# Multiple-Selection, Winner-Take-All

### Introduction

This proposal is for a "multiple-selection, winner-take-all" voting system as an alternative to our current voting system, which I call "single-selection, winner-take-all". The voting system that I am proposing would allow a voter to vote for more than one candidate for a particular office. Just as it is now, the single candidate that receives the most votes would win the elected office without power-sharing. This idea was inspired by the Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential race and the rise of the Libertarian Party.

### An Example

Assume you have a race with candidates representing the hypothetical political parties "West", "East", and "North". The West and East parties vehemently disagree on everything. The North Party shares a fair number of ideological principles and common interests with both of the other parties on different issues.

In a hypothetical election where the voters could only select one candidate,

• 45% of the voters would choose Mr. West,
• 45% of the voters would choose Mr. East, and
• 10% of the voters would choose Mr. North.
That's 100%. But, if voters could vote for more than one candidate, the situation might be
• 25% would vote for just Mr. West,
• 25% would vote for just Mr. East,
• 10% would vote for just Mr. North,
• 20% would vote for both Mr. North and Mr. West, and
• 20% would vote for both Mr. North and Mr. East.
That's also 100%. But, using those same numbers, where we had an election where the voters could vote for more than one candidate, we see that
• 45% voted for Mr. West (25% + 20%)
• 45% voted for Mr. East (25% + 20%)
• 50% voted for Mr. North (10% + 20% + 20%)
That's 140%. A bit strange but now Mr. North, who probably represents the consensus mood of the voters, wins the election instead of Mr. West or Mr. East.

That's what the proposed "multiple-selection, winner-take-all" voting system alternative is all about.

### The Current Voting System

Our current system of voting in the United States often leaves us with a choice between just two candidates when we would rather have more. Sometimes we feel inclined to vote for a particular candidate, not because we feel that he is the best man for the job, but because the candidate we really want to elect has no hope of winning. An example of this would be when you vote for one of the two major party candidates when you really felt that you wanted to vote for a candidate from another party but you did not want to "waste your vote".

Even if you decide to go ahead and "waste your vote" by "voting your conscience" for a third-party candidate who has "no chance" of winning just to "send a message", you will probably be helping the candidate you least want to win by doing so. As a group, individuals who vote for a third-party candidate in lieu of the other candidates probably identify more strongly with one of the principal party candidates over the other. In that case, that favored candidate will be hurt more than the other principal candidate when the individuals decide to vote for the third-party candidate. Faced with this consequence, voters may regularly end up just choosing "the lesser of two evils".

The reason the United States has a two-party system is that no one wants to waste their vote and end up helping the wrong guy even when the other guy is not that great either. For this reason, the predominate two political parties enjoy a lock on the overwhelming majority of votes, despite possible mutual lackluster performance.

### Multiple-Selection

If, however, you can vote for more than one candidate, the voters can choose to vote for both the third-party candidate and the principal party candidate that they identify with the most. Odds are, if either of those candidates won, the voters would still be happier than if the candidate they did not vote for won the office. In fact, if the voters who chose the candidate from the opposing camp also chose the third-party candidate, the third-party candidate might actually win which would please both sides.

Additionally, you could express your displeasure by effectively voting "against" a candidate by voting for all of the other candidates except the one candidate who had earned your disfavor.

Finally, for those of you who have to vote in public around the conference table, it would give you the opportunity to vote for all of the candidates. In this case, where all of the candidates are completely competent for the office they are seeking, there may be no need to unnecessarily offend the others by being forced to choose any single individual.

### Winner-Take-All

This "multiple-selection" voting system alternative should not be confused with the systems in place in other countries where the power is "shared" by assigning offices to parties based on the proportion of votes that each party received. I believe that this leads to fragmentation, indecision, and the ability for a well-organized minority to dominate against mainstream wishes.

To be clear here, even though the voters can vote for more than one candidate, only one candidate can win, the candidate with the most votes, just as it is now.

### Implementation

I recommend experimenting at the lowest level possible before putting this proposed alternative voting system into effect on a grand scale. Test it out in school by voting for your class officers using both systems and see if it would make a difference in who won. Try it out with your local club. If you and your neighbors like it, test it out in your local governing bodies where permitted. Finally, if it gains wide-spread acceptance after thorough discussion and experimentation, we can then talk about changing state and national constitutions, if necessary.

If you have the opportunity to test this proposed alternative, I would love to hear about the results, good or bad. Feel free to drop me an e-mail message at croft@alumni.caltech.edu.

May you get the government you deserve, a good one.
David Wallace Croft

Posted 1997-06-22. Last updated 1997-06-22.
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