A Proposed Voting System Alternative:
This proposal is for a "multiple-selection, winner-take-all" voting
system as an alternative to our current voting system, which I call
"single-selection, winner-take-all". The voting system that I am
proposing would allow a voter to vote for more than one candidate
for a particular office. Just as it is now, the single candidate that
receives the most votes would win the elected office without
power-sharing. This idea was inspired by the Clinton-Bush-Perot
Presidential race and the rise of the Libertarian Party.
Assume you have a race with candidates representing the
hypothetical political parties "West", "East", and "North".
The West and East parties vehemently disagree on everything.
The North Party shares a fair number of ideological principles
and common interests with both of the other parties on different
In a hypothetical election where the voters could only select
That's 100%. But, if voters could vote for more
than one candidate, the situation might be
- 45% of the voters would choose Mr. West,
- 45% of the voters would choose Mr. East, and
- 10% of the voters would choose Mr. North.
That's also 100%. But, using those same numbers, where we had
an election where the voters could vote for more than one
candidate, we see that
- 25% would vote for just Mr. West,
- 25% would vote for just Mr. East,
- 10% would vote for just Mr. North,
- 20% would vote for both Mr. North and Mr. West, and
- 20% would vote for both Mr. North and Mr. East.
That's 140%. A bit strange but now Mr. North,
who probably represents the consensus mood of the voters,
wins the election instead of Mr. West or Mr. East.
- 45% voted for Mr. West (25% + 20%)
- 45% voted for Mr. East (25% + 20%)
- 50% voted for Mr. North (10% + 20% + 20%)
That's what the proposed "multiple-selection, winner-take-all"
voting system alternative is all about.
The Current Voting System
Our current system of voting in the United States often leaves
us with a choice between just two candidates when we would rather
have more. Sometimes we feel inclined to vote for a particular
candidate, not because we feel that he is the best man for the job,
but because the candidate we really want to elect has no hope of
winning. An example of this would be when you vote for one of
the two major party candidates when you really felt that you
wanted to vote for a candidate from another party but you did not
want to "waste your vote".
Even if you decide to go ahead and "waste your vote" by
"voting your conscience" for a third-party candidate who has "no
chance" of winning just to "send a message", you will
probably be helping the candidate you least want
to win by doing so. As a group, individuals who vote for a
third-party candidate in lieu of the other candidates probably
identify more strongly with one of the principal party
candidates over the other. In that case, that favored candidate
will be hurt more than the other principal candidate when the
individuals decide to vote for the third-party candidate.
Faced with this consequence, voters may regularly end up just
choosing "the lesser of two evils".
The reason the United States has a two-party system is that
no one wants to waste their vote and end up helping the wrong
guy even when the other guy is not that great either. For this
reason, the predominate two political parties enjoy a lock on
the overwhelming majority of votes, despite possible mutual
If, however, you can vote for more than one candidate, the
voters can choose to vote for both the third-party candidate
and the principal party candidate that they identify with
the most. Odds are, if either of those candidates won, the voters
would still be happier than if the candidate they did not vote
for won the office. In fact, if the voters who chose the
candidate from the opposing camp also chose the third-party
candidate, the third-party candidate might actually win which
would please both sides.
Additionally, you could express your displeasure by effectively
voting "against" a candidate by voting for all of the other
candidates except the one candidate who had earned your
Finally, for those of you who have to vote in public around
the conference table, it would give you the opportunity to
vote for all of the candidates. In this case, where all of
the candidates are completely competent for the office they are
seeking, there may be no need to unnecessarily offend the others by
being forced to choose any single individual.
This "multiple-selection" voting system alternative should not
be confused with the systems in place in other countries where
the power is "shared" by assigning offices to parties based
on the proportion of votes that each party received. I believe
that this leads to fragmentation, indecision, and the ability
for a well-organized minority to dominate against mainstream wishes.
To be clear here, even though the voters can vote for more than
one candidate, only one candidate can win, the candidate with the
most votes, just as it is now.
I recommend experimenting at the lowest level possible before
putting this proposed alternative voting system into effect
on a grand scale. Test it out in school by voting for your
class officers using both systems and see if it would make a
difference in who won. Try it out with your local club.
If you and your neighbors like it, test it out in your
local governing bodies where permitted. Finally, if it
gains wide-spread acceptance after thorough discussion and
experimentation, we can then talk about changing state and
national constitutions, if necessary.
If you have the opportunity to test this proposed alternative,
I would love to hear about the results, good or bad. Feel
free to drop me an e-mail message at
May you get the government you deserve, a good one.
David Wallace Croft
Posted 1997-06-22. Last updated 1997-06-22.
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