US Congressional and Presidential elections are distorted by how candidates get on the ballot. The parties largely control choice, and the major parties largely exclude electable ‘third party’ candidates.

The Question

Is there a better way?


In earlier posts I’’ve struggled with ways to accomplish a ‘primary&#146. [Note 1] The results have had their merits, but are baroque and, in retrospect, don’’t impress me. So here’’s a new idea. It stands out because of its simplicity and resistance to exclusion.

The dynamic primary. Any citizen may ‘file’. There is no fee. A website must be associated with the candidacy. Once filing opens (say, 90 days before the election) voters may cast votes. Filing continues (say, until 30 days before the election). Voters may change their vote until the election closes. All voting is done over the Net, with appropriate protections to ensure an honest result. An appropriate number of candidates (say, 7 or 9) proceeds to the final election, conducted similarly. There is local provision for those without access to the Web.

How could this possibly work? Easily … because it would be complemented by two types of Web-based sites: those of the candidates, and those of party, citizen, interest group, and ‘good government’ organizations urging candidates and considerations. In addition voters could see the running totals of votes hitherto cast. Any voter could gauge ‘electability’ by focusing on those with higher vote totals.

This would not bring polls to an end—since some people would still believe that they could influence the outcome if they knew voters’’ answers to questions about the solidity of their vote and their intentions if they had not yet voted. Nonetheless, it would radically reduce the role of polls.

[A comprehensive reform would include additional features: (i) severing money from politics, by replacing advertising with access to candidate and group websites; (ii) where appropriate, multi-member constituencies; (iii) preferential voting (choices ranked in order); (iv) universal registration; (v) either dynamic voting (as above) or voting over a weekend; and (vi) decision in the House and Senate by majority vote, except as provided explicitly in the Constitution. Perhaps each Presidential candidate would name a vice-presidential candidate … or some other method found.]


[Political Design 2010.11.12. Post A24. http://www.learnworld.com/blog/design.html or http://design.learnworld.com]

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