Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Political Reform, Lesson 4: Giving Independents a Fighting Chance

The independents who most need a fighting chance are the candidates themselves. Even though Ross Perot received 19 percent of the popular vote in 1992, he did not garner a single electoral college vote. In addition to the National Popular Vote plan, a number of other efforts would correct some of the problems inherent in the structure of the electoral college.

Here are two such plans that would help give voters more choices by increasing the field of candidates, which always appeals to independents:

  • Instant Runoff Voting allows voters to rank the candidates in order of preference. The winner would be the candidate who receives the most number 1 votes. If no candidate wins by a majority of number-one votes, the candidate with the fewest number-one votes is eliminated. Votes for him or her are counted toward those voters' number-two choices, and so on until one candidate receives a majority. The votes are tabulated immediately, eliminating the need for a second round of runoff voting. This is also known as rank-order voting, choice voting, or preferential voting.
  • Approval Voting: Under this plan, you get to vote for as many candidates as you like. If there are five candidates and you like two of them, you simply place check marks by those two names. The winner, of course, is the candidate who receives the most check marks. Not surprisingly, this plan would probably never be used in presidential elections, but a number of municipalities are considering using it in local elections. This simplicity of the plan makes the voting process inexpensive and easy to learn.

Both plans would eliminate both the lesser-of-two-evils dilemma and the spoiler phenomenon, and could quite possibly eliminate the need for primaries.

No electoral college? No primaries? Oh, the possibilities!

1 comment:

Kelly Haughton said...

In Pierce County, Washington, we will be having our first ever Ranked Choice Voting (or IRV) election in November, 2008. The County Executive race is our most influential race.

Mike Lonergan, Tacoma City Councilmember, has announced that he is running for County Executive as an independent.


This is the first substantial independent candidate we have had in Pierce County in decades. We believe this is due to the implementation of Ranked Choice Voting.