Official Candidate Picker

I recently tried one of those online surveys that tries to tell you which candidate is actually most in line with your policy beliefs. These are fun, but subject to bias.

In keeping with my New Democracy category, I started wondering if there was a way to make this process official, and unbiased. It's an interesting process because often these surveys surprise the voter, who, based on campaign ads or peer pressure don't realize they are highly in agreement with a smaller-party platform.

Here's one suggestion for a way to make it non-biased. Each registered candidate could submit a policy statement that they think differentiates themselves from the other candidates. After all are submitted, they would be revealed and the other candidates would decide how they themselves want to be scored by the proposition. (The submitting candidate would be classed as strongly agreeing.) You don't want to put in a motherhood proposition that everybody agrees with as it won't differentiate you from others.

After this we go another round, candidates can submit entries which either continue to differentiate them, or refine or rebut earlier proposals. You can go several rounds, though you don't want the survey to be super-long.

Then voters can take this survey and it will tell them how close they are to each candidate, on the whole and issue-by-issue.Other methods are possible of course. One could have an impartial party try to arbitrate what the questions will be until they get buy-in from each campaign. This would result in a shorter survey with greater chance of bias from the "impartial" party.

Ideally, this could even replace the ballot. You could have an election where rather than naming people, you answer policy preference questions, and your vote ends up going for the candidate who most closely matches you. Of course in this event candidates would attempt to game the system, telling their supporters exactly how to answer the questions to get them. However, it would provide a very strong measurement of public opinion on a variety of issues that would guide even candidates who didn't match the public on that particular issue (but still won.) A marriage of representative and participatory democracy features.


I really like this idea. You could combine it with a complete ban on political advertising, and only allow the candidates to hold publicized debates where they talk about the survey questions.

I think this really is an idea whose time has come. The survey is onscreen, in the voting booth. Voters do the survey for as long as they want, including not at all. At any point in the survey, the voter selects "cast your vote", then several "are you sure"-type prompts follow to ensure that the voter understands (kind of a stretch for some, I know) that s/he is actually voting and not just taking the survey.

It's not a departure from political ads, i.e., people who are good at the survey process bubble up and try to focus the survey towards their candidate winning. And some people would likely do the survey and then switch their votes because they get offended, as it is almost exclusively now with political ads.

Regardless of the implementation, what I love about this idea is that people love to take surveys. I like to think that this approach would have people love to vote, and that it would dramatically increase the size of the informed electorate.

Interesting, but it'd work a lot better if the voting process used a rollover scoring system similar to that used in Australia, the UK, and other countries. There's no "throwing your vote away" there, because voters rate the candidates from most-preferred to least-preferred. Then, the candidate with the least votes is dropped, and ballots with that candidate as #1 are treated according to their second choice.

Repeat this process, dropping the least popular candidate at each stage and treating the affected ballots according to their next most relevant choice. At some point, one of the candidates will get over 50% of the votes (this may not happen until there are only two candidates left, or it may happen sooner). That candidate is the winner.

The advantages of this system are manyfold.

Firstly, you're not forced to place a major party at the top of your ballot to make it "count". You can put them as last, second-last, third-last etc. Your vote will always be counted, and it will never go towards the candidate you place last.

Secondly, this gives a more accurate idea of how popular the minor parties and independent candidates are. Media and the parties themselves will be operating with more accurate information about what the voters really do want.

Thirdly, it increases the chances of a minor party to become a major party, and vice versa. Admittedly, people in general tend to vote for the same parties over and over, so it's not exactly anarchy, but the minor-party percentages at least wiggle a bit instead of remaining static.

Fourthly, it increases the chances that a major party will make strategic alliances with one or more minor parties in order to appeal to the minor parties' voters. More alliances and coalitions mean that future policies can have the input of the minor partners, rather than just being rammed through by the big parties. The more people vote for a minor party first, the more influence said party will have on the major party's decisions. Thus, the will of the people becomes more apparent.

As an example:

100 people vote for the most popular pizza-party. The votes come in as follows -
Supreme Party: 35 votes
Pepperoni Party: 30 votes
Hawaiian Party: 25 votes
Cheese Party: 10 votes

The Cheese Party's votes are redistributed according to their secondary preferences.

Supreme Party: 37 votes
Pepperoni Party: 33 votes
Hawaiian Party: 30 votes

The Hawaiian Party's votes are redistributed according to their secondary preference (or tertiary, if their secondary was for the Cheese Party).

Supreme Party: 45 votes
Pepperoni Party: 55 votes

And it's a surprise win for the Pepperoni Party. Even through the Supreme Party got the most primary votes, 55% of people did *not* want them in power.

So, at the next election, the Supreme Party makes a deal with the Hawaiian Party, and each party tells its voters to put the other one second (after themselves, of course).

After all the preferences have been sorted out, the vote stands at -
Supreme Party: 48 votes
Pepperoni Party: 52 votes

So the Supreme party pulls out all the stops. It forms a coalition with the Hawaiian Party. Their new pizzas will still be Supreme flavored, but they will now come with two free slices of Hawaiian pizza.

The third election rolls around, and the primary votes come in this way -
Supreme-Hawaiian Party: 50 votes
Pepperoni Party: 38 votes
Cheese Party: 12 votes

Note that the coalition party has not yet gained more than 50% of the votes, so there is no winner in the first round. The Cheese Party's votes are redistributed, and we find -
Supreme-Hawaiian Party: 55 votes
Pepperoni Party: 45 votes

The coalition, with its new mix of Supreme and Hawaiian policy, has carried the day.

Of course, this works better in an actual democracy. Things like the Electoral College, and breaking voters up into electorates or states, defeats the purpose. Isn't the whole point supposed to be "one person, one vote"? Shouldn't your vote count the same no matter where you live or who your neighbours are?

Strangely enough, this is actually the case - as long as you don't live in the U.S.A.

I'm not an American, so I don't care if the people of the US don't get their votes counted. It's not my problem. I know my vote counts, because I live in a country with an actual democracy, as opposed to a country that just goes around telling people it's really in favor of democracy... except, apparently, for its own citizens.

Every couple of years, I'll jump on the Net and check to see if America is allowing its people to have a say in the way they're governed. My friends all tell me I'm an optimist. But you never know. Maybe someone will install a democracy there one day. It doesn't even have to be an American - can't we ask some other country to invade and put a new system in by force? Maybe Canada, they're close by and they've invaded the US before. Burnt the White House down, I seem to recall.

In times gone past, that kind of action would be called an act of war. These days, it's called "American Foreign Policy".

Turnabout is fair play.

>Of course, this works better in an actual democracy.
>Things like the Electoral College, and breaking voters up
>into electorates or states, defeats the purpose. "Isn't
>the whole point supposed to be "one person, one vote"?
>Shouldn't your vote count the same no matter where you
>live or who your neighbours are?

>Strangely enough, this is actually the case - as long as you
>don't live in the U.S.A.

That is because the U.S.A isn't a democracy. We are a republic. The wisdom of such an arrangement becomes more apparent to me each election. It keeps the industrial/urban centers from imposing their will on the rural just because the city folk live closer to their neighbors. One person one vote works in smaller populations but if you look at this link you will see why it doesn't work well in countries the size of the U.S.

Oh ... and about Canada invading again. Bring it on. The only negative impact that would have from my perspective is that it would add two more Democratics to our Senate.

Nice idea. I think there should be one modification, though: Allow users to also say how important they think an issue is, and let it be weighed appropriately.

For instance, suppose Candidate A wants to switch the government to Linux but also repeal the First Amendment. Candidate B, however, wants to keep both Windows and the First Amendment. Myself, I prefer Linux but prefer the First Amendment a lot more, so I'd strongly prefer Candidate B. But if the system just offers me the two position questions, it'd think that I had no preference between the candidates!

So, I like this system - as long as it also lets me say how important I think an issue is.

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