Opinion: Why a different voting system might be better
March 16th, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Opinion: Why a different voting system might be better

Editor's Note: Matthew Lane is a Ph.D. candidate in mathematics at UCLA, and is the founder of Math Goes Pop!, a blog focused on the surprisingly rich intersection between mathematics and popular culture.  He is also a contributor to the Center for Election Science.  You can follow him on Twitter at @mmmaaatttttt.

Although Mitt Romney claims to be the mathematically inevitable Republican presidential candidate, voters remain less than excited about him.

According to a recent Gallup poll, only 35% of Republicans would enthusiastically vote for him this fall.  This is below the 47% John McCain had around this time in 2008, and also below the 55% and 53% enjoyed by Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton, respectively, when they duked it out four years ago.  There's still plenty of time until November, but for now it seems Republicans haven't yet completely warmed to their presumptive nominee.

When the results of an election (primary or otherwise) run counter to our desires, it is easy to scapegoat the political process.  The right person didn't win, we may argue, because the system itself is broken.  The two-party system, for example, is sometimes cited as a leading cause of the current dysfunction in Washington.  But perhaps much of what ails the political climate comes from an underlying mathematical dilemma in the way we determine the winners of our elections.  The mathematics of voting highlights many problems with current systems, and also proposes some interesting solutions.

The most common system is the familiar plurality system.  Under plurality voting you may vote for one candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins.  This system is not perfect: for instance, much to Ralph Nader's chagrin, you are strongly discouraged from voting for your preferred candidate if he or she is unlikely to win.  This has led to the belief that in many cases, a two-party system is a consequence of the plurality voting system, which in general does not seem capable of sustaining many parties (this is known as Duverger's law).

One alternative system used in cities such as San Francisco and Minneapolis is called Instant-Runoff Voting, or IRV.  In this system, you rank, say, your top three candidates.  All first place votes are then counted; if no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the least support is eliminated.  If your first choice is eliminated, your vote now moves to second choice.  This process continues until one candidate has a majority among all remaining candidates.

It's certainly more complicated, but does this system more accurately reflect the will of the people?  Not always.  From a mathematical standpoint, IRV has some weird behavior (here's one example of a particularly strange IRV election).  For example, ranking a candidate higher on your list can actually decrease the candidate's likelihood of winning, and vice versa.  Imagine if, by convincing 100 more people to vote for your favorite candidate, you actually caused your candidate to lose!  Such an outcome is possible under IRV.  Also, like the plurality system, it is not always in your best interest to rank your favorite candidate first.

There are practical considerations as well.  With IRV, it’s not possible to tally the results at individual precincts and then combine the precinct totals (we say that IRV is not additive).  In other words, it's possible for a candidate to win every district, but lose the election overall.  What's more, voter confusion seems to be greater with IRV.  For example, after adopting this system in 2004, San Francisco saw the number of spoiled ballots (the number of ballots filled out incorrectly, and therefore invalidated) increase on average by a factor of seven.

One other system is approval voting.  Approval voting works in nearly the same way as plurality voting, but with one crucial difference: you may vote for as many candidates as you want!  From a practical standpoint, this makes it almost impossible for you to spoil your ballot.  Its similarity to plurality voting also means that the necessary changes to the existing infrastructure used for plurality elections would be minimal.  Furthermore, approval voting is additive, and unlike plurality or IRV, it never hurts to support your favorite candidate.  More information on approval voting can be found here, and more detailed comparisons of approval voting and IRV can be found here and here.

Most importantly, from a mathematical standpoint, is the fact that among these voting systems, approval voting yields the best voter satisfaction on average, regardless of whether voters are honest, or whether they vote strategically.  (Here, voter satisfaction is measured objectively by something called "Bayesian regret.")

By way of comparison, both IRV and plurality voting have the same average voter satisfaction if all voters are strategic, while IRV has much greater average voter satisfaction as the proportion of honest voters increases.  But generally, approval voting takes the cake: in most cases, average voter satisfaction in the presence of strategic voters is still higher for approval voting than it is for IRV in the presence of honest voters.

As a final remark, one can view approval voting as an example of a slightly more complex voting system called score voting (also known as range voting). If you've ever been to a talent show where the winner is crowned by audience applause, you've seen score voting in action.  Like approval voting, you may vote for as many candidates as you wish; unlike approval voting, you can express the strength of your preference for a given candidate by scoring each one on a fixed scale, say from 0 to 10.  From this perspective, approval voting is just score voting when the range of scores is limited to 0 and 1.  While it's not immune to strategy, average voter satisfaction with strategic voters is about the same for score and approval voting.  With honest voters, however, score voting gives the best average voter satisfaction of all.

Combining the practical with the mathematical, the evidence favors score voting.  If a simpler system is desired, approval voting is the clear front-runner. For more on these voting systems under the influence of strategic voters, see here. if you still can't get enough, you may want to pick up William Poundstone's 2008 book "Gaming the Vote," which touches on all of these topics and more!

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Matthew Lane.

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Filed under: 2012 Election • Voices
soundoff (427 Responses)
  1. Rodney Hinds

    While you are in the process of changing voting procedures, please get my polling place out of that 'god-awful' church!

    March 19, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • Frank Z

      If you have never went to services there, how dare you criticize it. If you are speaking about the LDS Church, I would ask that you attend services there, and actually get to know some of the people there first, and then you can formulate an opinion. Also, to let you know, this church has the blessings of the Lord.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
      • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

        And ten wives!

        March 19, 2012 at 8:23 am |
      • Frank Z

        This where actually speaking to someone from the Church will help you understand things better. The statement that you just made is a reflection of the Reformed Church. Actual practicing LDS members do not, and shall not have, more than one wife. This practice has officially been abolished by the Church for over 100 years.

        I would love to continue this conversation, but it would require that I provide you with my email address, and I do not think that is policy of CNN.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:38 am |
      • Rich

        Even nice zombies are still zombies, Frank.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:35 am |
      • Leviathlon

        Cult members are some of the nicest people I have ever met....I think they need to be in order to suck in new members... Remember that this is the same church that believes Jesus came to America in a submarine and that black people are cursed and....I could go on and on with the crazy...

        March 19, 2012 at 8:44 am |
      • Frank Z

        First I would like to say the Church is not a cult, this simply implies that you have never talked to anyone in the Church, nor read the Book of Mormon.

        Second, I have never heard about this thing where Jesus came to America in a submarine. He did visit the America's shortly after crucifixion, but not by submarine.

        Third, we do not preach that Blacks are cursed. In fact there are many blacks that are in different leadership positions in the Church.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:56 am |
      • Jesse from KC

        I really think the fact that I have to explain this to you means you won't understand... Kind of "If you have to ask, you'll never know" kinda thing?

        Those of us who don't partake in the religious kool-aid, the delusion of a father figure from before time wagging his finger in our face telling us what we can and can't do, and the mere idea of a zombie head of religion (Jesus died then rose again, that's kind of the definition of zombie) don't NEED to go to a church to see what it's like... We know we don't want anything to do with crazy people.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:59 am |
      • Frank Z

        It has nothing to do with being "crazy", it all has to do with understanding where you came from, and where you are going later on in life. Also, Heavenly Father does not tell us what we can and cannot do, it is more of telling us what will happen if we choose either action. That is the great power of free agency, we are allowed to do as we please, and whatever actions we chose we will suffer the consequences of them. I use the term consequence in both a good and bad way. In other words, if we make a good choice then we will get paid back in good, but if we make bad choices, then we will get paid back in bad.

        March 19, 2012 at 9:41 am |
      • Robert

        Frank, all churches are cults to some degree.

        March 19, 2012 at 9:04 am |
      • Dave

        I don't know that he was referring to any specific church or just the fact that his polling place is in a church of any kind. Since there is supposed to be a separation of church and state, churches shouldn't be used as polling places. I feel this way, but, fortunately, my polling place is a public school, however a friend of mine had been stuck voting in a church against his will for years until they opened up early polling in our area.

        As for your comment that the LDS is not a cult, I would counter argue that, by definition, all religions are cults. Which of these definitions can't be applied to any church/religion?

        1.a particular system of religious worship, especially with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
        2.an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, especially as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
        3.the object of such devotion.
        4.a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
        5.Sociology . a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.

        March 19, 2012 at 9:27 am |
      • Primewonk

        @ Frank – again, you cannot have an omnipotent, omniscient god, AND free will.

        An all knowing all powerful god knows every decision you will make. And he knew these before he created you – heck, he knew them before he created the universe. There is no way you can trick god and make a choice he didn't know you would make.

        For example, before god created the universe, he knew if I would go to heaven or hell. Let's say he knows I am going to hell. How can I trick god and show up in Heaven? For that matter, before he created the universe, he knew he would send me to hell and torture me for all eternity. Yet he created me anyway. KNOWING that there was no way I'd get to heaven

        This makes your god a sick, twisted, psychotic putz.

        March 19, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
      • T i m

        THE WORD ..............R E P E N T A N C E ...................CHANGES EVERYTHING YOU JUST SAID ........ALL US WHO KNOW IT ,...KNOW IT ................. YOU WILL SEE . EVERY KNEE WILL BOW , EVERY TONGUE CONFESS , JESUS CHRIST . BECAUSE WE WANT TO .............YOU WILL SEE .....I LOVE IT ..............

        March 19, 2012 at 4:06 pm |
      • MNewall

        Frank, I think the primary sentiment is that polling stations (government) should not be in a church (religion).

        March 19, 2012 at 5:44 pm |
      • JustSaying

        Make a strip club a polling location...see the point? If you have a location that some people go to regularly and others would feel uncomfortable it isn't a fair polling location.

        March 21, 2012 at 11:47 am |
    • 60's Man

      I am of the firm belief that no church should serve as a voting station anywhere in America. Would you feel comfortable voting in a synagogue or a mosque as a christian? Then why would you deem it OK for non-christians to enter a church to vote. ACLU, are you listening?

      March 19, 2012 at 9:21 am |
      • Frank Z

        Here is something else that needs an update, the ACLU they get themselves into things that they have no business getting themselves into. If a religion allows polling to take place in their building, then it should be allowed. I am not afraid of going into ANY building to cast my vote. I am only going in their for one thing and one thing only, that is to cast my vote. If you have fears of entering any facility, then it is your fears that keep you from voting.

        March 19, 2012 at 10:18 am |
      • 60's Man

        I am just a very strict adherant of the seperation of church and state. Neither debates or polling should occur in any religeous facility. There are schools, town halls, libraries, and firehouses that would all make much more sense.

        March 19, 2012 at 12:25 pm |
      • T i m


        March 19, 2012 at 4:10 pm |
  2. Frank Z

    I believe that we need to get rid of the electoral college. I agree with those that state that we should all the one with the most votes win. The college was great back in the pony express days, but not today.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:48 am |
    • Tee Med

      The election has to be 50 individual elections, otherwise the weight of strong popularity in populous states would basically remove less peopled states with no voice at all. Do away with the process of the EC, perhaps, but not the effect.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:06 am |
    • B

      @FrankZ –

      Regardless of ones party affiliation, there have been times when the Presidential election has not gone the way that one thought it might.

      I don't purport to believe that the 2000/2008 elections weren't rigged or tampered with by people up to and including Diebold (Yes, "people"... Thanks USSC!). That said, it's much easier to spot corruption in a small group of people than trying to sift through 75,000,000 individual votes looking for hanging chads and dead people's votes...

      And also, as we've seen recently, the winds of political favor change rapidly. In a previous post I pointed out that if the Presidential elections were held in 2010, we as a nation would have likely done something foolish and elected an (R) to the White House just to get rid of (D).

      The solution to this whole debate is, in my opinion, simple: State-based legislation that REQUIRES each state's EC votes to follow the popular vote based on total valid votes received. In fact, some states already have similar legislation on the books now, so it's not a "new" idea by any means but the simplest and most elegant solution that's presented itself thus far.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:07 am |
      • Frank Z

        So, based on your comment, the electoral college is basically dead anyway. If the college has to vote according to the popular vote, then why have it?

        March 19, 2012 at 8:11 am |
      • B

        @FrankZ –

        The EC is more important at the local level where it allows a single vote to matter out of millions cast throughout the country.

        Even if a state is bound by legislation to follow their popular vote overall, it still means that a few folks in an urban neighborhood can have a profound effect on the overall vote in a state with a large rural population. It's all in how the districts are drawn, really, but that's a matter for another discussion.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:33 am |
    • New Mexico vet

      Better yet, ditch the whole thing and go to a Parliamentary system. One party gets in & runs the show with the PM of their choice. No more finger pointing. If they don't perform we call a no-confidence election and toss out the whole bunch.

      March 19, 2012 at 2:31 pm |
  3. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    The reality is if the terrorists want to destroy America, they don't have to worry about evading Home Land Security to attack us once more! All they have to do is hope for the GOP to get back in office and the rightwing communists and their teabags would do an inside job just like they did when they blew up the oil rid in the Gulf or like when they gunned down Congresswoman Gabriella Giffords and others in Arizona! No, the terrorist abroad there not move a muscle because we have our own home grown terrorists who don't retreat but reload!

    March 19, 2012 at 7:12 am |
    • B

      The Electoral College is one of the last remaining vestiges of the Old Republic. It's what keeps us safe from the "popular" (Sheeple) vote being construed as the "Gospel", so to speak.

      Regardless of which side of the aisle from which you hail, think about it like this: Are the guys on the other side of the aisle simply ridiculous to your way of looking? If the EC was not in place, for instance, in 2010 we'd have replaced the Democrats with virtually 100% Republicans... And I don't think anyone here thinks that THIS would have been a good thing.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:32 am |
      • Scott

        What in the heck does the electoral college have to do with how we vote for representatives or senators? We use the electoral college to vote for president.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:46 am |
      • Frank Z

        Who is to say that this would have been a bad or good thing. The one thing that can be said is that Gore would have been president, and if we would have had a majority republican house/senate, so be it. At least one thing would have been stated, the people voted, and that is what this country is supposed to be about.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:55 am |
      • B

        @Scott: The point of my post was illustrative, and not to be taken literally.

        The point was designed to illustrate to folks whom might otherwise not realize WHY the EC is a good thing that it does, in fact, serve a purpose, but you're right – the phrasing needs a bit of work.

        If the Presidential Election were held in 2010, we'd have put anything with an (R) on it in the White House – just to get the (D) out – if it had been up to the public. That wouldn't have been a good idea, I think, but nevertheless the tide of public sentiment at that time would have ousted Obama and replaced him with a turnip or cabbage with even less vetting and/or credentials than Obama...

        That would have been bad for all, in my humble opinion, and is indicative of why the EC is still very relevant today.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:57 am |
      • Paul Grant

        Umm, the electoral college only comes into play for Presidential elections and have nothing to do with "protecting us from the popular vote" being manipulated. In general, the electoral college was designed before the "dual party system" and was meant to find a winner when the vote did not provide a majority winner in the popular vote (many people use the 2000 election as a failure of the electoral college system, but fail to remember the 1992 or 1996 election as an example of its success) That being said, I do like the idea of score voting, but believe approval voting, once in place would be more successful in allowing small parties better traction.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:59 am |
    • TheDave

      Wow.. Just repeating what the FAR FAR lefties are telling you? What would happen if you ever decided to think for yourself? Ever hear of common sense? Let me ask you this: Are you better off than you was 3.5 years ago? I thought not and yet, you want the Idiot in charge to remain in charge... Nope, you cannot fix stupid.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:44 am |
  4. chan

    Different voting system??? Did they ask Sarah Palin whether this is what founding fathers wanted us to do. It appears that Palin is one of the interfaces between us and founding fathers.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:10 am |
  5. reddog9500

    What difference does it make who you vote for? They all smile and lie through their teeth to get your vote and once they get elected they screw you.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:04 am |
    • B

      So Sad.

      So True.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:33 am |
  6. Steve

    Wow. Is it every four years some journo-noob comes out of the woodwork to rally against the electoral college? It's an early spring, so I guess it's not suprising that we're seeing them early this year.
    I always wonder why they can't understand the simple concept of a Republic, and how the electoral system fits into that, and then I realize – we no longer have a Republic.

    March 19, 2012 at 7:00 am |
    • ukpip

      @Steve He wasn't criticizing the electoral college at all – just making a point that there are other sometimes "fairer" systems of voting – many of which have the trade-off of being more complex or producing unusual results. Nothing here in any way violates republican democratic principles.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:47 am |
    • @youignantdotcom

      Please explain why I should waste my time voting for presidential office when my vote doesn't count as much as someone from California or Texas?

      March 19, 2012 at 8:00 am |
    • RTFM

      Read the bio. He isn't a "journo-noob," he's a mathematician who has actually studied this stuff. You, OTOH, seemingly never even bothered to read the article.

      March 19, 2012 at 9:23 am |
  7. Ken

    All of the examples appear to use some kind of math manipulation to acheive the results. i say just make the primary the same as the general election. Pick one day and everybody votes! What is so difficult with that? I live in Pennsylvania and we have a lot of electorial votes but we don't vote for another month! At that point it will already be clear who the winner will be so our vote really doesnt' amount to much because our choice has already been made for us. We have seen too many good candidates eliminated by the time Pennsylvania votes because they simply ran out of money. Just because a candidate has deep pockets doesn't make him/her the best choice for the office.

    March 19, 2012 at 6:46 am |
    • daVe

      your point about the last man standing GIVEN THE RESOURCES is spot-on. i'm curious to see how this plays out in the era of super-pacs. maybe the ultra-conservatives will pick between gingrich and santorum and try to 'fund' that candidate through the convention. maybe all this funding will make penn. relevant. oh, the irony!

      March 20, 2012 at 12:58 am |
      • T i m


        March 20, 2012 at 6:47 am |
  8. reddog9500

    Here in Russia any way you vote Putin wins.

    March 19, 2012 at 6:43 am |
    • JazzyJake

      It's not the people who vote that count; it's the people who count the votes.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:35 am |

    LETS FACE IT....... Ever since Bush Jr Ive not had any faith in the voting system. Do you recall his brother was in office in FL & FL is what won him not gore the votes to be president.. Rigged..... Now that technology has grown so strong how can we BELIVE that our vote counts. Our government will place in power whom it deems worthy!!! As an AVERAGE AMERICAN this article was a sign of hope but its noting more than that.... ***TAKE back AMERICA ***

    March 19, 2012 at 6:33 am |
    • Paul

      The insanity of left. The mental disease, related to blaming Bush for every issue. America, espcially on the coasts, have become a sea of communist and socialist. Half-baked, broken thinking. The insanity of the liberal thinking. To use a "poll" to determine who is president. Left wing thinking and ideology will result in American becoming, literally, "Idiocracy" The movie.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:38 am |
      • Anthony

        Replace "Bush" with "Obama" and "Coasts" with "South" and you have modern Republicans. Pot, meet kettle.

        March 19, 2012 at 6:44 am |
      • UncleM

        Now the GOP sees any who is even a moderate as a communist. When will the witch hunts begin?

        March 19, 2012 at 6:50 am |
      • Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

        Liberals blaming bush for everything? Well, let's see! If the cap fits let GWB wear it! You're wrong that we are blaming Bush for evrrything! All we are blaming him for is rigging the 2000 election with his brother Geb! And the only other thing we are blaming him for is the illegitimate Iraqi and and Afghan wars and the econonic crisis he created! Is that too much to ask for? Fairness is fearness!

        March 19, 2012 at 7:06 am |
    • notgivingin

      just like to clear up a point, while sad that bush won FL while his brother was govenor it wasn't "rigged" as you claim. it's the fact of the electoral college NOT being a good idea. voting should not be so damn complicated. you vote for someone on the ballot and that's that, the person with the most VOTES should win not some stupid electoral college points system. they always said it would be extremely unlikely to win the popular vote but lose the actual election, well we saw it first hand when gore lost. but again , yes the way he won FL was shady at best it was far from rigged

      March 19, 2012 at 7:03 am |
    • T i m

      F Y I , the AMERICAN ELECTION PROCESS HAS BEEN RIGGED FROM THE BEGINNING . Media says something it becomes gospel . Reagan did not stand a chance , TILL HE WENT TO TEXAS . THEN IT WAS A LANDSLIDE . BUSH SR. said Christmas week , Romney will be next president . ..................I WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT ...RON PAUL . .........T i m

      March 19, 2012 at 7:04 am |
  10. Zhnjg

    Let's cede the middle states back to the Natives and let tribal leaders quell the religious fervor of that populace...then the coasts can vote in like-mindedness and efficiency.

    March 19, 2012 at 6:11 am |
    • Futurist

      The middle states may end up leaving on their own. Good luck with the empty grocery stores after they do.

      Of course, in 20 years Californians won't have to bother with US election politics anymore. They will be living (or buried) in Aztlán.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:53 am |
  11. jon

    New voting system where people have to prove they are legitimate before voting. There wouldn't be as much support for illegals if were were able to prevent them from voting

    March 19, 2012 at 6:02 am |
    • L M

      I am making an assumption that you lean to the right. First would the illegals vote for a Rep or a Dem? Jon, as is Latin people that are citizens, I presume you mean all the Mexican people anyway, do not vote in very high numbers. Besides the poor ignorant immigrants probably have other things on their mind like making enough money to eat and pay rent.
      Why is there a belief that illegal immigrants would vote a certain way? Remember, it was under Reagan that amnesty was passed back in the mid-80s. If you were an illegal immigrant would you not vote for the party you think that will give you that sort of opportunity? Besides immigration issues, I believe that Latin people tend to have more republican views simply because of their religious upbringing. Which party would likely benefit more?
      Additionally, I do not know of any one exposing that illegals were voting. That would make a great headline, but it has not made it because there is not such proof of it as far as I know.

      March 19, 2012 at 9:30 am |
  12. Grazzt

    What is really funny to mean is that I would say most people in this country are conservatives when it comes to their finances and daily living. I mean how many don't save a cent or at least try to vs after all the bills and requirements of life are met and should you have extra "spending" money left give out so everyone has equal. I would find few people do that. So why as a nation do we lose sight of these basic principles. Because people become dumb in a mob, it is easy to spend other people's money, and government is set up work this way and mask the issue.

    For example who here lives by their gross income vs their net? Say taxes were not automatically taken out of our checks, and the old age "tax collector" showed up at your door and said you owe me $500 dollars right now. When you said I don't have it, they take something of yours to equal it. I think most people would be upset. Something to think about really.

    March 19, 2012 at 5:04 am |

      Are you kdding me? Most people are not conservative with their finances.

      That's why we have student loan debt, credit card debt, mortgage debt, and no serious savings.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:22 am |
      • Charles W. Skinner

        That's exactly the point. The pain of having to pay for something has been removed from the instant gratification of receiving it. There would be far MORE Conservatives if debt was not subsidized by the Federal Government (in the form of student loans and Monetary Policy) and if taxes had to be paid "out of pocket" rather than being stolen silently on a weekly basis (because the common individual doesn't understand the difference between "gross" pay and "take home" pay).

        March 19, 2012 at 6:42 am |
    • pam

      It is the "gimmie" mentality that is ruining this country. These same people that want to make the rich (who provide the jobs) pay more in taxes are the ones who don't pay any, but get back money anyway. They don't get that 14% of millions is a lot of money.

      March 19, 2012 at 6:31 am |
      • jobcreatorbs

        because clearly the job creators as they are called did such a fantastic job of CREATING jobs in the past 30 years. jsut disregard that 400% increase in overall wealth while poverty and wages have remained stagnate as has median working class household incomes...

        March 19, 2012 at 7:14 am |
      • Paul Grant

        Actually Pam, they do pay taxes, every two weeks, providing an interest free loan to the government. People that get tax refunds are not getting "free" money. It is a refund of the money they have been paying through the year. The "rich" do not have the withholding, so they "pay all their tax at the end of the tax year, or usually every quarter..

        March 19, 2012 at 8:10 am |
      • Frank Z

        I would agree, most corporations pay an average of $5 Million each quarter in taxes that they do not get back. There are some that pay less, but they still do not get this money back. This one big reason that corporations are fleeing the US, they can pay less in taxes somewhere else.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:17 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      I would agree that most Americans want fiscal conservatism, but they want social liberalism. In other words, don't waste the tax payer money, and don't get into my personal business (unless I ask for help.), but if I ask for help then it better be there. Somewhere in the middle of R's and D's, you'll find the majority voice of America. The two parties have done a crappy job of taking on only one part of what Americans want.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
      • John

        Been sayin that about myself for years.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:05 am |
  13. Robert Mcgee

    I did not read all the comments so this may be a repeat. Why do we need some complicated voting "system". the person who gets the most votes wins.

    March 19, 2012 at 4:27 am |
    • Jonathan

      Didn't you read the story? Because it comes down to people may not end up voting for who they favor because of an aura in the media presenting the candidate as unlikely to win. When in reality if that notion hadn't even been spun the candidate could have won. He certainty isn't though if the media projects he is unlikely to win. No one wants to waste a vote.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:10 am |
      • one man

        So instead of one man, one vote it was one man, .9999999967 vote.....

        March 19, 2012 at 5:40 am |
    • Steven Colo

      Tell that to Al Gore, who beat Bush in the popular vote and lost to him in the Electoral College.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:13 am |
      • Paul

        Could you imagine Al Gore as President . YIKES. Thank god for the American Electrical system.

        March 19, 2012 at 6:33 am |
      • reddog9500

        Could you imagine if the average voter knew the difference between the American Electoral and the American Electrical systems? YIKES!

        March 19, 2012 at 6:54 am |
    • Grazzt

      Mainly because popluar vote does not reflect the dynamics of the Nation and would be a nightmare. Example, Wyoming per census has about a population 564,000, Vermont 625,000, and N Dakota 672,000. CA has 37.2m. Now I think it would be hard pressed to say the views of CA are the same or are in the best interests of the other 3. Compound that by the other states and that is why the popular vote could never work in this country.

      Now in your local county or city government, yes, because the people voting would have pretty similiar concerns and interests because of proximity.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:17 am |
    • Tom

      The problem is that the person who gets the most votes in the primary wins, and primary voters are dominated by wing-nut extremists, so only the candidates who appeal to the looney fringe get on the general election ballot.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:41 am |
      • Chris

        Herein lies the problem with the current system. Every 4 years you have a vote for the person less likely to screw up the most and you are less afraid of.

        This is the problem with a 2 party system where one has to win his parties nomination and sellout his ideals and beliefs to do so(see McCain in 2008)

        The problem resides in DC where both the GOP and democrats have conspired to assure that no other party has a chance since the Ross Perot scare way back when. So now even getting on the presidential ballot in most states requires a huge accomplishment while even getting any airtime with debates involves you picking a side(see Ron Paul this year)

        I am a registered Republican only to vote in the primaries, but usually vote 3rd party because there is rarely a democrat or GOP candidate worth voting for. I voted for Obama in 2008 because McCain sold out and chose the worst VP ever and NC was a swing state so my vote actually mattered.

        March 19, 2012 at 6:40 am |
  14. Mike Speakman

    This all assumes that the actual voting process is fair and has not been tampered with. I do not feel as if the last presidential election met these criteria. Here in Ohio the the voting registration laws were changed with and weakened in my eyes and the same occurred in several other states as well. The period to cast votes was extended as well these two changes opened up the process to voter fraud on a massive scale.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:58 am |
    • Dave Rable

      At least Ohio does require you to register before voting! It looks like Obammy would prefer that states like Texas open up polling sites in Mexico, so that Mexicans won't need to illegally cross the border in order to illegally vote!

      March 19, 2012 at 5:45 am |
  15. Phil (D.C.)

    53 and 55% respectively? Really? From a supposed math Ph.D. candidate no less? Stop writing forever.

    March 19, 2012 at 3:22 am |
    • Megan

      Or that a certain percentage would enthusiastically vote for both of them. The percentages don't have to be exclusive.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:35 am |
    • Griffin

      Don't be so quick to jump on somebody and grill them. Imagine two polls. One is for Democrats voting for Obama, and one is for Democrats voting for Hillary Clinton. There are choices from "I don't want this person to be President" to "I am enthusiastic about voting for this person in November". In Obama's poll, 55% of people vote enthusiastic. In Clinton's poll, 53% vote enthusiastic. It makes sense if you stop to think about what you're attacking, rather than just jump in and put down a man who clearly does not deserve such a response.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:37 am |
    • shazaam

      You forgot... you know... those pesky details such as what was actually meant instead of your misunderstanding.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:43 am |
    • Guard1an

      I would vote "like" but that has been disabled.

      March 19, 2012 at 9:56 am |
  16. Stabi

    It doesn't matter what you think, what party you are, or how you vote, the corporations own and buy the presidency, and that is that. So go buy some Tide detergent, do your dirty laundry, and go get some Kentucky Fried Chicken, or the clown, or the Burger King, and support the corporate kings that enslave you, like you are supposed to be doing.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |
  17. gb

    Instead of picking a top 3. Just let it be known that if the top guy doesn't get 51% of the vote then the top two place candidates have a run off election.

    I know a lot of people that vote for the lesser of two evils because they feel their vote would be thrown away if they voted for the guy they wanted. This is wrong.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:40 am |
    • Jonathan

      What's really ironic with the whole voting for who you less favor because the media is presenting him as unlikely to win is it's generally an ill perception to begin with. If you don't even project who's likely or unlikely to win people would just vote for who they favor. Not based on the "common" opinion which of course is never common.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:13 am |
  18. Craig

    While the observations here are reasonably accurate, they don't begin to touch on some of the more significant realities. For example, because of the Electoral College, the people who live in...I'll use South Dakota only because it's an easy example...simply don't matter. A candidate can't get enough electoral votes from that state, so if you're not going to win easily there, you don't go. If you think it's in play, you MIGHT show up, but otherwise those folks don't count. Now, if we tossed the Electoral College then every vote WOULD matter, and that voter in South Dakota is just as valuable as the voter in Ohio or California. The candidates can't simply write off South Dakota. In short, let's start by electing people using a true "got the most votes" format, and then we can discuss these other issues.

    BTW, the delegates to the Electoral College don't even have to vote they way they're pledged to vote...and often haven't. Talk about ignoring the will of the voters.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:39 am |
    • tnskier29

      Actually Craig you have reversed if the college vote wasn't in place. Then the candidate wouldnt bother going to many states due to their population. Essentially all a candidate would have to do is concentrate on the most populous states and run all their ads in those states to ensure victory. If a candidate only went to states like New York and the rest of the northeastern states, California, Texas, Florida. It;s pretty clear the candidate could easily ignore 1/3 of the states completed and even lose in that state and still win nation wide.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:57 am |
      • Ron

        What's the difference between a candidate not going to a state because they have a low electoral college number of votes and a candidate not going to a state because they have a low number to voters?

        March 19, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • T i m


      March 19, 2012 at 7:25 am |
      • DrJStrangepork

        Type louder we can't hear you.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:42 am |
      • Perry Platypus

        Ron Paul = Don Quixote. Given that he can't seem to realize that the race is over for him and that he is now pointlessly spending people's money on a hopeless campaign, he may be the most delusional and disconnected one of them all....

        March 19, 2012 at 8:10 am |
  19. Saber

    Matt- The issue is two fold. One the system we have is indeed broken ant it needs to be fixed. This is true. But the other issue is voter turnout. Which as the years go by is lower and lower based on population vs. votes cast in the elections. When a smaller percentage of the population controls the larger percentage of the population there is a problem. I speak for my wife and I when I say we finally quit going to the polling places. Why? Its inconvienient for us. So we signed up for the permanent absentee ballots which arrive early, we can vote in the privacy of your own home, then send them in. However, with the addition of better internet access, the Federal Government needs to get off their lazy butts and have on-line voting. When folsk register to vote, they need to recieve a Voter Registration Number, just like a Social Security Number or in my case a Selective Service Number, then that number along with a user-name and password should be eneterd and the votes cast accordingly. But overall, its sheer lazyness on the part of the public which keeps the voter number low, and a broken system that needs to be repaired. But part of that is also a matter of how we handle our "Coming of Age" processes too. I am a firm believer that everyone, once they become the age of 18 should be inducted automatically, (by law), into one of the Military Services for a term of no shorter than 4 years. Many other countries require this term of service as a requirement of citizenship. All of this goes hand in hand with EVERYONE'S civic responsibility and a debt they owe their country for the benefits which they receive on a daily basis. So when you start preaching about a broken system, its needs repair from the bottom all the way to the top. And... enforcing Civic Responsibility as part of the Country's general law of the land is the one way which this gets fixed! Nuff Said!

    March 19, 2012 at 2:30 am |
    • Keith

      "Four years of military service to vote" – Read "Starship Troopers" by Robert A. Heinlein, 1959. (Don't waste your time with the movie.)


      March 19, 2012 at 2:49 am |
      • Justin R

        Starship Troopers is a better movie than it is a novel. This is pretty much indisputable if you've read and seen nearly any amount of contemporary science fiction.

        March 19, 2012 at 3:20 am |
    • dx2718

      It's not that hard to go to the local polling place, or, if that's not possible, vote absentee. Online voting is problematic in many ways, including that it would be much easier to corrupt the vote count, but also in that, as it turns out, if people don't have to spend effort to do something, they often forget; it was shown that an on-line voting system can actually decrease turnout.

      March 19, 2012 at 3:14 am |
    • Brad

      How about we change your idea from the age of 18 to the age of 12. That way we aren't infringing upon the idea that adults have access to the bill of rights. Also at age 12 we can stimulate the growing epidemic of diabetes, the falling literacy rates, and properly educate our children. Then at the age of 16 we can discuss the choices of pre college/university or trade schools, which in turn will dodge the next financial bubble "student loans".

      March 19, 2012 at 5:05 am |
    • Thomas

      I would like to see Election Day made into a holiday. Give people the day off from work so that everyone can have a chance to vote during the day. Make it easier for people to vote and perhaps the numbers will go up.

      March 19, 2012 at 5:58 am |
      • T i m


        March 19, 2012 at 7:34 am |
  20. looknclick

    Candidates from only two parties are given to us by media, they say things, we consider, we vote (or not), one becomes president, even if he (not she so far) didn't get the majority of the votes. How simple that could be?

    March 19, 2012 at 2:28 am |
  21. ipmutt

    We need a leader. Vote the dork out

    March 19, 2012 at 2:06 am |
    • Merc

      If anything, we need MORE dorks out there. Don't vote with your feet or your wallet...vote with your BRAIN...your delicious brain.....

      March 19, 2012 at 2:51 am |
    • DrJStrangepork

      And what other options do we have to vote on? The point is trading a moped in for a rascal isn't necessarily trading up. I don't think the general election system (flawed as it is) is the problem. The issue is the primary system doesn't generate the best general election candidate. That is why we get choices like Obama or Bush or whatever. I don't want a president serving either party. If two party system holds congress, then we should have something different in executive branch.

      March 19, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  22. Joel

    we don't need a new voting system. we just need less voters. high school graduation should be a minimum requirement for voting. stop letting all of the people who just vote for welfare checks vote. voting should not be a right. not everyone had the right to vote when this country was founded. not everyone should have the right to vote now. the founders had their reasons for setting things up the way they did. of course, very few people care about how or why this country was founded anymore.

    March 19, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • Country Doc

      Good point. I also think that you should have to work and pay taxes to vote.

      March 19, 2012 at 2:07 am |
      • twiz123

        Actually forget the high school degree...I would be happy with a minimal amount of taxes paid in to qualify to vote. If you don't meet the minimum well no problem just bring your drivers license and a credit card or cash to the polling station...

        March 19, 2012 at 2:15 am |
    • Mighty7

      Well, knock me with a feather: A conservative American suggesting we scrap democracy and impose a system that only allows votes to those they deem "smart" enough.

      Then again, maybe that is the problem. After all, seeing how all those Red states are the main recipients of welfare and have the lowest graduation rates in the US., it explains the current idiocy precolating in the GOP.

      March 19, 2012 at 2:10 am |
    • looknclick

      Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others?

      March 19, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • dx2718

      If you're for education, you should know that it's "fewer" voters, not "less." "Less" is for things that you can't count. Voters are discrete, so you must use "fewer."

      March 19, 2012 at 3:15 am |
      • shazaam

        hint: he's not really for education, he just likes to see himself type.

        March 19, 2012 at 3:46 am |
  23. Alfred the Great

    Just face the simple reality that the GOP = GREEDY OPPOSITION PARTY candidates are a lousy group.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:35 am |
    • twiz123

      Wake up, you have been sold a bill of good by way of hate mongering. The more the democrats get you to hate republicans and the more that republicans train their followers to hate democrats the dumber you all get. They are equally bad for this country which is what this article is all about. The current voting system FORCES us to select the lesser of 2 evils. Flip a coin as to which is worse for this country as it makes no difference. Find me a fiscally conservative yet socially liberal candidate...there is none. Not a single one and if there was under the current voting system no one would vote for that candidate because they would be scared it would be like throwing their vote away. Wake up...the two parties are both in it for the same reasons...perks, power and priviledge. Not for you or me but for them and the rest of their DC cronies.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:56 am |
      • Country Doc

        Couldn't agree more. In the end the current administration wants the same thing every first term administration wants: A second term.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:04 am |
      • galicant

        Found one! Ron Paul – Ready to cut spending by a cool tril – ready to legalize it. His social policy – do what you want, it's not the governments business as long as it's not hurting someone else. WAKE UP!

        March 19, 2012 at 2:06 am |
      • twiz123

        Of the people running Ron may fit the bill best but he is not the right guy either. I can't believe I am about to type this...but he isn't enough of a politician. In life there has to be SOME give and take. You don't earn a nickname like Dr. NO for nothing, especially since democrats and republicans both call him that. We need a Ron Paul 25 years younger (no not Rand either) and with a little more flexibility. That being said no one under the current voting system would risk "throwing their vote away" on a long shot. They will continue to vote for the best of the worst and most often by party line. It ridiculous but it happens every single time.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:21 am |
      • Herby Sagues

        Twiz123: Democrats didn'g teg me to hate the Republicans, Republicans did. I used to be a republican, and to this date, I share Republican values much more than those of dems in almost every area. But I hate the republican party. Scratch that: I despise it. I can't in good consience vote for a party that puts politics above everything else. A party that doesn't care about truth, justice or honesty, all it cares is about party politics. If you go with the GOPs current tactics, it doesn't matter if what someone does is right or wrong, if you would have done the same thing in their place or if you were actually thinking on proposing it yourself, if it was done by someone of the opposing party, you will decry it as the worst thing ever done. You will say whatever you need to say for the people that decide the next election to win. If praising Hitler was what was needed, they would all be wearing svastikas.
        Also, I can't vote for a party that thinks that science is not relevant, and that it can be safely ignored if it goes against their personal beliefs.
        The GOP is rotten today. I only hope that after a second election lost against someone that couldn't possibly win, they'll regroup and discover that, unless they go back to sanity and start acting as if they cared about the country more than they care about the election, they will become irrelevant. And I hope it doesn't take them three elections to do that.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:33 am |
      • Merc

        Quite frankly, it's the Republicans who got me to hate Republicans. I use to vote Independent, but right now anything is better than the Republican candidates.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:56 am |
      • twiz123

        @Herby Sagues: I don't know you so every word you types may be right on and you may love research and fact checking, but I know the general public. They think they hate the republicans for the terrible policies they have when in truth their policies are no worse and no better than democrats. They too probably think they hate republicans because of the republicans but here's the deal how do they generally know about the bad republican policies? Through articles, sound bytes, and news coverage saying what they are doing wrong all coming from the liberal press (and there is a LOT of liberal press). Force yourself to watch the worst news station on TV, FOX, for one month with no other press and I assure you you would think the Democrats in the streets robbing people at gunpoint. The press is no longer a "news" source its a large population of opinion columnists. So unless you are the true exception to the rule, I say again, WAKE UP there is no difference between republicans and democrats. They both want to use your taxes to increase their personal power. Yes each has a few different agendas that you could argue might help you but neither has the bettering country as a whole truly in their long term plan and even if one of two of them did their party line votes wouldn't allow it to happen.

        March 19, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • Country Doc

      I would like to get rid of the labels associated with politics because they seem to have only negative effects. I tend to be more conservative but have no problem with birth control . I do not agree with abortion because an undesired pregnancy in this day and age should not occur (other than rape), and I feel that during pregnancy a woman shares her body with another human being. By the same token, I have no problem with gay marriage and feel that, like germany, the religious and legal aspects of marriage should be separate (i.e., you can have the blessing of the church but not be legally married, or be legally married without church blessing(such as catholics who have not had their first marriage annuled in the church)).

      I would, by most, be considered republican and conservative, yet do have some more liberal ideals also......

      March 19, 2012 at 1:59 am |
    • Joel

      greed is not against the law. if we didn't have greed, we would be the soviet union. even communist china recognizes that greedy capitalism has to play a part in the growth of a nation. that's the american dream. start from nothing and build yourself up. get millions of dollars and stick it in your ears and tell everyone to get bent. you don't like it, china is that way --–>.

      March 19, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  24. Country Doc

    I would also recommend getting rid of ANY polls, since they may unduly influence votes (i.e. a voter may change his vote in CA based on the results in NY to "make their vote count"). And no "harassment" of voters in the parking lot.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:34 am |
  25. Kuato Lives

    How about we just do a popular vote, but if your IQ is less than 100, then you can't vote. We Americans have become too stupid for universal suffrage to work.

    I don't think the proles will miss their vote very much; just give them each a free carton of smokes and a case of beer every election year and they will be more than content.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:29 am |
    • McGuffin

      I am tired of the way national stupidity has become celebrated, too, but we can't just give people IQ tests. Who decides what's on the test? They are not immune to manipulation or bias. (That's not even touching the issue of whether or not stupid people should have the right to vote - they are people too, right?)

      March 19, 2012 at 1:48 am |
      • twiz123

        Actually Kuatu might be onto something. The IQ would be the very idea he came up with. First question on the ballot could be "What do you want to do today?" The answers would be 1)Vote, 2) Get a free case of beer, 3) Get a free carton on cigarettes. Their answer would be the IQ answer. Voter=Smart Beer=Smart but not voting Cigarettes=not smart and not going to be alive for much longer. Of course I guess there would be a bias in that towards tricking lower income voters. Oh well I thought I was onto something.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:07 am |
  26. Ice-B

    The 2000 election is a perfect example of why the electoral college is flawed. Ignoring the fact that our country would have been better off without 8 years of "W," how can you justify handing the presidency to someone whom the majority of voters didn't vote for? You just can't.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:23 am |
    • McGuffin

      It's a relic of a time when communication was worse and people were more involved and familiar with local government than national. It made sense then to elect knowledgeable people to choose for you; now delegates are just pawns of the uninformed.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:50 am |
  27. Tim Thompson

    I have long favored an idea much like score voting. Let each voter have, say, 10 votes instead of just one. Furthermore, for each candidate on the ballot, we are allowed to vote "for" (counts as +1) or "against (counts as -1). Each voter can allocate those 10 votes in any way they like, as many for or against any number of candidates, like 6 for one and 4 for another because you don't have a strong favorite; or maybe 3 for somebody who is "OK" and 7 against somebody you really want to lose. When the votes are tallied, the negative "against" votes are subtracted from the positive "for" votes. So it becomes possible to win with a negative number of votes. But at least this way you actually can "express your opinion at the ballot box". Anyone who wins with a negative vote count can't get up on stage and claim "a mandate from the people", and that's an aspect of the method that I like very much. And if a negative vote count wins, they know at once that nobody much liked anybody on the ballot.

    March 19, 2012 at 1:12 am |
    • Ken

      This is far to complicated would not work at all. Have you forgotten all those Palm Beach democrats in the 2002 elections that almost poked their eye out with the punch tool for a very simple puch ballot that any 3rd grader could understand ...

      March 19, 2012 at 1:46 am |
      • McGuffin

        I wasn't there, but any mechanical system is prone to problems, and I'm sure it's not so easy to punch clean holes if you have arthritis. An electronic system shouldn't be so bad, if it makes assigning points relatively simple and validates your entry.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:53 am |
  28. AgrippaMT

    The rules of voting are far simpler than this geek describes. One man, one woman, either way one vote. Don't let these math geeks confuse you.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:42 am |
    • Chris R

      It is just one vote. What article are you reading?

      March 19, 2012 at 1:16 am |
    • ddblah

      I know, it is scary when others talk about things that we simply can not understand. I feel your pain.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:25 am |
    • notbridge

      Yeah – don't let all of those "smart" people make you think.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:33 am |
    • McGuffin

      Darn those math people with their physics, code-breaking, and computers. What did they ever do for us?

      March 19, 2012 at 1:55 am |
    • Merc

      Agrippa, I should remind you that these "Geeks" that you speak of are currently inheriting the Earth.....We KNOW what the hell we're doing...what's your excuse?

      March 19, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  29. achepotle

    I think a one party government, under the supervision of the U.N., mandated to make mandatory green energy programs and make sure science is taught in schools, and the social safety net is strengthened...wealth will need to be redistributed, through taxes and seizures of estates valued over 1 million...all fire arms will be made illegal. Religion will only be allowed in private homes or on special licensed holy days.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:24 am |
    • Al

      Interesting ideas. Why?

      March 19, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • Merc

        Because he's read too much "1984"...that's why.

        March 19, 2012 at 3:03 am |
    • Country Doc

      Sort of sounds like the old soviet union (didn't work) or NAZI germany (didn't really work their either). Or were you just joking???

      March 19, 2012 at 1:38 am |
      • McGuffin

        I think it's a Republican trying to be funny, not realizing that "wealth redistribution" and a lack of retribution (with firearms or by any other means) are the ideals that Jesus was pushing...

        March 19, 2012 at 1:58 am |
  30. kirk


    March 19, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • McGuffin

      A camel is a horse designed by committee.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:59 am |
  31. Shabang Wowza

    I think EVERYBODY is fed up with the "Electoral College," a primitive 1920's concept that everybody agrees is severely out-of-date but nobody knows how exactly to get rid of it.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Shabang Wowza

      Even after the 2000 election, everybody was saying it should go away, but nothing ever happened. It just doesn't make any sense. In today's modern age, we should be able to elect our elected representatives OURSELVES, not left up to some representative that is more-or-less just a puppet show. It is completely nonsense. Have these people even heard of something called "the internet?" Probably not.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:10 am |
      • pk

        The founding fathers set up the electoral college as a compromise between having congress choose the president or having him chosen by popular vote. We are after all a republic where we choose people to represent us.

        March 19, 2012 at 12:38 am |
    • kirk

      your wrong i would kill to keep and protect our republic


      March 19, 2012 at 12:12 am |
    • JM

      You do realize without the electoral college that the large urban areas will decide who wins and a vast amount of the country will not be represented. The ele.ctoral is far from perfect but the idea of a popular vote as a much worse option.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:25 am |
      • Ice-B

        Why is it bad that the most populated parts of the country should have the biggest say? I can't think of one reason why Iowans deserve as much attention as they get.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:19 am |
      • McGuffin

        Ice-B - more people should get a bigger say; after all, that's the equivalent of each individual holding the same amount of power. That's equality. That said, I think notions like the Senate in which each geographic region also gets equal representation are important; you can't have underpopulated areas of the country getting walked all over by the few most populous regions.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:03 am |
    • sure_they_do

      nationalpopularvote.com describes how many states have already pledged to award all of their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote – but only if enough other states join in on the pledge to ensure that this will determine the president.

      Under this plan, the electoral college remains intact but is rendered useless by a "power group" of states who have agreed to abide by the popular vote. A true band-aid solution, but a solution nonetheless.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:27 am |
  32. Paganguy

    Approval voting is inclusive, meaning you can vote for every candidate acceptable to you. All other voting methods are divisive; if you are not with me, you are against me. Approval voting could also be called the faultless ballot voting. Every hole you punch is a yes and it is counted (every hole you don't punch is a no) and the guy with the most votes wins. Approval voting is already practiced in every city electing judges. Usually there are a number of candidates running for three seats. The voter is allowed to vote for up to three candidates and the three highest scores win.
    Our present system is favored by the backroom politicians and kingmakers. I am positive that Ralph Nader was financed by certain groups to ensure the victory of G W Bush by splitting the votes. You know how well that turned out – two wars and a ruined economy. It couldn't have happened with approval voting.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:06 am |
    • Shabang Wowza

      Hanging Chads...what a joke! That kind of stuff should never happen. We need to get rid of our Archaic voting system. It is outdated even by my Granparents' standards, and they are pretty old.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:14 am |
    • Richard

      Another advantage of approval voting (which is a system I've suggested to friends for years) is that each candidate is almost forced to appeal to as many voters as possible to get elected. Thus, in the desire to be desirable, the candidate will be less likely to sling mud at a rival since they do not want to alienate the beliefs of the voters who supported that rival.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:43 am |
    • DC Johnny

      Yes, we would have certainly been much better off with Gore. Based on his little political power, he influenced the right people into netting him a Nobel and billions of dollars through proven false scientific studies about our real effect on the planet. I can only imagine what damage he'd have done if given the keys to the largest military on the planet and one of its largest economies.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:01 am |
      • notbridge

        Another head-in-the-sand republican. What a surprise. "Proven false scientific studies"! I'm literally laughing so loud I woke up my wife. What science degree do you have, may I ask? I *do* have an advanced science degree, and I *do* work in the technological world, and I *do* read up on scientific journals as a matter of routine, and I most fervently believe that Global warming is a certainty.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:32 am |
      • dc

        ... About like Obama's doing......

        March 19, 2012 at 1:32 am |
  33. PhilG

    I'm voting for a cold six pack of beer in this next election.

    March 19, 2012 at 12:04 am |
  34. kirk

    Democracy-worship suggests a childlike belief in the wisdom and goodness of "the people." But the people supported the guillotine in the French Revolution and Napoleon. The people were wild with joy as the British, French, and German boys marched off in August 1914 to the Great War that inflicted the mortal wound on Western civilization. The people supported Hitler and the Nuremberg Laws.

    Our fathers no more trusted in the people always to do the right thing than they trusted in kings. In the republic they created, the House of Representatives, the people's house, was severely restricted in its powers by a Bill of Rights and checked by a Senate whose members were to be chosen by the states, by a president with veto power, and by a Supreme Court.

    March 18, 2012 at 11:59 pm |
    • Paganguy

      This way the crooks are running the lives of the ignorants.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  35. Johnny Monicker

    Research: Liquid Democracy, Liquid Feedback.

    March 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
  36. kirk


    March 18, 2012 at 11:52 pm |
  37. Country Doc

    The electoral college has probably outlived it's usefulness. However, if the college is kept, there should be no "winner take all" situations and the district reprsentative should have to accurately vote based on the electoral districts voting (I realize that I may be using incorrect nomenclature, so please forgive). So essentially there is no real need for the delegates to travel.....

    March 18, 2012 at 11:45 pm |
    • kirk


      March 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
      • Mighty7

        A reason that has NOTHING to do with the actual election mathemathics or procedures.

        March 19, 2012 at 2:16 am |
    • Aaron Hamlin

      The issue is quite bigger than the electoral college. For example, if we had a national popular vote system for the 2012 presidential election, then we would still be using Plurality Voting. And that comes with some problems:

      (1) Plurality splits votes between candidates that are perceived as similar,
      (2) Voters face barriers choosing their honest favorite when that candidate's winning chances are questionable
      (3) It tends to select more partisan winners, and
      (4) New challenger candidates (especially independents and third parties) face extreme obstacles because voters are reluctant to risk wasting their vote.

      All those issues are completely eliminated with Approval Voting or Score Voting.

      March 19, 2012 at 12:08 am |
  38. panz4ever

    Simple....dump the electoral college (went obsolete with the modern age) and go to the popular vote.

    March 18, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
    • kirk


      March 18, 2012 at 11:57 pm |
      • poopie


        March 19, 2012 at 6:48 am |
  39. Jeffrey Vanke

    Approval voting requires too much comfort with math for many Americans to manage, numerically for some, political-psychologically for others, in terms of having confidence in the outcome, before or after. Score voting has similar problems.

    Coombs method is the ideal way to go. This is instant-runoff voting, with ballot rankings, that eliminates least-favored candidates first rather than first eliminating candidates with the fewest first-place votes. A number of political studies show that voter identification is usually stronger against a party (or individual) than for another party (or individual). Coombs' method allows people to vote effectively against candidates.

    We could devise quadrenniel turn-taking by the states for the order of primaries elections, along with certain rules for winnowing state-by-state primaries down to five or so national candidates for the final November election. The primaries, too, would use Coombs method.

    March 18, 2012 at 11:18 pm |
  40. Ian S.

    Yes, we (the US) need to change our voting system. This has been an active area of academic study for, well, some time (50+ years, possibly longer). Important properties widely believed to apply to the US voting system aren't just unlikely but paradoxical. For instance, any 1-vote, 1-person voting system will be dominated by 2 "ruling parties". Third/independent parties get pushed aside or absorbed via wedge issues.Further, countries such as Australia have implemented pluralistic/approval voting systems. Unfortunately, political issues are rarely (never) resolved by purely mathematical proofs.

    March 18, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  41. AmericansElect Rep

    This is very much in conversation with this piece. AmericansElect is facilitating a bipartisan online primary to get a third party candidate on the ballot in all 50 states come 2012. Check it out, and throw your support behind a candidate you feel like got snubbed by the outdated primary system.


    March 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Kat88

      Sure – allow online voting and 'believe' that it would not be any less corrupt than the existing system.... right. You think eutopia exists too, right ?

      March 18, 2012 at 10:54 pm |
    • Aaron Hamlin

      I am extremely curious to know which voting system Americans Elect plans to use for its nomination process. From what I gather, Americans Elect is interested in a more Centrist ticket for its nominee. Both Approval Voting and Score Voting are excellent at choosing Centrist candidates. In contrast, systems like Plurality and IRV tend to elect more partisan winners.

      Here are some visuals to demonstrate:

      -Director/Co-founder, The Center for Election Science

      March 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  42. ochonosi

    Voting is actually a mathematical fallacy which should worry all trying to spread democracy. Mathematician Kenneth Arrow proved "no voting system can convert the ranked preferences of individuals into a community-wide ranking while also meeting a specific set of fair criteria." In fact he won a Nobel prize for his work and studies in this field. Our founding fathers like Jefferson and Hamilton, fought for years over how officials should be elected and never really came to an agreement. In fact the electoral college was created because they didn't trust the people nor the math mathematical fallacies that existed however in doing that they created yet another fallacy. Now we have a geographic fallacy which fails as we have seen in elections in the past (like in 2000).

    March 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
    • Ian S.

      My one bone with this article is his lack of references. The research into voting systems is very broad and thorough. I know we're on CNN and his comments have to be readable by the lay public...but he could have given more than a single book reference. Otherwise, I'm so glad *someone* finally put some sunlight on this topic. Voting system reform could eradicate influential money and other wastes from politics.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:11 pm |
  43. myklds

    "Why a different voting system might be better"

    But why? Because your bet for Republican Nomination is not on the lead? So we should go for a system hoping that would turn everything upside down?

    March 18, 2012 at 10:36 pm |
    • pink floyd mayweather

      Another one bite the dust!

      March 18, 2012 at 10:39 pm |
    • jasinq

      clearly this guy isnt a republican, he is actually smart and understands facts and science.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:46 pm |
      • pk

        that's right because we all know there aren't any smart republicans who understand math and science. Wow.

        March 18, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
    • Jessy

      Do you support the current crop of Republican candidates? And please, answer my question honestly and not strategically.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
    • Money Pacquiao

      The million dollar question is...how long would CNN allow these bias writers to continually publish their bias opinions on this site.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:49 pm |
      • baglof

        how can you not have bias on an opinion editorial?

        March 18, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
      • AmazedinFL

        What bias are you referring to? It seemed pretty neutral to me, being written from the perspective of someone doing research into satisfaction with different voting methodologies, and comparing the mathematical strengths and weaknesses of each one? It's easy to state that something's biased, when you're not even naming what specific bias you're referring to? Do you even have one in mind to name or did you just feel like writing that the article was 'biased' with nothing substantive whatsoever to support what you're saying?

        March 18, 2012 at 11:58 pm |
    • myklds

      I support the current voting system. It clearly speaks the voice of the people.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:59 pm |
    • MarkinFL

      "Opinion" – Look it up.

      What specific bias are you referring to anyway? What did he write that was not factual.

      I'm a liberal and laughing my tookus of at the repubs right now. But that does not change the fact that our voting system is not ideal.

      March 18, 2012 at 11:06 pm |
    • Money Pacquiao


      It's in the uppermost part, look it up!

      My million dollar question was a summary of the ff. question that came across my mind after reading the first paragarap:

      1.) Why compare Romney's (35%) share of republican votes to other previous nominees like McCain's (47%), Clinton's (53%) and Obama's (55)?
      2.) Do the previous nominees mentioned had those percentages even if "it seems Republicans/democrats haven't yet completely warmed to their presumptive nominee."?
      3.) Why not Compare Romneys with his current rival (Santurom, Gingrich and Ron) who are currently eating their share of dusts?
      4. Last but not the least, if Romneys' current (35) percentage shows less excitement of voters, how about Gingrich's, Santurom's and Paul's?

      But wait...I would rather ask...how many did Santurom, Gingrich and Ron currently are making? And why the writer isn't that bias enough to show us their percetage here? on this magnificent article.

      All the questions above have been answered with one word. Hint: It's started with B and end with an S.

      March 19, 2012 at 1:02 am |
      • lol


        March 19, 2012 at 1:12 am |
      • Money Pacquiao


        Nice guess but I said it's only one word.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:23 am |
      • Money Pacquiao

        And basically they have the same meaning.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:24 am |
  44. volsocal

    Approval voting has some merit. But the real problem is the perception that we only have two parties. An independent can and should run if they can muster the support. Hope I live to see the day that the Republicans and Democrats lose.

    March 18, 2012 at 10:31 pm |
    • Jessy

      I have better chances of winning the lottery while in possession of a live rabbit on my arms with a hole on my right shoe than to see an independent win the White House.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:34 pm |
    • Michele

      Get rid of the Electroal College, we don't need it anymore. Whoever get's the most votes wins – period. Am sick and tired of delegates and "super' delegates at the nominations and also go to an open primary in all states.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
      • Lori Ross-Lincoln

        Agree, Get rid of the out dated Electrol College. Get corporation (limits should be set on how much a corporation can donate) . Heck we have to disclose who we are and where we work when making a donation = transprancy of the people). Therefore, some corporations have corrupted the election process and system. Thanks to The Supreme Court has passed laws that started the corruption process in the election system by stating that corporations are people too and they can give undisclosed amount of money to have their voices heard and to determine results of an election or whoever is elected will be controlled by the money that was given to the PAC and the candidate running for whatever position. So money talks and the average person does not have a voice in the election process any more with these recently laws-chages by the SC.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:16 am |
      • Lori Ross-Lincoln

        Agree, Get rid of the out dated Electrol College. Get corporation (limits should be set on how much a corporation can donate)out of the election system. Heck we have to disclose who we are and where we work when making a donation = transprancy of the people). Therefore, some corporations have corrupted the election process and system. Thanks to The Supreme Court has passed laws that started the corruption process in the election system by stating that corporations are people too and they can give undisclosed amount of money to have their voices heard and to determine results of an election or whoever is elected will be controlled by the money that was given to the PAC and the candidate running for whatever position. So money talks and the average person does not have a voice in the election process any more with these recently laws-chages by the SC.

        March 19, 2012 at 1:18 am |
  45. dreamer96

    We could replace Congress with a mule, and old football field divided up into with back and white squares, and some hay to feed the mule...

    Just tape the bill to the mules side, and send the mule out onto the field..and wait for him to wander around the football field till he passes a vote onto a black or white square..

    That has to be as good as what we have now...a crap shoot either way..

    March 18, 2012 at 10:25 pm |
  46. fnpmitchreturns

    why bother ??? when the voting districts are so gerrymandered it is beyond stupid!

    March 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
    • Jessy

      Not to mention the abysmal voter turnout. So few people who vote, and who are capable of voting, are basically determining the fate of the majority. Some of them don't even know who they're voting for or why. Some even just vote along party lines regardless on whether or not the candidates are against the voter's interests.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:20 pm |
    • Kat88

      Why bother ... are you kidding me ???????????????????? Vote because your vote could be make the difference between the life as you know now, or the life your children will come to wonder "what the h-ell happened to the United States of America ???????????????

      March 18, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  47. Eric Gorall

    1. No winner-take-all, contests; all proportional.
    2. 5 different voting days, all on Saturdays. 10 states each day. Voting days 1 month apart with two debates between each.

    March 18, 2012 at 10:13 pm |
  48. Jessy

    What's interesting is that an MMO known as Eve Online (google it) has a election of its own involving the Council of Stellar Management. Google that too. This year, total votes during the first week has totaled 33,000 per active player account. Compared to its current 350,000 subscriber base, that is a 9% voter turnout. Compare that to the voter turn out of the combine populations between Alaska and North Dakota during this year's Super Tuesday's primaries, which is over 1,300,000 people. Combine both states in the number of votes for this year's primaries and you have a voter turnout of just an abysmal 1% or just about 24,000 votes. Even if you factor in the minimum-voting-age and citizenship status of the people among the population, that kind of turnout between two states is pathetic at best and insulting and sad when compared to a voter turnout of a video game.

    March 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • Jessy

      EDIT: Sorry, there was a typo. I meant "33,000 with* active player accounts"

      March 18, 2012 at 10:14 pm |
      • Jessy

        @ Brian – Thank you for your critique. However, I stand by my argument and if people like to complain or moan about me comparing a video game to real life, then they are the ones who don't get my point. Many Americans who are able to vote don't participate and therefore have allowed only the few who do to determine the fate of our country. It's moronic and makes no sense. Of course, I'm not going to advocate mandatory voting because I believe people have a right to do as they please with their own votes, but people have to be made aware of the consequence of not voting. If you don't vote, don't complain to anyone if anything goes wrong because it's your fault. People with that mentality should have no right to complain if they didn't even bother to participate in the system. I vote so that I can complain.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:26 pm |
    • Brian

      Beyond the amount of ridicule that you'll get for bringing a video game up as proof in a politcal process, you would do well to remember that this is simply a primary election and not a general one.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:19 pm |
      • Jessy

        Looks like the comment section jacked up the placement of my previous comment. Perhaps it's my browser's setting.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:27 pm |
  49. Primus

    The writer bemoans that voters are "less than excited" about Romney. Think "excitement" is good decision criteria for a candidate? Take a look at some old film of the excitement in Munich in the 1930's as the National Socialist party candidate whipped the crowds into a frenzy. Yes, that was Hitler. Excitement was his game at the time. The author would, by that measure, have loved him.

    March 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  50. vhalen

    It is crazy. Just the primary's alone, every state is different. I have heard caucus, primary, beauty contests, straw polls, proportional, winner take all, and winner take call by congressional district. Missouri makes no sense at all, they had a non counting primary, and a caucus that no one knows how will pan out. I don't think Missouri's electorate are fairly represented.

    Then in the electoral college, a popular vote can lose. How futile would it to even want to vote if you are a Republican in DC, or California, or a democrat in Utah. In the case of a 51%-49% vote in California with so many electoral votes, completely throws out a large portion of votes.

    I have heard the electoral college was put in place because of the logistics of counting all votes. Now that we have evolved technologically from the 19th to 21st century, I would like to do away with that process, and treat every citizen equal, regardless of state and or party, and just count up the total votes.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:47 pm |
    • ElForko

      Actually, the Electoral College was created to give the smaller states more influence in the national government. Though, as we all know, in modern times it simply gives a lot of power to a handful of medium-population swing states. The rest of us (speaking from Texas) don't feel like we count as much, even though we may live in a very populous state with a large number of electoral votes.

      As has always been the case, anyone who wants to change this flawed system has an uphill battle against the small-ish but powerful states who benefit from it.

      March 19, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  51. joeinalabama

    I have an idea, you only get to vote in a Federal election if you pay Federal income tax, seems I would have a little more control over how my money is spent.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  52. Grow up

    Amazing how many people commenting on this OPINION piece can"t have a lively discussion without bad mouthing others. IMO the delegate system needs to go and just rely on the popular vote.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:33 pm |
    • Brian

      The delegate and the electoral college is an effective system for a Federal Republic. We're a federation of states. To simply move to a popular vote would disregard the power of States and anyone that didn't live on the West or East coast.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:17 pm |
      • MNewall

        Who cares about states? They're simply provincial administration for the U.S. I don't worry much about an abstract administrative body's rights in determining our political future - I DO worry about our citizens' rights to determine their political future. You seem to suggest that without the electoral college, more emphasis on coastal states would ensue. To some degree this is the case, as it should be, because 2/3 of the American people live within 100 miles of a coast - that's where the people are. But the difference would be far less pronounced than you seem to fear. Right now, Republicans don't bother turning out GOP votes in California and Democrats don't turn out Dem voters in Texas because neither voter bucking their statewide trend "matters" - because of the electoral college. Eliminating the electoral college would mean Republican voters in Democratic states, and vice versa, will finally have their voices heard instead of ignored. No matter your political persuasion, how is it not a good thing that presidential candidates would need to campaign for the whole nation instead of 8-10 "swing states" that are arbitrarily more important that yours?

        March 19, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
  53. joeinalabama

    My wish is that all states voted on the same day, so we wouldn't have to listen to all the BS for so long.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm |
    • vhalen


      March 18, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
    • jack

      I agreed! in that case, W. Bush should return his office to the Democrat when he didn't win the popular votes, hah!

      March 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  54. JPoet

    This says
    You could do this but ....
    Or this but ....
    Or this but ...

    Throw in a few over our head math proofs and we have another waste of a perfectly good eduction.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
    • J

      Oh man, speaking of wasted educations, you clearly wasted yours! This was an interesting article on an important topic.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
      • PhrankP

        It is an interesting analysis and is properly placed in the "lightyears" blog. CNN does it a disservice with the disclaimer "The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Matthew Lane." It's not an opinion piece.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:05 pm |
    • Jessy

      You missed the point, OP.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
    • blue79

      ^ "Poet" Projecting "wasted educations" much?

      March 18, 2012 at 10:07 pm |
  55. Terry Brookman

    Yes we do, we need one that counts every honest vote and is not rigged.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:19 pm |
  56. oreo

    two party system? lol, it is one party, the Bankers party.

    March 18, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • MedullaPancreas

      I agree (we need a new voting system) the one we had. The e-volting is giving us absurd naratives that don't jive with the populace enthusiasm. We need to chuck these black box voting machines and go back to the old levers replete with paper trail not made by firmware in a Diebold machine or any e-voting machine. "If it ain't broke..."

      March 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • babooph

      Tech is now available to rid ourselves of the bribed representative democracy & install a direct one.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:21 pm |
      • tony


        March 18, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
    • Sean

      Yes... we need freedom of speech.... only after most Americans become truly educated. If 20-30% continue to believe in Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh, and corporations want to make use of them.... freedom of speech hurts us more than help.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm |
      • p-body

        true that

        March 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
      • Swavis

        Hate GB and RL, but taking away fundamental rights isn't the solution.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
    • Eman de Riuqer

      How to defeat the Bankers' Party:

      All steps assume you have not already done 'this', and that you currently have financial dealings with a bank.

      1. Open a checking and savings account at your local Credit Union.
      2. Arrange for all financial dealings to use the credit union, not your bank, i.e., direct deposit, bill paying, etc.
      3. Withdraw all money from any accounts you have at a bank, and place them in your accounts at the credit union
      4. Ensure direct deposit change has occurred waiting to see at least one deposit made to the new accounts
      5. Close all accounts with banks.
      6. Smile. Tell your friends, get them to do the same.
      7. Watch banks wither away and die.
      8. Smile more.

      March 18, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  57. Scott

    I'd rather see the electoral system go away. If anything, that screws up how we feel about voting more than anything else. With the electoral votes, only the people in the high-count states matter. Places like ND, WY, UT are insignificant. The electoral system is a holdover from the days of landowners being the only ones allowed to vote. It's time to just go with the popular vote nationwide instead of the state-by-state electoral system. It would certainly feel like our votes were fairly counted without the electoral college.

    March 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • griffina

      You can like the electoral system (I assume this refers to the electoral college) or not, it didn't happen by accident. It was designed as the compromise between a popular vote where the small states are ignored and voting by states which would over-represent the more populous states. When on those rare occasions a candidate wins the electoral vote but fails to win the popular vote, it's doing exactly what it was designed to do.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:05 pm |
      • Tony

        That doesn't mean it is the correct way to do it. The electoral college should be thrown out and rely on the popular vote.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  58. OrangeW3dge

    this just basically says the "You can't win if you play be the rules", so that should be the National motto, not In God We Trust

    March 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
  59. Irene

    The electoral college is broken. Gore won the 2000 election, but lost the presidency. The world would have been a better place without the Bush-Cheney regimen.

    The primary process is broken – Why does Iowa count more than California? (CA is the 6th largest economy in the world.) All primaries should be held on the same day.

    Every person should get one vote and every adult should be required to vote as they do in Australia. Super PACS and corporate person-hood have also broken the system. All candidates should have the same spending limit on campaigns. This would stop the negative ads if candidates have only so much time and money to state their platform.

    March 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Liberal


      March 18, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • NotLiberal

      Sorry Iliene. Bush won Florida and the 2000 election. Just ask all the major news outlets that pooled their money to do their own recount and found Gore the loser. You cant make up your own facts....even on the CNN comment section.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:51 pm |
    • Anna R

      I'm not in 100% agreement here, but you have the right idea. The primary system in particular is ridiculous. If we could fix (or better yet eliminate) primaries, I believe it could improve other areas of the election system.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:28 pm |
    • pk

      "In Australia there is a high proportion of unregistered voters, and once this is taken into consideration, the proportion of eligible voters who vote is only 81%. Australia also has relatively high levels of informal votes (deliberate invalid votes) and what is known as a Donkey vote when the elector numbers candidates randomly as they appear on the ballot." –Wikipedia

      March 18, 2012 at 9:34 pm |
    • pk

      The electoral college is not broke you only think so because Al Gore lost in 2000. You stated he won but I'm sorry to inform you he lost. Your statement that the world would have been better off if Bush had lost is your opinion.

      Also, Iowa gets more media attention but does not count more than CA. In fact since 1976 if we look at the races where there was an opponent in Iowa, the winner in Iowa won the nomination only one third of the time. You may have something with having the primaries all on the same day. I don't know if that is feasible but the closer they are together the less impact the media will have.

      I don't like the idea of forcing people to vote. If all the candidates had the same spending limit then your man President Obama would likely not be president. You are not going to stop negative adds, they have been around as long as there has been politics.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
    • Country Doc

      Just remember, it's broke. Sort of reminds me of Greece..............

      March 18, 2012 at 11:32 pm |
  60. King of all

    Is there anyway at all of making this pre election junk last longer. If you work really hard at it I bet we could start the people running for 2020 start debating now. Its the worst reality show ever

    March 18, 2012 at 8:31 pm |

    What is a patriot? A person who disposes the white sheet and a burning cross to rap him/herself in the American flag? I don't think so! God bless the Union!

    March 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
  62. zoraklives

    Why don't we try this novel system called democracy where the majority determines the course of action, for better and for worse. Instead, we practice corporatism: we don't get to decide how the country is run by popular vote, instead we get to decide who runs the country and hope they know what they're doing. Something fundamentally flawed with that.

    March 18, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • bloozehound

      the only thing worse than the current system would be a pure democracy. the last thing we need is laymen voting on every single issue. do a little reading about what you're suggesting ....

      March 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm |
      • thebeehive

        i think u might have misinterpreted the above comment i believe he/she is suggesting a purely democratic way of electing our actual office holders instead of electing representatives to vote for us.i dont think anyone wishes for a democracy where there is a "popular vote" for every bill written.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:46 pm |
      • pk

        "Many forms of Government have been tried and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time." - Sir Winston Churchill

        March 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
      • v3rlon

        But we DO have laymen voting on every issue and that is a problem in and of itself. Do you think your congressman/senators are experts on banking and derivatives? No. That is how we got into the economic mess of 2008. Are the medical and pharmaceutical experts? No. That is how you end up with a medical bill that flies in the face of common sense. Are they experts on worker safety? No. They only know what their so-called experts tell them, and the special interest groups are supplying most of the experts. So guess who gets represented. While I DO agree that turning everything into a popular vote would be a nightmare, we need representatives that represent The People(!), not just people with money.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:29 pm |
    • griffina

      We are not a democracy. We are a republic.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
      • pk

        You are correct although technically we are a democratic republic.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:17 pm |
      • griffina

        PK, point taken.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:45 pm |
  63. P Somohano

    It's shocking to read the responses of readers. The article exposes ways to improve mathematical accuracy of the voting process... and I read reactions blaming liberal and immoral idiots... why is the American people getting so blinded by hatred. America got to its leadership position by believing in science and respecting the positions of all people. Ths radical behavior does not benefit anyone. One more comment... to improve the mathematical accuracy, the votes should be counted in absolute terms, and not by proportional allocation per state.

    March 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
    • Lori Ross-Lincoln

      Amen, you are so right. Cooperations are not people too.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Lori Ross-Lincoln

      Amen, you are so right. Coperations are not people too.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
  64. cc

    Note that the example of a peculiar IRV election is a bunch of propaganda. The 'Sniff Test' that Mr. Smith cites is wrong-the winner should be (and is) A-because A got more 1st & 2nd place votes. I'll agree that this sounds like score voting, but that's really what the IRV is-and as noted here, score voting provides the most voter satisfaction.

    March 18, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • Ben

      Perhaps you ought to look again more carefully. In the example he gives for IRV, if totalled, B gets more first and second place votes than A or C. However The location of A's second place votes with C (who is eliminated in the first round), rather than B's second place votes that are with A, lead to the incredible result that despite having the most first and second place votes, B loses. A wins.

      This is because now the second place votes of those who most preferred C count, where the second place votes of those who most preferred A do not. It is this type of round-based, elimination voting that can lead to incredulous results and lead voters to attempt to be overly speculative and strategic.

      IRV is not a good idea. Although similar on its face to the structure of score voting, it is tallied in a completely differently. Score voting allows all votes of all ranks to be considered at once. Thus it eliminates the contradiction of some votes of the same rank counting while others do not and making it much more fair by encouraging honest voting.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
      • Steve

        Ben, adding up the first and third groups, 33 people prefer A over B. Looking at the second group, only 24 people prefer B over A. In a race exclusively between A and B, A should win... and in the IRV example, A does win.

        The fact that more people wanted B as first or second is irrelevant. All the people in the first group (ABC) explicitly indicate that they prefer A over B. The fact that B was second and not third did not and should not matter.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
  65. mommaearth

    How about just givng us someone worth voting for...

    March 18, 2012 at 7:59 pm |

      Well, you could vote republican or perhaps you could run and vote for yourself! Its that simple!

      March 18, 2012 at 8:05 pm |

    GWB being in office for two terms tells how fuc/ked up the electoral process really is! And perhaps if we just had on hand at the 2000 election, the kinds of election monitors we often send to monitor third world countries to enforce fairness, America and the Middle East would have been better off today!

    March 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
    • yougoon

      That Obama has bankrupted our children's future America shows how fuc/ked up the idiot liberal base is. Filled with disrespectful atheists, lovers of abortion, having no children themselves, little or misguided education and the hugest mouths on the planet, they still somehow eek out of the gene pool to attempt their ruination of those of us who actually give a sh1t.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
      • TKCJP


        I actually agree with most of what you said. But you don't have to stoop down to Change We Can Count On's level to prove your point. Just say'n.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:08 pm |

        Your mamma is fuc/ked up for having you, you confederate moron!

        March 18, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
      • Danno

        Hahahaha..... you Republicans are so full of fear.

        Fear that God isn't real and you're late to the reality party.
        Fear that a black man is a better president than whatever generic rich white guy you parade in front of everyone
        Fear of people who don't subscribe to your theories.

        Obama certainly has not lived up to what he promised, but he has done a lot more than all members of congress combined.

        Sorry, I'm using big words like "congress" and "combined". I'll keep it simple for you: You are a retard.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm |

        And by the way, I guess your war criminal mesia GWB doesn't have to worry about fuc/king up the future of American kids because thousands of them have already died in Iraq and Afghanistan on account of his failed and misguided foreidn policies and his evil deeds! Confederate losers!

        March 18, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
      • DoggSho

        @yougoon, the Bush dynasty had long ago fncked-up our children's future, long before Obama was ever a blip in politics. So now, when the Bush boys left a run-a-way freight train called "USAmerica", and Barack Obama took control of the situation by it's ugly horns, instead of you being thankful for GOD's "ram in the bush" (irony), no, you want to allocate the chaos -that the Bush dynasty created- onto the cleanup man Obama, but your blame game is so lame; it's like that, tight-in and in your face (pun intended).

        March 18, 2012 at 8:50 pm |
      • Lori Ross-Lincoln

        Apparently you were not paying attention to the was happening and had happen when President Obama took Office. Well just a little up date to refresh your memory of what President Bush left behind as he was leaving office: 1. Two Wars not paid for and daily is cost million of dollars and loss lives. 2. Medicare Unpaid Prescription Program. 3. Extension of the Bush Tax for the top 1% that has added to the deficit . Bail Out of Banks too big to fail that was passed off from President Bush top President Obama. 4. Job Lost in free fall state-condition. 5. Lots of Pork and Special Interest Spending instead a freeze during this critical Recession Period. 6. Bail Out Money went to states that was not used to create jobs or retrain people for new skills but routed in to special accounts and not use to help the unemployed. 7. Republican Leadership stating we need to shrink government but instead the middle class employee were laid off increasing the number of people unemployed. 8. The so call Free Market has resulted in 90 % of great paying manufacturing jobs being out source to other third world countries of lower paying wages. 9. Don’t even think about talking about regulations and taxes are the reasons for most manufacturing jobs being out sourced because most companies have so many loop holes and do not pay their fair share in taxes which pay for some of the services that you probably are enjoying this very moment; Next lets review how the increased in deregulation has failed in keeping people safe working on so many dangeroius jobs in the United States (e.g. the BP Oil Spill, the Coal Mine Accident that has killed workers because of companies who are left to self regulate themselves). 10. Oil Companies do not need to continue receiving government subsides that are doing very well financially and their profits are at a all time high. Oil prices have been increased by the unrest and wars in the middle east, and let not forget about the increase in Wall Street speculation that is being use to drive the prices. We are all paying more at the gas station now and it is not caused by President Obama, who can not control this Free Market Speculations occurring which is due to Wall Street aggressive speculationactivities. Well, let me stop your walk down memory lane. Open your eyes, read and educate yourself and stop falling for the lies being told to you through the media that is being controlled by the top 1% who own the media and control what you and I hear and see. Got It!

        March 18, 2012 at 9:06 pm |
      • walloftext

        Your wall of text was a cut and paste RIGHT OUT OF CNN LIBERAL MEDIA.

        You libs, so sure of yourselves because you rely on the liberal press instead of your own research. Jokes, all of you.

        March 18, 2012 at 10:11 pm |
    • jdevil1735

      We are a FEDERATION of 50 sovereign states. We do NOT have national elections – they are ALL state elections. The electoral process represents this. When Americans go to the polls to vote for the president – they are NOT directly voting for president – they are voting for who they want THEIR state vote for. This is as it should be – since we are a UNION of sovereign states. A little education in the voting process goes a long way. I blame it on the school systems and the media for the complete ignorance of people who don't understand the electoral college.

      March 19, 2012 at 4:28 am |
  67. clarke

    I don't think looking at a new voting system would hurt. I would like to see someone come up with an on line voting system, but not being an IT person, I am not sure how you would stop the fraud in voting. I think you would have more people vote and for people who don't have computers, they could still go to the polls. Just brain storming.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
  68. RogerE

    Ultimately it is not the system that it the problem, it's the people that we vote for. Sure the system may not be perfect but it really should not matter who you vote for, they should still actually be able to work together and actually do something!

    March 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm |
  69. patw

    All these liberal drones that hate America so much need to leave.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:38 pm |
    • lab

      or better yet...bring on the rapture and all you self righteous conservatives will disappear...talk about heaven

      March 18, 2012 at 7:47 pm |
    • Darryl

      It's disgusting to see people wishing the other side would disappear. Absolutely tragic, all it shows is that you're ignorant. Both sides bring something to the table, even if they don't, by wishing the other side would disappear you're advocating a totalitarianism. If all the liberals disappeared, you'd have facism. If all the conservatives disappeared you'd get communism. The inability to work together is the real problem.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
      • bryanshaw848

        Thank you Darryl for a well-tempered, balanced, and reasonable post.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
      • Rich

        Well put, Darryl! Too many people speak in extremes. The right wants unregulated capitalism; the left wants socialism. How about some common sense, "middle-of-the-road" solutions to our problems? We need to create incentives to increase jobs, cut spending where it makes sense, offer assistance to those who need it without giving away the store and look at the long-term effect on the deficit and debt. It ain't rocket science; it just takes people who go to Washington to serve rather than cash in.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:40 pm |

      Then why did your conservative right gave us two and costly illegitimate wars and an economic crisis? You call that love? Pathetic!

      March 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
      • Mike Speakman

        What's really pathetic are all these so called liberal pukes who have forgotten 9/11. Afghanistan and Iraq are nothing more battles in the war that has been waged since the inception of Islam.

        March 19, 2012 at 3:41 am |
  70. David

    At the Federal level, it doesn't matter...anyone that thinks otherwise is naive. There are a few "power players" (think PACs) and these are the people that determine whom get elected. Most of us are sheep that blindly follow those these people appoint. You can change the "voting" system however you want...these people will still make the rules. There is only one way for this to stop, and we don't have the balls to do it. So live with it.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  71. S-Hug

    There will be no democracy or justice in America until the electoral college is dismantled and the lobbyists and special interests are stopped. Over the past 30 years, Capitalism has been replaced by Corporatism. The corporations bought our politicians, and it's those corporations who own our country and its citizens.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
    • Tom

      Corporatism and the wealthy. The complexity of the tax system has been designed to transfer money from the middle class and poor to the wealthy. Until money is taken out of our election system there will not be fairness. And unless there is fairness then you can kiss capitalism goodbye. The idea that the tax rates for corporations is 34% and the income tax rate for the wealthiest is 34% and the rate actually paid is 12 to 14 percent ( less than a good deal of which the middle class pays) is an absolute joke. Cut out the BS and no more welfare for the wealthy.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
      • TomFoolery

        I'm thinking your claim that money is transferred from the poor and middle class to the wealthy, through the tax code, is a baseless falsehood.

        The wealthy pay the overwhelming majority of the taxes paid, and the tax rates are progressive. Money is transferred FROM the wealthy to the middle class and poor. The only argument you could make is that there isn't ENOUGH wealth being transferred. That's arguable, depending on one's world view, but it won't make the first statement true.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
      • Lori Ross-Lincoln

        Thanks Tom you took the words right out of my mouth.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Robert

      Absolutely correct!

      March 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm |
  72. jimbo9

    I say- lets start off with a new country! We can start with- getting rid of Obama! Then- fire the whole congress!
    Then- Put Alfred E. Nueman in charge! Yes- bring back his mad magazine too! I think- well be on a better path then! Oh! I forgot! Drain all the fuel tanks on those two jets we call AF1 an 2!! Yes- we can replace them with a missle! Thats headed for far out space! NO parachute either! Jus send it to Mars! (saturen or jupetor be best!)

    March 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm |

    Yea, I agree! We need a new voting system to safeguard against southern confederate jim crow states trying to suppress the vote of registered democrats!

    March 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm |
    • Norm

      Including the dead ones.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:30 pm |
    • miquel

      This country needs 20 million NEW voters that also speak 2 languages. Oh they are here all ready.
      most have 3 aliases as well–perfect.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
    • Lori Ross-Lincoln

      Yes all thes newly vote id laws for going to be used to suppress voting in all election. People died in the past for all of us to vote. Therefore, the process use be an universal right and not something that is being made difficult to execute because you are live in a particular area, poor, black,latino, elderly, or a student. The Voting Right bill should be protect this right and states should not be able to craft and pass bills to prevent people from voting.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:18 pm |
    • Lori Ross-Lincoln

      Yes all thes newly vote id laws for going to be used to suppress voting in all election. People died in the past for all of us to vote. Therefore, the process use should be easy and an universal right and not something that is being made difficult to execute because you are live in a particular area, poor, black,latino, elderly, or a student. The Voting Right bill should be protect this right for all people to vote and the states should not be able to craft and pass bills to prevent people from voting.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
  74. Norm

    As long as the guy I voted for loses the system is obviously broken, the rest of you are at best wrong but probably stupid, and the country is on hopeless downward spiral created and propagated by the guy I voted against.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • lab

      funny...you sound like the kind of person who would have voted for bush

      March 18, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • Anna R

      I appreciate your sarcasm, Norm. (I'm really hoping it's sarcasm.) Perhaps others don't get it. You have summed up a good portion of the comments on here.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
  75. Starstuff

    We need a new political system!

    Perhaps something based on a parliamentary system with more political parties representing every political tendency.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • Norm

      Isn't that what the Tea Party brings to the table? A small faction dedicated to a singular political agenda. You think having more Tea Parties (Greens, Socialists, Liberatarians, Anti-Nukes, etc) each with their own unbending agenda will make things better?

      March 18, 2012 at 7:29 pm |
      • Michael

        At the congressional level it would. Though there's no reason why they would need to be uncompromising, necessarily. Additional parties would, in theory, force the main parties to take more seriously the issues people care enough about to vote 3rd party on, because they will need some of those 3rd party Congressmens' votes to gain a majority on most issues.

        March 18, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  76. truth1111

    What a bias article. This author has no clue how messed up Obama is. He first apologizes to a known terrorist regime (Iran) then calls US police officers that are following their orders - IDIOTS, then burns 500 MILLION of american tax payers money in some botched solar system company, turns his back on Israel.... The list goes on! You really want this maniac to be our president for 4 more years???

    March 18, 2012 at 7:12 pm |
    • abcdxyz

      What does this even have to do with this article?

      March 18, 2012 at 7:21 pm |
    • Edwin


      from truth1111's perspective any article that doesn't attack Obama is biased, so this material is fair game. Truth1111 probably considers articles on cooking, etc. to be likewise biased because they don't point out how evil Obama is.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • JV

      55% and 53% for Obama and Clinton respectively? That adds up to 108% of the people. Good math, huh? Also they forgot there are 4 candidates running Romney, Santorum, Gingrich, Paul. Of course the percentage will be less with 4 candidates instead of the 2 dems 4 years ago. How stupid!

      March 18, 2012 at 7:27 pm |
      • Erik

        JV, your gap in understanding is that you can only add percentages (probabilities) to calculate the union of events when they are mutually exclusive (i.e., cannot occur together). If events can occur together you have to subtract out the probability of their intersection (i.e., both occurring) to get the correct answer. Since in this case, one person could claim they would enthusiastically vote for Barack Obama, and also claim they would enthusiastically vote for Hillary Clinton, you cannot add 55% and 53% to get 108%. You must subtract the intersection, which would by definition, be less than 100%. This can be a bit confusing, but should be covered in Week 1 of any Intro to Stats course at Uni.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:07 pm |
      • Charles

        What it means is that if their candidate lost, they still have some hope left by voting for the other candidate. That's why it adds up to more than 100%. Say you wanted to vote for Obama, but he lost to Clinton, then you would still enthusiastically vote for Clinton even though she was not your first choice.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
      • GetEd

        Wow JV, I don't know what's more dumb, to not understand something so simple, or to comment so forcefully on something you have no clue about...

        March 18, 2012 at 10:18 pm |
      • B

        Math: It's FUNdamental.

        March 19, 2012 at 7:44 am |

      Everything you just stated is bogus bull sh/it! And the whole mother fuc/king world is aware that it was your co/ck sucking war criminal mesiah GWB who fuc/ked up this country with two deadly and costly illegitimate wars along with the worst economic crisis in American history! So go and suck GWB's little ba/lls you mother fuc/king confederate red/neck!

      March 18, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
      • TKCJP

        I don't care which party you are with. What you just stated only showed clear ignorance as you spewed out all of your slang. C'mon! If you want to be taken serioulsy...Show some viable intellect...

        March 18, 2012 at 7:58 pm |
    • James PDX

      I just got done watching The Biggest Loser. What a biased show!!! They didn't point out how it was Obama's fault that all of these people are fat.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm |

        Perhaps they're eating your mama's southern dish!

        March 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
    • miquel

      Lets Check with the big corps. they control our future present and past lately

      March 18, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • Stephanie

      You do know the article is about an alternative to the current voting system, right? It isn't a "let's just rant about what I don't agree with" editorial. Oh well, I hope you feel better now you've got all that off your chest.

      March 18, 2012 at 8:15 pm |
  77. Fheal

    Having a verifiable paper trail would be a good start.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:05 pm |
    • atl gal 29

      Paper trail idea is great.

      I like the IRV idea because then you put the primary candidates in order of most liked to least and see who is the least polarizing figure and really hear what the voters think of ALL the candidates. This is crucial in a primary where sometimes people vote for someone who is second in the poles because they hope to beat the leader whom they hate. Then they really aren't voting for the guy they like but has no chance and think they are getting the lesser of 2 evils. This happens frequently and can lead to problems. As for Hillary being the actual victor over Obama, that may be the case, but the primary rules for both parties vary greatly among precincts, counties, districts, and states. Not to mention a lot depends on the people in charge being fair and knowledgeable about the rules. I have seen some very shady stuff from 2008 primaries (both parties) and these GOP primaries on Youtube that shows how IRV would prevent some problems and give a truer picture of how voters really feel about all the candidates.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:37 pm |
  78. Deez

    As for the nomination, set a strict date for all eligible candidates to sign up, 1-2 months of campaigning, and an election that happens all at one time (like the real election).

    This prevents the circus of candidates of being on the fence of even running. This also allows people who don't have the financial backing to run a good campaign in a shorter time frame, versus the system now that is a marathon and the one with the most money wins. And finally, this allows a definitive candidate after one day of voting without millions of dollars and hours wasted on news coverage and man hours of citizens keeping up with the circus.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  79. OrangeW3dge

    Here's the deal,,, people are, like bacteria, becoming resistant to the 24/7/365 political process, and the political bull stream.
    What we need is an honest society,,,NOT a Madison Avenue generated fantasyscape.
    I realise that it would mean that, literally, everybody could not be a "winner" (as they teach us in school), but reality isn't always as pretty as the picture books, or TV commercials (imagine that!!).
    Honesty in government, and, especially, in politics, would have a positive effect on the voting process as well. In fact, you may find that you won't even have to be asking questions like, "Do we need a 'better' voting system?".

    March 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  80. Shemp for President

    What we need are Federal rules for states that want to participate in National Elections. Nothing is worse for the electorate than a Secretary of the State of Florida deciding who wins the presidency.

    March 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
  81. israel

    oh forget the voting system, we need a government that actually works FOR the people before we should worry about what type of voting system we are using

    March 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm |
    • Anna R

      The voting system dictates the type of people that get elected. The type of people that get elected highly dictates how the government will or will not function. If the government does not work "for the people", that is just a symptom of a broken electoral system.

      March 18, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  82. Rudy Gonzales

    We do need a revised voting system, as was shown when baby boy Bush used the Supreme Court to win the presidency. Presidential Elections should be based on total votes for each candidate without borders. State and local elections should be based on the same principle with some caveats. But how do we get there with the current atmosphere in Washington?

    March 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • IronKnuckle

      First, Bush won the popular vote in Florida.

      Second, can you be honest enough to admit that Obama lost the popular vote in his own primary to Hillary Clinton? See wikipedia on the 2008 democratic presidential primaries if you've lost sight of this.

      I did a research project (kind of a thesis paper) on this. The country is not ready for a nationwide recount that would be needed if we adopted national popular vote.

      March 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • Brian

        True, IronKnuckel, but Rudy Gonzales said "total votes for each candidate without borders," which would have easily given Al Gore the presidency, as he won the nationwide popular vote by more than 1%. But you're right... Hillary won the popular vote in the nomination battle of 2008, and still didn't get the nomination, which is what was responsible for my leaving the Democratic party.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:25 pm |

        That's completely false! President Obama won the popular vote in both the democratic primaries and in the general election! Secondly, GWB didn't win anything because he was appointed to the presidency by the Supreme Court after he and little brother Geb rigged the election! Subsequently, that also makes the 2004 election as illegitimate as the Afghan and Iraqi wars! A few more sips of that Kool-Aid shoud do you some good!

        March 18, 2012 at 8:12 pm |
    • Norm

      It's been 12 years. LET IT GO!!!!!!!!!!!

      March 18, 2012 at 7:18 pm |
    • abcdxyz

      I agree that the presidential election should be on a straight popular vote. I am a liberal in a state that almost always "goes Republican." This means that my vote is invalidated. If the Republican candidate is polling strongly in my state, I don't even need to bother to vote–it makes no difference whatsoever.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:23 pm |

        Its simple! All you have to do is pray for a tonado! And when the dust clears, hopefully all the stinking confederate trailer trash are blown away!

        March 18, 2012 at 7:44 pm |
  83. TIM


    March 18, 2012 at 6:28 pm |
  84. Margaret

    I would like to see a limit on the time the electioneering begins. It seems like they start at the close of polls.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:18 pm |
    • Floretta

      Hear, hear. Let all party voters, not just caucus members, vote for a candidate. Top vote-getter is sselected (winner take all). Limit national electioneering to the period between Memorial Day to Election Day, vote and be done. Term limits, too. If a president cannot serve more than 8 years why should anyone else? Overturn Citizens United and get corporate money out of politics, relying instead on a federal fund for all. If corporations are people then they should be limited to the same $ amount as an individual.

      March 18, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  85. Joey

    Not to mention when the US Supreme Court stopped counting FL votes and thus disenfranchising literally thousands of voters and voiding their votes and putting W in office to wreak his havoc on the US and Iraq. Some democracy...

    March 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
    • Margaret

      Plus the fact that they announce the projected winner before the polls have closed on the west coast and Hawaii. I also think we need to get rid of the electoral college.

      March 18, 2012 at 6:15 pm |
      • AmericanSam

        I agree completely, Margaret. The Electoral College makes some people's votes count more than others. It's silly. One person, one vote. Why not?

        March 18, 2012 at 6:20 pm |
      • TomCom

        The erlectorial system does not represent the common vote. If no one voted the electorial would still count.

        March 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
      • jkl

        Thats the most rudiculous thing I have heard, the electoral college doesn't seem to logically make sense once you hear it but think about it, california has a poopulation of 33 million and wyoming has a population of 440,000, who has a bigger say? What the electoral college does is to be fair gives everystate 2 electoral votes for thier senators, and then to make it a little fair for california and other big states, gives each states votes for thier congressman. So since wyoming has one congressman they get 1 more electoral vote giving them 3, and since california has 53 congressman so they have 55 electoral votes. So lets say we did strictly votes one who wins the most votes. In a majority system people in wyoming basically have no point in voting since thier vote basicaaly means crap compared to california.

        March 18, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
      • Dan

        The electorate system works and is more representative of the country as a whole than a popular voting system. Those who don't like it don't understand it. Look at a popular vote, county by county from the Bush v Gore election......Bush clearly represented the majority of counties across the Country by a 3 to 1 margin. Popular vote would have New York, Illinois and California deciding everything.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:22 pm |
      • Darryl

        I don't understand how you can say that the electoral college represents the country as a whole better than a direct vote? California, New York, Texas, PA, the large states would only have as much say as they have citizens. Saying that "only NY, CA, and IL would decide everything" is so arbitrary. They'd hardly decide anything, their citizens would decide more but that's because they have more citizens. Do those three decide "everything" in congress? No? *gasp* In fact, doing a direct vote would encourage a higher turn out, if you live in a solid blue state (NY, CA) but are republican, will you even bother to vote for president? If you live in a solid red state but are dem, would you bother? I'd certainly like my vote to matter...

        March 18, 2012 at 8:14 pm |
      • Darryl

        Addendum: It'd be even better to do a proportional electoral college. It's so dumb that if you win a state by a handful of votes, you get ALL THE ELECTORAL COLLEGE VOTES! I think Maine and one other state do this, it's much better.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
      • Dan

        Darryl, my point is.......everyone is given a voice. The primaries and all the money would be spent in the largest 5 populated areas.......period. 2 Republican candidates were actually in PR, because their electoral votes count. Their "direct votes" in a system that you speak of wouldn't see any campaigning nor money dropped in their communities for votes.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • TomCom

      Agree, the electorial system is a joke. The american vote does not count

      March 18, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
      • Dan

        The "American Vote" counts by representation of locality and by state. If by the "American Vote" doesn't count means you personally don't get to pick the winners and losers......well then, I guess the current system isn't a joke and DOES actually work.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
    • me138

      we are not a democracy! democracy is garbage that's why they gave us a Republic.

      March 18, 2012 at 6:37 pm |
    • Southernquilts

      Not only did they stop counting, Bush's crooked cronnies also paid off people to keep the ballots in their trunks, overnight, and paid them to actually 'lose' the ballots. Florida can be bought for very little money. Ask W!

      March 18, 2012 at 6:39 pm |
      • DanielSan044

        Please educate yourself. You're sounding like a Ron Paul conspiritor, and really making yourself look bad.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:04 pm |

        GWB was not elected by majority or electoral college but appointed by the US Supreme Court after he and his brother Jed rigged the 2000 election. Therefore, that also makkes the 2004 election illegitimate! I agree we need a new system! One that would give all republicanbags a one way ticket to Siberia!

        March 18, 2012 at 7:40 pm |

      Agree! And that is why W and all his war criminal accomplices need to be tried for war crimes against humanity!

      March 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm |
  86. Douglas

    I find the article very interesting and a discussion I've read before. I've tried to share these ideas with other before but wasn't very good and explaining what the option were and why they might be better than the current system. May have to keep this article to pass out...... On another note, so nice to see a comments section NOT filled with venom towards the author or to others who have commented. For the most part a thought out and thoughtful discussion. Let's make this a trend in comments.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:06 pm |
  87. Michael Schmitt

    This is a socialists wet dream to end any dissent to the Republicrat Socialist system. Shut down any alternative view point such as the Libertarian Party and ideas for PEACE LIBERTY JUSTICE CAPITALISM LIFE AND FREEDOM which is what Americans really want. Our society is Brainwashed by Public Education and the Mainstream media for most people to realize that BOTH Republicans and Democrats are Socialists that are destoying this country with the collaberation of the MSM including CNN, FOX, MSNBC, etc... We need to fight and destroy the machine. RON PAUL 2012.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Victor Matheson

      Michael Schmitt – I sure you realize the alternative voting systems described here would likely have been much more favorable to Ron Paul during the current primary season, right?

      March 18, 2012 at 6:22 pm |
      • Michael Schmitt

        No not at all. It would have formalized the shutting down of Paul even more so. And if Paul were given a fair shake and won the vote in a fair election he would be sitting there with the same fate as Andrew Breitbart right now.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:54 pm |
  88. Rob Stumpf

    There is a reason we don't want plurality systems– we want to check popular passions. Democracy is by and large good, but unlimited democracy isn't. That we remain a Republic is crucial to keeping our liberties.

    March 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
    • me138

      Democracy is bad and never lasts.

      March 19, 2012 at 8:38 am |
  89. LouAZ

    I think he left out the Syrian Voting System. Ban, bang, bang . . . BOOM !

    March 18, 2012 at 6:00 pm |
  90. Peikovianyi

    Any system in which everyone on the ballot can have their say, but they are sequentially dropped from the bottom of the ballot and their votes re-distributed to the voters' alternative choice, would be an improvement. No reason to fear two similar candidates "splitting the vote" for their ideology. There should also be more than a simple majority required for a winning candidate, and especially for lifetime appointments such as the Supreme Court. "Moderation in all things" would keep the game of politics more civil and government would be more trusted by the public.

    March 18, 2012 at 5:48 pm |
  91. RillyKewl

    I can see this is fun from a mathematician's pov. The ideas + arguments make for some interesting comparisons, in areas I didn't even know existed. So that's useful. Ok.

    But please, can anyone explain to me what this is doing on the Light Years astronomy/science blog?
    Wouldn't an article about electoral math fit into the subject of politics? Too weird.
    Sure, science uses statistics too, but this is technically political, policy stuff.

    Not sayin' I don't appreciate learning more about ways to help improve our election system. We need that, badly.
    Just, why here?

    March 18, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • Clay Shentrup

      Voting systems are much more mathematical than political. Because the mathematical properties hold regardless of what you're voting for. You could be voting for which restaurant to eat at. The Bayesian Regret figures are extremely mathematical. Election systems are about math and game theory, not politics per se.

      March 18, 2012 at 2:22 am |
    • MOJerry

      It's called "political scirence" which has nothing to do with science. Popular voting for candidates is just archaic. For independents, we get no choice of either party. Would be better that we can choose which representatives we would support regardless of party. Since their seems to be very little difference between any of them, except the rhetoric, I probably will not vote this next election. Seems the only difference in "parties" is the group who gets to throw the party in DC. Sad!

      March 18, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
      • Darryl

        By not voting, you vote for both parties by allowing them to remain in power! If you truly dissent and want to do something (instead of just talk/make excuses) then find a third party candidate that shares similar views. It seems like a wasted vote but it's actually a signal for change. If you just don't vote, you're thought to be apathetic. If you vote third party, you're thought to be dissatisfied with the current establishment

        March 18, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
  92. steve

    Just in terms of presidential elections, what's wrong with 1 person, 1 vote? Add them up, whomever gets the most wins. Dump the electoral college! Keep it simple.

    March 17, 2012 at 4:22 pm |
    • RillyKewl

      We desperately need to dump the electoral system.

      Its just a question of whether the popular vote is the best possible replacement.
      I would've agreed that it is, until reading this broader sampling of electoral types. It is interesting.
      I'd definitely prefer popular elections to the bs electoral college, for sure.

      Yet, the idea of choosing a 2nd or 3rd choice, if my favorite loses... I gotta say, its kind of an attractive option.
      Or choosing where I'd place each candidate on a scale from 1 to 10? Pretty fascinating idea.

      March 18, 2012 at 12:27 am |
      • IronKnuckle

        Who are you and why can't you finish a sentence without showing hatred towards people whom you disagree with?

        March 18, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
      • Dan

        Ranking candidates on a scale of 1 to 10? Seriously? Are we that dumbed down of a nation that people cannot fully comprehend how the electorate system works?

        March 18, 2012 at 7:34 pm |
    • Clay Shentrup


      The "one vote per race" system (Plurality Voting) is quite horrible when you have more than two candidates. E.g. you can have a huge majority favoring the Orange candidate, but the Yellow candidate wins because two Orange candidates run, splitting the vote. This can get arbitrarily severe.


      March 18, 2012 at 2:00 am |
    • Den

      If you are talking about a perfect democracy, where everyone gets a vote and you can vote for whomever, you run the risk of having the minority party (not necessarily race but often) actually win. So you might end up with a KKK president because they had the largest populous voting block, having Sharia law imposed because all Islamic peoples decide to vote together or any other radical group in charge. We'd like to think it wouldn't happen and that people would vote their conscience, but in truth most people vote based on the opinions of others and who they think is the right choice.

      March 18, 2012 at 3:28 am |
      • Dan

        And sadly, most people don't even vote......another reason an electorate helps to keep those horrid scenerios at bay.

        March 18, 2012 at 7:36 pm |
    • Larry

      Dumping the Electoiral college would mean that 75% of the country would not have a say in who is elected. The large population centers would dominate the process and the smaller states would have zero input or influence. If you want New York, California, Texas and Flordia to tell you who must accept as President – then going to the poplar vote is your game. For us in the smaller States - I say keep the Eledctorial College so my vote means something also!

      March 18, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
      • TomCom

        75% of the country is not 75% of the people. That's a big difference!

        March 18, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
      • Darryl

        If you'd think for a second, you'd realize the electoral college does a much more significant job of making large states dominate the national elections! Unless it becomes proportional, so that if candidate A wins 60% of the votes, he gets 60% of the electoral college votes and candidate B gets 40% (assuming NO third parties) then the electoral college gives large states a larger say! CA and NY together give the dems 86 electoral college votes right out of the gate. If it were a direct one person one vote, popular election then you'd have some proportion of that taken to the republicans! It's really backwards to argue that a direct popular vote would give the large states all the say. It's not like they all vote the exact same way every time.... It just looks like it because of the electoral college....

        March 18, 2012 at 8:30 pm |
      • Dan

        Darryl, go to a small town campaign stop.......tell those folks the current system doesn't force candidates to smaller communities. It is deceiving to say that the largest 5 populated metros wouldn't decide the winner in a direct vote. In a direct vote......That is where the candidates would spend all their time and money.....I would in a scenerio like that. Dems love a direct vote thought because all they need in NY, most of Cali and most of Illinois and they win.

        March 18, 2012 at 8:55 pm |
  93. lancem

    if I am not mistaken, we don't use popular voting at all, we use electoral college in which some state are bound by popular vote to give all EC votes to one candidate, some split EC votes based on popular votes and and some have no legal connection to the popular vote at all. I will be honest that I do not know that much about the system and I could be completely wrong, but I think we are a long way from changing our national voting policy, mainly because the current system is the way all the elected officials (who could change it) got there.

    March 16, 2012 at 10:53 pm |
    • Clay Shentrup


      The discussion of the GOP primary was just to convey the principle, using candidates everyone knows. If Matt had focused on some local city election, most readers wouldn't necessarily relate. A good first step for the adoption of Approval Voting in government would be for city council and mayoral elections. I've been suggesting we implement it here in San Francisco, as a replacement for the overly complicated Instant Runoff Voting system.

      There is actually some momentum right now in Germany to use Approval Voting for mayoral elections. A reform group called Mehr Demokratie (More Democracy) promotes it, and the Pirate Party of North Rhineland-Westphalia (one of 16 German states) has that goal on their written party platform. And they are a testament to its ease and effectiveness.

      March 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Felix El Gato

      Voting machines that don't flip votes from Democrat to Republican, would be nice.

      March 17, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
      • RillyKewl

        Yeah, the very first thing we need to clean up here is the corruption built into the vote counters. The machines are too easily corruptible, as are the hacks who are charged with counting + certifying the votes. Its an ugly business.

        The 2000 election was probably the worst example of how deeply corrupt our system is, ever in this nation's history.
        It proves we're no better than a third world banana republic, when the right wing gets their hands on the levers of power.

        March 18, 2012 at 12:38 am |
      • Clay Shentrup

        Fraud is a relatively tiny issue compared to our bad voting system. You can tell this because the Bayesian Regret figures that Matt mentions show that an upgrade to Score Voting or Approval Voting is approximately as big an improvement over the current system as the current system is over random non-democratic election. That is absolutely huge. So if you had the option of either eliminating all fraud and not changing the voting system, or upgrading the voting system but not reducing fraud, the latter would be far and away a bigger improvement.

        Another way of putting it is that, given that "doubling of democracy" evident in the Bayesian Regret figures, if you thought that eliminating fraud was more important than upgrading to Score or Approval Voting, then you would have to agree that we would be better off with random non-democratic selection than with our current voting method. I don't think many people would buy that.

        March 18, 2012 at 2:05 am |

        Excellent! We'll pray on it!

        March 18, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Willow

      Very true, it's an electoral college. Some people seem to forget that America is technically a Republic.

      March 17, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
  94. pattha990

    I think a better method that wasn't mentioned here is just to run-off elections mandatory if a single candidate in the first poll didn't achieve greater than 50% of the vote. If there they fail to gain a 50% majority then the top two finishers go head to head in the run off and the one who scores better than 50% wins. In 1992 and 1996 President Bill Clinton won the election to the presidency without getting over 50% of the vote. George W. Bush won without gaining 50% of the votes. Forcing a run off in all of those elections would have produced different results. In 1992 and 1996 independent Ross Perot was a conservative who drew a lot of voters who had traditionally voted Republican. In 2000 Al Gore was hurt in the electoral votes, by independent candidates drawing off traditional democratic voters. Many modern nations mandate a run-off election system thereby ensuring the winners have attained a majority of voter support. I imagine the reasons it doesn't get mentioned is it does increase the monetary and time costs of an election cycle. Also our current system has allowed 4 people to win election to the white house without winning the popular vote. So I imagine those in the political corporation aren't going to vote to change any of this since it would significantly lower their job security.

    March 16, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Clay Shentrup


      Plurality+runoff (also called Top Two Runoff or TTR) is another very poor system — one of the worst. It often puts people in the runoff who would both lose head-to-head against another candidate who didn't make it to the runoff.

      It also can punish you for voting for your sincere favorite candidate. Here are some comprehensive Bayesian Regret figures which include Top2Runoff, demonstrating that it does for worse than Score ("Range") Voting, Approval Voting, and many other systems:

      Clay Shentrup
      The Center for Election Science

      March 17, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
  95. mary

    I don't have a problem with showing picture ID, providing training and be a legal in this country USA? For all race of people ,Guess this still the Usa!

    March 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm |
  96. Jackie Treehorn

    Because all of these systems would be disastrous for our Republicrat masters, the chance of ever seeing any of them implemented can only be expressed in imaginary numbers.

    March 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Dan

      And we'll continue to let you imagine those fun house pictures......

      March 18, 2012 at 7:39 pm |
  97. Jameson Quinn

    Actually, voting theory is a great area for amateur math. There are surprisingly deep results to be found, not obvious at all; but little need for advanced techniques like calculus. And it's important; unless we fix our voting systems, we're doomed to making the same mistakes over and over. As @Lessig says about campaign finance: fixing global warming, or simplifying the tax code, is simply impossible with the system we have now.

    March 16, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
  98. Clay Shentrup

    The German Pirate Party has been using Approval Voting for a couple of years now, for both single-winner and multi-winner elections. They seem to be liking it.


    March 16, 2012 at 4:55 pm |
    • Dan

      That's Germany.......look at what type of leaders and elections they are coming off of from their past.....history book, 1930's and 1940's, see what you find.

      March 18, 2012 at 7:42 pm |
      • thebeehive

        *facepalm* that was like 80 years ago get over it, most of those people are dead and im pretty sure the living ones arent heading the damn pirate party

        March 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm |
    • McGuffin

      Umm, they didn't "elect" Hitler by approval vote, so what's your point? Besides, nobody ever said that the Germans weren't good at math.

      March 19, 2012 at 2:08 am |
  99. elandau

    It uses math and was written by a mathematician. Thanks for reading!

    Elizabeth Landau,

    March 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm |
  100. pkp23

    just curious...but why is this in lightyears? shouldn't it be in the politics section?

    March 16, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
    • OrangeW3dge

      I think they are trying to avoid the flash trolls

      March 18, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
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