Saturday, September 13, 2008

Question to Ponder...

If you could change one, and only one, thing about the current system of electing the U.S. president, what would it be?

(submitted by Suze)

10 comments:

Andre said...

Federalize its oversight. This isn't about federalizing the elections, but at least get some *real* oversight at the federal level when folks are running for federal office.

We can hire all these folks to take a census every ten years. . . we can put a person on the moon. . . we can buy motor oil and tube socks at 3am at a box store in Yspilanti Michigan. . . but the U.S. can't run a credible election? Really?!

Pam said...

I think Andre makes a really good point. It's hard to choose just one thing here, but for the sake of this exercise I'm going to have to say I think we should elect people to federal office based strictly on a popular vote and throw the electoral college system out the window.

Suze said...

This is a tough one (that's why i submitted it!) but I think i would do away with all special interest money and have the candidates finance their campaigns completely with public funds. As long as they have special interest groups (non-profit, corporate, you name it), those guys have to pander to them. That's why all Republicans have to blather on about "culture of life". If they got that out of the way, I think it would be easier for them to focus on important issues in a meaningful, constructive way.

Jake said...

Instant run-off elections. Give people the ability to rank their votes so that the aggregate most-preferred candidate wins, even if they didn't get a majority of first-choice votes. Mitigates the spoiler effect of the Perots and Naders of the world.

Scott said...

I'm going to go with abolishing advertising of any kind. It's perhaps impossible in this day and age to have an ad campaign without (by necessity) all kinds of gross and unsavory tactics. And I think "tactics" are the problem with our presidential elections. Instead of tactics I just want to see/hear them speak a few times, and read what their positions are on various issues. So I say we just distribute their platforms to every citizen, interview them and let them speak publicly on TV and radio, and then get rid of all the advertising, all the "puff pieces" on talk shows, all the faux news coverage about them. I just want to see what each candidate stands for, without so much mud slinging and smoke screens in the way.

Ian said...

I would change the two-party system. Indeed, this has been one thing that I've attempted to do with my vote in the past -- when I've lived somewhere where my vote wouldn't otherwise count (because the state would clearly vote one way or the other), I have used my vote to vote for a major third-party candidate, as a third-party candidate only needs 5% of the popular vote to have that party start to receive federal funds for campaigns (if I recall correctly). Once the two-party system is properly broken, the plethora of small "third parties" can start to influence American politics.

I largely agree with everything mentioned above, as well, though -- our current system is grossly broken. One thing I would mention regarding Jake's comment is that the instant runoff system is actually in the mathematical sense just as broken as the current voting system. In particular, it allows a candidate to win that was nobody's first choice. A potentially more interesting alternative is hot-or-not style voting, where each voter rates each candidate on a 1 - 10 scale. It appears that this sidesteps the issues with all of the other known voting schemes (which were uniformly proven to be inadequate by an interesting paper in the 1940's), ensuring that the person most preferred by the most voters actually wins the election. For more information on this, check out http://www.salon.com/books/review/2008/02/12/gaming_vote/.

Janine said...

I would make it my decision. I think we'd all be happy with that, no?

Pam said...

Well, that all depends on what your decision would be, Janine! :-)

Janine said...

well, it would depend on the specific election, but i'd generally choose a candidate who would allow me to eat cake.

Pam said...

Awesome question, Suze!! And a very interesting discussion. Clearly what we all agree on is that change is needed.