This is part one of a series analyzing the 12 best voting-systems. See the introductory article for the series here.
I consider Approval voting method to be the best voting-system proposal. It’s perfectly matched to & suited to what most matters in voting: Electing from the set of the very best candidates. Approval could be called “Set-Voting”, and voters could be instructed, “Approve the candidates who are satisfactory, or the set that you consider the best.”
To those who want to make it more complicated by trying to tactically use predictive information to elect the best candidate possible, I say, “You worry too much.”
Our current 1-Vote Plurality operationally amounts to a system in which we’re allowed to give, to only one candidate, a point that counts toward election. In such an election, we can rate one candidate at 1, with one point, and are required to rate all but one of the candidates at zero, with zero points.
The winner is the candidate with the most points. Presumably that point is intended to be given based on merit. A merit-point. In fact, the only justification for only being allowed to give a count point to one candidate could be an assumption that we’re giving it to our favorite, the one we consider the best – except we all know that that isn’t true. Millions of voters feel strategically-compelled to give that point to some disliked “lesser-evil” whom they believe to be the best winnable candidate – voting that “lesser-evil” over their favorite.
So much for the “favorite” interpretation of our one vote, as a justification for allowing us to give a point to only one candidate. People are awarding their one point to a compromise because, though not favorite, s/he’s perceived satisfactory. Is s/he your only satisfactory candidate? Why, then, should we only be able to rate 1 candidate as satisfactory? Why can’t we rate our favorite as satisfactory as our disliked “lesser-evil”?
A voting-system that strategically forces millions of people to lie, to falsify their preferences, can’t be helping society, and can’t be helping toward a government that is satisfactory to as many people as possible.
Approval lets us rate each candidate “Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory”. “Approved” or “Unapproved”. And shouldn’t the voter be the one to choose for hirself, how many candidates s/he considers satisfactory?
Though 1-Vote Plurality is what people are used to, it isn’t what’s natural, and it’s an abridgement of freedom.
Approval elects the candidate who is satisfactory to the most people. Does anyone want to argue with the desirability of that?
In our political system, there’s a very drastic range of merit, purpose & agenda among candidates. A huge range, a wide gulf, of merit. At one extreme are the honest candidates proposing what they hear people saying they want. They’re called “progressives”.
Anyway, so we have this drastic merit-gulf among the candidates. That’s why, for the 99%, there’s a “strong top-set” and a “strong bottom-set”, defined as follows:
The merit difference between those sets is incomparably more important than the merit differences within those sets.
What’s important, the only electoral-result that matters, is to elect from the strong top-set, instead of from the strong bottom-set. Choosing among the members of your strong top-set is only negligibly important in comparison. You’d gladly forgo that intra top-set choice, to improve the probability of electing from your strong top-set.
That makes Approval voting particularly easy: Just approve (only) all of your strong top-set.
For the 99%, that means the progressive candidates, such as Jill Stein, whose conduct & proposals actually appeal to us, as an improvement, and don’t put their honesty in question.
But what if there weren’t strong top & bottom sets? Like maybe in some future Utopia in which, due to honest media & elections, your strong bottom-set candidates are unwinnable, and therefore not running any more. No strong bottom-set anymore. How would you vote in Approval then?
You could just guess which candidate-set you want to vote over the rest, to rate more satisfactory than the rest. But suppose that the candidates’ merit has a uniform gradation, and all of them are good. How do you decide where to draw the dividing-line?
You know of some subset-region in which the approval dividing-line belongs (whether that region consists of entire candidate set, or some sub-range of it). Maybe you don’t know where in that range or subrange the dividing line should be drawn.
Good news: Then it doesn’t matter. If you don’t know which subset of the candidates you’d prefer to vote over the rest, then it doesn’t matter which set you choose. If you don’t know exactly where the dividing-line should be, then it doesn’t matter exactly where you place it.
Some people insist on trying to elect the best candidate possible—“tactical voting” based on trying to interpret some supposed “predictive information”. They’re making voting more difficult than it is. They’re worrying too much.
For one thing, of course the available “predictive information” is unreliable at best, and disinformational at worst. (but mostly the latter).
So, if we ever have Approval voting, disregard the supposed predictive information, and vote according to which candidates you really like and trust. Who’s honest and has the best policies? Vote optimistically. Someone good can win. One of the best can win. Give the other voters some credit. Disregard media assessments of “viability” or winnability. If you want improvement, then the media’s agenda isn’t yours.
If you’re tired of 1-Vote Plurality, and want to propose a better voting-system in your community or state, then I strongly recommend Approval.
It’s particularly easy to propose because it’s such a minimal change from Plurality. The only change from Plurality is: Turn off the counting provision that detects & rejects “overvotes”.
Among reform voting-systems, Approval is the easiest, quickest, inexpensive, natural, obvious, minimal, and un-arbitrary choice. And, where the ballot now says “Vote for 1”, change it to “Vote for 1 or more.”
Cost of changing to Approval? Zero.
But, in the rest of this article, I’d like to discuss a broad set of voting-systems, including rank-methods, because many are proposed. I’m discussing 12 in this article, featuring some rank methods discussed at election-methods.
But I should say that, in two Internet polls between various voting-systems (though the number of voters total is low), Approval is winning in both polls.