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New Electoral Process (a Political Issue)


There are many problems with our current electoral process that prevent us from being fairly and equitably represented. These problems include such things as the disproportionate influence of special interest groups and political parties, shady campaign financing, dirty politics, an unfair simple plurality voting system, and many others. Each attempt at patching our current process has resulted in shifting the problem to a new place. Numerous examples exist just from the last few elections.

For instance, even though there are some limits on what an individual can contribute to a candidate to prevent someone from buying a candidate, individuals and groups have just needed to be a little more creative in finding ways around them. Some individuals make contributions in the name of their minor children. Other individuals pool the contributions of many other individuals so that they can still present a large check to a candidate. In some cases, the individuals pooling the money have paid back the amounts donated by other individuals.

Another problem is that independent candidates miss out, since they do not have the backing of a political party nor the money that was contributed to it. We also now have PACs (Political Action Committees) that can collect and spend unlimited amounts in support of a candidate. There is also a lot of money coming from outside the state or district that the candidate would be representing, which gives these outsiders the ability to buy influence.

There is also a vast amount of negative advertising, exaggerations, fake news, and outright lies that come from the candidates and their supporters. It has been said that knowledge (facts, information and skills) is power. However, that only works when the facts and information are true. When they are false, we lose power.

Studies have shown that people will often believe what they first hear, even if they later learn that what they heard is not true. This and many other manipulative tricks can lead too many of us to vote for the biggest liars and cheats. Electing liars and cheats leads to government corruption and a lot of wasted taxpayer money.

We also have vastly different election laws in different states. There are differences in voter ID requirements, early voting hours and locations, mail in ballot eligibility and processing rules, access to drop boxes, election day voting hours and locations. In some cases, these differences are meant to suppress the votes of specific voters. Even when these differences are not meant to suppress voters, the differences from state to state can make elections more confusing and make them either more or less fair for certain voters.

The answer resides in taking all that we have learned about the democratic process over the past centuries and using it to create a new electoral process. We want to revamp it in such a way as to eliminate our current problems. Unfortunately, many groups and individuals have a vested interest in keeping our current electoral process, because it gives them unfair advantages in our political process, or in making it less fair.

For instance, some individuals and groups have invested a great deal of time and money into obtaining some extra influence, which they could end up losing if the electoral process was changed. Therefore, it may be an uphill battle to make any real change, but the right changes could make things a whole lot better for most of us and for the future of our country and the world. Therefore, we must try to make the needed changes.

Government’s Role

Let's start at the beginning and look at the role our government should have. In a free society, the government's main role should be to protect its citizens, land and resources, and to provide an environment where all its citizens can get the most out of their lives. A great government should create an environment where its citizens are better off than they would be without a government or with any other form of government.

The following is the preamble to the United States Constitution, which basically states that the above is what our constitution is meant to do.

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

For the government to do the best job it can for all its people, it will need to be run by the best individuals. Therefore, our electoral process needs to help us to find and to elect the individuals who will do the best job of representing us and running our government, and not those individuals who are just better at getting elected.

In addition, we cannot limit our candidates to those who belong to a political party or who are backed by special interest groups. Therefore, we need to remove the political parties from the process and to limit the influence of special interest groups. (See Political Parties.)

With the above considerations in mind, it seems like we need to do more of a talent search instead of having political campaigns. Therefore, we would first need a process for recruiting, evaluating and selecting the best and most qualified candidates. Since we still want to give us all a say in who represents us in our governments, we would still want to have an election. This means that we all would still need to learn about the candidates, and to do our own evaluations and selection.

Since we want the best candidate for the job and not the candidate who is best at campaigning, we will need a new method for us, the voters, to learn about the candidates. This new method would need to provide all voters and candidates with a fair and equitable opportunity to ask and to answer questions, and to discuss the issues. Then, once we, the voters, have made our selections, we need to have a better way for us to vote for our choices.

To make these and other changes and to ensure that they are made uniformly across the United States, we should make them at the Federal level. This could be done with some appropriate legislation. However, there would undoubtedly be some Constitutional challenges to these laws. Therefore, to fend off court challenges and future attempts at undoing these changes, it would be best to add the appropriate changes in an amendment to the Constitution.


To protect the integrity and validity of our elections, we must be able to ensure that only legitimate voters can cast a single ballet each. This new election process should help to reduce the incentive for voter fraud, but it alone may not eliminate it entirely. Since voter fraud is only truly effective when it goes unnoticed, we do not really know its full extent. Therefore, it is better to err on the side of caution and do all we can to reduce the possibility of it happening, but without going so far that it causes voter suppression.

The first step would be to ensure that we have a good method of ensuring that only individuals who are authorized to vote can register to vote. We also need to ensure that the voter rolls remain clean, so that only the authorized voters are listed in each precinct.

One way that is currently used to keep voter rolls clean is to require anyone who has not voted in some number of years to be removed unless the individual provides proof that they are still around. Of course, all appropriate means and time would need to be given to try to contact the individual before removing that person from the voting rolls. However, this is not a very efficient nor reliable way of keeping the voting rolls clean.

A better way to keep the voting rolls clean would be to move it up to the federal level. The federal government would keep track of all voters. Each voter could only be listed with one address that would correspond with one and only one voting precinct. This means a voter could not be registered to vote in more than one precinct. When someone moves or dies, the federal roll would be updated. There would be no need for a voter to reregister to vote.

Each precinct could then pull their current clean voting roll from the federal voting roll. Any local rules for that precinct that would prevent someone from voting could then be applied, like no convicted felons or non-citizens.

Then we want to make sure that the individuals showing up to vote are who they say they are. This means that we all would need to provide some appropriate proof as to who we are. This may be as simple as some form of valid identification that has a picture, or something higher tech like a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition software. Whatever method is used, it must ensure that individuals who are authorized to vote can do so. We also need to ensure everyone has appropriate identification that can be easily obtained without an excessive cost associated with it, since we do not want to suppress the right of any valid voter to vote.


For the most part, candidates for office decide what issues they want to talk about, when and where or even if they will debate their opponents, and even who can come to their rallies. It sometimes seems like these candidates think they are the bosses, and that we work for them. The truth is that these candidates are applying for a political office (a job) where we would be their bosses. Therefore, we should have every right to decide what they need to do during the campaign to have a chance to get our votes.

Instead of the candidates dictating when, where and how they campaign, we must take control. We should have the right to decide what the candidates need to talk about, what questions they need to answer, when and where they must debate their opponents, and what other events they should come to. Since we would be their bosses, we need to show them that we are their bosses right from the start.

Campaign Financing

The most important change we need to make in our political campaigns is with the way they are financed. This could start with some incremental changes but would really need to be completely overhauled so that we can truly fix the way our political campaigns are financed.

The first issue is with all the money coming in from outside the candidates' districts. Some individuals and groups want more influence over some legislation or policy than they could get with just their representatives. Therefore, they may donate to candidate campaigns in other states and other districts in order to buy some extra influence. If these candidates want or need this money for their current campaigns or want or need additional money for future campaigns, then they may feel obligated to represent the interests of these outsiders over the interests of their constituents.

Our representatives need to represent the interests of us, their constituents, so the first thing we need to do is to bar all money coming from outside groups. This would need to include any outside money being funneled through special interest groups, political action committees, and political parties. Of course, to ensure there is no outside money, the source of all campaign donations would need to be reported. That is, there could not be any dark money coming in.

The next issue is with individuals who can afford to make extra-large donations. Since less money would come in from outside donors, a rich individual living in the district could potentially donate a significant portion of a candidate’s campaign money. If the candidate that this rich individual donated to was elected, then this donor could end up having bought some extra influence. The only way to prevent this buying of extra influence would be to limit donations to some relatively small amount per person.

With the above limits on outside and individual donations, we would end up with a new issue. That is, campaigns may not be able to get enough money donated to finance an effective campaign. This leads us to what really should be done to overhaul our campaign financing. We need clean election laws that would have our governments provide all the campaign financing. This would eliminate any donor influence buying and shift our political campaigns from who can buy the most advertising to who is truly the best candidate.

The government would budget the same amount of funds for all qualified candidates in each district. Each candidate would get a budget that would be proportionate to the size of the district that that candidate was running in. There would be one budget for each primary candidate, when needed, and a separate budget for each general election candidate.

The campaign funds would be dispersed directly by the government and the government would ensure that funds would only be used for authorized campaign expenses. These funds would cover such things as debates, rallies, advertising and other expenses related to the campaign. Our governments should have more than enough to pay for the campaigns, since our elected representatives would not need to include all the earmarks intended to pay back their campaign donors in the bills they pass.

The government would also sponsor multiple events like debates, meet and greets, and town hall meetings, where we, the voters, would have an opportunity to get to know and to compare the candidates. In addition to any government sponsored events, any group or individual could also sponsor an election related event. These additional events would not be to support a given candidate but would provide the sponsors and their guests with an additional opportunity to get to know and to compare the candidates.

For all these events, whether it was government sponsored or privately sponsored, each candidate would need to be invited and provided with any appropriate transportation, accommodation and meals. Speaking order at all these events would be random or would be rotated. Each candidate would also be provided with equal time to talk, to answer questions and to respond to comments made by other candidates.

Advertising space would also need to be equally distributed among all the candidates. Individuals and groups would still have the right to express their opinions about the candidates when talking to others but would not be allowed to buy advertising without giving each candidate equal time to respond. This would preserve everyone’s right to free speech but eliminate someone being able to buy extra speech rights, which might give them some extra influence over a candidate.

Campaign Promises

During a campaign, a lot of candidates spend a lot of time promising to do various things that are popular with their current audience while avoiding talking about the things that are unpopular. Since each candidate will often promise a lot of different things for different individuals and groups, it is likely that most of us will like some promises, but dislike others. In addition, many campaign promises are vague. Candidates may promise things like lower taxes or more jobs, but do not give us any details as to how they will do it.

Another problem with campaign promises is that they are not always kept or what is done is not what we thought we were voting for. In addition, legislation is often passed for the things that the candidates did not talk about and for which most of us may not have wanted or that would not really be good for most of us.

When a candidate is elected, we do not always know whether voters really preferred this candidate over the others, were swayed by one or more of that candidate’s promises, or settled for the candidate that they hoped would do the least amount of harm.

In fact, most of us may not even like many or most of the positions taken and promises made by any of the candidates. Therefore, we may simply end up electing the candidate with positions and promises we like on some issues important to us or with the least positions and promises that we dislike. I often find myself voting for whichever candidate seems like the lesser of two or more evils.

Although we may want to elect someone who can come up with ideas that could help solve our problems, what we really need is someone who will be good at listening to and evaluating many ideas from many different individuals. We need to separate the issues from the candidates. We want to elect individuals who will be best at representing and protecting our interests, at running our government, and at handling whatever issues that might arise. We want representatives who can gather all the relevant information, are open to new ideas, and can evaluate and analyze everything to select the best solutions to our problems no matter where the ideas came from.

Candidates often promise to do things like lower taxes, spend more on some things, spend less on other things, or to fix this or that issue. Most of the time, these promises are vague. We should not allow candidates to make these types of vague campaign promises. If a candidate has a specific well-thought-out plan to do something, then they should present it so that we can see the details and make up our minds on whether we think it would work or not.

Barring a well-defined plan, candidates should stick to discussing the issues and the plusses and minuses of possible solutions. We want our candidates to show us that they are knowledgeable and well informed about the issues and the job they are running for, will listen to our views, and can evaluate and analyze issues and any possible solutions. We do not need representatives who manipulate their way into office with vague promises.

What we want is to give all of us the chance to express and to debate our ideas about the issues and to propose solutions. We should be able to submit our ideas to our representatives or to bring them up at town hall like meetings. Our representatives should also have the right to debate the issues just like any other citizen, but they should not be allowed to simply impose their ideas on us, their constituents.

We should not be forced to vote for the combination of a candidate, a bunch of campaign promises and a package of proposals. We should be able to vote for our representatives and for individual proposals separately. For instance, instead of being forced to vote for a vegetarian pizza with broccoli, cauliflower and pineapple slices or a meat pizza with spam, haggis and liver bits, we should be able to vote for a vegetarian or meat pizza, and then to be able to vote for a separate list of topping.

Voting Systen

In many places in the United States, we have a simple plurality voting system. In this type of voting, the candidate that receives more votes than his or her opponents would win the election. With 2 candidates for a single office, this means that one of them must receive a majority of the votes. With 3 or more candidates, a candidate can often win the election even when he or she receives far less than a majority of the votes. In fact, the votes can sometimes be split between the candidates in such a way that the least preferred candidate wins the election.

For instance, we can look at an example case with 3 candidates. In head-to-head races, candidate B would win 60% to 40% over candidate A, candidate C would win 60% to 40% over candidate A, and candidates B and C would split the vote with about 50% each. With all 3 candidates in the race, candidate A would get about 40% of the votes and candidates B and C would then split the vote of their supporters so that each would only get about 30% of the vote. This would mean that the least preferred candidate would win with only 40% of the vote.

With 3 or more candidates in the race, it is very likely that 2 or more candidates will appeal to the same voters, but that one of them has a far better chance of being elected than the others. Since these other candidates have less of a chance of being elected and could take away votes from the more electable candidate, they are sometimes called spoilers.

With a simple plurality voting system, voters often must decide between voting for their preferred candidate and possibly allowing an undesirable candidate to win, or voting for a less desirable candidate that has a better chance of winning. Although limiting the election to just 2 candidates would ensure that the winner needed to get a majority of the votes, this would deprive us of our right to have a real choice.

For instance, it would be like telling everyone that they could only vote for vanilla or chocolate ice cream. Although, given the extreme candidates we are now getting, my pizza example might be more appropriate. That is, it would be more like needing to choose between just two types of pizza. where one was vegetarian with broccoli, cauliflower and pineapple slices and one that was all meat with spam, haggis and liver bits.

We also need to look at this from a potential candidate's point of view. If there were already 2 candidates (X and Y) in the race and this third candidate (Z) wanted to run, then this third candidate (Z) would need to worry about possibly being a spoiler. This would especially be true if a lot more of the voters who would have voted for the candidate who would have won in a head-to-head race between candidates X and Y voted for candidate Z.

For instance, let's say that candidate X would win 55% to 45% in a head-to-head matchup with candidate Y. Let's also say that candidate Z would win 65% to 35% over candidate X, and would win 60% to 40% over candidate Y. Given the results of these head-to-head matchups, it might seem like candidate Z should be the favorite to win in a 3-way race.

However, what these results really show is that candidate X is preferred by 35% of the voters and candidate Y is preferred by 40% of the voters and that candidate Z is only preferred by 25% of the voters even when candidate Z is the second choice of all the other 75% of the voters. This means that candidate Y, who is the least favored candidate in head-to-head matchups, would win with just 40% of the votes.

From the above, we can see the dilemma that candidate Z is in. Even though candidate Z would be preferred by more voters than either of the other 2 candidates in head-to-head matchups, candidate Z would not only lose in a 3-way race but would allow the least favored candidate to win. Therefore, candidate Z and a lot of other great candidates may not run for office for fear of being a spoiler.

What we need is a voting system that will allow us to vote for our preferred candidate without worrying that our vote might be wasted on a candidate that may have less of a chance of winning or that we might allow a far less desirable candidate to win. The way to ensure that the most desirable candidate wins would be to require that the winning candidate must get a majority of the votes. However, with more than 2 candidates, that is not always possible with a single election when using a plurality voting system.

When no one gets a required majority, the usual thing to do is to have a runoff election. Of course, having a runoff election has a few of its own problems. For instance, it would be time-consuming, expensive and inconvenient for everyone involved. In addition, fewer voters usually bother to vote in runoff elections, which reduces their legitimacy. We also would have an issue in cases where there were more than 3 candidates, in that it might not be fair to limit the runoff to just the top 2 candidates.

Luckily, we can eliminate most of the problems of having a runoff by incorporating the runoff in the original election. This instant runoff can easily be done by allowing us to rank the candidates as our first choice, second choice, third choice, etc. If no candidate gets a majority of the first-choice votes, then the candidate with the least votes would be eliminated. If our first-choice candidate is eliminated, then our second choice would become our new first choice. This would be repeated until a candidate gets a majority of the new first choice votes.

This type of instant runoff election is usually called Ranked Choice Voting, but is also known as Preferential Voting, Instant Runoff Voting, and Alternative Voting. This eliminates all the problems with having a separate runoff election. It also allows us to vote for all our preferred candidates without worrying that some of them may turn out to be spoilers. In fact, when we do not need to worry about spoilers, we may find that some of those supposed spoilers were the preferred candidates of a majority of the voters. In addition, if potential candidates did not need to worry about being a spoiler, we would get more and potentially better candidates.

Ranked Choice Voting

Although Ranked Choice Voting has recently been gaining some following in many different places here in the United States and around the world, many individuals still find it a bit confusing. Therefore, we should take a little bit of a closer look at it before we move on to a description of the new electoral process.

Unlike plurality voting, this form of voting requires that a candidate must get a majority of the votes to win. However, it eliminates the need for any runoff elections, and ensures that all voters' votes count instead of some potentially being wasted on "spoiler" candidates. One of the biggest advantages of Ranked Choice Voting is that it greatly increases the odds of the voters' preferred candidates winning the elections.

It has also been found that candidates engage in much less negative campaigning when Ranked Choice Voting is used. Candidates may need to worry about getting more than just first choice votes. Therefore, they do not want to alienate voters who might prefer the candidates that they would have attacked and then lose those voters’ possible second or third choice votes. In addition, since candidates need to appeal to more voters to get a majority, more centrist or moderate candidates have more of an edge over the more extreme candidates.

One way to look at this form of voting is that it simulates a series of one-on-one matchups of the candidates. This would be something like the playoffs in sports, except that all the matches get voted on at once and then all the matchups and eliminations are done after the voting is done. In addition, each matchup would be done with all the remaining candidates and only one candidate gets eliminated in each matchup. We would keep matching and eliminating a losing candidate until we had a winner.

We would also only need to use Ranked Choice Voting when we must select between 3 or more candidates. With 3 candidates, we would have the option to select our first and second choices. We would not need to select our third choice, since that would obviously be the unselected candidate. With 5 candidates, we would have the option to select our first, second, third and fourth choices.

In addition, we would need to think more about our preferences to use Ranked Choice Voting correctly. That is, not only would we need to decide our first choice, but we would also need to rank all the other candidates and to mark those choices correctly on the ballot. One way to rank the candidates would be for us to match each candidate head-to-head with the other candidates and to see who comes out ahead in each case.

The following are examples of what the races with 3 and 5 candidates might look like on a ballot, but with the candidates' names replaced with how we might feel about them and with our corresponding choices already marked.

Mark one circle in each column 1st Choice 2nd Choice
Love this one
Like this one
Hate this one

Mark one circle in each column 1st Choice 2nd Choice 3rd Choice 4th Choice
Like this one
Dislike this one
Love this one
Hate this one
Tolerate this one

Notice that in the example above with 5 candidates, we still marked the candidate that we dislike as our fourth choice. Since we still prefer that candidate over the candidate we hate, we want to ensure that our vote is counted if it comes down to a final choice between the candidate we dislike and the candidate we hate.

Now, let's take a closer look at the example we looked at above with candidates A, B and C, where candidate A is preferred by 40% of the voters and candidates B and C are both preferred over candidate A by 60% of the voters. However, candidates B and C are somewhat similar in the eyes of the voters, so the voters are closely split on their preferences for candidates B and C.

With plurality voting, candidate A could win with just 40% of the vote, since the other candidates would each only get about 30% of the vote. This would be even though candidate A would lose 40% to 60% in a head-to-head matchup with either candidate B or C. To complete this picture, let's say that voters who preferred candidate A would closely split for candidates B and C as their second choice, and that candidate B would win in a matchup with candidate C.

With Ranked Choice Voting, the outcome of the 3-way matchup would more closely mirror the outcomes of the head-to-head matchups. Since none of the 3 candidates would get a majority of the votes, the candidate with the least first choice votes would be eliminated, and the second choices of the voters who had preferred that candidate would be used. Based on the above information, we know that candidate C would get the fewest first choice votes, and we know that those voters second choice would be candidate B. Therefore, candidate B, who we know was really the voters' preferred candidate, would win 60% to 40% over candidate A.

In the rare case that the top two candidates end up with the same number of votes, the number of first choice votes could be used to break the tie. That is, the candidate with the most first choice votes would be the preferred candidate, so would be the winner. With more than 3 candidates, it is possible that there might even be a tie in the first-choice votes, so the number of second choice votes would need to be used. If both candidates happen to get the same number of each choice votes, we might need to resort to something like a coin toss.

However, even though Ranked Choice Voting is a big improvement over plurality voting, even when there would have been a runoff election. There could be rare situations where a more preferred candidate is elected, but the most preferred candidate may not be elected. For example, in the above example, let's say that the voters who voted for candidate A had all preferred candidate C rather than candidate B. In that case, a head-to-head match of candidates B and C would have resulted in candidate C winning almost 70% to 30% over candidate B.

Although the above situation is mathematically possible, it would be unlikely in this situation. That is, since we know that candidates B and C are similar, it is more likely that the voters who preferred candidate A would be closely split on their second choice between candidates B and C. If so, then candidate B would most likely still win in a head-to-head matchup with a bit more than 50% of the votes.

Another situation might be the case where we have 3 candidates that are similar in education, experience, ethics and so forth, except they lean Left, Center and Right. If one of these candidates is preferred by a few more voters (34%) than the others (33% each), then that candidate would win when using plurality voting with just 34% of the vote.

However, with Ranked Choice Voting the outcome would depend on the second-choice votes. The second choice of both the Left and Right first choice voters would most likely be the Center candidate, since the Center candidate would be closer to their views, even if not as close as their first choice. Therefore, if the Left or Right candidate had the fewest votes and was eliminated, then the Center candidate would almost certainly win with about 66% of the vote.

If the Center candidate had the fewest first choice votes, then the outcome may not be as clear, since it would depend on which way the voters who preferred the Center candidate leaned. If they had leaned enough to the left, then the Left candidate would win, but if they had leaned enough to the right, then the Right candidate would win. Basically, the outcome would come out the same as if there had been a head-to-head matchup between the Left and Right candidates.

On the other hand, there could be an issue with the above situation where the Center candidate was eliminated. With the voters closely split, the winning Left or Right candidate might have only gotten 51% of the final vote. However, with a head-to-head matchup between the Center candidate and either the Left or Right candidate, the Center candidate would probably win with about 66% of the vote. Meaning the Center candidate was the voters' real preferred candidate.

Like with the previous rare situation with candidates A, B and C, this situation should also be rare. Either the voters lean so far to the left or right, that the candidate leaning in the other direction would always be eliminated, or the voters are so centered that the Center candidate should not get the least first choice votes, so would not be eliminated and would probably always win.

The question is whether these rare situations would occur often enough to be a problem or not. Although these situations are mathematically possible, they would probably be fairly rate in real world elections so that it would not be worth trying to fix them. Therefore, the answer would seem to be no. However, it may be a good idea to study this further. If we did try to fix these rare situations, we would probably need to modify the way we decide on which candidate to eliminate.

One alternative selection method might be to eliminate the candidate that had the most last choice votes instead of the least first choice votes. Although this might do better in electing the most preferred candidate in some cases, it might not do any better overall. When this method did do better at electing the most preferred candidate, it would be in cases where that candidate had the least first choice votes. Some individuals might then falsely use that as criticism to say it elected the wrong candidate.

Another alternative selection method would be to do head-to-head matchups of all the various combinations of candidates. A candidate would get a win for each case where the candidate had a higher choice vote than his or her head-to-head opponent. Then, the candidate with the most head-to-head wins would be the overall winner. In case of a tie, the candidate with the most first choice votes would win.

Given the way voters would likely rank their choices, one candidate should always win all the head-to-head matchups, and would therefore be the obvious winner. However, it is possible to come up with scenarios where none of the candidates wins all the head-to-head matchups. In fact, it is possible for each candidate to win once. If no candidate wins more of the head-to-head matchups, then we would need to use a backup method. We could use one of the elimination methods, revert to making the candidate with the most first choice votes the winner, or come up with something else.

Although this head-to-head method should elect the most preferred candidate, some individuals may still try to criticize it if the winning candidate had the least first choice votes. However, for the candidate with the least first choice votes to win in a 3-candidate race, the candidate must have gotten a lot of second choice votes and gotten fewer last choice votes. This means that the winning candidate was liked by a lot of voters, but fewer voters had strong positive or negative feelings about the winning candidate. Therefore, this candidate may not bring out as much passion in voters but would be better at bringing us together instead of dividing us.

Multiple Selection Elections

In some cases, we need to elect more than one person for an office. For instance, a school board may have several members, and every couple of years or so two or more of their seats may be up for election. Therefore, we may be asked to select two or more of the candidates for that office. For these multiple person races, we should still use Ranked Choice Voting, even though the ballot might be a bit more complicated than for a single person race, since there may be more candidates and therefore more choices to make, but it would still help to ensure we elect our preferred candidates.

Let's look at a race to elect 3 people for some office. There are a few ways to handle this. One way would be to rank all the candidates, just as we would with a single person race. However, we would stop eliminating candidates when we got down to the top 3 candidates. Another way would be to make 3 first choices, and then rank the remaining candidates. This way would simplify the ballot, since it would eliminate 2 choice columns from the ballot. However, needing to select 3 first choices may be a bit more confusing.

Instead of stopping the elimination process when we get down to the required number of candidates, we could go all the way down to selecting the top choice, and then repeat the process to get the additional choices. Of course, you could also use the head-to-head selection process. The winners would be the ones with the most head-to-head matchup wins. One candidate should win all the matchups, another candidate should win all but one matchup, etc.


There are many cases where there are a lot of candidates wanting to run for a given elected office. With our current plurality voting system, if we had multiple candidates from one political party in the general election, they could split the votes in such a way as to let a candidate from the other political party win with less than a majority of the votes. Therefore, each political party will want to whittle down the number of their candidates to just one. They usually do that with a primary election. However, there are a few issues with the way our current primary elections work.

One big issue is that if several or more candidates compete in a political party's primary election and we use a plurality voting system, then the political party could select a less preferred candidate. That is, several candidates that would best represent the party could split the vote so that a more extreme candidate is selected. The simple answer to this issue would be to use Ranked Choice Voting.

A bigger issue with primary elections is that most of them limit the elections to just members of the given political party. That is, unless we are a member of the given political party, we are not allowed to vote in their primary elections. In these cases, our only options are to join that political party or not to vote in their primary elections. Of course, if we do join a political party, we still would not be able to vote in the primary elections of any other political party.

Some individuals may say that a political party should be able to select their candidate, so others should not be able to vote in their primaries. However, we want to elect representatives who will represent all their constituents instead of just their political party. Therefore, we all should have a say in who we want to run for office.

In some locations, one political party so much dominates the political landscape that their candidates are pretty much guaranteed to win in the general elections for all local, state and federal offices. In these cases, the only individuals who get a real vote for who is elected are the members of that political party. This means that if we were not members of that party, our votes would not count. Therefore, even if we think that party stinks, we might just need to hold our noses and join the party anyway, or we could stand our moral ground and be deprived of our votes.

On the other hand, we may live in a location that is still competitive or where different parties dominate at the local, state and federal level. In these cases, even if we did join one of the political parties, we would still only be able to vote in their primary elections and not in those of the other political party. Therefore, we may at least have a say in who gets elected in some cases, but not in all cases.

The only real answer would be to do away with these partisan primaries in some way. The political parties would argue that that would deprive them of their right to choose the candidate that will represent their political party. However, the candidate who we want to elect is one who will represent all their constituents, and not just their political party. Therefore, their argument does not hold water.

One option might be to do away with the primary elections altogether, and just let everyone run for office who wanted to run. However, you might then end up with a dozen or more candidates running for the same office. That would lead to several problems, including the ones that originally led to the creation of political parties and primaries.

Having a dozen or more candidates for an elected office would make it extremely difficult for us to get to know each one well enough to make an informed decision. In addition, if we used a plurality voting system, a candidate could then win with as little as 10% of the vote. Using Ranked Choice Voting would ensure that a candidate would need to get a majority of the vote, but voters might have a hard time doing the comprehensive evaluation needed to rank them. Therefore, we would still need to have primaries.

Open Primaries

The solution would be to have open primaries where all the candidates would run against each other irrespective of any political party affiliation, and all of us irrespective of any political party affiliation would get to vote. Having open primaries has two important advantages over partisan primaries. It allows all of us to have a say in who the candidates will be for the elected offices and gives us more and better choices in the general election.

Since all of us would have a vote, we would choose candidates that are more representative of all our positions and values, instead of getting the more extreme candidates that would be elected in partisan primaries. We could also have more choices in the general election. Even if all the winning candidates in the open primary election turn out to be from the same political party, they would still be more representative of our positions and values.

We would still need to evaluate and to rank all the candidates for the primary, but this would just be an initial cut, so we would only need to make an initial judgment of the candidates. The top four or five candidates for each office would then go on to the general election. For the general election, we would only need to make a more detailed assessment of the four or five remaining candidates.

Even though we are selecting a few top candidates instead of just the one top candidate, a plurality voting system could still give us all or some of the least preferred candidates. Therefore, we want to use Rank Choice Voting in our primary elections, just as we should do in our general elections.

We would rank the candidates for each office from our first choice to our last choice. Once the ballots had been counted, the one candidate with the least number of votes for each office would be eliminated. Then, for each office, the votes would be counted again, but this time using the second choices from those ballots that listed the eliminated candidate as those voters’ first choice. This bottom-up elimination process would continue until we were left with just the needed number of primary winners.

For instance, let’s take a primary with 10 candidates in which we need to reduce the list to the top 5 candidates. Each of the first 5 candidates are favored by about 12 percent of the voters but each is disliked by most of the other 88 percent of the voters. The last 5 candidates are liked by almost all voters with 40 percent of the voters preferring any one of them over any of the first 5 candidates.

If we used a plurality voting system, then the last 5 candidates could all get eliminated, even though each was preferred by 40 percent of the voters over any of the first 5 candidates. This could happen because the voters who preferred the last 5 candidates could split their votes so that none of those candidates would get even 10 percent of the vote while each of the first 5 candidates would each get about 12 percent of the votes.

If we used Ranked Choice Voting to rank and to do a bottom-up elimination process for the above primary election example, then at least a few of the 5 preferred candidates should be selected. Although most real primaries would probably not be as extreme as the above example, this process would pretty much guarantee that some of the voters’ preferred candidates would be selected in the primary and would move on to the general campaign trail and election.

An improvement to this bottom-up elimination process would be to continue the elimination process until we had the first clear winner (i.e. until a candidate had more than 50 percent of the votes). After the first primary winner was selected, that candidate’s votes would be eliminated from the original ballots to get the next round's starting ballots and a new elimination process would be done with the remaining votes to get the second primary winner.

After each subsequent primary winner was selected, that candidate’s votes would be eliminated from the next round's starting ballots and the process would be repeated until enough candidates were selected to be on the ballot for the specified office. This multiple elimination selection process would help to ensure that more, if not all, of the preferred candidates would go on to the general election.


Combining an evaluation of our current electoral process with what I have discussed so far plus some more things, I came up with some ideas for some changes. The following is what I have come up with for how a new electoral process could work.

Election Boards

The first thing we need is an Election Board that would handle all aspects of the appropriate election process. Members could be hired or elected. Since we want the board members to work for us and not for whoever hired them, we should probably elect them. This also means that candidates for the Election Boards should not be allowed to belong to a political party or special interest group for some time before the election and while they serve on an Election Board so that they are not beholden to a political party or special interest group.

To prevent these board members from having control of their own elections, we need to bar members from working on their own elections. This would include running for another term on the board or running for a different office. We could either limit them from serving for more than one term at a time, or have a different election board handle these elections, which could be done at a different time than other elections. We could either bar a board member from running for another office or require that the election board member resign before running for another office.

All actions taken by the members of the Election Boards would need to be open to review and oversight. We would need to ensure that they do not use their positions to exert undue influence over the election process or the candidates. Any attempt to do so would need to be promptly dealt with so that the election process would not be compromised.

Candidate Selection

During a suitable, but short time frame, any eligible individual could fill out an application for a political office and submit it to the appropriate Election Board. Candidates would have to meet the usual age and residency requirements and may need to pass some appropriate candidate exam. This candidate exam could be like a civil service exam given for individuals to qualify for a government job but should also include a specific section that asks questions about the office the candidate is seeking to be elected to.

On the other hand, there would not be any requirement to gather some number of signatures, since the screening process and primary should weed out the unqualified candidates. For some state and national offices like governor, senator and president, there should also be a requirement for the candidates to have previously held some other public office where they would have gained some needed experience.

Then, the Election Board would do an initial screening and background check to reject any invalid applications. Every valid and invalid application, with its status, would be made available for review by any interested individual at the Election Board offices and on a public web site. To keep everything above board, all information and decisions must be made available and open for review and challenge by anyone at any time during the process.

Once the application deadline has passed, we would have the option to submit any comments about any of the prospective candidates. In addition, the Election Board would start putting each application through a thorough screening process. If any legitimate problem is found with a candidate, the candidate’s application would be rejected.

All comments, responses, documentation, decisions and resulting application status changes coming out of the screening process would be available at the Election Board and on the public web site. Challenges to and appeals of decisions would be handled in an expedited manner through the courts or through some review board made up of members of other election boards.

During this process, the goal of the Election Board would be to get the candidate list down to some appropriate manageable number. For campaigning and the election, we might want to keep the number of candidates down to something between 4 and 6 or maybe 5 and 7, depending on the office. However, no valid candidate should ever be eliminated by the board.

After the screening process, if there are more candidates remaining than there should be for the general campaign and the general election, a primary could be held. Although the Election Board should not eliminate anyone who is truly qualified, too many candidates may make a primary difficult. Therefore, the Election Board should make every effort to get the candidate list down below a maximum number such as 10. In the unlikely event that there are more candidates than can be handled in a primary, some other screening rules could be used. Maybe eliminate the candidates who scored the lowest on the candidate exam.


Once the candidate list for a primary or general election had been certified, the actual campaigning would begin. Candidates would not finance their primary and general election campaigns through donations. Instead, we would have clean election laws that would have the appropriate local, state or national government provide all or most of the financing as explained above in the Campaign Financing subsection.

The Election Boards would be responsible for dispersing the government provided funds and for ensuring that the funds were used for legitimate campaign expenses, and that candidates did not spend more than their budgeted amounts.

The Election Boards would also be responsible for reviewing and for giving all candidates a chance to review all advertising. Any false, misleading or unsubstantiated claims would have to be fixed or removed before being published or aired. Challenges to and appeals of advertising decisions would be handled in an expedited manner.

Starting a few days before Election Day, candidates and the news media would be barred from introducing anything new that the election board and the candidates had not been given fair warning of and sufficient time to respond to.


When a primary is needed, the remaining qualified candidates would go through a short period of campaigning as described above. This would be a very short campaigning session that would be designed to give voters an opportunity to get enough of an initial impression of the candidates to pick their top choices.

This would be an Open Primary using Ranked Choice Voting as described above. These primaries would not be limited to nor split by political parties. All candidates for each office would run in the same primary. Each candidate would also run independent of any political party. All voters, irrespective of any political affiliation would be able to vote in the primary for any of the candidates.

The top four or five candidates for each office would go on to the general campaign and election. Since all the candidates for each office would run in the same primary, the top candidates could be of any mix of political affiliations, even all having the same political affiliation. The important thing is that the winning candidates would be the ones that the voters thought would be best qualified to represent them.


Voters cannot always get to a polling station on election day, or at all. A voter may know that he or she would be out of town or must work on that day. A voter may also be laid up in the hospital or at home and would not be able to get to a polling station at all. Even if voters think they should be able to get to a polling station on election day, they may get sick or be in an accident, and not be able to make it. There could also be some natural disaster, like a major snowstorm, that might keep a lot of voters from getting to their polling station.

Given the above, we need to ensure that we have adequate early voting and absentee voting. Since there are a few more potential problems with absentee ballots, like late mail delivery, than with in person ballots, every effort should be made to encourage and to make it easier to vote in person and to vote early. This means having lots of early voting days and locations, so there would be a time and place that would be convenient for almost everyone.

Since some individuals work different days of the week and different hours of the day, it would be best to provide early voting 7 days a week and 24 hours a day for at least a couple of weeks before Election Day. We also need to have plenty of voting locations so that no one must travel too far, and each location would need to be sized so that it would be able to accommodate all the voters in that location so that wait times would be similar in all locations. Information should be sent out in advance to let voters know when and where they will be able to vote.

In those cases where voters must use absentee ballots, we want to have some consistency in the requirements. First off, it would be a waste to simply mail absentee ballots to everyone, but information should be mailed out well enough in advance so that voters who needed absentee ballots could request them, get them, and return them in time. The Post Office should be required to expedite the delivery of absentee ballots, and to guarantee delivery if they are mailed by an appropriate cutoff date. We should also have drop boxes at an adequate number of convenient drop-off locations.

Ballots and Counting

The candidates' names would be placed on the ballot in some alphabetical or random order. There should be no mention of any affiliation with any group, nor any additional information not absolutely needed to allow each candidate to be identified. Maybe photographs could be provided to make it easier to identify candidates, especially when some candidates have similar names. Paper ballots should be generated and stored to provide a convenient means for a recount.

With more than two candidates for a given office, there would be the possibility that no candidate gets at least 50 percent of the vote. Therefore, we should use Ranked Choice Voting as described above.

Voters would have the option for each office to vote for their first choice, second choice, third choice, etc., so there could be instant runoffs. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, the lowest vote getter would be removed, and the second choices of those individuals who voted for the removed candidate would be used. This procedure would be repeated until one candidate got at least 50 percent of the vote and could be declared the winner.

In those cases where we need to vote for multiple candidates to fill multiple seats on some council or board, we could handle the selection process like the way we would handle a primary election. That is, by eliminating the lowest vote getters until we get down to the needed number of candidates, or by narrowing down to the first winner, and then repeating the process for the second and subsequent winners.


Since all candidates would receive the same government funding, there would be no fund-raising issues, and no individual or special interest group would be able to buy influence. Since the candidates would not belong to any political parties, soft money would not be a problem and there would be no party influence. Since all candidates and their ads would go through a screening process, attack ads and dirty politics would be greatly reduced. With much of the politics and influence buying taken out of the process, more and better qualified individuals would be willing to serve and to represent us.

Some additional changes would be needed for after the election. The Election Boards could serve as watchdogs to monitor the performance of our representatives. They, or anyone else, could question the actions of our representatives. If a representative could not convince his or her constituents of the correctness of a vote on some issue, his or her constituents could vote to overturn their representative’s vote. If our representative continued to not represent our interests, then we could call a new or special election to elect a new representative. This would help us take back control of our government.


We would not need to implement these changes in all elections all at the same time. The changes could start in individual communities and move to the county and state level before going national. The benefits could start to be felt immediately by the voters in the locations that made the changes. For instance, if a state started to elect its U.S. senators and congressional representatives using this new electoral process, each of their representatives would immediately be free to better serve the interests of their state instead of the interests of some political party or some other special interest group.

In those states that switched over to this new electoral process, each of those state’s representatives would always be able to vote with their state’s best interest in mind. In addition, they would become key swing votes on many issues. In some cases where the vote could go either way, they would be able to use their vote to influence something else that was important to their state. Of course, when all elections are converted over to the new electoral process, this extra influence would go away. However, it could initially be used to help convince states to switch to this new electoral process.

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Representation - How to improve the way our Representatives do their jobs.

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Thursday, December 21, 2023
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