Sunday, October 28, 2012

Lottery Elections & Voting Reform

A one party political system is a dictatorship. A two party political system is the same tyranny if an outside group controls both. And this is the situation the United States is dangerously approaching, because corporate billionaires now choose the candidates in every national election. In other words, no politician can afford to run for the higher offices without the support of the wealthy, so candidates promote policies that favor the tiny minority of rich people – at the expense of the vast majority of regular citizens

A fair political arena would not only allow, but encourage, a multitude of opinions, instead of just two versions of the same monopoly. Indeed, a proper election system would have numerous candidates, all running as an independent without parties. In this way, politicians would stand or fall on their own merits, rather than their promoters.

One solution for getting independent people into government again is to have all elections begin with lotteries. In addition, all losing votes should rollover until just one candidate remains with the most ballots cast in their favor.

Though slight variations would be needed for the individual states, the general idea of Lottery Elections is simple. The basic format is as follows...

President and Vice-President
● Current or recent Governors or Congresspersons may register for the lottery.
● Randomly chosen candidates are selected from this pool to run for election.
● Public television carries candidate debates/discussions.
● Most votes wins President and second most Vice-President.

State Office (Governors or Congresspersons)
● Current or recent District Representatives may register for the lottery.
● Randomly chosen candidates are selected from this pool to run for election.
● Public television carries candidate debates/discussions.

Regional Office (District Representatives)
● Current or recent Local Representatives may register for the lottery.
● Randomly chosen candidates are selected from this pool to run for election.
● Public television carries candidate debates/discussions.

Local Representative (City/County Councils)
● Local residents may register for the lottery.
● Randomly chosen candidates are selected from this pool to run for election.
● Public television carries candidate debates/discussions.

Additional rules include that officials may only serve one elected term at each level of government service. Nor may they be paid lobbyists after leaving office. And again, every vote cast for a losing candidate rolls over until the most popular candidate is determined and declared the winner.

The way “rollover” works is that voters rate every candidate in preferential order when they vote. For example, if five candidates are running for President, you vote for one, but also select your 2nd preference, 3rd preference, etc. This eliminates less wanted candidates from winning by a fluke. History shows that contestants are occasionally so similar that they split the vote and a much less wanted candidate wins. Rollover prevents this. Here is an example to clarify the concept further…

Candidate A:  Different than other candidates.  Receives  4% of the votes.  
Candidate B:  Different than other candidates.  Receives  6% of the votes.  
Candidate C:  Nearly identical to candidate D.  Receives 28% of the votes. 
Candidate D:  Nearly identical to candidate C.  Receives 30% of the votes. 
Candidate E:  Different than other candidates.  Receives 32% of the votes. 

Without rollover, Candidate E wins narrowly. But with rollover, losing votes go to the next selection a voter made. In this example, Candidate C or D would be the second choice for almost everyone that voted for either of them. So Candidate D would win by a huge margin when most of C’s votes rolled over to D as their second choice. (Note the low vote count is always redistributed first.) In this example, even if every voter for A had selected B for their second choice, B would still only have 10%. So now B is also eliminated and both A and B have their votes redistributed to the next choice on their ballots (who is not yet eliminated). This goes on until the winner is determined.

Security is another important consideration…

Computer vote counting risks the theft of entire elections by a very small group of people. In addition, it is too easy to invade privacy if who you voted for is tracked electronically.

Manual counting deters theft, yet ensures voter privacy. The volunteers who donate time to count votes during election years have always enjoyed this community service anyway. And with everyone watching each other count, plus all the double checking, the overall results are almost impossible to steal. Given the massive benefits, it doesn’t hurt to wait a few hours for election results to come in.

As an extra safeguard, ballots would be paper and designed similar to raffle tickets. This means every voter is given a double ballot with a unique serial number printed on both halves. The voter retains the duplicate stub after punching both halves in a voting booth. Voters can then go online and anonymously reference their ballot’s serial number against a registry of votes cast. Any discrepancies would be addressed by visiting the local voting commission, stub in hand, to correct the error.

Lottery elections mean the end of career politicians. Plus, they ensure the better candidates can rise to the top by requiring elections after the drawings. They would result in the restoration of true citizen politicians and curtail the influence of the wealthy, whose total domination of election funding has effectively purchased the government for their own use. Lastly, the structure guarantees that the most important offices have candidates with sufficient experience in government.