Single Winner Elections
Virtually all public single-winner governmental elections (as well as elections that take place within governing bodies) should be conducted under the ‘Single Transferable Vote’ STV (or ‘Alternative Vote’ AV) system. This is one of the fairest and most streamlined of perhaps all other possible simple election systems because voters rank each candidate (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc.) on the ballot running for the same office. Alternatively, simple plurality systems (in which the winner need not get the majority but just get the most votes) as well as instant runoff systems (in which only the top two candidates are considered while the rest are eliminated) may too often result in situations in which the candidate(s) holding the most popular views may actually lose the election due to what is called the spoiler effect (when a relatively minor candidate draws enough votes away from a popular candidate to prevent the popular candidate from winning). In STV or AV elections, the preferences of all voters who ranked the candidates on their ballot will be counted and affect the final election numbers and outcome.
Quadratic Voting (QV) systems, although more easily applicable and understood for binary elections, are superior than STV or AV voting systems because it is an even more accurate way of determining the ‘will’ of the voting population because it factors in not only the number of people in favor or against an issue, but also the relative intensities of their support or opposition. Factoring a minority group’s intensity of opinion is very important for maintaining social stability and actual and apparent ‘trust’ in the voting process. However, because Quadratic Voting systems are inherently more complicated that traditional ‘one man, one vote’ systems, and because the vast majority of people are too lazy to make the effort to study the issue, it would be incredibly hard to get the necessary support for the installation of quadratic voting systems.
In multi-winner elections, proportional representation election systems should be used because they increase the accuracy, fairness and legitimacy of the election. These types of elections are rare in the United States on the state and federal level, but they should be made the standard by eliminating districts altogether and making all candidates run statewide (or jurisdiction-wide, depending on the elected office being sought).
One possible proportional representation system that could be used is described below.
- First, all political parties who wish to be recognized would register as political parties.
- Then, the members of each political party who wish to run for office under their party’s flag would register as candidates of their respective parties.
- Each party would then determine the popular rank of all its candidates by holding primary elections, caucuses, conventions, sampling of party members, or other methods. Only registered members of a party can vote for or influence the selection of candidates of their own political party.
- General elections are then held in which parties compete against each other. The population would vote only for parties, not individuals. Voters can now vote for any political party, regardless of their own party affiliation. Ballots should include the pictures and names of the individuals running for each party in the order in which they have been ranked by that party.
- Ballots are then counted and parties learn what percentage of total ballots cast have been won by each party.
- Seats in government are then distributed among the parties based directly on the rounded percentage of ballots won by that party.
Eliminate Election Districts
A significant difference between our current election system and this proposal is the elimination of election districts. In races where candidates are elected to serve as part of a larger governing body (such as a Representative who is elected to serve with many other Representatives in the House of Representatives), individual districts for each candidate would be eliminated. Instead, all the voters in all these districts would vote for political parties. For example, let’s say a state is entitled to 10 representative in the House of Representatives and 46% of the people vote Democrat, 34% vote Republican, 14% vote Independent, and 6% vote Reform. Under proportional representation, 5 elected officials would come from the Democratic party, 3 would be Republican, 1 would be Independent, and 1 would be Reform. There would be no districts from which representatives are chosen. Under the current system, if this same population voted in the these same proportions throughout all the districts in the entire voting area, only Democrats would be elected to represent all ten districts, effectively leaving 54% of the people who voted for other parties without true representation. The current system is inherently unfair.
Easily Replace Elected Officials
This system also makes it easier to replace elected officials who have resigned in the middle of their terms or for whatever other reason cannot finish their terms. If a person dies or resigns before finishing their term, the next person of the same political party who received the most votes during the primary election (and who still wants the job) would automatically be the replacement and fill in for the remainder of the term.
In cases where candidates are running for offices which are singular in nature and not immediately part of a larger governing body (President, Vice-President, Governor, Mayor, etc.), voters could vote for either party or specific candidate because they would both be the same anyway.
Vice-presidents should probably be the candidate who received the second largest number of votes from the same political party from which the President was chosen. However, there may be an unhealthy amount of resentment between these top two candidates due to their campaigning against each other during the primary election. So this may not be the best solution. Nevertheless, Vice-presidents should be somehow elected by the people and they should also be from the same party. Maybe Presidents could vote for their own Vice-presidents from among the next top five candidates on the party’s ticket.0 Comments
To drastically reduce the real and perceived corrupting influences of money on political campaigns, governments should be the sole funding entities for all public election campaigns. No other sources of funding, including personal wealth or donations from family, friends, businesses, etc., should be used for election-related (or any other) expenditures or even given as personal gifts to any candidates or politicians.
Specifically, absolutely no contributions of any kind should be allowed from those lobbying the government, participating in government contracts or otherwise benefiting from public finds.
In addition, any person employed in a significant policy-making occupation (such as federal or state legislator, and even their staffers) should be barred for life from being employed by any business or entity lobbying the government.
Election Funding Formula
The maximum amount of government funding available to all registered candidates from parties that have received more than 10% of the vote in any of the past two election cycles should be based on the estimated total number of eligible voters living within the boundaries of the political jurisdiction where the political contest will be held. Eligible voters are defined as people meeting voting requirements (namely age and citizenship), whether or not they are registered. For example, an election commission may decide that candidates for a House Congressional district may be entitled to spend up to $10 per eligible voter. They would not be allowed to unilaterally spend more than this amount even if they run out of money before the election. Given this $10 limit, if a district has 500,000 eligible voters, each candidate may spend up to $5,000,000. Possibly the costs of living, or more appropriately, the costs of advertising could be taken into consideration when determining the per-eligible-voter limits since such costs often vary between political jurisdictions.
Minor and Micro Party Funding Formulas
Public funding of the minor parties (parties that received between 1%-10% of the vote in any of the last two election cycles) would follow the same principles as above, but the per-eligible-voter limits would be lowered to one-third as much as they would be for the major parties. Micro parties would be defined as parties that have received more than 0.1% but not more than 1% of the vote in any of the last two election cycles. These parties would be entitled to receive 5% as much public financing as would the major parties. Parties having received less than 0.1% of the vote would not be entitled to any public funds.
Additional money could be introduced into campaigns from any source if any one candidate agrees, but only if all the money from each additional source is divided evenly among all the candidates within the same party class (major, minor, micro) for that race and full disclosure is made within 72 hours as to the source of the funding.0 Comments
Having people vote during very narrow windows of time for their political leaders makes for a system that is too susceptible to various forms of manipulations for the express purpose of yielding short-term gains, enough to potentially influence the outcomes of those elections. Unfortunately, since traditional elections are intrinsically people- and personality-based, candidates and politicians capitalize on the emotions and gullibility of voters is these inherently short-term contests.
It may be better to have a completely new and more stable way of communicating the will of the people to the leadership of a society. This proposal would consist of the requirement for every eligible voter to be required to take a comprehensive, standardized survey every 5 years (20% of the voting population per year) that would ask that voter a series of questions regarding their position on virtually every significant politically relevant policy issue. These questionnaires could be a few hundred questions long and could ask the questions in a random way to minimize the conscious or unconscious influences that a preceding question or series of questions would have on the next. Each of these questions would be reviewed and approved by a representative group of people, including historians, academics, politicians, etc., so that the questions are as unbiased as possible. Such questionnaires could be revised, if necessary, every year on January 1.
People who refuse to participate in these surveys would be fined $250 upon the survey due date. An additional $250 ($500 total) would be charged upon the 1st anniversary of failing to submit this survey, and $750 total would be charged upon the second anniversary, etc.
People would take these surveys in a way that distributes the load throughout the year, much like Driver’s License renewal systems have people’s deadlines spread throughout the year.
Policy implementations should reflect, in large part, the will of the people as communicated through these surveys. However, the government should not automatically allow the will of the people as indicated in these surveys to be implemented so that there could exist a check to overrule the will of the people, when necessary. (We obviously must guard against the majority of the population wanting to segregate populations based on color, or round-up a segment of the population based of race or religion.) These survey results would be published every year, of course without any personal identifying participant information.
Politicians should always refer to this statistical database to inform their policy objectives, not that they need to automatically be guided conclusively by such results, but it is their obligation to know where the population stands on any of the various issues.0 Comments
Standardize Voting Equipment
All election ballots should be recorded using any pre-approved accurate, practical and reasonably efficient method so that votes can be recorded and counted quickly and efficiently. A political jurisdiction (such as a city, county or even perhaps even a state) should stick to only one kind of voting system throughout an election so that voter confusions about which machine or system to use or how to use them are minimized.
Each Vote Tallying System Must Have Published Error Bars
Nevertheless, regardless of which system is used, all systems should be tested and analyzed periodically by scientists, especially as a system ages or as new technologies are applied. Each system’s vote tallying accuracy rate and error bars should be made available to the public. In addition, clear rules for defining invalid ballots must be published and accepted by the governments using that system. The 99.9% confidence level should be used to determine the minimum error bars allowed for each vote counting method.
Automatic Recount If Votes Lay Within Error Bars
In elections where the margin of victory within that political jurisdiction lies within the published, scientifically-determined error bars of whatever ballot tallying system was used, an automatic recount of all the votes within that jurisdiction should be mandated using a more accurate tallying method. The most likely recount method may be a hand recount of the votes, but it is conceivable for there to be more accurate machine counts that may also successfully do the job. After a recount, if a winner is still not able to be determined due to the vote margin again falling within the error bars of the second, more precise tallying system used, then an even more accurate vote counting system (i.e., a hand recount) should automatically be mandated.
If no more accurate system exists, all remaining questionable or disputed ballots would be disqualified, and the total vote counts would be frozen at the levels determined after the last recount. These election numbers should be affirmed and the election declared over, even if the margin of victory still falls within the error bars.
No time limits or deadlines should ever be set for finalizing the counting of any ballots. Nobody should call for, or have the right to demand, a recount, because the only thing that could trigger a recount is a race in which the margin of victory is less than the statistical error bars of the vote counting method used.
There should always be a paper ballot trail for every ballot cast. Perhaps even two ballot receipts, one for the voter to take home and the other for the official record.
Slightly different rules should apply to elections (such as Presidential elections) in which multiple jurisdictions vote for one race, and the winner of that race is determined by any means other than through a popular vote. In such cases, some jurisdictions’ vote tallies may fall within the statistical error bars of the counting method used. Only in these jurisdictions should a recount using a more accurate tallying system be used. For example, the Electoral College generally awards votes to Presidential candidates based on whether or not that candidate received a plurality of the votes in that state. If a Presidential candidate is the clear winner in 49 states, but the votes in one state fall within the error bars, it should only be that one state that is required to recount the votes. If Presidents were chosen through a direct popular vote and the nationwide margin of victory fell within the error bars, then a recount of the entire national vote would be required, even if all 50 states have each chosen a candidate by a landslide.0 Comments
Prohibit term limits for elected, and even appointed, officials. Term limits violate the will of the voters.
The concept itself is an illogical solution to the problem of not getting the right people in the job. The root of the problem lies in the fact that voters are uneducated about the issues, candidates and the policymaking process in general. To impose a blanket prohibition against one group of people with the most experience in the job (namely, incumbents) from running, is a huge disservice to civil society.0 Comments
All election districts should be measured for compactness to ensure that ‘gerrymandering’ is not a real or perceived factor in the district’s makeup. In other words, the ratio between the area of a district to its perimeter should be below a certain threshold. The formula for measuring the compactness of election districts should be as follows: 4 times pi times the area divided by the perimeter squared (4πA / P2) (“The Gerrymandering Index”). This formula yields answers ranging from zero to 1. We could multiply these answers by 100 to give numbers that are between 1 and 100, thus making it easier to discuss. Nevertheless, using this formula to measure compactness, a circle would measure 1, a square would measure .785 and a 3×1 rectangle would measure .589. The greater a shape’s irregularity, the lower its measure of compactness. Perhaps a score of .4 should be set as a lower limit meaning that any district layout with a shape scoring lower than .4 using this formula for measuring compactness, should be required to be redrawn until it scores at least a .4. Irregularities due to natural boundaries, like bodies of water, or unchangeable boundaries, like international borders, should not be counted against a districts compactness.
Furthermore, each district should be allowed to vary in population by up to 10% of the average number of people residing within that type of district. For example, if the average number of people within a Congressional district is exactly 1,000,000 people, then one district should be allowed to have 900,000 people in it while another should be allowed 1,100,000 people. Both would fall within 10% of the 1,000,000 person average. However, district boundary lines should not be redrawn until the decadal census indicates that the numbers are out of balance, regardless of how out of balance they may be before the census.0 Comments
Abolish the Electoral College. Presidents should be elected directly by the people, thus this institution is inherently undemocratic and gives smaller states a disproportionate advantage when selecting a president. The Electoral College also makes possible situations in which the popular majority of the votes went to one candidate while the Electoral College majority went to another candidate, thus overturning the will of the majority of the citizen voters (as has happened in 1824, 1876, 1888 and 2000).0 Comments
Individual Candidate & Interviews Debates
Government owned media should air both debates between candidates and interviews with individual candidates for public office to the extent that at least one radio and one television station in each market carries the broadcast. In markets which may not have government owned media, then significantly government funded stations (at least one television and one radio station) should be required to air such broadcasts. If no significant government funded stations exist, then private radio and television stations should be required to fulfill this requirement and come to an agreement amongst themselves regarding which one will provide such broadcasts. All candidates receiving at least 1% of the popular support (determined by taking an average of several recognized polls) should be allowed to be included in any broadcasted debate or interview held for that office. Internet broadcasting and archiving should also be required for all debates so that any person anywhere and anytime can view them.
Such debates and interviews should last for hours, and be comprehensive in nature. Members of the press or other informed people (but preferably not common members of the public) should be the ones asking questions of candidates for state or national office. There should be fewer restrictions on who could ask questions in lower level races. Time limits shorter than 5 minutes should not be placed on responses unless they are filled with political babble (as determined by a poll of the panel of questioners). These formats would afford the candidates less rushed and more relaxed responses. In addition, candidates should be given at least a partial list (a full list would be better) of questions days or weeks ahead of time to allow them sufficient time to formulate a thought-out, structured, and prioritized response. After all, when decisions need to be made in the real world, solutions are hardly ever required within one minute. It would be unwise and just plain wrong to judge a candidate on how he responds to questions if he had only a few seconds to think about it. Truly valuable candidates are often not the ones that can provide the quickest answers; they are usually the ones who think a lot before they talk. If people want well thought out solutions, they should also demand well thought out responses to questions. Other than to provide the candidate with questions in advance, there is no other way to effectively minimize useless political rhetoric during debates and interviews and get an accurate perception on a candidate’s policy perspectives.
Audiences during debates should be kept to a minimum or should be non-existent. Their cheering, jeering and other reactions just add unnecessary emotions to the discussion, and reduce the quality of the debate by consciously or unconsciously encouraging the candidates to appeal to the audience. It also adds an unnecessary element of nervousness to the candidates that can only further reduce the quality of the discussions.
Political Candidate Position Statements
All candidates running for elected office should be required, at a minimum, to state their positions on a variety of topics listed on a questionnaire. They should also be encouraged to thoroughly express their positions, reasonings, and goals in written form as soon as possible so people could begin to make educated decisions. A picture or multiple pictures of the candidate should also be submitted. All of this information should be published on some government election website and candidates should be able to update their information whenever they wish. In addition, a summary of each candidate’s positions, reasonings, and goals should be published and included in official election information materials mailed to the voters to ensure that all voters are easily able to compare the positions of all the candidates.
Accountability for Elected and Appointed Officials
All elected and possibly some appointed officials must have yearly or biyearly (twice a year) progress reports published by an independent government organization, and made freely available to everyone or at least to the people in that elected official’s district. Publishing these reports on the internet on some official government election site would be the best way to go and constituents could request physical copies mailed to them if they so desire. These reports should include a record of all votes submitted by the official, speeches delivered, official meetings attended, and other official business of significant relevance engaged in by that official since the time that the previous such report was published. It may also include certain evaluations made by other significant or important people, including co-workers. The elected official may also include position statements and an unlimited length online essay (10,000 word limit for essays published on paper), also free of charge, so that communications to constituents and everybody else could be made at any time.
The tax returns should also be publicly released because they are documents that effectively contain essential character questions and other fundamental descriptive truths that are beneficial for the public to know.
Ballot Measure Historical Summaries
Voter information booklets and/or sample ballots should include within their descriptions of each measure a section dedicated to analyzing the relevant history of the subject related to the measure. Some examples of useful information to include in these sections would be a list and summary of similar measures in the past, when they were placed on the ballot and whether they passed or failed, relevant legislative action pertaining to the topic, the state’s history of debt and current and past credit ratings, and what its debt and credit situation would most likely be if the measure passes.
Releasing Election Results
In all public elections, no projections should be made and no results (including polling results) should be made known or broadcast through any mass media (including the Internet) to the public beginning at 12 AM on the day prior to election day and lasting through election day up until all the polls have closed in all the jurisdictions participating in that race.
All This Information Made Available On Single Government Website
All the information described above should be made available on a single government website so that any person could go and find virtually all the relevant information they could ever want to know about any candidate or issue in order to make a well informed decision during the election. A user should only need to type in their address and all the relevant elections in which he is eligible to vote in should appear. The voter could then pick one and begin his search for information about a particular candidate or issue.0 Comments
The minimum voting age should be age 20 (this should also be the age of majority).
Only US citizens should be allowed to vote in US public elections. Lawful permanent residents (who are not yet citizens) or people with any other status should not be allowed to vote.
Registering to vote should be a high school graduation requirement. Voting should not be mandatory, but everyone should at least be registered.
One Voting Domicile At a Time
College students may only retain one voting domicile at a time, either within their resident political jurisdiction while attending college or within the political jurisdiction of their hometown.
Homeless people, recreational vehicles inhabitants, etc, without a permanent address may register only in the political jurisdiction in which they receive their mail.
Every voters should be required to have their correct name and address on file with their voting precinct prior to being allowed to vote. Voters with different names or addresses should be allowed to change/update such information at their voting place.
Voters should be notified that their current name and address will be assumed to be accurate. If it is determined that it is not accurate, heavy financial penalties will levied.0 Comments
Several Voting Methods
All voters should be able to vote either through the mail (such as through the use of absentee ballots), through the telephone, through the Internet, or by going to an official polling place. Special registration to vote by mail should not be required.
Flexible Voting Schedule
Every person should be allowed to vote on all issues on the ballot up to one month before the regularly scheduled day of the election. If, for example, an election is scheduled for November 7th, then voting should be allowed to begin on October 7th. Voting at the scheduled voting place may not be an option throughout this entire voting window, but voters should be allowed to vote through the telephone, internet, mail, or by going to an official central voting place like city hall, or a police station, etc.
Perhaps an allowance should be made for people who desire to change their vote at any time after they cast their original vote up to election day (because one month is a significant length of time in which people could change their minds), but a fee should be charged for such a service to compensate the government for costs associated with such an option as well as to discourage people from relying too much on this option as a substitute for thinking deeply about how they plan to vote.
Critical Voting Instructions
Voters should never feel as though they are required to vote on every race or issue on the ballot, especially those for which they feel they are not adequately informed or for which they do not have a favored outcome. As part of the voting instructions given to all voters on their ballots and in the voting booth, they should be told that they have the option to vote only on those races on the ballot for which they feel informed enough to make a decision. Voters should also have the option to check boxes marked “No Preference/Abstain” for every race or measure on a ballot.
Disinterested Voters Should Not be Encouraged to Vote
Uninterested eligible voters, especially those who are not educated about the issues, should not be encouraged to vote because they may actually damage the public’s wellbeing. Instead, they should be encouraged to abstain from voting until they become interested enough to become educated on the issues. This way, when they do vote, they would actually benefit society by casting an educated vote and they would be using the voting system as it was intended to be used.0 Comments
After the deadline for registering candidates or ballot initiatives, no more changes, except to correct errors, should be allowed. Candidates and initiatives failing to register in time should be required to wait for the next election. Voters should not be burdened by such things as Supplemental Ballot Pamphlets or similar documents that include information on ballot measures submitted late.0 Comments
States should hold their Presidential primaries on every first and third Tuesdays in the months of April, May, June, and July. The order in which states hold their primaries is not particularly important under this system, but to keep it simple, less confusing and, perhaps, more exciting, the least populated states could hold their primaries first followed by the more populous states. The least populated states would hold their primaries first, on the first Tuesday in April. The most populated state(s) would hold their primaries last on the third Tuesday in July. In each of the eight primary election dates, around 12.5% or 1/8 of the total population of the United States would vote. This means that for the first few elections, the Presidential candidates would need to campaign in many small states and with each following election, fewer states would need to be targeted, and the last one or two election would only involve one or two of the largest states.
Using this system, smaller states would be given sufficient attention while primary contests would tend to be determined more towards the end of the primary campaigns when the big states weigh in. This plan would make it easier for the candidates to devote more valuable time in states which are closest to their election dates, and would allow candidates to ‘practice’ their message before the big-state elections, and would also allow the candidates more time to raise the money required for the more expensive large-state campaigns.0 Comments
Election turnout figures should be calculated based on the number of people who voted divided by the total number of people who could have been voters (eligible voters), not just registered voters. Everyone who is a citizen and who is old enough to vote is an eligible voter. Such figures would better represent true voter participation rates.0 Comments
Contributions of any type from any party to any party that can potentially be construed as a potential conflict of public interest or violation of public trust should be required to be disclosed to the public no later than 3 days after the initiation of the transaction.
No contribution or contributor, especially to a public official, should be allowed to be kept secret or to provide a misleading identity.
No significant contribution or gift (valued over $100 per calendar year) should be allowed between any parties if it has been determined by law that justice or fairness is likely to be compromised.0 Comments