It’s an election year, and like all election years in America, we are bombarded left and right with domestic, social, economic, foreign, etc… issues while trying to get behind a “lesser of two evils” political candidate. During this year we always see candidates start off nice with each other and as November draws nearer the slander and backbiting starts on their “tours of America” and political ads on television with each candidate trying their best (well not really, since they don’t actually visit less-important states only the “swing states”) to secure their win for the presidency. Yay America!
It’s a bad joke on the American people that its citizens play every four years. Presidential elections are nothing more than a strategic game of chess – except with citizen’s tax dollars and their rights at stake. So what’s the issue here (besides political corruption)?
America runs on a First-Past-the-Post (FPTP) also called the “Winner take all” voting system, and mathematically no matter how many political parties exist at the start of the system, it will always result in only two major parties in the end. If a third party wants to join, their candidate won’t have enough votes to win the election but not only that, the votes that went to the third party will be effectively lost and will give one of the two major parties the win. See below:
Say we only have two parties, the Red and Blue party. Every four years the nation has an election, and the majority of voters are die-hard Red or Blue fans while only a minority of citizens may change their mind and vote either way. Every election year, either the Red or Blue party wins because of these undecided voters. This year is an election year and the undecided voters choose the Red party and the Red party has the win.
But this year is different and a New Party joins the race. The New Party seems to have a lot in common with the Red party but also has few aspects of the Blue party too. The undecided voters and some of the Red party voters see this as a fresh start and bail on the Red party for the New party. Unfortunately, there are not enough voters for the New party to succeed, and now the Red party lost its advantage. The Blue party wins the election even though the majority of people voted for the Red party or the Red-like party (the New party).
Just like the example above, America has a two (major) party system currently. Unfortunately, this system has run long enough that both parties have devolved and become stagnant. They are now sad stereotypes of themselves, causing the extreme ideals of each party to basically dictate the “norm” of what each party stands for. One party is seen as ultra-conservative, fearful of change, fearful of others, gun-toting, rednecks that hate other groups of people. The other side is seen as an ultra-progressive, “everyone’s a winner” hippie culture with no morals or standards, always looking for handouts and a way to get more free stuff through hard-working tax dollars.
Do you see the issue yet?
United We Stand, Divided We Fall.
And… the politicians play Americans like a fiddle. Make one party look so horrible that the other party sways the voters to win the election. Have the one party that promises “free stuff” fail to deliver, and the undecided voters go back to the more conservative party the next election. Year after year, America goes into more debt, with worsening social issues than the term before it, with political corruption still reigning and Americans just as upset as the years before it. How do we stop it?
By creating a fair and equal voting system!
Why isn’t our current system fair and equal? One reason is that FPTP creates a “minority wins” situation where the minority of voters choose the president while the majority of voters didn’t choose the winning candidate or winning party. The example above with the graphs is overly simplified, but think of a bigger system with two major parties (Red and Blue) with only a few minor parties (Yellow and Green) with multiple candidates from each party. It might sound fair since everyone gets a shot, but the truth is different, see below:
In this chart we have a nation of 48 voters with one vote each, 4 parties, and each party has 3 candidates. The votes are tallied up and Candidate 1 of the Red party wins, but most of America is disappointed. Candidate 1 of the Red party only received 9 of the 48 votes! In a FPTP voting system, minority rules — only 19% of voters were properly represented. The other 81% of the nation were dissatisfied with this candidate. Not only that, but the minor parties (Yellow and Green) never stood a chance in the election because there are not enough voters to support them. This eventually leads to the Green and Yellow parties dissolving into one of the major parties that they most closely resemble (Red or Blue), and because of the lack of support, it discourages third or more parties from joining in the future.
A second reason that FPTP fails is because of Gerrymandering. Gerrymandering states that the way a city divides its voting districts can change the outcome of the election in favor of one party/candidate. It’s illegal, but it happens quite often because politics is really all about money. Here’s an example:
In the above city, you can see that there are 6 Blue voters and 5 Red voters, clearly the Blue voters win the city 3:2 by the districts. But by rearranging the district boundaries (Gerrymandering), the city can be won over by the Red voters 3:1, see below:
There are more reasons than these, but the “Winner takes all” system is flawed and always will be. With the amount of bright people that we have in this day and age, we should be able to devise a better system. Well actually, other systems have already been developed and we can list them here:
- Single Transferable Vote (STV)
- Mixed-Member Proportional (MMP) System
- Additional Member System (AMS)
- Direct Party and Representative Voting (DPR)
My vote goes to DPR or MMP voting systems. STV is more focused on making sure as many citizens as possible get the local representation that they want, and as a side-effect it gives slightly proportional representation, but it isn’t as effective as DPR or MMP.
DPR Voting can be explained here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UOcVA0D4Gkg
MMP Voting can be explained here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT0I-sdoSXU
STV vs MMP explained here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DNtsjB7L_I
For an article on proportional representation voting systems, check out this website: http://www.dprvoting.org/System_Comparison.htm
Here is a descriptive chart detailing the different voting systems (a screenshot from the above website).
For a video playlist to better understand different voting systems (but basically covers everything I just talked about), check out this playlist: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYPDp5asmWLmIiTjrOTibDZYqk8SUz3tY
America is a great country, but it could be way better. My hope is that a more fair and equal voting system will be the spark that America needs to get back on its feet.
<Original work by BenBRockN. Feel free to reblog, ONLY if you give credit to the original author (me). Thanks!>