Seems everybody has the right to make a deal except the American voter. This election season, some voters wanted to boost Ralph Nader’s vote count without hurting chances for Gore. So they visited web sites that let Nader supporters living in states where the race was tight trade votes with Gore supporters in other states. But California officials ordered one of the “Nader-trader” sites to shut down, saying it engaged in so-called “vote-brokering.”
Voters continued to Nader-trade offline, though and what’s wrong with that? It’s simply practical politics. Elections are supposed to work for the voters. Yet we’re often afraid to vote for who we really want, for fear of “throwing our vote away.” This election demonstrates the problem. Nader votes were the margin for a Bush win in five states. Buchanan was the margin that gave Gore two states. Probably not what these voters wanted.
There’s an easy electronic solution, though: instant runoffs. Say you want Nader to win but if Nader loses, you’d rather have Gore than Bush. Under instant runoff, you’d vote for Nader as First Choice, Gore as Second Choice. If no one gets a majority and your First Choice loses, the system instantly gives your vote to your Second Choice. It’s a new idea. You can find out more about it at www.fairvote.org. Instant runoffs would do a lot for democracy. Shouldn’t every one of our votes count as much as possible?
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.