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Our Three Proposals

Here is a summary of our three proposals for Election Reform. Our DVD program goes into more detail about why these reforms are needed, but we’ve found over time that people need this page for a quick reference of what we’re proposing and why*.

Let’s start with some essential definitions. We find that most people are unaware of the difference between majority and plurality election winners. Here’s the difference. If 1,000 people vote in an election, a majority winner will have received 500 votes plus one or better. Or, to restate the same thing in a different way, a majority winner receives 50 percent of the votes cast plus one or better. On the other hand, if there are more than two candidates and someone wins with 400 votes, then they are a plurality winner, not a majority winner. The majority of voters wanted someone else to win. This is the essence of the dissatisfaction we have today with our election results because we use the winner take all ballot. If we say we want to be governed by majority rule, then shouldn’t we insist on majority winners of elections?

  1. Ranked Choice Voting Our current ballot enables something called the Spoiler Scenario. Here’s what this means to you as a voter. Our current ballot makes you afraid of voting for people who you think will do a better job than the candidate you usually favor. You’re afraid because you think voting for the candidate you think will do a better job could result in the candidate you think will do the worst job winning. And the reason you most oppose that candidate is you detest what you believe that candidate will do if given the power to implement policy, write legislation and approve budgets.

    The Spoiler Scenario, in other words, makes us vote to avoid what we fear instead of voting for what we want. The Spoiler Scenario keeps voters from being able to agree on electing candidates with policies the majority can agree with.

    The solution to taking away the Spoiler Scenario is to replace the Winner Take All ballot we use now with Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). Going to RCV will ensure majority winners, not plurality winners. Plurality winners enable a minority of voters to govern against the wishes of the majority. RCV will give voters more and better choices in candidates, as well as force candidates to face greater competition on a level playing field. Further, studies show RCV reduces negative campaigning and (in the long term) will negate the influence of dark money on our elections.

    For an in depth discussion of how RCV works and the advantages of using it (besides seeing our DVD), we invite you to look at the web site.

  2. Proportional Representation Gerrymandering is a corrupt process that enables political parties to rig elections in their favor. Proportional Representation (PR) will eliminate gerrymandering. Here’s why and how PR will do that.

    Human nature means we are all greedy. This means that even the proposals for “Independent Commissions” to determine the boundaries for Legislative Districts are flawed. The Commissions will neither fully guard against gerrymandering nor will they properly allow for competitive third parties.

    Competition is key to electing a more effective and efficient government. When a political party in power becomes arrogant and corrupt, but its competing second party offers only weak leadership, ineffective policy proposals and/or other weaknesses, then voters need to be able to vote with their feet. Voters need to be able to either move their vote to an existing third party or form a new third party with the expectation that doing so will result in desired change. Power struggles within existing parties rarely produce either a change in power or a desired revision of existing parties’ policies. Such a situation discourages citizens from participating in the political process, which is exactly what we have now.

    The solution to these issues is to institute PR. PR does away with single member fixed representation districts. For a simple example, assume a state has 10 seats in Congress and there are three established political parties in the state. Each party would nominate 10 candidates with an internal primary that determines who those candidates are in an order of preference.

    In the general election, the awarding of seats would be determined by the percentage of the vote each party gets. So, (again, this is a simple example. Obviously rounding rules would have to be developed and applied) if Party A gets 50% of the vote, then they get 5 seats. If Party B gets 40% of the seats, then they get 4 seats. Finally, if Party C gets 10% of the vote, then they get one seat. The people determine how they want to be represented.

    For more detail on how PR would work, we invite you once again to visit the web site at this link.

  3. Fixing the Electoral College We are faced today with the same issue the Founders faced when they wrote our Constitution. How do we balance the interests of the low population states with those of the large population states? In addition, the Founders were leery of electing a President via a direct Popular Vote. Doing so, they feared, would cause whoever was elected to behave as a king. As history shows, sometimes you can have a benevolent king (or queen), but more often you will have a petty, tyrannical monarch. Getting rid of such a monarch requires either bloody rebellion or for the monarch to die, neither of which are desirable solutions.

    The most common Electoral College proposals today are these. One is to get rid of the Electoral College completely in favor of a popular vote result. Besides making small population states totally irrelevant in a Presidential election, the difficulty with this proposal (besides going against the warning of the Founders to avoid direct election of a President) is its requirement for a Constitutional Amendment, which the small population states will never agree to. This proposal is dead on arrival.

    The second is to have sufficient states agree to an “Interstate Compact” that the Presidential result will be de facto decided by the popular vote. This solution also fails to balance the interests of low population states with high population ones. Once again, provides an explanation of the “Interstate Compact” proposal. We disagree with this proposal, but you can see it here.

    If you want to know why these popular vote proposals are inadequate, simply go to the sports pages of your favorite newspaper. Run through the standings of the teams in Major League Baseball, the National Football League, or the National Basketball Association. By looking at the cities listed there, you will have identified the 30 something areas of the country (plus 4 or 5 others) where the Presidential campaign will take place without regard to the interests of the rest of the country. If you live somewhere like Wyoming, Montana or the Dakotas, you’re going to be even more ignored than you are now. Worse, you’re going to be irrelevant.

    We are not saying we are in favor of the Electoral College as currently structured. That structure is severely flawed.

    For example, in 48 out of the 50 states (and with some nuances, in the other two as well) here is what happens when there are more than two Presidential candidates in an election. Our current structure means we can have a Presidential candidate who gets less than a majority of the vote in a state (say 40 percent), yet gets 100 percent of the state’s Electors. Let’s say that a different way for emphasis. With our current system, a Presidential candidate can be opposed by the majority of those who voted, but get 100 percent of the Electors. Who thought that was a good idea?

  4. Similarly, if only two candidates dominate (say for example we have a 48 to 46 percent split), then those who voted for the 46 percent candidate are, in essence, being denied having their votes count. If that same result were applied to a Governorship or a U.S. Senate seat, that might be OK. (Except we want there to be Ranked Choice Voting so the winner gets 50 percent plus one vote or better.) The difficulty is that with the Electoral College, the state’s result is only an interim result. The final result will only be determined when all the Electors’ votes are tallied at the end. We are arguing, therefore, that final result should include the votes of the 46 percent in our example.

    Even worse, because of dynamics like the ones just described, if you’re a red voter in a blue state or vice versa under the current rules, your motivation for voting is severely inhibited. Voters in this situation are very likely to say, “What’s the use?” and stay home. Such an attitude is not good for our system of government because competition is severely restricted.

So, here’s our solution.

First, keep in mind that the U.S. Constitution says that the states will determine how their Electors are allocated. That means what we are about to show you can be done without a Constitutional Amendment. You only need to change state election laws.

What we propose is that voting for Presidential candidates within the 50 states and the District of Columbia be done using Ranked Choice Voting (RCV). RCV will be used to determine the top two choices for President in each state. What this means is that voters will be free to vote without fear of wasting their vote for third party candidates with their first choice. If however, their first choice candidate fails to be one of the top two finishers initially, then they can mark their ballot with a second and third choice. All voters will, therefore, be afforded the opportunity to weigh in on their preferred alternative candidate.

Once the top two candidates are known, the Electors will be allocated based on the percentage of the vote each candidate received. Again, a simple example using a state with 10 Electors. After applying RCV, Candidate A got 60 percent of the vote, so they get 6 Electors. Candidate B got 40 percent of the vote, so they get 4 Electors. Obviously, voting results are never this simplistic. Rounding rules would have to be agreed to for the occasion of (for example) a 56-44 percent vote split.

Our proposal would mean that for the first time in the modern history of our Republic, the chances of the final two candidates being someone other than a Democrat and a Republican just skyrocketed. There will now be a legitimate chance that the Democratic and Republican candidates might lose to someone other than each other. The benefit of that improved chance will be America’s citizens. This is why competition is good in politics, not just the marketplace.

Another question might be, given how state laws today keep Electors from voting their conscience instead of complying with the election results, is whether the Elector allocation should not be an individual person, but rather be an actual precise number for the state based on the Election result. For example, should each state be allowed/required to allocate something like a 5.6 and 4.4 Electors?

The good news is our proposal allows voters more freedom to express their preferences. Without the burden of a Constitutional Amendment, we will have made it worthwhile for a red voter to vote in a blue state and vice versa. The attitude goes from “What’s the use?” to “We may not win, but we might get the one Elector that makes the difference at the end.” This will, in turn, spark greater interest in elections and that’s a good thing.

The question will be logically asked, “Why should the states agree to this?” There are at least three excellent reasons.

First, as voters become more aware and desirous of this option, they will elect candidates who will support this proposal. And why will they support this proposal?

Because, (second) this amounts to a voter hostage exchange. California may have to give up some of its Electors for other than Democratic candidates. But at the same time Texas may have to give up some of its Electors for other than Republican candidates. The proposal is, in short, fair.

And third, especially if you’re from a low population state, then wouldn’t you rather have the Electoral College work our way so you are still relevant to the contest, rather than be irrelevant due to an Interstate Compact?

For a discussion of how our proposal would have worked in 2016, go here. Keep in mind that if our proposal had been in place in 2016, then we believe the Parties would have (realizing the impact of the changed dynamics) nominated candidates other than the ones you had to vote for that year. Or, that third parties might have seen their results significantly enhanced. For the first time, the top two candidates might not have included a Republican or a Democrat.

We hope you like these proposals and will help us in making them a reality. For some ideas in that regard, check out this Blog entry. And please either sign up for our Ezine or like our Facebook page.

Thanks for reading.

* And to state the obvious, when you buy our DVD or book, you’re helping us with the resources we need to promote Election Reform. You’re also getting something you can loan to your friends so they can get involved, too.