Balanced Elimination Voting

This is similar to other proposals I have made in different places. I probably intend this version to supersede such similar proposals.

This proposes a form of election for a single winner.

It is an attempt to keep the best characteristic of Approval Voting while still appealing to advocates of Instant Runoff Voting.

In this form of election, a voter who opposes a candidate and a voter who supports the candidate have equal power, in the sense that adding a million supporters to the election would be balanced by adding a million who oppose that candidate. This is in contrast to for example the choose-one plurality form of election where for example if there are three candidates, it takes twice as many voters who oppose candidate A to balance the effect of a given number of supporters. This happens because the anti-A vote will be split between B and C. It may not be obvious why IRV also supports such vote splitting, but I believe IRV advocates cannot bring a proof that IRV gives equal power to all the voters. However, like Approval, the present proposal can be proved to provide equality simply by pointing out that every possible vote has an antivote, that is, a vote that would balance the effect of the first vote.

This form of election cannot be tallied by the precincts. However, I promote the opinion that the costs of elections are swamped by the cost of bad government resulting from electing a wrong candidate.

Executable Ballots

The voter has the option of including so many sections in her ballot as she chooses.

The sections are ordered on the ballot; their order matters.

A section in a ballot can mention any of the candidates the voter chooses to, up to all of the candidates.

When a candidate is mentioned in a section, the voter rates the candidate up or down for that section. A voter can vote a given candidate up in one section and down in a different section.

When a candidate is mentioned in a section, the voter marks the candidate as key or not key for that section.

The voter can include in a section, an indication of how to treat candidates whom the voter does not specifically mention by name in the section. I. e. a default treatment. This may be particularly relevant if write-in votes are allowed.

The voter chooses a conjunction for each section, either “and” or “or”.


Tallying proceeds in rounds, where the goal of each round is to eliminate a candidate. The last candidate remaining wins.

A round accumulates a total score for each candidate. The round eliminates the candidate with the lowest total score.

From each ballot, one section (at most) contributes to the scoring in a round.

The determination of what section of the ballot to apply in the round begins by determining which sections light up for the round, based on the following rules.

If the conjunction word of a section is “and”, the section lights up iff all its key candidates are still in the running for the round. “Still in the running for the round” means not having been eliminated in any prior round.

If the conjunction word of a section is “or”, the section lights up iff any of its key candidates is still in the running for the round.

Perhaps the last section on the ballot should be regarded to light up regardless of the above rules. Otherwise, a ballot could be exhausted even if it has at least one section. This would probably not be the voter’s intent.

The section that applies to the round is the earliest (i. e. nearest to the beginning of the ballot) section that lights up.

When the ballot is counted for the round, the score of each candidate voted up in the applied section is incremented and the score of each candidate voted down in the applied section is decremented.

Each candidate starts with a total of zero at the beginning of the round; that is to say, the tally calculates the total for that candidate for that round independently of what happens during the other rounds.

Simplified Ballots

The election could offer voters the options of choosing simplified ballots. The election machinery would then in effect translate the simplified ballots into ballots having the form prescribed in the above section Executable Ballots, for the tally.

Approval-style Simplified Ballots

A voter who wishes to cast an Approval-style vote can simply supply a single Section whose conjunction is “and” and on which none of the candidates is key. The up or down ratings with respect to the candidates indicate approval or disapproval.

If all voters cast such Approval-style ballots, the outcome of the election will be the same as that of an Approval election.

Ranking-style Simplified Ballots, Type “A”

A voter who chooses this type of simplified ballot can rank the candidates. Equal ranking is permitted.

Translation to an executable ballot starts with the least favored candidate(s) i. e. the most hated (by this voter) candidate(s) as indicated on the simplified ballot. The first section on the executable ballot to be put out by the translation process, marks these hated candidates as key, rates them down, and rates all better candidates up. The conjunction is “or”.

Suppose the voter ranks a single candidate as most hated. Then under this translation scheme, the rounds of tallying in which that candidate is not yet eliminated will throw the voter’s full political weight toward eliminating that candidate. If every voter were to use this type of simplified ballot, then the first round would eliminate the candidate most hated by the most count of voters.

The translation continues with the second-most-hated (by this voter) rank of candidates from the simplified ballot, generating on the output executable ballot, another section. This section names the second most hated (by this voter) candidates as key, rates them down, rates up the better candidates, and sports “or” as its conjunction.

This pattern of translation continues through the ranks provided on the simplified ballot up to but excluding the most favored (by this voter) rank of candidates (perhaps naming a single candidate, the voter’s absolute favorite). For these candidates or this candidate, the translation generates the final section of the executable ballot. This last section sports “and” as its conjunction, marks no candidates key, up-votes the favorite candidate(s), and down-votes the lesser candidates.


Score Voting Variant

Instead of just allowing an up or down vote on each candidate in a section, we could allow scoring them -50, -49, [-40], [0], [40], 49, or 50. The score the voter gives to a candidate would be added to that candidate’s tallies in the rounds to which the section applies. Using a range of only four or five or seven possible score values may keep the election practical to tally by hand (although there would have to be back-and-forth communication between the precincts and the center as the tally proceeds from round to round).

Adaptation to Multi-winner Elections

I don’t see any way I would want to adapt this idea to the multi-winner case, and I do not suggest to others to try to think in that direction. (For legislatures, I suggest Choice of Representation, a scheme in which every citizen chooses her representative, and the representatives vote in the legislature with the proxy power of their constituents. If this would lead to overcrowding of the legislative chamber, the less-chosen representatives could participate in discussion and voting via remote communication, and might not be supplied at public expense with offices and staffs. Jim Mueller of Wisconsin advocates Choice of Representation by that name.)

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US vs. Morals

US citizens should require their government officials to behave morally in foreign and domestic policy. The citizens should require that current and former officials of the US government who engaged the country’s name and resources in torture or aggressive war should be imprisoned. Any honest assessment of Mr. Obama’s service in office should hold him accountable for his failure to have his Justice Department follow up on whatever evidence or credible allegations they could find to the effect that current and former US officials engaged in or ordered such crimes, with a view to prosecution should the evidence warrant.

People who promote the idea attributed to the mythical character “Abraham” that a certain kind of god exists, say that this supposed god knows right from wrong and has the power to make things right. If these assertions on the part of those proponents were both meaningful and true, one would have to conclude that this god deserves judgment for having permitted US war crimes and torture when he could have prevented them.

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Disagree with Trump’s Actions?

I want to encourage those who disagree with Trump’s actions in office to think of systems, not persons.

Ask yourself whether the US has a good way to choose who becomes President. And answer yourself, no it does not. It’s anti-democratic and rather too random. From among the Republican clown car, Trump wasn’t the most approved. He only won with a plurality. Plurality elections do not reflect levels of approval. Vast improvement is possible. In this connection I particularly want to draw your attention to the Smith argument. The wealthy have the power, and a different system would take away their special power and cause all citizens to have equal power. For those of you arguing from the difficulty of changing the system to one that might be seen to work against those already in power, yes, your point has some validity. However, the problem of taking power might not be wholly impossible to solve, and before trying to change the system, it’s necessary to educate people about what kind of change would be adequate to produce better results than the current system does, with a radical difference. So I’m urging you to read and understand what Warren D. Smith points out and his reasoning for his position. I consider this reasoning to be key to understanding how to create a democratic republic.

In addition to the matter of how the person to fill the Presidency is chosen, I want you to think about how much power the office has. Should the people reduce that power and move some of it to the legislative branch of government? Should there be one president for domestic enforcement and another for foreign policy? Should the presidency be held by a seven-person executive council, as they do in Switzerland?

The Declaration of Independence says that when the people are not satisfied with the form of their government, they have a right to change it. How bad do things have to become before you start to consider and discuss exercising this right?

Please do not  focus on how horrible you may think Trump is,  nor how wonderful you may think Bernie or someone else is. Cults of personality won’t solve the public problems.  Calling the officers and owners of large corporations “greedy” is misplacing your focus. If you describe the problem as one of the character of individual persons, that leads your listeners to suppose that the solutions that will work will address themselves to character. Such solutions won’t work; they won’t scale. Focus instead on systems, and systemic change. Peoples’ behavior is substantially shaped by what system they operate within, and by the rules of the game they have to play in order to stay alive and raise offspring. In politics and in economics, focus on the systems.

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Simulating Finer-grained Score Voting Given A Coarse-grained System

Someone commented on Facebook:

So basically approval is saying that for example a Green would be just as happy with a Democrat and that is not true. Too many think that Greens are similar to Democrats when the motives behind Democratic actions are hotly contested.

My response:

For voters, there’s a way around the coarseness of Approval Voting. Suppose for example it’s Bush, Gore, and Nader, and my true preferences are Bush -50, Gore -40, Nader 50. In finer-grained Score Voting, I would exaggerate my support for Gore and vote strategically Bush -50, Gore 49, Nader 50. Can I use the same strategy with Approval Voting? Yes. I obtain a random number from a computer or some coin tosses or something, and I approve Gore with probability 99%. If lots of people do that, he will receive the amount of support toward his final score, relative to the min and max possible, as though they were voting in a finer-grained Score system.

(Location of original conversation on Facebook: link).

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Debating The Accusations Against Russia Distracts From The Real Problems

[ Update 2017-01-08:

I’ve come across another writer with a somewhat similar point to mine. Caitlin Johnstone says:

The correct response to “Russia hacked the election!” isn’t “Oh yeah? Prove it!” The correct response is, “Our government actively sabotages any candidate who wants to help ordinary Americans put food on their table. That is infinitely more dangerous and outrageous.”


Original post by me 2016-12-20:

I write the present post to protest against the onslaught of anti-Russian bullshit in the US that the self-styled “Democrats” and the lamestream media are propagating. It’s about the worst bout of misleading and wrong propaganda I have seen, and I guess I would have started to notice things like that around the age of 10, which arrived for me in the early ’60’s. Of course, there was McCarthyism, and the current hysteria makes no more good sense than that did.

Now these pernicious propagandists are saying daily and in many voices that the government of Russia “hacked” the e-mails of the “Democratic” National Committee, and that thereby it (and specifically President Putin) “interfered” with the US electoral system, and that so interfering amounts to a coup, and that the US system is a “democracy” and that this supposed interference works against democracy. All of these assertions are wrong.

Whoever did expose Ms. Wasserman Schultz and the “Democratic” National Committee as what they are, in actuality an antidemocratic national committee, did democracy a service, not a disservice. The “DNC” and Ms. Wasserman Schultz ran a crooked campaign in the primary season so that the contest of ideas would not be fair.

Some say to me, the “Democratic” Party is a private organization and they have the right to make their internal decisions as they see fit. This is not in essence true. Every State (so far as I know) in this United States of ALEC (and so far as I know, the District of Columbia as well) accords to the “Democratic” and Republican parties the power to put a name on each ballot for political office, a power that said States and DC deny to other parties unless such parties take the time to gather signatures. This power makes the Republican and self-styled “Democrat” decision-making processes in effect parts of the political system, and therefore, a matter of public interest. This special ballot access by the major parties (which I oppose) makes them responsible to participate in a democratic way. When they don’t, then their actions amount to an attack on democracy. If they know better (and I credit the Republicans with probably not knowing better), then their actions are immoral and reprehensible. Whoever exposes antidemocratic secrets serves democracy by such exposing.

Then on top of all that, there is no evidence that the Russian government did anything. The likely purposes of accusing them are to whip up hysteria so the accusers can sell more bombs, aircraft, etc., and to distract from “Democratic” national committee criminality.

Now some say to me, that it doesn’t matter how the self-styled “Democratic” national committee ran their primary season, on the grounds that the only contest in that primary was that between Mrs. Clinton and Senator Sanders, and that Sanders showed his true colors when he endorsed Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. And I agree that those were his true colors. However, the principle is what matters, that the political system of the US must become a contest of ideas rather than some other kind of power struggle or game. Every part of the mechanism that works against democracy deserves to be exposed and rooted out.

Some of my interlocutors say that they oppose democracy for central North America. They call it mob rule and so on. My response is to ask, what grounds do you have for denying me equal political power to your own, because that is the essence of what you stand for. I assert a civil right to equal political power. Any system that would sort people according to whether they should have power deserves suspicion. Maybe you just want to use political power to enrich yourselves and assure the your family proliferates and mine dies out so you can eat the resources of the earth and leave us none. To hell with that; you should have to share or get out. And on top of that, we have a common interest in reducing waste and in trying to raise the probability of the survival of the human species for longer than just a few years. Why should I accept that you are wiser than I am in deciding about how to achieve those common goals?

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US Renews Contracts For Private Prisons, Going Back on Promise

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nicky case: Interactive Explanation of Voting Systems

Please see

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