Now Is the Time to Fix Our Elections

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Americans are continually disappointed with their elected leaders. Every election day Americans go to the polls with the hopes of electing someone that can make a positive difference in their lives. All too often though, they have no real choice. The candidates that we put up against each other hold basically the same beliefs. There is no place for any other ideas in our current system.

We have almost 2 years until the next congressional elections, which means it is the perfect time to talk about what is wrong with the system and how to fix it.

Our system is failing because in order to win an election our candidates have to move to the center. Our plurality-based, winner-take-all system ensures that no third party ideas get thrown into the mix.

In an ideal system, third party ideas would not be seen as a threat to those who are most closely aligned ideologically with the third party. If most individuals want a representative who holds liberal ideals, shouldn’t the electorate be able to choose from a range of individuals with liberal ideals without fearing that by choosing one they will sabotage the chance of having a liberal in office?

Other countries have solved this problem by going to a proportional representation system. In a proportional system voters rank candidates in order of preference, and the winner is calculated based on how all voters rank each candidate. Under this system it is possible that a candidate may receive a plurality of first choice votes, but still be defeated by another candidate if all other voters placed them low in their preferences. This ensures that if a majority of voters are strongly opposed to a candidate, that candidate cannot win by simply splitting the votes between her opponents.

In recent years we have increasingly been stuck with either obstructionist politicians, or those who peddle bad policies. Until we fix our elections, along with how they are financed, we will continue to see this kind of behavior. We need better leaders if we are going to get our economy and the country as a whole back on track.

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