February 23, 2004

None of the Above

Posted by shonk at 10:53 PM in Politics | TrackBack

In his post “Third Parties: Why They Spoil and How to Stop It”, Aaron Swartz examines various alternatives to the first-past-the-post election paradigm, ultimately casting his support with Approval Voting. Seeing as no voting method addresses the fundamental problem of democracy, the fact that majority approval does not grant rights that no individual has, I usually tune alternative voting supporters out, but a comment on the post made by Tom Ruen caught my eye:

I like the idea of a “nonbinding None-of-the-Above” vote. It can apply for plurality, runoffs, cCondorcet and Approval. In a IRV method, NOTA acts like a normal candidate that can be eliminated. If NOTA rises to second place, that’s a sign that the candidates are weak and next election more people should run. If NOTA rises to first place in the final IRV round, I’d still give victory to a real candidate. That’s what makes it nonbinding. A binding NOTA would force a new election. I don’t think that is necessary. A strong NOTA is just a measure of voter discontent, and it will encourage the winner to try to connect more to voters, and encourage more candidates to run next time.

In my opinion, Ruen doesn’t go far enough. If “None of the Above” garners the most support, there’s absolutely no reason whatsoever to make the second-place finisher the winner; in fact, doing so completely ignores the preferences of the voters. If a candidate can’t beat “None of the Above”, then there’s no way in hell he should be in office. If we’re going to have democracy, let’s not be weak-kneed about it. Give voters a “None of the Above” option, and if it garners the most support, then leave the office being voted for empty until the next election…and in the mean time, consider cutting it altogether.

You know what? I like this idea. Put “None of the Above” on the ballot, if for no other reason than to put an end to this “lesser of two evils” bullshit.


Yeah, let's skew the balance of power even further towards the non-elected officials! For the crowd may applaud Caesar for ending the wastefulness of their Senate and offer him the crown, but he will not offer it back.

Posted by: Curt at February 23, 2004 11:25 PM

Not quite my point.

Posted by: shonk at February 24, 2004 12:09 AM

But it is obvious that if the voters refuse to elect someone the job will be taken over by the bureaucrats rather than the government disbanding, no?

Posted by: Curt at February 24, 2004 11:58 AM

Right, but there wouldn't be any illusions in that case.

Posted by: shonk at February 24, 2004 11:15 PM

You vastly underestimate the minds of the electorate, Shonk.

Posted by: John Lopez at February 25, 2004 08:57 PM

You mean overestimate?

Posted by: shonk at February 26, 2004 02:15 AM

What you underestimate is their ability to adapt their prejudices to reality. 99.99% of 'em will *never*, ever give up their illusions, no matter how reality evolves. Wasn't there a Simpson's episode that had two evil space aliens running for President, each one promising to eat the whole of humanity or somesuch? The gag was that folks were spilt on which candidate was best.

Posted by: John Lopez at February 26, 2004 10:15 PM