What would it take to get a better voting method so voters could express their preference a for third party? Currently, it could only happen by a major party getting behind it, and that’ll never happen. Or at least something as big as the Tea Party would have to support it. But imagine we had PeopleCount…
(If you’re new to PeopleCount, it’s a proposed website, under development, to support accountability to citizens. Citizens will communicate with our members of Congress, and each other, about what we want, and tell them what they should report to us about. Members of Congress will report monthly. Citizens will grade their reports and see their cumulative grades.)
Imagine Joe Voter uses PeopleCount.org
Imagine a guy, Joe Voter, goes online to PeopleCount.org. He sees about 10 categories of issues- political reform, environment, health care, and more.
He looks over the list and chooses Voting Systems.
It brings him to a general question about Voting Methods- Does he like our first-past-the-post, winner-takes-all method? He checks “No.”
Below the question and its answers is a checkbox- he can check it to receive monthly reports from their representative, and from challengers. He’s interested in this because he’d like third party candidates to have a chance. So he checks it. There are already some old reports from representatives there, but he skips them.
Getting More Information
Then there are some more questions, asking him what voting method he’d prefer. He looks at the question on Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). He’s heard of that. At the bottom of each question is a link to “More information”. He clicks it. He’s put on a new page with 3 lists, one with articles supporting IRV, one with balanced information, and a couple of articles opposing it. He clicks on the Wikipedia article. IRV looked interesting, but the article quickly became complex. But he sees the note that it seemed to lessen negative campaigning. That felt encouraging, so he voted to support it.
The next question asks about the Approval voting method. He wonders, “What’s that?” He clicks on its “More information” link to an article at the Center for Election Science. It quickly gets complicated. Then he looked at the article on Wikipedia and read it for a minute. It seemed pretty simple. He then goes back to PeopleCount and votes to support it.
After about ten minutes, he’s done. He hits a button at the bottom and the page refreshes and shows him what people in his district and the country think about it. There seems to be a lot of support for a better voting method. He’s done for now.
How many Americans want a better voting method?
A month later, he heard something on the radio about Congress considering a new voting system. He returns to PeopleCount and quickly finds the issue. It says that a new question about voting systems has appeared. He looks over the graphs. Almost 70% of people who voted on this question, about 30 million Americans, support Instant Runoff Elections. But lots of people indicated they’re not sure. Many like some of the other methods. But 80% of people say our current system doesn’t work very well.
Does this represent America?
He’s not sure if this represents all of America. After all, there are about 220 million people eligible to vote in America. if 100 million are on the site, that’s less than half. He does some research- 20 million PeopleCount participants are either too young to vote or aren’t yet registered. On the other hand, only about 150 million Americans are registered voters, so over half of voters are participating…
But then he realizes that voting on PeopleCount is pretty easy. If people care about the issue, they can easily voice their preference. And the site doesn’t pretend to represent people. It’s really just making their voices heard and letting their representatives keep them informed. It’s really about accountability, and it seems to be working.