By Eric Sanders
I’m so frustrated.
I know I should vote in November, but I’m totally over Obama, and Romney is kind of a tool. I don’t know what to do.
So, vote for someone else.
But that would be like throwing my vote away.
Isn’t there anyone else you would support for President?
Yeah, there was a candidate I loved, but he’s not on the ballot.
Because he dropped out in the primaries.
Do you know why?
I guess because he didn’t get enough votes early on to be a frontrunner and didn’t think he had a chance. He didn’t want to run in the general election and ‘spoil’ it for Romney.
What about a third-party candidate?
There’s no point in voting for someone who doesn’t have a chance to win.
Why do you think only two candidates have a chance to win?
Because it’s obvious: It’s either going to be a Democrat or a Republican. Those are the two major parties with all the money.
Is there any other reason you can think of why only two candidates have a chance to win?
Have you ever thought about the voting method that we use?
I don’t see how that matters.
Do you think the voting method that we use affects the outcome of our elections?
I guess I never thought about it before….
What if, for example, we made a slight change to our voting method so you could actually vote for more than one candidate?
Isn’t that, like, illegal? What about the “One person, one vote” thing?
No. “One person, one vote” only means that each vote must be weighted the same, not that the voter has to choose only one candidate.
Wait, so you’re saying that theoretically I could vote for more than one candidate in the same election?
That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Why would I want to do that?
Say you like Romney more than Obama. But there’s another candidate you like even more. You can vote for Romney and that other candidate. That way you get to vote for the candidate you really want, but you can also hedge your bet by giving Romney a vote over Obama.
Two votes on the same ballot?
You got it. It’s called Approval Voting. You would simply vote for the one or more candidates that you approve of.
Wait, so then… who wins the election?
Same as always–the person with the most votes.
But it might not be Obama or Romney!
Oh… that’s cool!
And then those other candidates that I like better might not drop out during the primaries, since now they would have an actual chance to win! And so would third party candidates!
You’re getting it now. Approval Voting would create real, healthy competition for our elections. It would eliminate “spoilers,” since voters wouldn’t have to worry about third party candidates “stealing” votes away from frontrunners. And it could be used for everything from local elections all the way up to presidential elections.
And the winner would still be the one with the most votes, just like it is now!
Right. Almost nothing changes. You simply change the instructions on the ballot to say, “Vote for one or more. The candidate with the most votes wins.” Then you count all the votes on the ballot, and the winner is the one with the most votes.
So when we have Approval Voting I can vote for the person I really want without feeling like I’m throwing my vote away!
With Approval Voting, you’ll never feel like you’re throwing your vote away again. And even better, more qualified candidates will run, so you’ll be more likely to find a candidate that you actually support! Candidates will spend less time focusing on ‘wedge’ issues that polarize voters and instead they’ll have to emphasize their own strengths. They will be seeking your approval instead of simply trying to get you to hate the other candidates more. And they will be much more accountable to you, the voter.
It’s so… brilliant and simple. How come I haven’t heard about this before?
I don’t know.
I want Approval Voting now.
I do too.
It’s not fair; our current system sucks! I want to go into the voting booth in November and be able to vote for more than one candidate. I can’t believe we don’t already have this. It’s such a no-brainer.
I know. But we’re going to need you to join with us to make this happen.
What, I have to do something? But I’m lazy… and busy!
We are too. But this is too important an issue to ignore. It’s the fundamental reason why we get the politicians we get, as well as why we have a two-party system where third party, moderate, and centrist candidates don’t have a chance to win.
But I’m not an activist; I’m just a regular person.
We’re all regular people, that’s why this is such a fast-growing movement. Once people understand how simple it is to reform politics by simply adding two simple words to our voting instructions — ”vote for one or more” — they want to help make Approval Voting a reality.
Okay, so what can I do?
You have some easy options. You can post your support of Approval Voting on Facebook or Tweet about it with #ApprovalVoting. Blog about it. Tell your friends. You can use Approval Voting in contests and even for the organizations you’re in. And you can check out The Center for Election Science to keep up. They expressly advocate for Score Voting and they’re on Facebook and Twitter too.
Well count me in.
I did. I counted the both of us.
…Haha. I get it.
I thought you would!
[Originally published on Big Think.]