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Having a say in civic decisions that affect you is a human right that you have not been taught about. You may underestimate the severity of the problems with contemporary (2022) systems of voting. Spreading grassroots awareness is the first step towards implementing better voting. Better voting could be applied in many circumstances, and it can dramatically improve relationships with friends and family, how companies make decisions that affect employees, the kind of political representatives that get elected, and the laws that governments pass.
How can a community make decisions about topics that affect that community? By "putting it to a vote". But there are different kinds of ballots you can use for an election, different algorithms for choosing winners given a group of preferences as the input data, and elections with multiple winners or even without winner selection. Here are three kinds of ballots:
1. You can have each person vote for one option, and the one with the most votes wins: First Past the Post (FPtP).
2. You can let everybody vote yes or no for each option: approval voting (AV).
3. You can let people sort the candidates in order of preference: ranked choice voting (RCV)
There are many problems with FPtP. All the problems you see with political party polarization, infeasibility of third party candidates, etc. largely stem from the way we vote. So, if you use FPtP, you run into these problems, whether it's in US politics or in co-op affairs. It incentivizes strategic voting, which hides people's actual preferences and how happy they'd be with different outcomes. To illuminate these problems, some scientists made up the ideas of "fairness criteria". There are different criteria, and they have fancy names.
A guy named Kenneth Arrow formulated an Impossibility Theorem, which explains that it's mathematically impossible to accommodate all fairness criteria always. That's why running an election should be a function of which principles people care about the most in a given context. Some algorithms can be stumped, too, in specific circumstances. e.g. How does RCV fairly choose a winner when 10 people prefer A to B, 10 B to C, and 10 C to A—a cycle?
That said, RCV and AV eliminate a lot of the problems of strategic voting, and do a better job at meaningfully taking people's genuine preferences into account. So, what are the algorithms for choosing a winner when people have voted with ordered lists, rather than single choices? The main ones are as follows.
1. Borda Count: "First choice".points = [Ballot options].length. Second choice gets 1 less point, and so on until the last choice gets 1 point. Unranked choices get one or zero. Candidates are sorted by their points
2. Condorcet: each candidate matchup is scored by looking at which is higher on each ballot. The winner is the person who beats every other candidate. Cycles can stump condorcet, but they're unusual.
3. Single Transferable Vote (STV): Remove candidates from the ballot one at a time, according to whomever has least first place votes. If you vote Green > Blue > Red and Green has least first place votes, then your first place vote in the next round is Blue. Prioritizes proportional representation.
You can also combine methods, and there are many more. FairVote has put together a remarkable cheatsheet with a table rating different methods by different criteria.
Who's to say? We can look to the status quo, and the existing motives of people with power to maintain that power, to explain why FPtP is so widely utilized around the world. FPtP is more easily gamed by political parties, and thus by the primary financial supporters of those political parties' offices and candidates. In First Past the Post, third party candidates often divide progressive votes, tending towards a two-party system, which means there two specific nexuses for campaign donors and lobbyists to focus their efforts. One party systems are not perceived as free, but if there is possibility of competition, even a comically bifurcated political theater will be treated as democratic by civilians.
Where there are fewer avenues into political seats, it is easier, and a safer long term investment, for the wealthy to buy the time of specific representatives. Of course wealthy campaign donors meet with the representative whose campaigns they fund. Of course even an innocent conversation between the two carries with it great gravity. The donor does not need to say "You are in office because I paid for your public relations" when they hand over a draft of legislation written by their company's private lawyers. Rather, the number on the check says it all. These relationships nurture unspoken, but not well hidden, quid pro quos to pass legislation that benefits the interests and industries of the most profligate donors.
If, in an alternate world, we decided to use a voting system that didn't discourage third party candidates from running, and which truly demonstrated the public sentiment of the populations affected by elections, then it would be easier for grassroots campaigns to take off. Rich campaign donors trying to exert influence over representatives would need to invest in more candidates in order to retain the same amount of influence, draining their capital reserves. The people who do not cave, and steadfastly represent the will of the common person in word and deed, would still be able to run, and grassroots campaigning would be unleashed from hostility towards "spoiler candidates". The environment of public elections would be far more favorable to candidates who represent not just tycoons, but the sentiment of as many people as possible. In time, legislators would come to more accurately reflect a greater number of interests among the population, and laws would be passed that benefit society as a whole rather than specific individuals and their empires.
This varies by location. Please share what you know, or any research you have done in this section, and create Local Issues as needed to describe what's missing in Voting Method education.
The Magnova community says the following issues give rise to Ignorance of Ranked Choice Voting. Addressing this issue could be accomplished by dealing with the following sub-issues. (Registered users can upvote/downvote these connections.)
The following projects have been created by the Magnova community to address this issue. (Registered users can upvote/downvote which projects they want to see implemented.)
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