Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'd vote for this electoral reform!

Writing for Newsweek, Mickey Kaus postulates various ways in which a 'None Of The Above' vote might be included on electoral ballots.

This seems like a radical, and maybe wonderful, idea. Call it Instant Recall voting. No longer would you be stuck with the two turkeys picked by the highly polarized primary electorates of the Democrats and Republicans. Voters could reject them both without having, at the same time, to settle on the candidate they actually wanted. Do you have to have a new boyfriend in order to break up with your old boyfriend? I didn't think so. Faced with the unappetizing choice of Angle or Reid, the electorate could just push back from the table. "Waiter, bring me something else."

I can see two ways of implementing a ... Instant Recall. The conventional approach would put "none of the above" on the ballot with the other candidates. If "none" won, then the other candidates would lose. There'd have to be another election. The somebodies who got beat by nobody could be banned from that second election.

In effect, this would be like Nevada's system, but with real consequences. Why might "none of the above" win, if it's never won before, at least in Nevada's experience? Because of those real consequences. Voters might pick it precisely because (unlike earlier angry Nevadans) they wouldn't be throwing their vote away. They'd be throwing the candidates away. Still, you'd have to think it would be a very rare occasion when neither candidate could beat "none."

The really subversive form of the idea would put the "none" on a separate ballot line (much as in California's 2003 gubernatorial recall). Voters would choose between the candidates. Then there would be a second, distinct ballot question: "Should the winner of the above contest assume office, or should we hold a new election with new candidates?" Like computer users, voters would be given the option of "reboot now."

You could see this reform having large and positive consequences. Parties would be cautious about nominating fringe figures, because even if they won their race (against a presumably unappealing opponent) they might lose on the "reboot" question. Negative ads? They're great at winning a one-on-one battle, but they turn off voters. Turn off too many and you could win the battle but lose the Reboot.

A state could keep having elections until at least 50% of the voters were satisfied that they'd picked someone they were actually comfortable being governed by. It's hard to believe these wouldn't be more trusted, moderate figures.

There's more at the link.

I think there's a lot of merit in this suggestion. If we're faced with a lousy choice of candidates for office, at the moment the only thing we can do is hold our noses and vote for the lesser of two evils. With a 'damn the lot of 'em' option, we could ensure that political parties offered us meaningful candidates, rather than the time-serving hacks and 'organization men' (and women) who so often work their way to the top of the heap. If we weren't happy with the choices available, we could choose to send no-one into office and demand a better quality of candidate.

I like this idea . . .



Anonymous said...

"being governed by" Right there is a major part of the problem.

That mindset,(words have meanings),gives us masters who want to govern rather than servants who want to represent us.

Dennis the librarian shusher

dave said...

I'd like to see two options: None Of The Above, and Blow Them All Away.

NOTA is easy: new election, with the current candidates disqualified from running.

BTAA is like NOTA, but with a long wall, rifles, and a "no, really, we meant it attitude."