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Topic: Approval Voting: A Voice for Independents

  1. #1
    Active Participant
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Lightbulb Approval Voting: A Voice for Independents

    Readers here wondering why Independents get marginalized so often might enjoy this article at Independent Voter Network (disclosure, I wrote the article):

    Here's an excerpt:

    We Have a Representation Problem

    America hates Independents. At least it gives that impression. Independents take just two of our 535 US Congressional seats. And only 20 of these outsiders sit among the nation’s 7,382 state legislators.

    Yet, 40% of Americans identify as Independent. How could Independents be so underrepresented—by a factor of over 100?

    Answer: Our vote-for-one Plurality Voting system suffocates Independents.

    We need a voting system that lets you vote your honest favorites—always. Enter Approval Voting.

    . . .
    To take this in, imagine Plurality compared to Approval Voting for the 1992 and 2000 US Presidential elections. (See figure.) How would you vote?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Approval Voting: A Voice for Independents

    Hello Aaron -

    I've let politics drop into the background white noise for sometime now, because it just riles me up, and ultimately I'm powerless to do anything about it. From the local to national level, our elections have degenerated into a two-party "King Maker" system. The business of the parties has become simply to win. Data mining and marketing to the base has become much more important than any idea or candidate it launches. Candidates come and go, but parties are forever.

    You have discussed the idea of changing this here, and your proposed system seems to be a great way to broaden the scope of not only the discussions that come up during an election year, but also broaden the issues brought forward. Currently, the two-party system dictates the discussions as well as the positions held by the candidates representing them. Come election time, voters are given the choice of voting for one of the two candidates representing either the Democratic or Republican party.

    So, as you point out, this isn't "Power to the People", but rather "Power to the Party". This not only severely handicaps independents. It also hamstrings the B-Team parties like the Libertarians, and even staunch party supporting candidates who aren't party insiders who have a resume of supporting one of the two parties beforehand.

    So you've got me sold on your idea. However, all of your discussions fall short of providing any practical means to switch over. How can Columbus, Bloomington, or Bedford change their local elections to use the system you propose? At what level of government is this choice made? County? Municipal? State? Federal?

    Without any practical roadmap to follow, your proposal is as empty as the perennial empty campaign promises of simple income tax, healthcare for all, and a brighter future for our children. They all sound great, but without any sort of plan for the grassroots level, this is just more election year noise. Obviously the two parties won't lift a finger to make this happen, as it will dissolve all the hard work they have put in creating their respective PR empires.

    So what can a bored housewife in Beanblossom, or a disillusioned college student at IU do to move your idea out of the realm of theory at the local level?

  3. #3
    Active Participant
    Join Date
    Jul 2008

    Default Re: Approval Voting: A Voice for Independents

    Hi Jill.

    You raise a legitimate point. It's one thing to agree that Approval Voting is a good idea. It's another to have it implemented. So how does that take place?

    Historically, alternative voting systems are implemented at the local level. And that's surely where we'd start. There have been Approval Voting initiatives that have fallen short at the state level. More recently that occurred in New Hampshire and Arizona. In years past, this occurred in New York, North Dakota, and again in New Hampshire. While this did bring attention to the issue, I think the scale was overzealous.

    There is really only one organized group pushing Approval Voting. And that's The Center for Election Science. We're a newer organization made up of mostly mathematicians and various types of engineers. Right now we're developing ourselves and going through the bureaucracy that helps to establish legitimacy.

    One of our long-term goals is to selectively target a city to push a ballot initiative for Approval Voting. But prior to that, we're building ourselves up as a resource. Other activities such as writing articles help our legitimacy. One of us was recently featured by CNN on their blogs. We also have one of our co-founders writing an article for Big Think.

    These activities help with legitimacy, but they're also important for education--one of our major goals. Unfortunately, the voting system is one of the last issues on people's radars when it should be at the top. That issue is complicated more by advocates for inferior (and more complex) voting systems. I mainly mean Instant Runoff Voting here.

    But for the moment, a big step is letting people know that voting can entail more than just the vote-for-one Plurality system. So we'll continue with articles and education projects. If you'd like to keep up to date and learn about ways you can get involved, you can join our Facebook Page. It's a huge help when others share our articles with those less likely to consider this issue. Naturally, it's also important to share with those that are politically involved.

    On a further note, Approval Voting isn't just good for government elections. It's good with any decision that involves three or more choices. Anytime the opportunity arises it's a good system to use, even if it's an election within a small group. It's good for people to get first-hand use with the system in as many situations as possible.

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