Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 37 Share on Twitter 1 Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEd News:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/5/22

'Tis a Gift to be Simple: One Man, One Vote

Follow Me on Twitter     Message Paul Cohen
Become a Fan
  (3 fans)

To Be Simple
To Be Simple
(Image by cindy47452 from flickr)
  Details   DMCA
Simplicity is rightfully valued to be sure, but that Quaker wisdom surely needs to be tempered with consideration of other objectives. Plurality voting surely is simple, but we have seen it to be unsatisfactory when measured against other standards. Importantly, it fails to work sensibly when there are more than two candidates. With more than two candidates, voters cannot express their more complicated opinions in sufficient detail for there to be confidence in an election.

Balanced Plurality voting (BPV) does improve matters by allowing a voter to express either support for or opposition to a single candidate. And that works fine for the voter whose only concern is that one special candidate should win or should lose. But what about the voter who is torn between wanting one candidate to win and another candidate to lose? That situation is not hard to imagine and should not such a voter be able to express that more complex opinion? In an effort to maintain simplicity, perhaps we should allow voters to say how they feel about two candidates, not just one.

Some may react in horror to the possibility that this might violate the honored principle of one man, one vote. But was that principle decisively abandoned many years ago when women gained the right to vote? And might one also also consider whether this phrase deserves the status of an honored principle. One might understand it to be only an outdated campaign slogan or chant from a political campaign in the distant past to extend the vote to every man.

But yet another consideration is to dispute the meaning of the word vote. With plurality voting (PV) and even with BPV the meaning is pretty clear, but when giving a voter the opportunity to express an opinion about two candidates, do we really need to consider that as two votes? Might not the pair of preferences be considered a single, more expressive vote? Unfortunately, our common language becomes ambiguous here because with vote having two different meanings. So I have suggested we should abandon the use of vote as a noun and introduce two new words, votelet and voteplex, to be used in place of the word vote. A voteplex is the entirety of what a voter is allowed to express in a given election and a votelet is the term for any of the smaller components of a voteplex. This language allows us to update that demand so crowds could now chant, one person, on voteplex. Much more significant though, is that having these two new terms allows us to distinguish these two distinct meanings that our common language so easily allows us to confuse.

About a year ago, I published an article in this series that dealt specifically with the system, B2, suggested above. B2 is similar to BPV (a.k.a. B1) but which allows a voteplex to consist of two votelets, each votelet expressing either support or opposition to selected candidates. That is in fact enough to allow voters in our very polarized electorate to support one major party while opposing the other major party, and that itself would lower the bar sufficiently to raise our expectation for a possible win by a minor party candidate. We might, in time, even achieve a three-party politics. With three viable parties it would cost more for corporate interests to co-opt three parties, but in time that would still be likely. We could allow a voteplex to consist of three or four or five votelets, thereby making possible four, five or six competitive parties, but would any fixed number be enough?

Better would seem to be to allow voters to have their say about any or all of the candidates, however many there are. In principle this would permit a new party to form and to compete effectively no matter how many parties have been corrupted. This is what BAV does by combining evaluative voting with balanced voting. A simple example election might clarify some virtues of this approach.

Suppose an election were held with four candidates named s, S, D and d (the chosen letters suggested by support and disapprove). Consider a voter who supports s and S but opposes D and d. Moreover, let us assume that it is widely understood that the winner will probably be S or D, but our voter prefers s over S and D over d. If the election uses BAV then the voter has an easy time deciding to support s and S and opposing D and d and even after the election this voter will feel comfortable with those choices. But what if the elections were to use BPV or B2? I suspect in either case the voter could face some difficult strategic decisions and quite possibly will have second thoughts after the election about whatever the choice is.

Must Read 1   Well Said 1   Valuable 1  
Rate It | View Ratings

Paul Cohen Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Attended college thanks to the generous state support of education in 1960's America. Earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at the University of Illinois followed by post doctoral research positions at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. (more...)

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines

Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEd News Newsletter
   (Opens new browser window)

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Who Pays Taxes?

What Might be the Best Voting System?

Perverse Delivery Charges

What Could be Wrong with Ranked-Choice Voting?

Liberate Yourself from the Mainstream Media

Conservatives Without Conscience

To View Comments or Join the Conversation:

Tell A Friend