by Adrian Tawfik
June 22, 2012
As Democracy Chronicles expands our depth and reach, we are experimenting with different ways of reaching our audience and broadening their access to the diverse and vitally important world of democracy reform. Much to our delight, we have found that our ongoing series of interviews with election methodology experts has turned into a fascinating example of the ease of local and international network building using modern technology like social media.
One of the benefits of these technologies has been to enable Democracy Chronicles to build relationships with fascinating democratic people from around the world who have fresh ideas for the reform of government that the average person may regrettably never come into contact with. Election method reform is a great example of this.
In the US, as in most other democracies, we use the most rudimentary form of elections possible, as most of the potential systems for this type of reform have only been properly identified recently. Computer technology as well as exciting new research in mathematics and game theory, have given new insights into the nearly unlimited potential for experimentation and improvement with our election system.
When you enter the voting booth in November, you will be given a chance to vote for government, a rare privilege. Yet, in our most important vote, that for President of the country, Americans are using one of the oldest and arguably most counterproductive voting systems available: single-mark ballots. On top of this, there are a huge variety of new options today for reform, many of which can be found at the Wikipedia Voting System webpage here.
The potential reforms include everything from random winner elections, to instant runoff voting or even ranking candidates from one to ten. The debate over which of these methods best fixes the problems in the current system is full of passionate and intelligent democratic people who are looking to make the world a better place.
At Democracy Chronicles, we have been lucky enough to have built relationships with some of these democratic thinkers including our original contact with this community and current Democracy Chronicles writer, Richard Fobes, author of the book “Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections”. Mr. Fobes’ kind introduction to his colleagues has enabled our website to not only to produce the interview series but to build new relationships with democratic reformers.
One of these new contacts, Michael Ossipoff, has become one of the most popular authors on Democracy Chronicles. His recent article on redistricting/gerrymander reform can be found here. From the beginning of our relationship with Mr. Ossipoff, it was clear that he was dedicated to spreading awareness of a particular form of election method reform called Approval Voting as he did in his first article, “Some Problems With Our Current Voting System: Plurality Voting”
Unlike the single-mark ballot in use today, an Approval ballot allows for the voter to choose more than one candidate to give their approval to. The basic idea is to avoid the situation faced today, where many candidates who are well liked do not get votes because voters feel a need to vote for a (possibly not liked) lesser-of-2-evils, the better of the two candidates perceived by voters as the only candidates who can win.
In a joint project with Mr. Ossipoff, Democracy Chronicles has produced a new poll that represents the 2012 Presidential election if it was designed with an Approval voting system. Voters are given a chance to ‘approve’ more than one candidate offering a chance for third parties to garner support.
You can find the poll on the front page of Democracy Chronicles in the left column. Please take the brief moment to vote for your favorite candidate or candidates. It is a fascinating mental exercise and a truly revolutionary system despite the simplicity of the change.
If you are interested in reading more about Approval voting, please stay tuned to Democracy Chronicles for Mr. Ossipoff’s ongoing series of articles. We would love to hear reactions, comments or thoughts that you might have regarding the poll. Comment below or send us an email at [email protected]