the election turns out, but not always -- the media have been embarrassed before by announcing the wrong result.

Every vote is counted (at least in theory), but the results are often not certified for some time after the election date.  The election-day announced results are based on statistical analysis, but the final certification doesn't occur until all votes are certified.

"In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

[ Parent ]

"Vote or die" (2.25 / 4) (#5)
by Psycho Dave on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 03:14:43 AM EST

The other night, I decided to treat myself to some mental junk food, so I turned on MTV in time to catch their "Vote or Die" special (guess "Rock the Vote" was too nineties...) Basically, it was Puffy driving around dilapidated neighborhoods in his Bentley, trying to convince young members of "the hip hop nation" to go to the polls and vote. Yep, getting "blinged" out, grab your "posse" and go cast your vote.

I encourage everyone to see it. It just proves how retarded our nation is becoming if you have to make voting seem "gangsta".

Listen, if you don't like either of the choices, if you don't think it will make a difference, if you don't think that one is worse than the other THEN DON'T VOTE. Seriously. I may feel and act superior to you because you didn't, but I'd probably feel that way anyway.

Youth voter turnout will always be low. At that age, at most it's a novelty. When you're old and can't work, and have to depend on government programs to pay your rent, or get cheap third world pharmecuticals from Canada, you have a much higher stake in the system.

Hm.. (1.00 / 4) (#8)
by Magnetic North on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 06:31:52 AM EST

But voting is gangsta.

--
<33333
[ Parent ]
Rockthevote bias (2.50 / 4) (#18)
by ProfaneBaby on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 10:42:16 AM EST

All media outlets are biased - that's essentially accepted and tolerated for lack of a better alternative.

However, Rockthevote/MTV claims to be nonpartisan, while their "Why you should vote" page is decidedly anti-Conservative.

http://www.rockthevote.com/is_whyvote.php.

The reasons they list for driving youth turnout are (in their order):
  • High youth unemployment
  • High cost of college education
  • "High" rate of uninsured youths
  • A coming military draft
  • Voting rights of college students being 'attacked'

    Of these, clearly the most misleading is the coming draft. To support this ridiculous claim, they point to dead bills that never had ANY support in Congress. Yet, because these are young voters, the potential for draft scares them, and clearly scares them towards anti-incumbent stances.

    The other issues are similarly confused. High rate of youth unemployment isn't an issue addressed postively by either party. Historically, most kids 18-24 have had low wage, 'training' type jobs that are (in the current environment) taken mostly by new and illegal immigrants. In this election year, both large parties have pushed for legalization of these immigrants, which leaves the 18-24 year olds completely screwed by both - therefore, the issue is raised as a 'problem', yet no solution mentioned other than 'voting', which again suggests that the incumbents are the cause of the problem, when clearly, the challengers are at LEAST as guilty, if not moreso.

    Perhaps I'm just ranting - it wouldn't be unusual - but it certainly seems that the site is trying to be 'fair', yet fails miserably. Am I alone in that belief?
    Webcam / Video Blogs. Free accounts for women who post topless. I'm only kidding.
    [ Parent ]
  • So listing issues.. (2.75 / 4) (#37)
    by Kwil on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 07:00:02 PM EST

    ..is now a partisan activity?

    They don't list who's responsible for what.
    They list a number of issues their demographic should be concerned about, and leave it to the people themselves to figure out who's doing what.

    After all, if they presented the same list when Clinton was in power, would the list suddenly have a republican bias?

    Here's a radical thought. Perhaps the list isn't biased at all, but the facts of the issues and the policies of both major parties are biased against youth voters.  

    That Jesus Christ guy is getting some terrible lag... it took him 3 days to respawn! -NJ CoolBreeze


    [ Parent ]
    Problem with approval voting (2.85 / 7) (#6)
    by Patrick2 on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 04:14:40 AM EST

    Yes, you can craft a much more specific vote with that system. That is, if you know of the statistical effects of including/excluding someone. I doubt that this knowledge will ever replace the popular out-of-the-gut voting.

    Because of the gut voting the vast majority of voters will vote 'yes' on candidates as soon as they have a slight preference for them. Therefore candidates will solely focus on having some proposal for each 'type' of voter putting them above that 50:50 threshold. The one that is the least controversial/slick/mediocre wins. Look out for TV stars and talkshow hosts running for office.

    Anecdotal: The TV show Big Brother was won in most countries by a participant that could be classified as "slick". They were the ones that avoided conflicts that polarized the audience. I don't know if that type of character would be a good choice for an office were painful decisions have to be made.

    exactly right (2.50 / 2) (#7)
    by forgotten on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 06:00:09 AM EST

    i cant understand why people dont see this flaw in approval voting. what will happen is that, there will be two or three "serious" candidates that are roughly opposed (or triagularly opposed) to each other. most people will choose one of those to cast their "main" vote and then they will tack on votes for "friendly" other candidates, or single issue candidates. but on the ballot all these votes are equivalent. then suddenly these guys are getting majority results even though what people really were doing was showing a "vote of confidence".


    --

    [ Parent ]

    fix (none / 0) (#11)
    by Viliam Bur on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 07:12:10 AM EST

    All votes could be between 1 and 0, for example 1, 1/2 and 0. So I can give my "main" candidate 1 vote, and to the other acceptable ones "1/2" vote. But this would probably be too complicated for an average voter to understand.

    [ Parent ]
    Agreed: too complicated (none / 1) (#14)
    by squigly on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 08:38:48 AM EST

    If you're going to do something that complicated, some form of preference voting where you rank your choices, such as condorcet or IRV.

    [ Parent ]
    Such a system fails quickly (none / 1) (#43)
    by xria on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 09:15:45 PM EST

    If you give half a vote to someone, and the guy you voted 1 for doesnt get enough, you just halved the value of you bothering to vote. So in a system like this it is only meaningful to vote full or nothing.

    From electionmethods.org:

    With more than two candidates, the same principle still applies. For any possible pair of candidates, the only advantage a vote gives to one over the other is determined by the difference in their ratings. If a voter decides to specify a preference for one over the other, the best strategy is never to voluntarily diminish the effect of the vote with regard to that preference. Minimum and maximum ratings are therefore still the best strategy.

    [ Parent ]

    Just rank them (none / 1) (#98)
    by pyro9 on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 09:10:37 PM EST

    I don't think people would be at all confused by ranking their choices, just put your favorite at the top, the remaining cantidate least likely to make you throw up below that, and the "I wouldn't vote for him if he was the last man on Earth" at the bottom.

    For many of us, it's quite easy, the person you actually want, followed by the person you would vote for under the current system, and the living reason for your second choice goes last.

    It's quite easy to count as well. Given n cantidates, your first choice recieves n votes, second gets n-1, and so on. Simply adding the votes and choosing the greatest number will do the right thing.


    The future isn't what it used to be
    [ Parent ]
    math is your friend (none / 0) (#139)
    by mikpos on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:45:23 PM EST

    I hope K5 doesn't turn into Slashdot, where people make grand statements about things they've only briefly come across because it's so "obvious".
    It's quite easy to count as well. Given n cantidates, your first choice recieves n votes, second gets n-1, and so on. Simply adding the votes and choosing the greatest number will do the right thing.
    What you describe is the Borda election method. Your friends at electionmethods.org correctly label Borda as being OK, but it's still worse than approval. The problem of Borda with respect to approval is that in Borda you are encouraged to rank your favourite candidate very poorly, and your penultimate favourite candidate very highly (much like is done in plurality voting). Approval does not have this flaw.

    Anyway, suffice to say, there have been a lot of very smart mathematicians who have studied election methods for a very long time. Borda encourages strategy more than approval does.

    [ Parent ]

    Don't read too much into this (none / 0) (#160)
    by pyro9 on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 02:18:13 PM EST

    All I said was that confusion is not a problem with ranking. I then showed the simplest way to accomplish that (making no comment on the advisability of a voting system based on ranking).

    I do agree and understand that a Borda count can encourage gaming the system. Approval voting will encourage people to vote for well known cantidates that they don't particularly like or dislike in hopes of defeating well known cantidates that they do object to. In turn, that will encourage election strategies based on carpet bombing with advertisements primarily aimed at not saying anything anyone might particularly object to. That is another form of gaming the system. Finding a perfect system is hard and I am not convinced that one exists. I am convinced that the current system is the worst of the lot.

    Part of the problem is defining the actual goal of the election method. Is it to minimize dis-satisfaction or to maximize satisfaction? Is a result where nobody is 100% happy OK as long as nobody is 100% unhappy?


    The future isn't what it used to be
    [ Parent ]
    Your title asks a question (1.66 / 3) (#15)
    by pauldamer on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 10:22:57 AM EST

    But you do not answer it.

    you know (2.00 / 2) (#16)
    by auraslip on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 10:27:11 AM EST

    change that comes too quickly can be dangerous
    124
    And you know (none / 0) (#110)
    by 87C751 on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 09:36:43 AM EST

    that change which never comes is also dangerous.

    Fsck it. Nuke 'em all.

    My ranting place.
    [ Parent ]

    My opinion (1.66 / 3) (#17)
    by xria on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 10:38:43 AM EST

    Approval voting sounds fairly flawed, I would suggest you find a better system to replace it with, but you could fit the same article around it.

    IRV might be one to look at for single positions being filled, or for things where a group of people are being voted for (the senate, or the parliament in the UK) variants of proportional representation so that in both cases everyones vote is used to determine who is elected.

    There are a lot of other systems as well, all have their benefits and disadvantages so you really need to work out what forms are best for which situations.

    For example what IRV does essentially is allow a comparison of every candidate in a head to head situation and find the single most prefered candidate out of all the votes cast.

    With Approval you are likely to end up with people no one has heard of getting large chunks of the vote as some people will approve them just to make it less likely people they actively dislike dont get in.

    Of course as with all voting reform is how do you persuade those in power to make changes that are likely to see them lose authority overall.

    Oops (none / 0) (#40)
    by xria on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 08:44:54 PM EST

    I was actually talking about Condorcet in the above comment really having looked into the difference between that and IRV.

    [ Parent ]
    with approval voting... (1.50 / 10) (#19)
    by circletimessquare on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 11:04:10 AM EST

    our curent president would be john mccain

    for real

    some on the left apparently believe that you change the voting, and suddenly there will be a groundswell of support for the left

    when the truth is the left just doesn't have that much support

    likewise, those on the right have very little support as well

    the great moderate middle wins in a democracy, as it should: it's called stability

    and it runs counter to progressive forces, and it runs counter to traditional values

    and you know what?

    fuck progress, fuck tradition: stability is highly underrated

    and that is why democracy works: it provides stability, no matter how much the assholes on the left or the right yell


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    I approve of McCain (nt) (2.33 / 3) (#25)
    by phred on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 12:50:19 PM EST



    [ Parent ]
    So, I should support approval voting, then? (none / 1) (#27)
    by cburke on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 02:26:41 PM EST

    Sounds great to me.

    [ Parent ]
    Benefits of mainstreaming third parties (none / 0) (#50)
    by jongleur on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 03:09:50 AM EST

    they'd:
    • Increase voter participation; there's someone running who you can wholeheartedly vote for without 'throwing your vote away', so you don't hate yourself either way you vote, which makes it easier for citizens to engage more wholeheartedly.  This alone is worth it; right now third parties are exhausting exercises in Don Quixotism.
    • Prevent collusion between the major parties; with only two major parties they can both sell out to corporations and each find themselves with no interest in bringing the subject up. You need outsiders to call them on it, there needs to be less of a barrier to entry for challenges.
    • Act as incubators of ideas for the major parties.
    I think a more engaged populace is a necessary step toward whatever (hopefully more devolved) system comes after this 'Representative Democracy'.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    detractions (1.00 / 2) (#57)
    by circletimessquare on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 09:13:22 AM EST

    ask anyone in europe, 3rd parties are not ideological beacons of light, they are ideological whores

    ask a german about the green party. what happens is the big parties deadlock, so suddenly these little inconsequential parties hold an inordinate amount of power as they can influence vote one way or another on important issues. the big parties court the tiny parties, and they hold the legislation for the whole country hostage as they seek various tithings and indulgences, none of which has anything to do with the ideology of the green party.

    so in other words, with little inconsequential parties, you have disproportionate representation: the wants and desires of a tiny fraction of the populace get an infated influence. and mostly, as an y german will tell you, the agenda that is met by the actual representatives of such tiny parties, have absolutely nothing whatsoever tod o with the grand naive ideologically pure vision you assume will be met.

    also, be careful: you REALLY want tiny 3rd parties? you mean like the kkk or the nazis? see the problem? what is good for the far left is good for the far right too you know

    dems and repubs, both moderate, one a little right leaning, one a little left leaning is wonderfully stable

    and stability is HIGHLY underrated

    i will personally take stability over the alienation of the far right and the far left any day, in a heartbeat


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    If voting changed anything they'd abolish it (2.50 / 2) (#79)
    by bil on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 12:23:58 PM EST

    The German Green party have gained roughly 5-9% of the vote in each election for the last 20 years, which mean about 2-3million people vote for them.

    Sure they are the third party in the German Parliment, but thats still a significant number of people who have strongly held relativly moderate political beliefs that you are willing to ignore completely because they might be able to change things a bit.

    Do you actually live in a democracy when the desires of a large minority of people can be ignored completly because they dont agree with either of the ruling parties? Is stability such a desireable thing that you are unwilling to counternace any change ever happening even if that change has the support of millions? Do you not trust people to hold opinions and vote accordingly unless its within the very narrow guidelines you lay down. Do you really belive that voting should be abolished if it changes anything?

    bil
    Where you stand depends on where you sit...
    [ Parent ]

    Well but that's under proportional representation (none / 0) (#109)
    by jongleur on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 05:33:16 AM EST

    though I guess the same situation could come up, it'll be less severe with first past the post congressional elections. But, so, do the Germans dislike their system? Greens' power to squeeze is proportional to their number so it's only right they get clout from time to time.

    Ok I don't really have anything but I'd chance the instability for some genuine democratic flow.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    You know, that would be a pretty cool album name (none / 0) (#20)
    by Imperfect on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 11:05:35 AM EST

    I mean, if Rage was still spinnin'.

    Not perfect, not quite.
    When my front door is busted down, in splinters... (none / 1) (#21)
    by NoMoreNicksLeft on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 12:07:24 PM EST

    It's hard to blame the looters?

    I like the rest of the article, but that sentiments earns it a -1.

    --
    Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.

    Approval voting doesn't sound too good... (2.80 / 5) (#22)
    by Chancellor Martok on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 12:13:31 PM EST

    How about simple preferential voting instead? Otherwise known as an alternative vote system or instant run-off... or maybe better known as what we use in Australia. ;)

    This way, you can express your opinion by voting for any number of minor parties/candidates, but your vote will always count towards one of the last 2 remaining candidates, e.g. Bush and Kerry.

    This article (or at least the first half) explains how it works better than I ever could:
    http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2004/guide/howpreferenceswork.htm

    As for your comment about "It would be trivial to develop public, open-source devices that use military-grade encryption, and employ modern vote-verification technologies.  Australia already uses such a system" - what? What system are you talking about? The one that's in use in a very small number of cases for pre-poll voting in the ACT? With that single exception, each and every one of our votes here are done by writing numbers on  a piece of paper, with a pencil.

    -----
    Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
    "Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

    IRV - What a Great Idea (1.00 / 2) (#28)
    by thelizman on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 03:01:39 PM EST

    Why, with voting schemes like IRV, you'll never actually have to make a decision again!
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    Sigh (2.50 / 2) (#41)
    by Scrymarch on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 08:46:42 PM EST

    Please explain your flip remark.  

    In IRV you make as many decisions as there are candidates.  You decide whether you like the Greens more than the Libertarians more than the Democrats or the Republicans.  This includes the lesser-of-two-evils decision between the two major parties - you decide which to rank first.  

    In first-past-the-post voting (marking a single X) you get to make one decision only.  Less information is provided from and on the electorate, it encourages vote-splitting tactics, and it spawns all sorts of minor party whining such as this article.

    [ Parent ]

    Please explain your flip remark.? (1.00 / 5) (#92)
    by thelizman on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 04:11:26 PM EST

    No. I can make a definate choice, which is why I don't need stupid moronic schemes like IRV or Condorcet, and lastly why I can say no...I won't explain my flippant remark you spineless whiner.
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    Well (2.50 / 2) (#102)
    by Scrymarch on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 11:41:02 PM EST

    What an admirably straightforward life you must lead, liz!

    I mean, no doubt you only applied for one college.  You can make a definite choice after all.  No need for preferences, it was Berkeley or bust.

    How I admire your shopping technique!  No need to bumble about with preferences at the supermarket, you're a decisive consumer, just load the trolley up with milk, Martha.  All milk, all the way.  Next week you might swing to bread, a most spineful choice.

    The American government is a fine piece of machinery, but the 18th century gears are a bit rusted, and some parts are desperately obsolete.  The mechanism for expressing the will of the people, for instance, has an upgrade to avoid vote wasting, proven in production for the last 80 years.  Given I believe most Americans can now count, you may be ready for it.  It may even, in some slight way, reduce American whining from its current stupdendous volume.

    [ Parent ]

    The Microwave Mentality (1.00 / 2) (#127)
    by thelizman on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:33:59 PM EST

    No need for preferences, it was Berkeley or bust.
    Wrong. NC State College of Engineering.
    The American government is a fine piece of machinery, but the 18th century gears are a bit rusted, and some parts are desperately obsolete.
    Alas, its your 21st century microwave mentality that is desperately lacking in every aspect. IRV is a scheme for people who can't take the time to actually invest some thought into such an important choice. Instead, they're rather have it be "vanilla vs strawberry" or "boxers vs briefs". Just grow the hell up and make a decision like a grown adult for crying out loud.
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    Slow roasted (3.00 / 2) (#144)
    by Scrymarch on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 11:53:22 PM EST

    NC State College of Engineering

    Was that your only application?  I'm interested outside the argument.  Myself I applied to about five courses even though I was pretty confident in my first preference and unis aren't as hard to get into (the reputation of the institution is not so overwhelming as the US).  There was nothing lost by having savers.

    Now, back to semi-polemic.  

    IRV is a scheme for people who can't take the time to actually invest some thought into such an important choice.

    In IRV you list the candidates in order of preference.  This requires deciding whether you like the Green more than the Republican, as well as deciding you like the Democrat best, instead of just shutting your eyes and thinking Democrat, or Whig, or whatever crazy parties it is you have these days.

    So not only does it encourage thought, that thought gets rewarded, and expressed at the ballot box and transmitted as an electoral mandate.  There are no wasted votes in these systems.

    Now while it also has no wasted votes, approval voting is a slightly different creature, though I think still superior to first past the post.  It does have more of a tendency to skip hard choices though and wish we could all skip around together holding hands.  It's mainly about who you dislike (and hence withhold approval from), instead of who you prefer.  Advocates describe this as avoiding the "lesser of two evils" problem, but that's not a problem with voting.  It's a problem with the world.

    In preference systems such as IRV or Condorcet, you not only have to decide which is the lesser of two evils, you have to rank your evils in numeric order.  Which is what I tend to do, by the way; I fill in my ballots last to first.  Either way it demands more thought, and more time.

    [ Parent ]

    Voting (1.00 / 2) (#158)
    by thelizman on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 08:39:52 PM EST

    Was that your only application? I'm interested outside the argument.
    Technically, yes, though I cheated. I applied as part of an extension program offered at a UNC school. I've also been attending Community College (which is like high school with bigger books), so my acceptance was practically automatic.
    In IRV you list the candidates in order of preference.
    And this is precisely my point. You are no longer making an XOR choice, but instead can simply make a weighted series of judgements. In effect, this is just a popularity contest. In majority voting, there is an imperative to choose correctly that doesn't exist in IRV because the final result of your choices is not as critical.

    Look, I'll make a deal with you. Support approval voting. It gives the benefit of not being forced into "cornered votes", without requiring the votor to place relativistic value judgements for candidates they may not want at all.
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    Approval voting (none / 1) (#163)
    by Scrymarch on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 03:08:03 AM EST

    I applied as part of an extension program offered at a UNC school.

    Ah, ok.

    Look, I'll make a deal with you. Support approval voting

    Well, I agree that Approval voting is an improvement on first past the post.  I haven't seen any detailed examples of how Approval votes in the field, which I think a shame (approvalvoting.org is sadly lacking).  

    I suspect the result would be a frayed duopoly, as in IRV.  With IRV in Australia there is 2 major parties and a spectrum of minor ones.  The major parties still garner 35%+ each of the primary vote - ie, the number 1 votes on the ballots.  Political ads in Australia say Vote One John Howard (or whichever).

    The main question for a swinging voter in approval would be whether to disapprove the incumbent or approve the major challenger.  This seems to me more of an OR than an XOR choice, as it's quite possible to imagine optimists approving of both major candidates and pessimists none.  It's still possible to win with a plurality, which I dislike, but at least the vote wasn't wasted as much as fptp.

    It's true that the spectrum of minor parties can give some meaningless preferences in IRV.  There's always a few jokers in the middle of the ticket about which I don't care at all, and have virtually no chance of winning.  This is a drawback but I don't think a big one.  The big numbers to use are 1, n-1, and n.

    Using IRV in Oz the usual choice for a minor party voter, after they have placed the number 1, is which major party to put first.  It usually matters little whether you place them 2,3 or n-1, n, as in almost all elections the minor parties get kicked out first, then preferences flow.  So you do get to hedge your position, but you also have to make a lesser than two evils choice as per fptp.

    It occurs to me we're both defending conservative positions of a sort, as IRV is what I grew up with; maybe that's why your comment hit a button.

    [ Parent ]

    stupid, moronic (none / 0) (#131)
    by antizeus on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:58:04 PM EST

    Another thing which can be considered stupid and moronic is to overlook the fact that a preferential voting system requires a decision about how to rank the candidates.
    -- $SIGNATURE
    [ Parent ]
    According to the approvalvoting.org... (none / 0) (#30)
    by joto on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 03:57:44 PM EST

    ...IRV is actually worse than approval voting.

    Now, I wouldn't suggest that approvalvoting.org in any way are an unbiased source, but their arguments make a lot of sense. I would be interested to hear any good counter-arguments you may have, in favor of IRV or other voting systems.

    [ Parent ]

    There was a nice discussion (none / 0) (#36)
    by glor on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 06:39:04 PM EST

    ... on instant runoff voting in Scientific American a few months ago.  Don't know if it was/is available online.

    --
    Disclaimer: I am not the most intelligent kuron.
    [ Parent ]

    Weakest Point (none / 1) (#39)
    by xria on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 08:35:15 PM EST

    Approval voting doesnt allow you to indicate a preference between any 2 or more people that you select, which would seem to make it unlikely people would accept it in an area that they considered critical. Certainly for school board appointments and the like you can see that it would be an ideal solution, but it really loses as much information as a Plurality election does by only allowing you one option, although clearly it should create a fairer result.

    Having looked into it the Condorcet system looks much stronger than IRV, although takes in the same basic information - ie a ranking of each of the candidates, however the way it deals with it is somewhat different (basically it isolates everything into two horse races, and either finds a winner that would win in all races, or eliminates the comparisons where the loser lost by the least votes until a winner is found)

    So in IRV by voting (A, B, C) you are voting for A, until he is eliminated, then B, etc. In Condorcet you are voting A > B, A > C, and B > C at the same time. According to the maths this means that all your preferences are included in the result, so all the information in your ballot is used to determine the result.

    Even so there are a couple of weak points they do note even then:

    For any voter who has a unique favorite, there should be no possible set of votes cast by the other voters such that the voter can optimize the outcome (from his own perspective) only by voting someone over his favorite.

    Adding one or more ballots that vote X over Y should never change the winner from X to Y.

    I believe from what they are saying both of these cases should be rare, and every other system has failures that are more common and critical.

    [ Parent ]

    According to electionmethods.org, too (2.66 / 3) (#67)
    by roystgnr on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:30:18 AM EST

    And they're not just expressing opinions, they're giving nice mathematical criteria to explain why.

    [ Parent ]
    pencil? (none / 0) (#60)
    by cronian on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 09:37:18 AM EST

    Why not pen? Did Howard win with the eraser?

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    Strange but true... (3.00 / 3) (#63)
    by Chancellor Martok on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:18:09 AM EST

    The electoral legislation here requires pencils be provided for votes to fill in their ballor papers with.

    The pencils don't come with erasers and if you make a mistake, you are encouraged not to cross anything out, but to swap your spoilt paper for a new blank paper. Thus, even though pencils are used, any erasure or alteration becomes obvious to scrutineers.

    On election day, the media joked about things like finding at some polling booths, the same pencil had been in use since the 60s or something.

    -----
    Chancellor Martok  in Sydney, Australia
    "Castrate instead. That can surely rehabilitate. I did it volunatrily, and my grades went up!"  -- Sen

    [ Parent ]

    irv results in 2 party dominance (none / 0) (#86)
    by simul on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 01:32:09 PM EST

    australia is case-and-point

    Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
    [ Parent ]
    Not quite. (none / 0) (#146)
    by Jacques Chester on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 01:44:43 AM EST

    What happens is that single-member electorates promote a two-party system, simply because there are economies of scale which only very large parties can sustain.

    In the Senate, which is multi-member proportional (and which takes aaaaaages to count because of the quota system), minor parties can often come to hold the balance of power, greatly amplifying their impact.

    Of course in the recent election ever the minor parties have been soundly thrashed, and it looks like the Coalition will have a dual house majority.



    --
    Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
    [ Parent ]
    Go away (2.53 / 13) (#24)
    by SocratesGhost on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 12:29:38 PM EST

    Great article, but why are you in it and why should I care about you? Your whole entire introduction revolves around you and your personal frustrations, but what follows in the story body is something completely different and very well written. So, why did you insert yourself into this article in the first place? At best, it feels more like a folksy diary and at worst it is egoism, neither of which are probably what you want to convey.

    My suggestion, remove yourself and you end up with something more powerful. Instead of asking "Since I live in New York, should I even bother voting?" or "Are my votes even counted?", generalize and recharacterize: "Should New Yorkers even bother voting?" and "Do they count votes in New York?" In your sentences, I feel bad for you and maybe a little sad for your predicament, but in my sentences, this makes a stronger impact that invites the readers in to some concerns that will soon be addressed.

    By including yourself, you insulate us from concern. They sound like your problems to me. By removing yourself from your own article, you'll be more effective at getting your point across.

    Of course, this is style and ignore this if you want, but it's become a personal pet peeve of mine.

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    Personal empathy, makes the story more human (2.00 / 2) (#38)
    by ultimai on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 08:30:11 PM EST

    This makes the story more human, less dry, something that people can emphasize to better.  It shows the motivation for the writing of the article and allows the reader to more easily spot bias.

    [ Parent ]
    the other side of that (none / 1) (#44)
    by SocratesGhost on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 09:17:25 PM EST

    It makes the story less objective and critical, expanded with inconsequentials and something that has greater difficulty surviving scrutiny. It shows the bias behind the author and invites legitimate ad hominem attacks because the author is part of the subject.

    I know what you're saying and a personal voice is sometimes appropriate but not in this case. The author is trying to sell us on something and so including himself (and especially since he gives us no reason to believe he's an authority) can only serve as a distraction. A legitimate response is this: the matter is complicated and since the author is a layman, he cannot be expected to understand all of the complexities involved, especially when he gives us reason to believe he developed his theories while intoxicated.

    I'm being unjustifiably cruel in saying this and it's a stupid claim, but inevitably someone would address that claim and isn't that a distraction from the point? Wouldn't it be better to offer no more ammunition to the naysayers than absolutely necessary?

    -Soc
    I drank what?


    [ Parent ]
    I'd rather rank the candidates in order... (2.87 / 8) (#35)
    by skyknight on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 05:46:35 PM EST

    and then have an instant run off. I want to be able to specify relative preferences.

    It's not much fun at the top. I envy the common people, their hearty meals and Bruce Springsteen and voting. --SIGNOR SPAGHETTI
    that leads to gaming the system (2.50 / 2) (#64)
    by the humble USian on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:20:19 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    I'd rather rank the candidates in order (2.75 / 4) (#66)
    by roystgnr on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:22:21 AM EST

    and then have my ranks counted with a Condorcet method.  I want to know that I can honestly specify relative preferences without hurting any of my favored candidates like instant runoff voting can.

    [ Parent ]
    irv sucks (2.66 / 3) (#85)
    by simul on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 01:31:10 PM EST

    changing a zillion voting machines to be able to support preference pballots isn't easy. approval voting works now to get you 90% of what you want with a minimum of fuss - and it opens the door to preference voting.

    Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
    [ Parent ]
    So what you're saying is.. (none / 1) (#138)
    by Lacero on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:45:06 PM EST

    If we use Condorcet we can get rid of all the dodgy voting machines too? Perfect.

    [ Parent ]
    no (2.85 / 7) (#82)
    by mikpos on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 01:12:44 PM EST

    IRV fails the monotonicity criterion. Ranking a candidate higher sometimes reduces their chances of winning, and vice versa. Although no voting methods are perfect, removing the monotonicity criterion is not up for debate.

    Preferential ballots are great, but it's how you count them that matters. If you want preferential ballots, I'd recommend championing Condorcet (it's the only method for counting preferential ballots that sounds sane to me). Approval's a lot easier to do, though, and is strictly better than plurality (IRV is almost always worse than plurality).

    [ Parent ]

    Condorcet voting (none / 0) (#154)
    by RadiantMatrix on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 04:12:23 PM EST

    I'd recommend championing Condorcet
    Would you mind explaining briefly what Condorcet voting is and why you support it?  You piqued my curiosity, and despite the plethora of formal information available from Google, I'd love to hear a personal explanation from someone who champions it.

    "In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" - Kaa's Law

    [ Parent ]
    condorcet (none / 1) (#159)
    by mikpos on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 10:32:36 AM EST

    First of all, I take a similar position to those from electionmethods.org, in that though I very much like Condorcet, I think it's difficult to implement and that approval is a good second-best.

    Condorcet uses a preferential ballot. You rank your candidates. To count the votes, you start out with an n×n matrix (assuming n candidates). An integer x in element (i, j) of the matrix can be read as "x people have said that they prefer candidate i over candidate j". To count a ballot, then, you have O(n^2) of these statements ("1 prefered over 2", "1 prefered over 3", "2 prefered over 3", ...), and for each one you increment the appropriate element in the matrix. (Incidentally, one can imagine a variant of Condorcet which would allow approval ballots as well as preferential ballots. We would only add O(n) statements to the matrix instead of O(n^2) then).

    At the end, you look at the scores of each pair of candidates. e.g., you look at (i,j) and (j,i) and determine whether i beats j or j beats i (or i is tied with j). If there is one candidate which beats every other candidate, it is called the sole Condorcet winner (who obviously wins).

    This idea of a sole Condorcet winner is important because it's a yardstick by which other election methods are measured. Every other election method should try to choose the sole Condorcet winner if one exists. Although Arrow's Impossibility Theorem shows a perfect voting method cannot be made, if there is a sole Condorcet winner, that winner will be the correct winner (as defined by Kenneth Arrow).

    Sometimes there is no sole Condorcet winner (damn you Arrow). This is perhaps because there's a tie or, more commonly, because there is a cyclic ambiguity. In other words, the voters have said they prefer A over B, B over C, and C over A. At this point it needs to be pointed out that there are actually quite a lot of Condorcet methods. Every Condorcet method chooses the sole Condorcet winner if it exists, but they all choose different winners (or don't choose) when there isn't one.

    The Condorcet method I'm most familiar with is the Schwartz Sequential Dropping Condorcet Method. First we define the Schwartz set as the smallest set S such that every candidate in S beats or ties every candidate not in S (the innermost unbeaten set). We then drop the weakest candidate (the candidate with the fewest wins among S) in S, recalculate the Schwartz set, rinse, lather and repeat, until the Schwartz set has only one member, who we declare the winner. This is quite similar to how IRV works.

    Condorcet is generally quite accurate. The only fundamental criterion it fails is the Irrelevance of Independent Alternatives, which is actually quite embarrassing. IIA says that if you run the election with a set of candidates and A wins, and then run the election again with the same set of candidates plus B, the winner must always be either A or B. Condorcet fails this (as does pretty well every other election method). To illustrate why failing IIA is so embarrassing, the classic anecdote:

    After finishing dinner, Sidney Morgenbesser decides to order dessert. The waitress tells him he has two choices: apple pie and blueberry pie. Sidney orders the apple pie. After a few minutes the waitress returns and says that they also have cherry pie at which point Morgenbesser says "In that case I'll have the blueberry pie."
    However, all is not lost. There is a subset of the Schwartz set called the Smith set which says everyone in the Smith set can beat (ties are not allowed this time) everyone outside the Smith set. If I remember right, it has been proven that with respect to IIA, if the new candidate B is outside the Smith set, then IIA is satisfied.

    Anyway, briefly, here are the reasons one might wish to champion Condorcet:

    • if a sole Condorcet winner exists (objectively the correct winner), Condorcet methods will always find it;
    • if not, it usually still doesn't do too shabbily;
    • it's, to my knowledge, the only set of election methods which use preferential ballots in a meaningful way (i.e., ranking a candidate higher or lower is guaranteed to increase or decrease its chances of winning, respectively);
    • votes can be counted in a distributed fashion. Count votes at your local polling station, then just hand your final matrix off to the central authority. Matrices can be added up element-wise (simple matrix addition).
    Approval's a whole lot easier, though :)

    [ Parent ]
    No unique winner is the problem (none / 0) (#161)
    by Lacero on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 04:06:31 PM EST

    I like Condorcet too, but I think if theres more than one member of the Smith Set (no unique winner) the rules for resolving are too complicated for people in the real world to accept as a voting system.

    If we say the previous winner can choose which member of the Smith Set gets to win the election does this break things or not? At first it seems to me this is better than just using approval, and almost as simple. Any opinions from anyone?

    [ Parent ]

    hm (none / 0) (#162)
    by mikpos on Sat Oct 16, 2004 at 07:36:39 PM EST

    I don't like the idea of having one person decide the outcome, especially if that one person is a politician. I hate talking for people so I don't know what's too complicated for people in the real world to accept, but two alternatives that come to mind are (1) sum up the entries for each member of the Smith set and the one with the highest is the winner; (2) do whatever wacky things are currently in place for tie votes. #2 isn't much fun in Canada (Elections Canada just says to run the vote again), but I've heard that in some states in the US they do entertaining things like flipping coins or playing hands of poker to determine the winner of an ambiguous vote. Although I'm not much of a fan of poker, I would approve of the greatest card game ever devised (war).

    [ Parent ]
    Reply (none / 0) (#165)
    by Lacero on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 09:03:24 AM EST

    Well I'm really speaking for myself, I don't properly understand the rules for a tie :)

    The aim behind getting the last holder of the position to choose was that it makes the system more stable, the lack of stability is sometimes used as an argument against alternative voting systems.

    Using the current rules for a tie might be better though, as they're already in place no one can complain, and I don't think a tie in Condorcet will happen very often. Most people will vote from right to left, and the centre should win.

    [ Parent ]

    I disagree (none / 1) (#47)
    by strlen on Tue Oct 12, 2004 at 11:59:07 PM EST

    Honestly, majority of change is going to come through legislature. A better idea would to maintain the current electoral college system and even the "first past the pole" method of selecting a president, yet severely curtail presidential powers (or better yet enforce the checks on presidential power that exist now) and base the legislature -- starting at first with state legislatures (reform is easier on that level) -- on the proportial representation method: that, would be a far better way to see an influx of new ideas into the govt.

    --
    [T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
    Of course it doesn't work. (1.80 / 5) (#54)
    by Esspets on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 06:30:47 AM EST

    Liberal democracy is a joke and you're an idiot if you believe it is virtous or produces great things.


    Desperation.
    In Canada we look south and we try to do things (2.83 / 6) (#55)
    by xutopia on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 08:54:49 AM EST

    that won't cause the same problems. Laws have limited the amount of money which can come from individuals and businesses. One law also states that if a political party gets more than 2% of votes he gets 1.75$ per vote (and I think per year) towards his party. The party can then use that money to campaign in the next election. I'm happy because I voted Green this year and that means that I made the party some money because they broke the 2% barrier! :) The Green Party is pro-open source and loves the idea of using renewable ressources so I can only say I'm really happy about that! :)

    in the us we look north (1.14 / 7) (#105)
    by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:53:50 AM EST

    and don't see much of anything

    (snicker)


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    what an (2.00 / 2) (#119)
    by Not an amusing or clever username on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 02:29:45 PM EST

    Assclown.

    [ Parent ]
    So Much For That (none / 0) (#125)
    by Ogygus on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:30:35 PM EST

    Pretty nationalistic for someone with "a globalist pov" don't you think??

    The mice will see you now.
    [ Parent ]
    And americans wonder... (none / 0) (#156)
    by AirFrame on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 04:22:41 PM EST

    ...why the rest of the world thinks they're a country full of useless twats. Amazing.

    [ Parent ]
    Related News (none / 0) (#56)
    by brain in a jar on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 08:56:08 AM EST

    Scientific American currently has an in depth article on electronic voting, comparing the pros and cons of various systems.


    Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

    just to make it clear (2.08 / 12) (#58)
    by circletimessquare on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 09:34:47 AM EST

    to the naive or uneducated out there about 3rd parties:

    ask anyone in europe, 3rd parties are not ideological beacons of light, they are ideological whores

    ask a german about the green party. what happens is the big parties deadlock, so suddenly these little inconsequential parties hold an inordinate amount of power as they can influence vote one way or another on important issues. the big parties court the tiny parties, and they hold the legislation for the whole country hostage as they seek various tithings and indulgences, none of which has anything to do with the ideology of the green party.

    so in other words, with little inconsequential parties, you have disproportionate representation: the wants and desires of a tiny fraction of the populace get an inflated influence. and mostly, as any german will tell you, the agenda that is met by the actual representatives of such tiny parties have absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the grand naive ideologically pure vision that some starry eyed types here assume will be met

    also, be careful: you REALLY want tiny 3rd parties? you mean like the kkk or the nazis? see the problem? what is good for the far left is good for the far right too you know

    dems and repubs, both moderate, one a little right leaning, one a little left leaning is wonderfully stable

    and stability is HIGHLY underrated

    i will personally take stability over the alienation of the far right and the far left any day, in a heartbeat

    here is the truth: politics is politics is politics. mess around with the mechanics of the system all you want, the real source of your problem is something you can never remove from the system: human beings. ideology has a way of being warped until there is nothing left but indulgences and favors being traded at the highest level, in any system.

    am i a hopeless cynic? no, i think campaign finance reform is a long time coming, and there is plenty room for improvement

    but naive kurobots, don't mistake: by warping the current system, there won't be a sudden groundswell of support for nader or some other far left looney. the truth is, not much would change at all.

    there would  not be a groundswell of support for a far right looney either... i am not against far left loonies, i am against any fringe wacko, on either end of the ideological spectrum, and i champion the great moderate middle, which democracy serves better than any other group of people, as it should, and as it mathematically tends to in a democracy.

    that is why democracy is so good: it delivers us stability. in any system of govt, the fucking assholes on the right and the left will scream and howl, but only democracy serves to disenfranchise them the best, as the fucking fringe assholes should be: disenfranchised, as they are the ones who will fuck up society the most with their great "ideas" about progress or tradition that do nothing but seriously fuck people up because most of their great "ideas", on the far left or the far right, suck.

    apparently some people are unfamiliar with what history teaches about instability in society and revolutionary or reactionary change. what some revolutionaries started as a grand march towards the fringe left, say, the discredited idea of communism, eventually winds up with millions dead and a country in the hand of a power whore like stalin. ANY exercise in ANY ideologically naive idea leads to death and destruction and a situation worse off than where the society started.

    change happens, it always will, it always should, but society has a rate of change that is unbreakable: retard it, and injustice and suffering is created. speed up the rate of change, and injustice and suffering is created. society changes at its own pace, and it cannot be stopped and it cannot be rushed, as us human beings digest it and incorporate it into our culture as we see fit to. and if that rate is too slow for some on the left? or too slow for some on the right? fuck them. fuck all the assholes on the fringe who would only hurt society in their mad rush to the stupid and poorly thought out ideas.

    a reason things are a little slow is that while some ideas on the left are good, but some SUCK, and society must digest and accept the good ones, and reject the bad ones, at its own pace. speeding up that pace only hurts, it doesn't help, because some of the bad ideas on the left are not properly rejected if things are rushed.

    stability is highly underrated, highly unappreciated in any debate about this subject matter, and it is, whether people realize it or not, the most important thing. fuck tradition, fuck progress: stability, that is the key. and to deny or ignore that is to deny and ignore the most important function of any government: security and stability and protection of basic rights.


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    disproportionate representation? (1.25 / 4) (#61)
    by speek on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:10:20 AM EST

    To you, me having any say is disproportionate representation.

    Go fuck yourself.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    You should certainly have a say (none / 0) (#145)
    by emmons on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 12:18:31 AM EST

    But you shouldn't have any more of a say than I and the other 280,000,000 people in the country.

    ---
    In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
    -Douglas Adams

    [ Parent ]
    good luck (none / 0) (#148)
    by speek on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 10:38:05 AM EST

    I'm sure, even with the most basic of systems, someone will find a reason why someone else is getting a better deal than them. However, to argue that any elected third party legislatures automatically creates an unfairness in favor of those who vote third party is a very distorted view that ignores the complete nonrepresentation of millions of people who happen not to agree with either major party.

    So, as I say, you are worried about me getting a little bit of extra power compared to you, but you are entirely fine with me having no power at all. I repeat - fuck you.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    huh? (none / 0) (#150)
    by emmons on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 01:20:53 PM EST

    When did I ever argue that?

    ---
    In the beginning the universe was created. This has made a lot of people angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.
    -Douglas Adams

    [ Parent ]
    be aware of the thread dude (none / 0) (#155)
    by speek on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 04:16:56 PM EST

    There's a context to these discussions.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    Well, I'm a European... (2.75 / 4) (#69)
    by onealone on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:36:25 AM EST

    and I'm reasonably happy with the three party system we have here in the UK.
    The key is to have three large, mainstream parties.
    If the third party is highly ideological (Greens) or single issue (UK Independance, who want to stop the UK integrating with Europe) then you don't truely have a three party system, because the third party are not capable of forming a functional government.
    However, in the UK, the third party (Liberal Democrats) are a moderate mainstream party and in the next election there is a reasonable chance that they may move into second place.

    [ Parent ]
    good, well said (1.66 / 3) (#73)
    by circletimessquare on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 11:01:13 AM EST

    you actually support what i say: the function of democracy is to empower the middle and discredit the far right and far left and provide stability to society

    the problem is, some of the morons here believe that if we adapted your system or some other system, that there will be a mad rush in society towards the left, that some unseen part of society will be uncapped because everyone actually has far left ideals and it's only "the man" keeping that at bay with our current system

    the truth is, as you attest: not much would change, if we adapated another democratic system of voting/ representation

    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    Yes, I agree with your comments about stability... (none / 1) (#76)
    by onealone on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 11:26:36 AM EST

    ... and the function of democracy, but not about three party systems.

    I think three party systems are inherently better than two party, because the three parties hardly ever agree, so every issue has at least one party on each side.
    The problem with the two party system is when the parties agree, eg. if you're a US voter who opposes the war in Iraq, neither party supports your view.

    In the UK the only time all three parties agree is when someone dies and they all rush out to say something nice about them.

    [ Parent ]

    eh? (2.80 / 5) (#81)
    by bil on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 12:43:45 PM EST

    the problem is, some of the morons here believe that if we adapted your system or some other system, that there will be a mad rush in society towards the left, that some unseen part of society will be uncapped because everyone actually has far left ideals and it's only "the man" keeping that at bay with our current system

    So you're saying that third party politics leads to extremism, but that perople who belive that third party politics leads to extremism are morons?

    the truth is, as you attest: not much would change, if we adapated another democratic system of voting/ representation

    and so if you let third parties have a realistic chance of affecting politics (in a way in proportion to their popularity) not much would change, but you're against it bacause it would lead to instability?

    Not allowing the far right and far left power is great if they are very minority views (and they are thankfully), but the idea that allowing another party to challenge the Republican/Democrat hegemony will lead to chaos death and destuction seems to be making an almighty leap of logic.

    bil
    Where you stand depends on where you sit...
    [ Parent ]

    3; proper use of 'retard' as a verb (nt) (none / 1) (#70)
    by LilDebbie on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:41:58 AM EST



    My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
    - hugin -

    [ Parent ]
    no groundswell desired (none / 1) (#83)
    by simul on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 01:26:19 PM EST

    the dems and the repubs would probably continue to work together to dominate the system with faforite sons of wealthy families and suck ever more cash out of an overworked citizenry. but at least they'd have to pay a bit more lip service to new ideas than they do today.

    Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
    [ Parent ]
    Nader is not a far left loony (none / 1) (#93)
    by spartaqus on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 04:58:15 PM EST

    He is only slightly left of center. By any benchmark of the socio-democratic model employed by West European nations, Nader would be smack in the center. It is the Dems who are slightly to the right and Republicans who are more right than the Dems. This whole damn country is right leaning.

    [ Parent ]
    The purpose of third parties (2.33 / 3) (#101)
    by calimehtar on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 11:14:05 PM EST

    In the American political system today there is effectively no debate, except during election times. There may be other more effective ways of infusing the political system with meaningful debate - sometimes I think the 2nd and 3rd parties just spout whatever nonsense comes into their heads so that they can stay in the papers - but it's absolutely crucial for keeping a level of sanity in  governments.

    What seems to be happing in the US today is that as the conservatives gain more power, the media and the democratic party ape the republicans trying to maintain an identity as 'moderate' while following them on the shift rightward spouting the same platitudes so as to remain relevant.

    Very few people in the mainstream media are willing to openly challenge, for example, the problems with Bush's budget or talk about problems with the voting system in Florida for fear that the general public, the ones buying newspapers, will turn around and say, "well, Fox News is fair and balanced and their facts say otherwise". And the Democrats fear if they do something that might be perceived as radical, like talk openly about public healthcare or rolling back tax cuts, that they'll lose whatever tenuous grip they have on swing voters.

    A third party in congress, having less to lose than the democrats do, would be less afraid of telling the truth I think.

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    [ Parent ]
    erm (1.20 / 5) (#104)
    by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:52:05 AM EST

    why is it the whole of the us populace is conservative, and you are moderate?

    hmm... methinks you need some basic educaiton

    ideology is a bell curve: a big moderate middle, and some fringe on the left and the right

    the parties in the us fall in line, tightly wound aorund the middle: the dems slightly to the left, the repubs slightly to the right

    and you look at the center of ideology in the us, as reflected in the opinions of americans, and the ideology of the two parties, and you have the arrogance and the hubris and the ego and the inflated sense of self-importance to proclaim that that vast middle is conservative, and you are moderate?

    how about the truth is that the moderate middle is the moderate middle, and you are out on the left... well, not only that, you are out on the left and you are a royal fucking asshole for believing that your solitary voice outranks tens of millions of americans

    frankly, your instinct to call the status quo the way you do is undemocratic

    imagine that, motherfucker


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    For christ's sake (2.50 / 4) (#111)
    by calimehtar on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 09:45:24 AM EST

    Look at the democrats of the 1930s, or what Canada considers to be moderate. I'm not the only one saying that America has been shifting rightward since at least Reagan.

    Anyway, whether the system is biased to the right or left is really immaterial, my point is that political opinions expressed in the US government fall into a very narrow range compared with systems that have 3rd parties. And that because of the lack of discourse a lot of people - government officials and voters - are being deluded into thinking that their system in fact does represent a broad spectrum of ideas.

    I think (assuming you're an American) you just proved that yourself.

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    [ Parent ]
    what is right? what is left? (1.00 / 2) (#124)
    by circletimessquare on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:28:17 PM EST

    it is all relative to the middle

    what the middle says is the middle, is the middle

    you can't look at a bell curve and point at the top and say "that's to the right"

    then you are asserting your judgment as superior to the bell curve

    kinda arrogant of you, no? maybe you are drifting leftward?

    it's all relative to what the american populace says, and whatever they say is the middle, is the middle, end of story

    and that my friend, is called democratic principles at work

    do you assert your judgment is superior to millions of americans?

    isn't that rather undemocratic of you?

    now if you want to compare one country versus another, now we're talking

    "america drifts rightward" is nonsense

    "america drifts rightward compared to canada" makes sense


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    America drifts rightward compared to (none / 0) (#134)
    by calimehtar on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:29:47 PM EST

    America 20 years ago. That's what we have political spectrums for - to make comparisons with other people, parties and times. And yes, places. I wouldn't say it's meaningless to compare America to the USA - they aren't all that different, and politically they were very similar 20 years ago.

    And you keep changing the subject - my point is that political discourse is dead without 3rd parties. Political discourse, apparently, with the exception of these childish "the middle is the middle" rants.

    I didn't even really disagree with the parent post to begin with, so I'm not sure why you're getting so worked up. No political discourse, one could argue, means greater stability. My concern is that the political consensus is resulting in a kind of censorship by the masses.

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    [ Parent ]
    "America to Canada" (none / 0) (#135)
    by calimehtar on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:31:22 PM EST

    Typo, sorry, I meant to say "I wouldn't say it's meaningless to compare America to Canada"

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    [ Parent ]
    Absolutely! (none / 0) (#149)
    by phred on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 11:13:01 AM EST

    In nazi germany, the moderate thing was to gas the jews, that was the center of the bell. The extremists however liked the gun.

    [ Parent ]
    Except... (none / 0) (#153)
    by RegularFry on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 02:31:15 PM EST

    Yes, social stability's great. Fab. Marvellous, even. There is a problem with political stability, though, and that's what we in the optimisation business call the Local Maximum. For those unfamiliar with the concept, it boils down to this: climbing the hill doesn't get you to the top of the mountain. While the situation you find yourself in may be the best alternative out of those immediately close to you, a far better position may be found by looking further afield. Without a certain amount of radical randomism, you'd never find it...

    Oh, and someone else has started a thread about the UK's 3-party system, so I won't. Isn't there an axiom somewhere about 3-way systems being intrinsically unstable?

    There may be troubles ahead, But while there's moonlight and music...
    [ Parent ]

    I generally agree, but I think this year it works (3.00 / 3) (#65)
    by Delirium on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 10:20:39 AM EST

    Neither Kerry nor Bush are choices I like overly much. However, in this year I think voting works at least partially: we can get rid of George Bush.

    Summary: No Stomach (1.83 / 12) (#80)
    by Peahippo on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 12:33:17 PM EST

    America's current (some would argue instead: historical) election problems stem in part from a refusal of factions to accept a loss. This is why the mainstream parties have flowed into the same, pro-corporate, anti-labor, pro-globalist trench. Imperial assholes like CircleJerk ("circetimessquare") think this is just wonderful, because it marginalizes progressives and kills the right people in the right countries, but it becomes a horror for individual liberty. Just look at all the rhetoric about "wasted vote". Many of those who espouse it are allegedly educated men. They are simply indulging in a fear of losing; hence they support every mechanism for "voting for the winner".

    It is all a symptom of having no stomach for the risks of losing an election.

    I'm going to vote for Ralph Nader. In all likelihood, he will not win the office of President of the US. Unlike people like CircleJerk and other Neo-Lib and Neo-Con assholes, I am man enough to stand the risks of election.

    Note to CircleJerk: You've gotten your panties into such a bind in the last few hours of posting, that your pussy really reeks. Please go wash it ... and remember, more than a few swipes with the washcloth means that you are masturbating. Word to the wise.


    I'm not sure (2.50 / 2) (#87)
    by cdguru on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 02:32:53 PM EST

    I agree that it is fear of losing. I would say it is far closer to fear of being irrelevent.

    For a multiparty system to have any real meaning in the US, it would require a system that created the kind of problem that circletimessquare points out - you have minority parties that need to be included at any cost to get basic stuff done. In the US, the kind of multiparty stuff you would see is Lyndon Larouche, the Libertarians, certainly the KKK and probably some fundamentalist religious groups. I'd say ole' Lyndon is probably the least of the problems.

    Currently, the Senate and House can operate for the most part with just a plurality and not even all members need be present. A few things require a majority or supermajority and in general these are very difficult to arrange today. But, can you imagine that in order to get a supermajority to pass a budget it was necessary to put some amendments in favoring the KKK? Or, have federally-supported church schools for religious indoctrination? How about a concession to the Libertarian party that privatised the interstate highway system?

    We don't have powerful, significant third parties because there is no place for them in the Senate and House. To make them significant, we would have to change how these bodies work and a lot less would happen. We would need to empower cabinet-level administrators to just do stuff without endless bickering and vote-trading. All of this would certainly be "interesting", but I'm not sure it would (a) change things in meaningful, positive ways, or (b) be implementable in a short period of time.

    [ Parent ]

    nonesense (none / 0) (#97)
    by cronian on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 08:11:40 PM EST

    You don't understand politics. If the third parties were actually able to win, their leaders would all be all sold out, and become mainstream politicians. However, even if that weren't the case, the parties wouldn't have to please everyone, and there would be parties for all the American factions.

    I suspect the Republicans and Democrats would both have to realign. On the left, you could have the Green Party with the Libertarian Party on the right. You would also have a Christian fundamentalist party, and maybe even a populist party.

    Although, if third parties were somehow given a chance, it might take a while for all the factions to fall into place. Can you imagine a Libertarian and Green Party coalition government? Now, that might bring back interest in government.

    We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
    [ Parent ]
    Party Splits (none / 1) (#113)
    by Peahippo on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 10:28:34 AM EST

    A friend of mine judged arightly (quite in contrast to circletimessquare, who manages to pick the worst answer every time) that the Dem and Rep parties should split into their factions of Moderates and Fanatics. The Dems would split into Moderate Democrats and Neo-Liberals, and the Reps into Moderate Republicans and Neo-Conservatives. Odds are, the Moderates would then coalesce into a new American Moderate Party. The Neo-xxx Parties could then go ahead and fall into "Third Party" status as befits such extremist morons.

    Some (myself included) may speculate that this has already happened ... that the Two-Party Duopoly is in fact an expression of this Moderate Party. However, the Fanatics are still at the helms of their respective parties, so I give little credit to the idea that an actual Moderate Party has arisen.


    [ Parent ]
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA (1.00 / 4) (#95)
    by circletimessquare on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 05:40:11 PM EST

    i've got my panties in a twist?

    it seems like you're the one upset about someone here

    thanks for the ego boost, i didn't know i mattered so much to you, really, it touches my heart

    xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxox

    ps: as for voting about nader, you can fulfill all your wildest fantasies about getting deeper inside my head here

    and thanks to folks like you, we get more bush

    sorry, but that is how your naive ideals about voting for nader play out in the real world


    The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

    [ Parent ]

    Won't work (1.00 / 3) (#96)
    by lukme on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 05:55:10 PM EST

    Can you explain this to a 5th grader?

    Use short explitive sentences containing only monosylibic words.


    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    Can you explain plurality to a 5th grader? (none / 0) (#107)
    by simul on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 05:14:49 AM EST

    If so, then I can change your explanation to approval voting.

    Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
    [ Parent ]
    sure you can! (none / 0) (#120)
    by The Shrubber on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 02:46:36 PM EST

    all through school, teachers had to counteract our voting instincts in plurality choices by telling us that "[we] could only vote once"... of course they meant well, thinking one man one vote, i'm making democracy work... but if they hadn't said anything, if they had just let us do what came naturally, then we would have had approval voting

    [ Parent ]
    IRV taught in primary schools. (none / 1) (#147)
    by Jacques Chester on Fri Oct 15, 2004 at 01:59:24 AM EST

    I got my first introduction to preferential voting in primary school. I was told "number the boxes 1-4. Put 1 next to your favourite, 2 for your next favourite, 3 for your 3rd favourite, 4 for your least favourite".

    Later, in lower highschool (year 8? 9?), the counting system was explained to us.

    Remember that primary schoolers spend much of their time ranking their friends - best friends, bestest, not-as-best-but-ok, etc etc. Ranking comes fairly easily to them.



    --
    Well now. We seem to be temporarily out of sigs here at the sig factory. We apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.
    [ Parent ]
    The problem with the US electoral system (2.50 / 2) (#100)
    by calimehtar on Wed Oct 13, 2004 at 11:01:31 PM EST

    Is not with the voting system. It's that there's only one president, and there's a separate vote specifically for the president.

    There's no way to stop strategic voting, and the media and the structure of the US electoral system make it very easy to know the best strategic move. So, for example, in this election you'll see about 95% of people with political affiliation to the left of Bush voting for Kerry.

    In a parliamentary system, there tends to be more complex voting patterns because people think "well,  I know there'll never be a socialist prime minister, but if I don't vote for the socialists there's no chance there'll even be one socialist MP". Instead of a futile protest vote for Nader, people vote for regional interests.

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    Nothing wrong with electing a chairman. (none / 1) (#106)
    by simul on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 05:12:55 AM EST

    There needs to be an executive of some sort that has powers of resolving disputes. And this executive should not come out of a congress or parliment to avoid being beholden to the politics of the collective over which he now presides.

    Read this book - first 24 pages are free to browse - it rocks
    [ Parent ]
    I know what you're saying (none / 1) (#112)
    by calimehtar on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 10:01:05 AM EST

    It's just an idea I've been playing with for a while. I think the presidential elections have a polarizing effect on the electorate, and I think that too often you get a lousy president because he must be popular in order to be elected. I don't see the same problems with parliamentary systems.

    While the Canadian voting system is no better than the American one, I believe that the result is usually more representative of the will of the people. If there's a problem with our system it's that in reality the Prime Minister has arguably more actual power than the president, but without a specific mandate from voters he usually appears less responsible. The result is a government that too often successfully evades responsibility for big mistakes.

    +++

    The whole point of the Doomsday Machine is lost if you keep it a secret.


    [ Parent ]
    oh yeah (none / 0) (#129)
    by generaltao on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:48:11 PM EST

    "The result is a government that too often successfully evades responsibility for big mistakes."

    Unlike the American president who is held accountable for his big mistakes.

    hurl


    [ Parent ]

    Crime (none / 1) (#103)
    by felixrayman on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:49:26 AM EST

    I was sitting in a bar listening to the presidential "debate"

    Drunk voting. Just don't fucking do it. Hear me motherfucker? Just don't do it.

    Call Donald Rumsfeld and tell him our sorry asses are ready to go home. Tell him to come spend a night in our building. - Pfc. Matthew C. O'Dell

    Why choose the lesser evil? (2.00 / 2) (#114)
    by mu22le on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 11:32:30 AM EST

    CHTULU for president!!!

    Poll option (2.50 / 2) (#116)
    by killmepleez on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 12:29:43 PM EST

    You forgot "The emergent intelligence of the system will cause it to maim and devour all who seek to disrupt its homeostatic development".

    __
    "I instantly realized that everything in my life that I thought was unfixable was totally fixable - except for having just jumped."
    --from "J
    Eligible voters / voting age (none / 0) (#122)
    by wji on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:08:16 PM EST

    Actually, the 51.3% figure is of voting age, legally resident Americans. Since there are many non-citizens included, as well as persons disenfranchised by having a felony conviction, the actual % of eligible voters who voted was more like 60%. Still pretty dismal if you ask me -- and it's clear from surveys that most people feel unhappy with who they end up casting a ballot for.

    In conclusion, the Powerpuff Girls are a reactionary, pseudo-feminist enterprise.
    Vote Independent (3.00 / 2) (#130)
    by skim123 on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 03:51:17 PM EST

    If you live in a state like New York (or California, or Texas) where the outcome is virtually guaranteed for one presidential candidate or the other, vote independent. I don't care if you vote Green or Libertarian, or whatever other independent folks might be on your state's ballot. JUST DON'T VOTE REPUBLICRAT.

    The more votes these independent parties can muster, the more legitimacy they'll have. The closer we'll be to having these third-party guys invited to these shams of "debates" that have been going on the past couple of weeks. I implore everyone who lives in a decided state - VOTE INDEPENDENT.

    Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
    PT Barnum


    Instant runoff voting (none / 1) (#136)
    by Drog on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:34:12 PM EST

    We were just talking about the problems with our voting systems over here, and how wonderful it would be to adopt instant-runoff voting. The Party system just doesn't work properly unless there are just two parties. The situation is even worse in Canada, with four major parties. Most people don't vote their conscience for fear of their vote being wasted on someone that won't win anyway.

    I was also lamenting the fact that we have no debate rules that would force a candidate to answer the bloody question instead of talking all around it. But the debates being run by the Republicans and Democrats is a whole other problem.

    Thanks for your article, and for those links at the end.

    Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.

    Problems with IRV (none / 1) (#140)
    by sleepingsquirrel on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 05:34:10 PM EST

    Unfortunately, instant runoff voting, like all voting methods, has problems . The most significant being further entrenchment of the existing two parties. The only real solution is to reduce the necessity for voting in the first place. Ask yourself why its necessary for the people in New York to have the same laws governing abortion as Utah does. Same thing for drugs, prostitution, gambling, whatever.

    [ Parent ]
    Condorcet (none / 0) (#142)
    by Drog on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 08:37:03 PM EST

    Thanks for the info! You're right, I misunderstood how IRV worked. It sounds like the sort of ranking system I have really liked in my head (without ever doing the actual math) is Condorcet.

    Looking for political forums? Check out "The World Forum". News feed available here on K5.
    [ Parent ]
    Voting 3rd Party Matters (none / 1) (#137)
    by Parity on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 04:40:42 PM EST

    Even though most states are 'already decides' before the polls are open, it is nonetheless worthwhile to vote for your candidate, especially if that candidate is third party.

    The first effect is, the level of 3rd party voting indicates to the major parties how badly they're alienating the voting public (failing to vote is interpreted as apathy, not alienation).

    Don't forget, in some states, the legal existence of a third party is predicated upon garnering a certain percentage of the presidential vote, and you can keep your party alive by voting your party candidate. (Not that they vanish, necessarilly, but it's disheartening to be downgraded from 'political party' to 'political organization'... )

    Finally, if in the long run you want to -ever- see a 3rd party candidate elected, you should get out there and vote 3rd party every time. The percentages need to rise in order for people to believe 3rd party candidates are viable, and the only way to do that is for some of us to vote 3rd party when they're -not- viable. It is, in effect, voting to say 'I want 3rd party candidates to be viable!'

    Aside from the effect of your presidential vote, you should vote for who you want for president because you'll be at the poll anyway. After all, you have a much more significant impact on voting your congresscritters, senators, state senators and state assemblymen, not to mention ballot questions where the voters directly make policy. You weren't going to throw all that away, were you?

    --Parity Even

    One vote never matters... and that's good! (2.50 / 2) (#141)
    by DoorFrame on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 06:37:04 PM EST

    Everybody is so into third parties these days.  The comments above all extoll the virtues of voting for a third party to "send a message" to the "Republicrats."  Everyone is being encouraged to vote for any third party, just to prove some point (what that point is, exactly, is not entirely clear).

    One vote never matters.  National elections are generally decided by millions of votes.  Even in extremely close elections, as in Florida last election, the margin of victory was in the hundreds.  If I had lived in Florida and voted, my one vote would have had NO impact on the outcome of the process.  None whatsoever.  I could have voted for Al Gore, or George Bush, or Ralph Nader without effect.  Hell, I could have voted for any one of them ten or even a hundred times and nothing would have been any different.  There's no reason to vote strategically because you can gain nothing.  You should vote for who you want to win, because there's nothing to be gained from doing otherwise.

    Now, ignoring that fact, I acknowledge that people do vote strategically, and that works to the advantage of the country.  Yes, there's only two parties, and because they vie for votes they grind themselves as close to the middle as possible... and this is great.  My politics could be considered Libertarian, but there are people out there who are Green party champions.  If my candidate stood a chance of winning, then so would theirs, and that's frightening.  Even though I think we'd be better off living in Libertarianland, it doesn't mean that I think it's a good policy to allow third parties a significan impact on the election.  We're better off having our votes marginalized and our politics smooshed towards the center.  

    You call them Republicrats as a term of shame because they're so similar that you don't feel you have a choice.  Well guess what, we're a better country for it as our politics match as closely to the center of the national mood as possible.

    My vote matters. (none / 0) (#143)
    by lightcap on Thu Oct 14, 2004 at 11:05:17 PM EST

    Everybody is so into third parties these days. The comments above all extoll the virtues of voting for a third party to "send a message" to the "Republicrats." Everyone is being encouraged to vote for any third party, just to prove some point (what that point is, exactly, is not entirely clear).
    Are you kidding? If "Everybody" actually were so into third parties, would we be having this conversation? The fact is "Everybody" still believes that the two corporate whores currently battling for control of our gloriously corrupt State are the only candidates. Seriously, put down the Paxil and pay attention to what's really happening around you. Not that drivel that the Corporate Media spoon feeds you every night at 10 PM. The reality is that we live in a country where we have a single party masquerading as two parties. And that single party moves closer and closer to Fascist with each passing day.
    We're better off having our votes marginalized and our politics smooshed towards the center.
    Smacks of Mediocrity! Isn't that the American Dream now? Give me a 3000 sq ft home in the suburbs with a water and pesticide sucking lawn and a big, burly, gas guzzling SUV. I can't think of any situation in which marginalization is actually a good thing.
    Well guess what, we're a better country for it as our politics match as closely to the center of the national mood as possible.
    Two comments here: First, the "center" of the national mood is drifting not-so-slowly to the Fascist Right. This is a result of overmedicated, gluttonous, undereducated Americans being addicted to consumerism. Pro-business to them means more fun and legal drugs, fast food, bigger SUVs etc. Second, if the above is the goal-- to have more shit --then yes, the people of the United States are well served by this shift. But, the rest of the world is not. We exploit the human and natural resources of the rest of the world so we can have more shit. No thanks.
    If my candidate stood a chance of winning, then so would theirs, and that's frightening.
    Oh no! What might happen??? That Green candidate may actually attempt to legislate equality for all people! And a living wage!? Lord, help us! And what, pray tell, would we do without our shiny SUVs! One vote does matter. My vote matters, and your vote matters. And the fact that 48.7% of Americans of voting age didn't vote last election sure as hell matters. Of course, statistically speaking one vote has very little chance of influencing an election. But lots of one votes added together can change a nation, if the system is set up to allow it. And right now, its simply not. Until Instant Runoff Voting or other election reform is passed, there's not a snowballs chance in hell that anyone decent will be elected to the top office in the US. And you know what? After all this, I agree with one thing you said..."You should vote for who you want to win, because there's nothing to be gained from doing otherwise." I'm voting for David Cobb. "If you want systemic change and all you do is vote, you are wasting your time. If you want systemic change and you fail to vote for candidates calling for change, you are wasting an opportunity. If you want systemic change and you vote for candidates opposed to change, you are working against your own goals. " -- David Cobb, Presidential Candidate
    Mommy, what were trees like?
    [ Parent ]
    Evil is still evil (none / 1) (#164)
    by dooglio on Sun Oct 17, 2004 at 04:01:57 AM EST

    As Michael Badnarik (the Libertarian candidate for President) says, when you vote for the lesser of two evils, you still get evil.

    I agree with both Cobb and Badnarik (and Alan Keyes for that matter) that we should vote our conscience.

    As Badnarik says, "I wouldn't be able to look myself in the mirror if I voted for Bush or Kerry."

    [ Parent ]

    Didn't Milosovic exploit plurality voting? (none / 1) (#166)
    by BuddasEvilTwin on Thu Oct 21, 2004 at 02:36:31 PM EST

      I recall watching a documentary on PBS telling the story of how the student driven organized resistance, Otpur, (aided by the US) managed to unite Milosevic's severely fractured opposition (I believe there were 7-8 parties) into backing ONE candidate so they could remove Milosevic.

      In the end, it all culminated into a MASSIVE organization of everyday people peacefully storming Belgrade to remove Milosevic.

      The moral I think the story tells is how fractured minority parties can lend too much power to the largest party.

      The other moral I think the story tells is that if you want to change the system to allow for minority party representation, the minorities parties need to unite with the common goal of soliciting the majority of the public in changing the system in a VERY inclusive and non-partisan way.

    Rage Against the Machine : Why Voting Doesn't Work and What You Can Do About It. | 166 comments (136 topical, 30 editorial, 9 hidden)
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