It’s time to make an adjustment to how we vote. Our current system is inherently ill-equipped at managing political elections of more than two candidates. In three-party races you end up with candidate voter bases overlapping. Those voters then often have to choose between two similar candidates, their vote becomes split, and the third and least-popular candidate can swoop in to take the win.
This is why we’ve developed such an ingrained two-party system where it’s often the case that people are simply voting against the opposing candidate rather than for a candidate they approve of. A lot of the trouble here can be alleviated by one small change to how we cast our votes.
Here’s the change: replace “vote for one” with “vote for any number” in all elections.
That’s it. Not a new complex system, just a change to how many candidates you can select on your ballot. Want to vote for a third party, but feel you need to also vote for one of the two major parties? Vote for both. There’s two candidates in your party that you like? Vote for both. The votes are filled in the same way and tallied the same way. The candidate with the most votes still wins.
Think back to the last couple of presidential primary seasons. There were 10-plus Republican candidates in 2016 and 10-plus Democratic candidates in 2020, yet when we went to the voting booth we each only got to voice our opinion on one of those candidates.
If you’re like me, you had to narrow down three or four viable candidates to a single choice. What would have better captured our opinion on the candidates is if we could have submitted an approval vote for those three or four candidates who best represented who we were content with winning the election rather than strategically trying to decide which of those candidates should receive our sole support above the rest.
This method of voting is actually already in use across the country. Right here in Keene, we use this type of voting to decide the five at-large City Council seats. Expanding it to other elections simply increases the voters’ ability to express their opinion on more than one candidate. Allowing voters to better voice their opinion will lead to better candidates, more accurate election results and more productive political dialogue across the country.