Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Votes Without Poison

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Strange election. So . . . round up the usual suspects!

Immediately after Hillary dried her tears and conceded, out came the Tweets, then the analyses: the “third parties” are to blame!

Over the weekend, I focused* on one such election post-mortem. The basic idea is not altogether wrong: minor party efforts together may have cost the Democrat her Electoral College advantage this time around, just as Nader’s Green Party run spoiled Al Gore’s bid in 2000 and several past congressional races have been spoiled for the GOP by Libertarians.

Is there a problem here? Yes. But do not blame the minor party voters. It’s the way we count their votes that is “problematic.” The current ballot-and-count system turn voters most loyal to particular policy ideas into enemies of those very same ideas.

When we minor party voters turn away from a major party — usually because said party tends to corrupt or betray our ideas, or make only small steps toward our goals — our votes aren’t so much wasted as made poisonous.

Because the candidate least preferred may prevail.

But there’s a way out: On election day, voters in Maine showed how to cut through the Gordian Knot. Voting in approval for Question 5, Maine now establishes “ranked choice voting.”

Under this system, you don’t “waste” your vote when expressing a preference for a minor party candidate. You rank your choices and, if your first choice proves unpopular, your second choice (or maybe your third) gets counted. So you don’t “poison” your cause.

Republicans and Democrats have more than enough reason, now, to adopt ranked choice voting across the country.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.


* See yesterday’s links page to my weekend Townhall column for the basic references. But there were many, many articles on the Minor Party Effect, including a skeptical one by Sasha Volokh’s.


Ask the next question.

Questions Answered:

What is the effect of minor parties on major party outcomes?

What causes those effects, voter intent or something else?

Is there a way to prevent this, short of further sewing up the ballot access system to minor parties?

The Next Question:

What might our elections look like if people spent more time discussing issues and ideas … and less about class, culture wars, and sex crimes?

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By: CS Admin


  1. 11th Gen American says:

    My take on the election result is that a sufficient number of true patriotic Americans and Christians woke up to the reality that HRC was a puppet of Globalist George Soros, and would have sold this country down the river for 20 pieces of silver!  Not only has Soros been supporting over 50 of the most Leftist/Liberal causes for years, he’s been trying to undermine this country for decades!  If it can be proven that Soros has been organizing and paying the post anti-Trump rioters, that Hungarian Fascist should be stripped of his US citizenship, fined for all the damages wrought against people and property, and then kicked out of this country once and for all!  He can join the Fascists who now run Germany and the EU.  I’m sure his billions will come in quite handy there!

  2. David Falzone says:

    I’m not particularly impressed by this way of voting, in fact, I don’t like it at all. If you want to vote for a third party candidate that’s fine. I’m of the opinion that if you have conviction enough to vote for a third party candidate knowing full well that their chance of winning is zero, then go ahead and vote for that person. You’re a citizen and you get one vote, not 2 or 3, It’s your choice, use that one vote for whomever you wish; as our president would say…. Period.

  3. If all those who voted for Clinton had instead voted for Johnson, Trump would have been defeated.

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