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The Plurality Voting System Fails Democracy

By Kevin Anthony Stoda  Posted by Kevin Anthony Stoda (about the submitter)     Permalink
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Some years ago, I came across an article that discussed a list of options to the status quo available for democratically electing our leaders in the USA. 

The article, entitled “ELECTION SELECTION:  Are we Using the Worst Voting Procedure?”, was written by Erica Klarreich, and it was published in SCIENCE NEWS magazine.


As Americans are currently (1) concerned about the lack of good representation in governance, and more Americans than ever are (2) interested in electoral reform, I have been advocating or lobbying for some constitutional amendment(s)  to eradicate business-as-usual-in-Washington and to transform our country into a better, more vibrant, and more just (or more fair) democracy.


In order to better discuss this topic of representation in governance, I have looked again at Klarreich’s article.  In it, the author makes it very clear that most every single voting theorist in both the USA and abroad believes that “plurality voting is one of the worst of all possible choices.”


Plurality voting is the system used almost universally in the USA.  It’s logic is defined by the phrase “one person, one vote”.


Having been raised in the American public school system, I had been raised to assume that one-person-one-vote defined democracy.

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I was so led or misled (brainwashed?) in this direction that I even ignored the fact that my own mother and father actually split their votes as a team in some elections.


For example, my dad voted fore the American Progressive Party of George Wallace in the 1968 election while my mom voted for Hubert Humphrey, a democrat.  My dad voted for Eugene McCarthy for president in 1976 and my mother again voted Democratic, i.e. for Jimmy Carter.  Finally, in 1980 my dad voted for John Anderson, the independent candidate, while my mom voted for Carter, again.


At the time, my dad was ahead of the game; now many other Americans consider themselves to be independents. 


These Americans provide the swing votes every single election. However, like my father, who oversaw splitting of the 2 votes of the 2 adults of my family’s household, most Americans are dissatisfied by the results of the current election system, in terms of its inability to leave the voting public with a sense that their vote count--or that their voice is being heard.


Americans are so frustrated with the faults of the  plurality system—the “one-person, one-vote” system so beloved back in the 18th century era of our founding fathers--that tens of millions of them refuse to even vote in national elections every 4-years.  

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These non-voting American are obviously not feeling represented and certainly are lacking much voice in government.  Nonetheless, most of these non-voters are, indeed,  still among the losing voters in whatever election they refuse to vote in.


For all these reasons, no presidential candidate in recent American history has come close to getting 50% of the votes from the 18+ year-old age group (since America’s voting age was lowered through constitutional amendment to 18 years). 


This was over 3 ½ decades ago! Because of this low turnout rate, usually only about 30% of the total adult population in the USA is sufficient to become elected the President of the United States every four years

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