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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 10:51 pm 
Avisaru
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I think a lot of amateur (and I mean that term with no judgments) efforts to fix electoral systems focus on giving voters more choice, but not necessarily more meaningful choice. We all read the news, and think about politics, and generally feel like we know exactly what we want. So any system that has an elaborate apparatus to determine things like ballot access, party affiliation, and so on feels restrictive. We know better, damnit!

But imagine going to a restaurant without a menu. The waiter just says "tell us what you want, and if we have it we'll make it." That might give patrons more options, but it doesn't give them more meaningful choice, because they might not know what they want or what their realistic options are. Maybe I kind of want a kebab, but wait, do they have shwarma? I like shwarma better, but I'll take a kebab if that's all they have. Oh, but maybe there's souvlaki? I need a menu!

A small number of political parties can focus their message, present it effectively, maintain a reliable platform over time, and improve voter confidence by vetting candidates. Refreshing the Wikipedia page titled "Everyone who's running for President this year" every twelve hours can't do that. Giving people meaningful choices requires some system that limits the total number of options, just like a democratic constitution usually protects the will of the people by limiting what can be accomplished by the will of the people alone.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 7:47 am 
Smeric
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Most people will vote for whoever they know are running - the major minor parties and the big two. I'm pretty sure people like Joe Exotic (look him up) will continue not getting votes. I think that alternative ballots with provided candidates might have to be provided in areas where eligible voters have relatively low literacy in all languages the ballot uses in their state. Or maybe all voting places will offer a choice between the two kinds of ballots.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 8:52 am 
Avisaru
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So... the Democrats and Republicans choose a candidate each. You can take a ballot into the polling booth which contains those names, and a space for write ins, or you can just walk into the booth empty-handed and just do the write in vote anyway, probably for one of the candidates chosen by the Democrats or Republicans. Voting for people who were shunned by major parties would work exactly the same: choosing an independent over a main party candidate. How does this avoid ballot access issues? Voters still are not presented any additional options other than "infinity options," which is not a meaningful choice, and political parties still coalesce around chosen candidates, as under any other system. Giving voters more options is not helping them escape the influence of political parties if their choices are not more meaningful.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 9:12 am 
Smeric
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But this is not like a restaurant because almost any running candidate can become president. The current ballot psychologically limits people to the listed candidates.

Yeah, party support will always be a good way to get elected. But other parts of the system make minor parties and independents who can grab media attention more likely to win.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:52 am 
Lebom
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Hydroeccentricity wrote:
You can take a ballot into the polling booth which contains those names


My understanding about the American voting systems in the early 1800's was that this was how they worked. You were handed your ballot by party representatives, and that's what you voted—as I recall, by handing in that very ballot.

I am not sure that having an infinite write-in system would do very much good; and I don't want to think about what would happen if the most popular candidate had a difficult-to-spell name. Do you know how many of her ballots would be challenged? Probably a lot.

The logistics of "how do we actually tabulate these votes quickly" matter a great deal. The advantage of hole-punch and optical-scan is that they are (generally) easy to read and verify after the fact (hanging chads not withstanding). Electronic has this ability in Missouri (it prints out everything you tap on the screen onto a roll of paper, and records the final vote for a paper trail). They are also quick to tabulate with machinery.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 9:01 am 
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Write-in does not exclude electronics.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 12:59 pm 
Lebom
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Right, but I have only voted via electronic voting booth once. Every other time, it's been optical scan.


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 9:47 am 
Smeric
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Some voting incentive systems (with doctor's notes and etc counting as valid excuses):
  • Giving voters an optional $100 for voting (The one I like most out of these)
  • Fine for non-voters
  • Flat tax breaks for voters
  • Voters get half an extra vote for each previous election for the same specific office they voted for. Once used, the extra vote vanishes and needs to be reaccumulated. Also, the extra vote does not accumulate beyond 1.
  • A lottery of all voters with multiple winners. If the voter did not vote in this election, the money stays in the treasury.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:31 am 
Avisaru
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I'm no elections expert, but I think making voting easier and more accessible would be a better way to get people to vote. All of those suggestions really only work for people who explicitly choose not to vote, but wouldn't do anything to help people who aren't able to vote due to various barriers. (e.g. voter ID requirements for people who don't have drivers licenses, restrictions on early voting, not having enough time due to work/school, or people not understanding the issues or being in favor of any of the options/candidates)

I think there's a lot of people who would like to vote, or at least aren't against voting, but see it as too difficult/complicated or taking up too much time.

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PostPosted: Wed Apr 19, 2017 10:47 am 
Smeric
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These are not instead of reforms to reduce restrictions and make voting fairer. They are in addition.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 7:53 pm 
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Quote:
But imagine going to a restaurant without a menu. The waiter just says "tell us what you want, and if we have it we'll make it." That might give patrons more options, but it doesn't give them more meaningful choice, because they might not know what they want or what their realistic options are. Maybe I kind of want a kebab, but wait, do they have shwarma? I like shwarma better, but I'll take a kebab if that's all they have. Oh, but maybe there's souvlaki? I need a menu!


i honestly think this is true, but not a feature of the human condition or nature, but rather an accident of the times we live in. Like, okay, i would get a bit uncomfortable if a waiter tells me that i can order whatever, but that's because i don't belive him! i *know* that if i ask for, say, chilean great crab pie <chupe de centolla>, and i'm not in a chilean seafood place, he's gonna look at me like "whaaat". but that's cause restaurants in our real world are too primitive and not versatile enough to have the ability to deliver on that promise: it's like if a caveman travel guide told another caveman engineer "yo, where on earth you want to go". but if my travel agent tells me where on earth i want to go, i trust him, i know he can deliver, so we can have a conversation that's very meaninful about where i want to go. maybe i want peace and quite and like mountains, and so he recommends bhutan or peru or a nice resort on top of a papuan mountain that's on sale right now. this same thing could happen, though doesn't, with food. but, are you kidding? if that were possible, that'd be the best restaurant in the world. cause, if i look into my own mind, i'd like some nice ceviche right now, and if i can have ceviche and my gf can have her antipasti and the friends we're going out with can have their burgers and authentic hunan dishes, man, that'd be sweet. the choice the menuless waiter offers you is only not-meaningful cause its fake. i totally don't buy the 'too much choice is not meaningful' thing. maybe some people get so used to having reaaaally trivial and narrow choices pushed onto them and now can't make any other kind of choice, but i don't think that's true of everyone, and certainly doesn't have to. when we go for walks, those of us who are more or less sane don't get all anxious that omg we can choose to walk in any direction and there's no menu.

there's no reason political systems need to be any different than restaurants or walks, not necessarily: we could make an argument that not all choices are valid, and that therefore to some degree menuless political choices *are* meaningless, but that's cause we're terrible at society. or, well, not terrible maybe, but not as good as we might be: we don't know how to organize a society that works with 2 hour work weeks, so that's a false menuless choice. but we can build more societies than we used to be able to: as restaurant technology advances from dish-of-the-day-only restaurants to menu restaurants to menuless restaurants, so might political "technology".

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 20, 2017 8:07 pm 
Smeric
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Third party candidates often complain that they are not on the ballot or that the other side has all donations. What if government put out blank ballots with write-ins and gives all the money each campaign uses. The problem of national recognition is equalised between major and minor parties, so the burden of recognition shifts to the parties themselves in choosing interesting choices that grab public attention.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 12:04 am 
Osän
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yeah that would help third and fourth parties somewhat, but only on the economic level: at the level of getting the most votes to actually win, there's still the spoiler effect and the scramble for the center: it seems apparent to me that even perfectly equally financed factions and people who have political and ethical stake in the polis would have an incentive to coalesce under one or the other moderate coalition that, while won't fully support their ideas, at least they'll not expressly work against them, and might even throw them a bone from time to time when the votes go the right way. that's not to mention how there are other ways serving the cause of the elite might prove advantageous for a person: if getting involved in the party that fights for whatever rich people fight is very likely to land you a nice cushy job somewhere, people might find themselves... you know... strangely... open, emotionally, to... you know, the ideas of... that party which if they agree with its ideas... you may be better off, you know. people often just look out for themselves first and then maybe worry about politics.

but even without such machiavelianisms, even though a secular atheist communist vegan bisexual, bob, won't be happy cooperating with the christian democrats, or having to acquiese to the yellowbellies in the so-called socialist party, bah! the last 'socialist' president spearheaded outsourcing to private companies the execution of all public works and services to the point that very few public institutions *do* anything these days other than shuffle paperwork. and yet bob, by voting for the center-center-left coalition, at least makes sure the gay-haters for deregulation of the meat industry neoliberal opus dei won't rule, cause they're all against his values, they'd burn the coops, privatize what little welfare exists, maybe rollback the civil union thing, which isn't ideal but its something, and maybe lower minimum wage? that can't be allowed! whereas the center-center-left is indifferent or mildy reactionary to everything he stands for. And Alice, an orthodox libertarian divorced mother who fervently believes the jews are, in fact, to blame for many of the social evils of today and sincerely feels sad that women have abortions and kill babies. Alice doesn't *want* to cooperate with the godless businessman-liberals of one rightwing party, and has no love for the christian fundamentalist statists either, but hell, at least they're not commies or baby-killing feminists. so she cooperates with the center-center-right coalition. and any bob or alice who starts his own party still only helps the enemy, so... and equalizing the money would only shift the center everyone's scrambling for, alinging it more with the median value set of the populations, less skewed towards the value set of the elites, which is what happens when rich people fund parties. so it would give you a superior quality democracy, but in ways other than increasing the number of parties.

so with any winner-takes-all election, the best strategy seems to be find a cluster of things half the population values, find another cluster of things the other half of the population values, and split into two parties: each half fights mostly for one cluster of causes, and mostly talks about those, the other half fights for the opposite cluster, and talks very much about those being good and the cluster of the opposite side being bad: it's not as easy to garner enough support to even attempt this, or a partner in this cooperative strategy in which two sides must keep true to the game at first, but once you're big enough, and can secure the cooperation of another powerful partner, or split into the two factions needed, and eliminated or absorbed or trivialize all the other factions or parties in the game, you've achieved a steady state two-party system.

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 21, 2017 6:47 am 
Smeric
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Well, it's not first past the post. Read my previous posts on the thread. And it's only for the president, an inherently winner-takes-all position. Also, government money is per candidate, not party.

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PostPosted: Sat Apr 22, 2017 11:47 am 
Smeric
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If we're speaking US presidential elections, I think a pretty sensible choice would be the two-round system. It seems much more equitable than the current one, but also simple enough that it can be easily understood by most US voters. (Think of the first round as of primaries, just across party lines.)

It's also quite well tested, having been used all over the world. (It still has downsides. It's a majoritarian system, so vote splitting still applies — there's a slim chance you could end up with an unfavorable pairing in the second round; think Trump vs Cruz if you're Dem-leaning, or Sanders vs Clinton if you're Rep-leaning.)


Recently, I have also been pondering possibilities of pretender-based systems, inspired mainly by the way chess championships are organized: first, a pretender runoff, then a match between the current champion and the pretender.

Imagine something like that:
· some time before the term's end, the president announces their start as an incumbent (or in the case they can't / don't want to run, they appoint a successor) — for instance, Obama would nominate Clinton;
· during the following months, pretender candidates would announce their campaign — for instance, Sanders, Trump, Cruz, Johnson and Stein would run;
· the first round would be a runoff between all the candidates except the incumbent/successor, then the most successful opposition candidate gets to the second round — for instance, Sanders or Trump would win the first round;
· the second round is a vote between the incumbent/successor and the winner of the first round — for instance, Clinton vs Sanders/Trump (whoever got more votes in the first round).

In theory, this kind of a system would encourage more stable governments, making it easier for successful political teams to continue ruling, but also making it easier for voters to vote out an unsuccessful government. Basically, the vote would come down to “continuation” vs “change”. It would also reduce the chaoticity and the influence of vote-splitting (since one of the contenders would be known in advance).

In terms of equitability, it would be somewhere in between the current system and the two-round method: the first round is free for all, making it easier for independent candidates, but there is only one winner of it, making the competition more tight.

There is some room for strategic voting, though. Since the incumbent doesn't take part in the first round, their electorate would be able to vote for other candidates, making room for exploits. Imagine die-hard supporters of the incumbent/successor (say, Clinton) voting for a lesser-known pretender posing less threat (say, Johnson) in order to bring down the top pretenders (say, Sanders or Trump). It involves boosting one of your candidate's competitors, though, which is quite dangerous and can backfire spectacularly, so I don't know how common such a situation would be (it could be anything between ‘not at all’ and ‘basically every time’). Also, in some way, it could already be happening.

(That would also involve a rather large number of incumbent/successor-voters boosting the same pretender candidate. A more realistic situation would be something like Clinton supporters splitting their votes: some of them voting for Sanders, some for Johnson, some for Cruz possibly, and then some abstaining.)

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:14 am 
Osän
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i don't see why two-party systems wouldn't end up as a two party system: the big two always go to second round, and the fact that there is one makes everyone strategically vote for whoever's gonna be one of the two that's gonna go to second round cause otherwise you're wasting your vote.

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