Table of Contents

Increasing Election Fairness/Legitimacy

1. Election System (Single-Winner & Multi-Winner)

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

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.

Multi-Winner Elections

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.

  1. First, all political parties who wish to be recognized would register as political parties.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Ballots are then counted and parties learn what percentage of total ballots cast have been won by each party.
  6. 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.


2. Government Funding of Elections

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.


3. Survey-Based Elections

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.


4. Election Ballot Counting

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.


5. Term Limits

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.


6. Political Election Districts – Gerrymandering

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.


7. Electoral College

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).