A Better Voting System for National Elections

Okay, so if we agree that our current presidential voting system stinks (that’s the system in which a state gets to force its”electors” to cast 100% of that state’s votes to the candidate who won a bare plurality of popular votes in that state), then what would be the optimal system?

I would argue that American adults have earned the right–after 242 years as a nation–to elect our nation’s president by direct ballot, just the way we elect our governors, senators, other members of Congress, and state legislators. So we would start by jettisoning the Electoral College as a quaint, but undemocratic institution.

How, then, would we handle situations where the existence of third parties (not to mention fourth, fifth, sixth, and so on) might prevent any candidate from achieving a majority on the first ballot?

That’s where the “instant primary” method comes in. Voters simply list their preferences in numerical order. Then, if no one gets a majority of first place votes, we simply count the second-place votes to see if that breaks the tie. If not, we look at the third place votes, and so on, until we have a winner.

There are lots of variations, including the so-called “Borda count,” but any of them would be an improvement on our current “plurality winner of the popular vote gets vaulted not only into majority position in a state, but to unanimous winner of all electoral votes.”

Organizations are forming to accomplish more accurate–and more democratic–results in our elections. See, for example, the website at www.fairvote.org. (I’m not a member of that organization–yet. But their website seems to hit the nail on the head.) The Fairvote organization suggests that we could benefit from an instant primary system not just at the national level, but also in state and local elections.

I’m inclined to agree.

So we don’t have to keep scratching our heads after every election, wondering how in the world we wound up with another “winner” who failed to gain majority support. We can actually start watching the best candidates win.

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