Democracy is a fairly simple idea that can be complicated to execute. From President Elect Trump’s now ironic speculations on a rigged election to calls from some on the left to abolish the Electoral Collage, it seems that the right method for “we the people” to decide what to do may be as divisive as the decisions we are using the method to make. Consider these possibilities:
The Way the U.S. Does It Now
Every four years we go to the polls and cast our ballot for president, alongside a slew of other offices. In reality we are not voting for a presidential candidate, but are instead voting for a group of electors affiliated with that candidate’s party. In most states, the candidate with the most votes in the states takes all of the votes of that states “electors.” The candidate with the majority of the electoral votes at the end wins.
The advantage of this system is that it balances out the voices of the states and aims to incentivizes candidates to campaign more broadly. The downside is that it under-represents third-parties in the final count, some individual’s votes are weighted heavier than others, and it seems to disenfranchise minority groups within states that lean heavily one way or the other. In addition, people are pushed to vote for one of the leading candidates because they do not want to waste their vote on a third-party candidate with low chances of winning. Learn more in the videos below:
Instant Runoff Elections (The Alternative Voting Method)
In this method, each person votes for candidates in order of preference. The votes are tallied using everyone’s first choice. The candidate with the lowers number of votes is eliminated. If you voted for the eliminated candidate as your first choice, your vote is changed to your second choice. This process is repeated until there are only two candidates left and the one with the most votes wins. This system allows people to vote for the candidate they like the most, even if that candidate is unlikely to win, without throwing away their vote. Learn more in the videos below:
The Way the United Kingdom Does It
In this system, little blocks of the United Kingdom, called “constituencies,” elect their own members of Parliament (the legislative branch in the UK) and the party that holds the majority of the seats in Parliament puts their candidate in the position of Prime Minister. When there is no majority in Parliament there is a “hung Parliament” and two or more parties have to join together to form a coalition in order to put in a Prime Minister.
These are just a few examples to show that there are lots of ways of doing democracy. Do you know of any more? What do you think about these methods?