Ever feel that you don’t have a real choice when you enter a voting booth? That the candidate that best reflects your opinions and philosophy doesn’t stand a chance in hell of winning? Does this anger you or discourage you from participating in the process and leave you with the feeling of “what’ the point?”?
The problem in my opinion is rooted in the winner takes all format of our system. For instance, a candidate gets 45% of the vote and the next candidate gets 44%. And those votes are out of half the population of eligible voters. Apathy got 50% of the potential vote. So we have a person elected to represent 100% of the population that is elected with 22.5% of the adult citizen population. Is it any wonder that the American electorate is disillusioned and most stay home in most elections?
So what can we do about this? What are some ways of increasing voter participation and increasing the voices of the minority ideologies/philosophies in the Halls of Power in government? I have one suggestion that I call “Multiple Winner”. Here is how it would work.
Under the current system, a city council has 20 members each elected from a different district. Under this new system the same 20 council members are elected from 4 consolidated districts, 5 from each district. Each voter in a given district gets to cast one vote for one candidate for those 5 council seats. In other words, if there are 600,000 individuals eligible to vote in that district and every one of them votes, a total of 600,000 votes have been cast. The results look something like this, as an example;
· Candidate A (Democrat):.........152,259 votes:....25.4%
· Candidate B (Republican):.......154,826 votes:....25.8%
· Candidate C (Progressive):........80,698 votes:...13.4%
· Candidate D (Libertarian):..........61,936 votes:.....10.3%
· Candidate E (Family Values):......15,853 votes:....2.6%
· Candidate F (Socialist):...............23,730 votes:.....4.0%
· Candidate G (Conservative):......56,429 votes:....9.4%
· Candidate H (Anarchist):...... .. . ......1,977 votes:....0.3%
· Candidate I (Working Family):.....76,022 votes:..12.7%
The following candidates are elected to seats on the City Council: A (Dem), B (Rep), C (Prog), D (Libertarian), and I (WF). Representing a total of 87.6% of the voting public of that district in those 5 individuals. Under the old system the choice of 25.8% would represent 100% of the district.
Winner takes all still applies to Mayor and other single seat offices. Since there is only one Chief executive at a time in a given political unit, the winner takes all is the only option. But for any elected body where multiple seats are elected at the same time, this system could replace the winner takes all system.
This is one suggestion. I am interested in what other people think could be done to address the apathy and lesser of two evils memes that have perverted our political attitudes.