IVN News

Don’t Blame The ‘Spoilers’ — Fix Elections

Paid Advertisement

The “three lanes” present in this year’s presidential primary are certainly the perfect storm for the GOP establishment. Today, the GOP elders’ calls to Ohio Governor John Kasich are likely getting more frantic, essentially telling him that he is now the spoiler for Marco Rubio’s chance to take the nomination from Donald J. Trump.

The elders would call Ted Cruz, but they don’t seem to have his number — not to mention that any accusation to Cruz that he is the spoiler would be met with reciprocal derision that Marco Rubio is the real culprit.

So let’s focus on Kasich. Should he have to bow to this pressure? Should he have to apologize for continuing his bid?

It’s not a new problem. You may believe that Ross Perot spoiled George H. W. Bush’s re-election in 1992 or that Ralph Nader spoiled Al Gore’s win in 2000. But is the problem with the persistent candidate? Is the problem with the voters who refuse to “strategically vote” and end up helping the candidate they like least by voting for the Nader, Perot, Kasich, or Carson, whom they like most? Should you apologize for having voted for Perot or Nader? Kasich or Carson?

If Trump wins a primary with 35%, by definition, that means 65% voted for someone not named Trump.

No, the problem is the system we have chosen for most of our elections. A plurality of votes is enough to carry the day in most American elections, and it’s true in our presidential primaries. So, if Trump wins a primary with 35%, by definition, that means 65% voted for someone not named Trump. It’s not at all clear that Trump could beat all of those other candidates in a head-to-head match-up.

An alternative is a runoff, where if no candidate has a majority, voters return to the polls to select from only those two. This “two-round system” to achieve a majority winner is used by over 20 countries to elect their presidents. Majority runoffs are used in American state legislative elections by 11 states (ironically, largely in their primary races), according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Granted, a second round is pretty tough to fathom for our state-by-state presidential primaries. A more elegant solution is ranked choice voting, or instant runoff voting, a system that achieves a majority result based on each voter ranking his/her preferences (in a field of choices greater than two).

The weakest candidates are sequentially eliminated, and votes are reallocated based on each voter’s preference, saving a second trip to the polls. The system is used in several countries, including Ireland and Australia, as well as an increasing number of municipalities in the U.S.

After electing five recent governors with less than 40% of the popular vote, Maine will vote this November on adopting ranked choice voting statewide.

Combining majority voting methods with our byzantine primary process, not to mention adding them in the state-by-state awarding of electoral votes in November, is no small task. But if the product of any election process is not the candidate with the greatest support of those voting, maybe it’s time to consider some changes.

Photo Credit: Andrew Cline / Shutterstock.com

Join the discussion Please be relevant and respectful.

The Independent Voter Network is dedicated to providing political analysis, unfiltered news, and rational commentary in an effort to elevate the level of our public discourse.


Learn More About IVN

48 comments
aaronhamlin
aaronhamlin

The vote splitting actually still occurs with ranked choice voting (IRV) and tends to be exaggerated the more candidates you add. Keep in mind that IRV eliminates the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes. In plurality elections, the vote can split around the middle and cause partisan candidates to win. We see the same thing with IRV, only it's first-choice votes. And so you can have a solid candidate who get their first-choice votes divided among similar candidates thereby eliminating that popular candidate.


More on this effect—called the "center squeeze effect"—here: http://electology.org/center-squeeze-effect


As a note, anything that isn't plurality voting is an improvement. I just think that there are simpler reforms that can perform better.

Calluci
Calluci

The road to changing the system is NOT through a presidential election. Rather,,it begins with the more tedious path of constantly contacting state and congressional officials. A Bernie is powerless and a trump is more interested in a mindless collective citizen.

John Butterbaugh
John Butterbaugh

For all the Trump supporters, Please, wake up! The man is not a conservative leader! Just because he's angry and you're angry does not mean he will represent and fight for your values, and its not the way to choose a president. Answer me this, When have we ever been angry as hell and said, "I was soo angry and flew off the handle and I made the BEST DECISION OF MY LIFE."??? NEVER. Making decisions when we are angry is not the way to choose wisely!! PICK RECORD OVER RHETORIC. Pick someone who has consistently fought for conservative values, who backs the CONSTITUTION and KNOWS IT FORWARDS AND BACKWARDS. Because thats what the job of the president is, ""I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, PRESERVE, PROTECT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES." Dont pick someone who gives empty promises and promises to fix everything by himself, who gives a good show and ratings and has catchy soundbites and zingers. Someone who has NEVER been involved in politics nor KNOWS ANYTHING ABOUT CONSTITUTIONAL LAW, JUDICIAL LAW, OR ANYTHING REGARDING GOVERNMENT!! Seriously, DONT give our party to this man and dont give our country to him either. Trump is just like Obama with his "CHANGE" campaign but on the other side of the fence. We cannot afford another 4 to 8 years of a narcissist bully in the White House! Vote Ted Cruz! He is the only one who can defend the Constitution wisely and lead our nation!

Jim Fritz
Jim Fritz

POPULAR vote creates a Presidential winner...

Robert Zmuda
Robert Zmuda

We need a political revolution. The GOP/ Bush political establishment corporation is pure evil as are the DNC / Clinton political establishment corporation and they are not looking out for the people or the sovereignty of our nation. If you don't think so then you are one of those who Albert Einstein called " INSANE "? " To continue to do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result." INSANE . So keep voting the corporate establishment elites into office and keep bitching nothing's changed because honey Hillary and Bill Clinton are as much elite entitled establishment corporatist as any republican is. Bill is as much to blame for the economic collapse as all the republicans in office at the time. Bill got rid of Glas/ Steagle, signed into the 2000 securities modification act, NAFTA, Jobs to work Welfare reform putting 30 million children into poverty ( another republican bill) and reformed the justice department and arrest laws to put more drug addicts ,pot pushes and crack addicts and dealers (black person drug of choice and crime) in prison longer while reducing sentences for coke addicts and dealers ( white persons drug of choice and crime) . Just some of the wonderful things the first Clinton president did for the Black and White poor and middle class. Remember when Hillary was a Senator and she said over ten times to the media that the plane she was in when landing in Bosnia was Under Snipper fire? Watch the recorded CBS coverage of the event. Let's see the fall of Egypt, Libya and Syria, war in Oman with Saudi Arabia , Russia emboldened, ISIS growing, Iran in Iraq. What exactly did Hillary accomplish as Secretary of State? Bernie Sanders isn't promising anything for free. Help save the middle class and our nation, vote for and elect Bernie Sanders for president and shock the establishment entitled elites Bernie Sanders isn't promising anything for free. But for you who are happy with the last 35 years and the the status quo they developed to serve them while we 90 % eek out an existence off their scraps get the hell out of our way. After this establishment entitled elite Hillary and the GOP support in their own way and have stripped us of all our assets as a nation and the dignity we have. They will not be stopping there. YOU NEXT IN LINE YOU AREN'T IN THEIR CLUB. The unprecedented inequality we are witnessing and brought on not only by the GOP but also brought on by corporatist in the DNC like the Clintons. Help save our middle-class and our nation vote for and help elect Bernie Sanders for President and clean OUR congress out of those who take money from, do for and think " Corporations are people too My Friend." Help save the middle class and our nation, vote for and elect Bernie Sanders for president and shock the establishment entitled elites.

Rasm
Rasm

Our brand of Capitalism is no more about Democracy than Monarchy was. Our Capitalist based hegemony seen all over the world is proof that corporate interests are driving our politicians. Wall Street is the seat of power. Politicians are owned by Wall Street. Our Founding Fathers would be appalled at what we have become. The 1870's brought the age of Plutocracy upon us and we have not been able to shake it since. The Constitution does not mandate Capitalism, so we have the chance to modify it to reduce the influence of big money on our lives. This is what Sanders is all about- bringing power back to its intended holders- the people. 

Mike Chial
Mike Chial

Those who are bought and paid for will protect their revenue stream.

Johnny Ritchie
Johnny Ritchie

Good point. Still just talk, considering the Republican SCOTUS's made Citizens United and Money equals free speech the corrupting laws of the Nation. We need Progress on our problem's, vs just talking about the problems for another 3 decades. President Obama has made Progress, since the 2008 Great Recession. We backslid in the 2014 elections. Kentucky backslid in their 2015 Governor's election.

Daniel Mays
Daniel Mays

I think that's been the problem all along, the elections have been fixed.

Robert Weber
Robert Weber

AGAIN, AND AGAIN..... I WILL POST THIS TILL EVERYONE GETS IT, LOOK IT UP, READ THE ENTIRE CONSTITUTION......... Amendments XIV and XV sections 1 in each, states plainly who are citizens and whom may vote. The Articles of Government --Procedures, Policy, Practices plainly state election process / Athority...... So in brief ...... " ONE LEGAL CITIZEN, ONE LEGAL VOTE" ........ ARTICLES... Congress is to ( in a secure process ) collect the votes of legal voters, count the votes, release the votes, and the populous votes win the position..... The two party system is not in the Constitution / Bill of Rights / Amendments/ Articles of Government ---Procedures, Practices, policies.... George Washington gathered Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, Madison and had discussions about NOT having the division of parties as in the English Government that they just fought against and created the. " law of the land" yes THE CONSTITUTION..... you see how the first politicians of greed/ power/ self glorification did ...... Party division instead of the Constitution as written and Amended........ It has morphed till today as a PRIVATE MEMBERSHIP that tax payers pay for THEIR TWO PARTY CONVENTIONS, CAUCASUS, VOTING ..... PLEASE PLEASE READ THE CONSTITUTION AS WRITTEN AND AMENDED, all roughly 7,000 words....... The Feds use a constitution of over 30,000 words ..... Where the hell did the 23,000 misinterpreted, twisted, false words come from???????? THAT IS CORRECT FOLKS .... THE TWO PARTIES......

Michael Shreve
Michael Shreve

The Parties have FIXED the primaries to AVOID brokered conventions. The REAL problem is that, in the past, the choices has ALWAYS been been among the LEAST disgusting career politicians.

Kevin C. Smith
Kevin C. Smith

As far as primaries go, this sort of thing could be easily implimented...if party primaries were no longer operated as public elections.

Mary Hunter
Mary Hunter

This may actually stand a chance of working now because no one other than the troglodytes voting for him want Donald Trump as the GOP nominee. Hopefully this will cause them to open the door just enough to allow some change...

PaulLillebo
PaulLillebo

We need to distinguish between public and private elections. Our general (public) presidential election should be one where each of several parties presents its nominee, and we use a form of preference voting (there are several available) to choose one winner. How the parties arrive at their nominee is the business of the party, and they will design a private (s)election process for that. Private party s(election) processes should not get public funding, unless all parties are given equal support.

Ray Ninness
Ray Ninness

Those of you on the Liberal Left have been trying this tactic since day one!! It all makes perfect sense, one man or woman one vote ?? But we're are a Representative Republic, not a Democratic Republic, or engaging in Mob Rule as you would have it, hence the Electoral College!! \U0001f60e

Dianne Long
Dianne Long

Frankly, I have never thought that the political party leadership has ever known what is best for the entire nation. With the parties, it isn't about what is good for the country; rather, it is what is good for them, their agendas, their pockets, and their egos. The parties should have no means by which they can "broker" elections to suit themselves. There should be nothing that assures any candidate of having a better chance simply because they can gain more votes by following the party "line". This country does not like being controlled by those who think hey know better -- especially when the party bosses choose such terrible "leaders". The people vote; therefore, the people should get their choice.

Chad Kernell
Chad Kernell

No. Trump might have the most votes but if he has the highest negatives and is no one's second choice, if 65% really don't want him he shouldn't get the nomination just because he has the most delegates. He should have to get 51% to guarantee the nomination

Steve Stratton
Steve Stratton

Under the current winner take all system, they only need a plurality of the 12 largest Metro Areas to win election, just like Obama did the last two elections!

Johnny Dean
Johnny Dean

Elections have been "fixed" for years. Now we need to "repair" the process.

Debbie Parks
Debbie Parks

Yes, I don't understand why people would vote for a party that no longer represents them. Or cares about them for that matter.

Debbie Parks
Debbie Parks

Seems like they have safeguards in place so that the people cannot elect a president.

Will Johnson
Will Johnson

I am NOT interested in a Republican or a Democrat! I am interested in an Independent candidate that knows the Constitution and the role the government is to play WITHIN it!

cecsix
cecsix

If Republicans were smarter, they'd actually prop up Kasich.  He's the only candidate who has appeal to a large number of voters in the middle.  If you look at the head-to-head polls, he defeats Hillary and Bernie by a wider margin than any of the other Republicans.  Trump is a buffoon, Cruz is a theocrat, and Rubio is just not ready.  He sounds like a whiny teenager.  Kasich would win Ohio and win the white house.  70% of Americans (at least) think Trump is an idiot who would be living in a trailer if he hadn't been born into millions.  If he wins the nomination, we will get President Clinton.  

BrianShank
BrianShank

@cecsix

Your suggestion that Kasich would be the Republican candidate most likely to be elected president gives a lot of weight to the arguments made in this article. This horrible primary and general election system and the use of plurality voting may well be shutting out a candidate that could otherwise win!

Calluci
Calluci

I agree. My thoughts from day one. John huntsman is another example.

Connie Carter
Connie Carter

Sharon Woods Heaney true. Haven't used my camera yet. We will see if they refuse. Same rules here on hats, etc..... If you can take a picture you should take it. If not then find others who witness the event. Report them.

Sharon Woods Heaney
Sharon Woods Heaney

Good idea for the voters,bad idea for the politicians,therefore not likely to happen. Politicians know voters are upset but self interest and party loyalty trumps responsibility.

Anatole Evans
Anatole Evans

Anyone not shouting about our corrupt and broken political system is part of the problem! When I see HRC smile and pay lip service to what Bernie Sanders has been fighting for his whole political career it makes my blood boil! Clinton's done more damage to black families than the KKK! Do your home work on the private prison industry and the get tough on crime legislation and the resulting militarization of the police! HRC and Bill Clinton as guilty as sin!!! I think the notion that congress will work in harmony with HRC has been completely dispelled! Yes I think that revolution is going to be necessary!!! Without a revolution nothing changes! Question is who is energizing voters! Who is growing the voter base? Who will turn out young voters? Who will get voters out that traditionally don't vote? Who is getting the independent vote? By far Bernie Sanders is the best hope for meaningful change and HRC is the best candidate for more status quo and republican obstruction! Look at the polling trajectory of where Sanders started and how far HRC has fallen! Amazing and totally missing from the discussion! Hillary Clinton is asking us to believe the corrupting influence of money does not change congressional bills and votes! She is asking us to believe the one percent are spending billions in lobbying for no reason! If you are buying this I got some things I would like to sell you!!! Yes the media blackout is in full effect! Check out Trump coverage Vs. Sanders!!! Guns and abortion! Keeping the people distracted and stuck on stupid! Divide and conquer! Only rich lives matter? Stand up to Hill first!! Trump is next! About as fair and balanced as the Corporate media! Feel the Bern! The two party system has been playing the same game for forty years! The only ones benefiting and getting what they want is the one percent! Just a trending news story brought to you by repetition creates reality inc. Also brought to you by just ignore Bernie Sanders inc. Not all that different from how Bill Cosby handled these questions! Bill Clinton is just a much better liar! Check out the list of allegations and the number of women making them! I believe victims and I don't trust the Clintons! Bill Clinton and Bill Cosby used power, intimidation, and a persona larger than life to silence a lot of women! Just wrong! Rape was part of the allegations and money was paid out! How many women need to come forward before we believe them? HRC is enabler in chief!

Timothy Carr
Timothy Carr

Bring back public lynching for corruption and thief s.

Sharon Woods Heaney
Sharon Woods Heaney

In Michigan phones are not permitted in the polling precincts. Also not permitted is campaign material or clothing. All campaign material must be 100 feet from the polling place (outside) as well as people doing exit polls.

Jack Wells
Jack Wells

The elections are already "Fixed".

Connie Carter
Connie Carter

Bring your phones. Pictures videos use them. Stop the crime the establishment are no the peoples friend.

Cheryl Cardoza Cayce
Cheryl Cardoza Cayce

Absolutely. The parties no longer represent the people but rather represent their own interests.

Ed Montero
Ed Montero

The parties don't represent us anymore and we need to start over again. the country is broken and we need to start over again. Rebuild replace reset revolt rise up and make them feel the Bern.

Vin Gen
Vin Gen

I will always blame Ralph Nader for GWBush!

Dreama Small
Dreama Small

Yeah voter id and do away with the electorial college

Will Johnson
Will Johnson

"ALL" lives matter not just BLACK ones! Or RICH ones or Poor ones!

Will Johnson
Will Johnson

To hell with the two-party political system!

Matt Davenport
Matt Davenport

Hard to fix the problem when corrupt & arrogant self interest writes the rules and controls the process.

Will Johnson
Will Johnson

Presidents are meant to REPRESENT the "WHOLE" of the People they should be required to have a CONSENSUS not merely a MAJORITY!

Rasm
Rasm

The state-by-state primary system and it use of delegates and super-delegates is flawed. Let's have a national primary that is open to all parties where we down -select  candidates. Delegates just add too much potential corruption into the mix. They are obsolete. 

Calluci
Calluci

Our presidents have more power than ever. Would be interesting to see a metric of power over time. This is serious stuff. A wrong turn with a badly chosen lever of power may never find a mid course correction and democracy may find itself replaced by reactive forces. America has a history of sins that eventually get properly addressed. But, hard to grasp the decades that have passed when those in power have been more adept at deepening the sinful flaws of the election process, like for example with gerrymandering or citizens United, than having new policies that puts the will of the people first. I fear that tribal identification is so hardened that even our citizens are bent on being lemmings and will drown us all. The mad as hell and I won't take it any more enegy of today is misplaced when it would be better harnessed if it included the central ideas of this article.

bob
bob

it would seem like a fatal flaw in any electoral system when someone can be elected without a majority vote in favor of them.

BrianShank
BrianShank

@bob In any particular election, it is quite possible that there just is no candidate that gets a majority support out of all voters. I'm assuming voters are honestly voting for their favorite candidate. For example, with more than two candidates running, the most number of voters who consider any of them to be their favorite may be 43%. There are very knowledgeable election reform advocates who do not believe a majority winner should be an absolute criterion for choosing someone to fill an elective office.