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Vote Your Preference

The Yes/No vote is a very poor answer to our desire for democratic selection of leadership. Anyone who seriously considers their vote between candidates in an election soon finds themselves in a quandry: Should I vote for the candidate who seems to hold the same beliefs and values as I do - or should I vote for the candidate who could bring more jobs and prosperity to the region? One candidate may be very desirable because of his/her concern about global warming – while at the same time undesirable because they have previously received campaign donations from ExxonMobil – and yet again very desirable because of their stand on race and gender issues - while the opposing candidate may possess yet another conglomeration of desirable and less desirable attributes. The list of factors to consider goes on and on. But your vote is only a simple Yes/No!


How can we begin to represent the manifold considerations that go into the selection of a candidate with a one-bit answer? This sparse choice is further impoverished in a two-party system where there are only two candidates - and neither candidate may be satisfactory. A much more democratic mechanism, a better way to capture some of the complex considerations underlying the vote would be to select the winner according to the voters' preferences.


A vote between two disliked candidates is almost like no vote at all. A first step toward improving the value of our our vote would be to include more than two candidates. Then, the best way to decide between more than two candidates is through a system called Preferential Voting, also called Ranked Choice Voting. Here is how it works: A list of candidates is presented to each of the voters and they are asked to rank those candidates in the order of their preference. In this way each voter gets to apportion his or her vote to an entire range of candidates according to the preferences they have in mind. Now, if one candidate obtains more than half of all of the first-choice votes, that candidate wins. But if no candidate is the first choice of more than half of the voters then all of the votes cast for the candidate having the lowest number of top choices are removed from that candidate and redistributed to the top candidates according to how they are ranked in each voter's ballot. If this process does not result in any candidate receiving a majority of first choices, further cycles of redistribution occur until there is a winner with over 50 percent.


According to Wikipedia, this process is currently being used to select the president of India and the president of Ireland. Recently, Maine became the first state to pass laws implementing Preferential Voting, and the new system will apply to elections there for governor, U.S. Senate, U.S. representative, state senate and state representative. We can see that such a voting mechanism should give voters a much more meaningful and powerful vote: any number of decision factors could be applied to a range of candidates, and each candidate given a rank according to how important each factor is to each voter. Maine has taken an important step toward improving their democracy – what if we could do the same in other states and in our national elections?



Garrett Connelly 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Instant runoff voting includes the decision that the people should be spared the expense of a new election after they have voted and not chosen a winning person or idea in the first election. The expense of a new election in Massachusetts is, for example, about 50¢ per person applied to the total population.

Instant runoff voting also posits that political parties and their hierarchies function well for choosing the range of candidates and ideas. Someone chosen by the hierarchies, therefore, must win.

I am suggesting that at a time when the majority of actual voters is independent and a majority of voting age people actively boycott elections for very good reasons,* then, it is a good idea to provide distributed intelligence the opportunity to reject partisan election choosing among hierarchical standard bearers entirely and start over.

More accurate voting regardless of voting method can be accomplished by including None of the Above. There will obviously be a new election when None of the Above wins.

The general case for ranked choice voting can either include None of the Above explicitly or avoid instant runoff; it does not require a victor. The decision requiring a victor through an instant run off formula eliminates a complete avenue of choice for the distributed intelligence of humanity.

My personal preference is None of the Above with ranked preferences and without Instant runoff. This is where quantum physics and voter participation come into play. It reflects a new story about scroogish hierarchies pushing austerity and giving a young child a lump of coal for Christmas. When a new story is written and a critical mass of information-age people accept it as more fun, then the entirety of social reality itself will change, instantaneously.

Thorough democracy thinking does include the word “instant.” Specifically; instant voter registration and the ability to change one’s vote until the last polling place furthest west closes the election.

As self appointed caretaker of the autonomous democracy url, after 18 years of non-profit care taking of ferrocement.com, I have spent a little over $2,500 hiring programmers to make a ballot system and I have not yet succeeded. My reason for doing this is I am a retired sociologist interested in experimenting with people deciding what and who to vote for. My rules have been very few but each programmer decided he knew best and forgot the voting tool does not need to fit on a phone is not the entire purpose of the site.

Yes. I know there are many softwares already available. Even so, I’m working on an independent simple one as a place for autonomous democracy to practice.

* Gilens and Page “Testing theories of American Politics" http://zerowastenews.org/Archive/Gilens-and-Page-3-9-14.pdf


Garrett Connelly