USA 2016 presidential election – with better voting methods, the results would have been different

By Warren D. Smith

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The Molten-Salt Reactor Experiment (film)

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

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A Generalization from IRV?

Form of Ballot to be used in Tally

Let a ballot (to be called an executable ballot) consist of an ordered list of rules.

A rule consists of two parts: head and tail.

A rule head consists of a Boolean combination of constraints concerning the question of which candidates remain in the running or, equivalently, which candidates have been eliminated. Note that one of the possible Boolean combinations is the tautology. (The contradiction would also be legal, but useless).

A rule tail consists of a Score ballot.


Tallying proceeds in rounds. A round eliminates one or more candidates. The last candidate standing wins.

For the case where the last round results in a tie, any number of rules (generic sense, not technical sense of rules on a ballot) could be chosen from among for resolving the tie, e. g. random selection.

In a given round, the tally examines the ballots. For each ballot, the algorithm must look for a single rule to apply in the current round. Recall that the rules are ordered on the ballot, and that the order signifies. The algorithm must choose the first rule in the order, whose head evaluates to true under the conditions of the current round. We may say that this rule fires for the round. If no rule fires, the ballot is exhausted and must be thrown out.

During the round of tallying, the tallying algorithm must accumulate for each candidate, the sum over the scores given to that candidate by the tails of the rules that fired from across the ballots.

The candidate receiving the lowest total score is eliminated. If more than one candidate ties for the lowest score, all who so tie are eliminated.

Some Properties of This System

Unless I am missing something, IRV ballots can be mapped into executable ballots in such a way that if all voters vote in IRV style, the result of the system will be the same as in IRV. If this is not the case, I want to revise the system. IRV stops on finding a majority, but does that rule affect the outcome?

Score ballots can be mapped into executable ballots in such a way that if all voters vote in Score style, the result of the system will be the same as in Score.

The system is as democratic as any other winner-take-all system. A vote’s antivote includes the same rule heads in the same order, but negated tails. Thus the antivote tracks the vote through all the rounds and opposes it fully and exactly in each round.

Simplified Ballots

If the above system seems interesting from the point of view of how it distributes power among the voters and from the point of view of applicability to the fight against two-party dominance (2PD), but is objected to on the grounds that the ballots are too complex, then perhaps a solution would be to design some simplified ballot forms and prescribe a mapping from the simplified ballots to executable ballots.

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Lack of Democracy in Major Parties

In 2016 the “Democratic” National Committee showed no interest in polling the membership of their party to determine levels of support for the candidates for the nomination for President of the United States. The Republican National Committee lacked the knowledge of how to poll theirs. The result is that the two major parties nominated the least popular candidates in history.

A friend replied:

Yeah, you have to realize that there is no requirement for any party to be democratic. You and I can say, let’s be the PURPLE party, and you and I can make up any rules we want as to how we pick which of us gets to be run for president. We have no requirement to ask the public what they think. I tend to vote Democratic, but the democratic party has NO legal requirement to ask me what it wants to do. No one every said it was fair! Political parties are not part of the constitution.

The problem, however, is if they pick a candidate that fails to win, then they are going to loose support in the voting population and fade out to obscurity. They made the wrong pick for this election cycle. Fine choice in normal times, but these didn’t turn to be normal times.

I responded:

The States recognize the parties and give them special ballot status without the same requirements that fall on independent candidates and small parties. Consequently the whole system is antidemocratic. Moreover, even if there is no requirement for democracy internal to the party, it is in the parties’ interests (or those of the membership) to pick a candidate that will be strong against the other party in the general. For that reason, it may make sense to sell democracy to party members, if they aren’t too stupid to grasp reason.

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Voting-System Reform Is Not Technical Tweaking

This is my response to and to all others who belittle the idea of voting-system reform and call it technical meddling or tweaking.

The piece is in deep error where it mentions “technique” and “technical meddling”. Technique is about different ways to achieve the same result. For example, whether I strip my deck with high-pressure water or rotating brushes, the result is the same, a stripped deck. The difference between “first past the post” (FPTP, the current system in the US) voting and Range Voting is not that they are “techniques” to put the same person in office. They elect different people. The move from one to another would amount to regime change. It would be more effective than getting money out of politics, and would reach farther than the change did from absolute monarchy to the state of the US when it was at its most democratic to date (whenever that might have been).

By referring to voting-system reform as “technical meddling”, the author participates in a pernicious conspiracy (in effect, even if the members don’t literally “breathe together”) to deny me my right of democracy. In a representative republic, my right to democracy implies I have a right to equal influence to that of each other voter, in regards to who wins office. FPTP, promoted by this author, denies my right the respect it deserves. I am angry at those who deny me this right. Here is a line of reasoning about how to test for democracy in a voting system:

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Donald Trump, Ziohazard

“Where Trump agrees with the US money-and-war party is on Israel and Iran. He started with a policy of more neutrality towards the Israel-Palestine conflict, but soon backed out when the attack-dogs went into action with a $50 million gift for his campaign from a wealthy Zionist at the same time.  Then he declared ‘Israel is America’. So Trump can proclaim opposite positions without a blink, including on the continuous war crimes of Israel supported by the US.”

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“Election helps bring into view serious issues in polling”

Want to spread this writing from Sam Husseini:

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