[EM] Possible Material for Pro-AV Pamphlet

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Tue Mar 12 10:44:14 PST 2002

Here's a little essay (roughly 400 words) that I've been tinkering with for
some time.   Maybe at some point I'll make it look nicer by adding color, a
pamphlet layout, etc.  Anyway, here it is:


By Alex Small

Every election cycle many Americans lament the lack of a strong third
party.  Some say that the two parties are corrupt.  Others don’t fit in
with either party, perhaps being conservative on economic issues and
liberal on social issues.  Whatever their reasons, many Americans want more

Unfortunately, even if there is a third candidate whom you feel is superior
to both the Democrat and the Republican, the best bet is usually to pick
the lesser evil between the two contenders.  Victories like Jesse
Ventura’s, where people boldly vote for their true first preference, are
rare and will remain rare so long as we only have one vote to cast.

Fortunately, elections don’t have to be run that way.  There’s an easy way
to determine the true, honest favorite of the voters:  Approval Voting,
where you simply indicate yes or no for each candidate.  The candidate with
the strongest approval from the electorate wins.  We could do it without
new voting machines.  And, since voting laws are handled by the states,
grassroots efforts could bring this about without conducting a massive
nationwide campaign.

Who will benefit from Approval Voting?
1.	We The People.  We’ll have the freedom to vote our conscience and
still hedge our bets against our least favorite—have our cake and eat it
too!  We’ll see competitive third and fourth options.

If our main concern is defeating a particular candidate we can say yes to
all of his major competitors.  If our main concern is only electing a
particular candidate we’ll be free to approve him and no other.  We’ll also
be free to take an intermediate course of action.

2.	The Democrats and Republicans.  Surprised?  Right now, candidates
often win primary elections with less than 25% of the vote.  With Approval
Voting, whoever has the broadest support within the party will win.  The
parties will go into the general elections united behind strong
candidates.  They also won’t have to worry about candidates who could never
possibly win acting as “spoilers” in close general elections (e.g. Ralph

3.	Third Parties.  Third parties will go into the election without
worrying about the “wasted vote syndrome.”  They will win or lose based on
whether or not the people agree with their proposals.

In short, everybody will benefit.  This is no surprise, because people
benefit when they have more freedom to make choices.  For all of those who
are tired of the same two choices every year, the road to reform is clear:
Approval Voting.

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