Preferential voting (FWD)

New Democracy donald at
Tue Sep 29 15:25:51 PDT 1998

  ---------- Forwarded Letter ----------
>Date: Tue, 29 Sep 1998 11:52:48 -0700 (PDT)
>X-Sender: tomcondit at (Unverified)
>Mime-Version: 1.0
>To: donald at
>From: Tom Condit <tomcondit at>
>Subject: Preferential voting
>Having been an election judge, I share some of Charles Fiterman's concerns.
>One particular problem he cites is peculiar to eastern states. I don't think
>there's anywhere west of the Mississippi where you can cast a straight
>party-line vote with a single punch. Our election laws were all written by
>people who were very anti-organizational and pro-individual ego, so they
>weaken parties and organization in general in every possible way. This is
>supposed to make the individual voter all-triumphant, but of course what it
>really does is lead to the dominance of corporations and lobbyists.
>In general, though, anything which brings hand-writing into the process is
>potentially destructive. Write-in votes frequently aren't counted until at
>least a week after the rest of the vote, and it's hard to find out what the
>results are.
>Couldn't preferential voting be done with a multi-row punch card, the way
>they do machine-scored multiple choice tests? There'd still be a potential
>for screwed up ballots, but it would greatly speed up the process of finding
>If such a system was used, a lot of attention would have to be paid to
>making sure that instructions were very, very clear, and given to voters
>both before and at the polling place. Here in California, our latest
>polity-dissolving device is an atrocity called the "blanket primary", where
>voters can jump around from one party to another in the primary
>process--Republicans picking the Democratic Party nominees, Libertarians
>picking the socialist Peace & Freedom Party nominee, etc. The sole exception
>to this is party central committees, which can only be elected by voters of
>the party in question. Despite clear instructions in the sample ballot, at
>the polling booth, and in mailings from the parties themselves, many voters
>skipped around there as well, voting for their friends or people whose names
>they liked in more than one party. Never underestimate the capacity of
>television to have rendered people incapable of following written instructions.
>Tom Condit

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