It’s time to modernize the hell out of the American election process.
The essence of a democratic society lies in the ‘power to the people’ principle. This principle dictates that every person should have the same say when electing their representatives, but that’s not how the electoral college is working, is it?
The electoral college should be removed, however why stop at the electoral college? While we’re on the subject of electoral reform, perhaps we should also discuss ways in which third parties might actually be given a voice in the Presidential election, rather than being given the ‘spoiler’ label every four years. In 2000, it was Nader, in 2016 it’s Stein and Johnson – this hogwash needs to stop once and for all.
Let’s take a look at how the French Presidential election works as an example.
The French have two rounds of voting, and the two candidates who obtain the most votes in the first round move on to the next round, that is unless a candidate obtains a majority of the votes cast in the first round, cause if that’s the case, they get instantly elected as should be the case. In 2012 for example, François Hollande obtained 28.63% of the votes cast in the first round, while former President Nicolas Sarkozy obtained 27.18%. Obviously, since no candidate obtained a majority of the votes cast, a second round was held, and eventually Hollande was elected to the Presidency.
It is high time for the USA to follow the same model, albeit with a number of changes that make sure that the election takes place on one day.
How can this be done? Simple.
Let’s introduce a transferable vote system, whereby Presidential candidates are ranked. This solves both the electoral college problem as well as makes sure that third parties are given a fair shot. If this system comes into place, no one will be able to argue that third parties are acting as spoilers, and we’d effectively be hitting two birds with one stone.
Taking someone with a progressive conscience as an example, as the system currently stands, most progressives will have this dilemma; their heart tells them to vote for a third party candidate, but their mind tells them to vote for the Democratic candidates as they’d rather spend seven days in hell than see a Republican in the White House.
How do we make sure that this dilemma goes extinct? Ranked voting.
Ranked (or Instant runoff) voting is employed in Australia at the state and federal levels, in Ireland for its presidential elections, and by some cities in the United States, United Kingdom, and New Zealand. – Wikipedia
If a voter’s conscience tells them to vote for a third party, they’d be able to give the first preference to their preferred candidate, and their second preference to the second preferred, and so on. When it comes to counting, the candidate with the least amount of votes is dropped first, and their votes are transferred to other candidates. This process goes on until either a candidate gets an absolute majority of votes or until there are two candidates. If the only two candidates left standing do not have an absolute majority, then the one with the highest number of votes is elected President.
Now, I know that change comes at a cost (a cost which may be a national debate over this issue), but do remember: not only is this system desirable, but it is also optimized to work best in a scenario where the national popular vote replaces the outdated electoral college system.