A relentless push for change.

As best as I can follow the Google Analytics information about readership, there is a consistent and steady stream of world wide web users visiting the Democracy Papers. I wrote these papers in 2007 for the provincial referendum on voting in Ontario. It looks like more than 30,000 individual readers from around the world have accessed those papers in the years following. I think my words are ending up on political science tests around the world. Yet, they are not academic efforts. They are for anyone who is curious about voting systems.

In addition to those archived materials, I periodically comment in Babel-on-the-Bay on people’s strange ideas about voting systems. This seems to always provide me with fresh rants from people who dislike our first-past-the-post system of voting.

I quite understand the complaints. To paraphrase Winston Churchill as he once said about democracy. “It is not all that good a system; it is just better than the alternatives.”

But I will always defend the concept of having our local candidate who goes to the government for us. That is a key to our democracy and I will always defend it.

At the same time, I do understand the concerns of those who want change.

My only solution, for those who will take any improvement, is run-off elections. Many try to convince me of alternative voting as an inexpensive approach to this but it is really not the same. Alternative voting is where you can number your choices as 1, 2, 3, etc. and if you have ten candidates in your district, you can number all ten.

What bothers me the most about numbering the choices is that it is difficult for the voter to find out enough about some candidates to rank them. It has to be explained to voters that they only need to rank those candidates they would find acceptable.

And while there are those who think it is a bumper-sticker answer, alternative voting systems can make the losers the choosers. Run-off elections keep everyone in the same driver’s seat. It gives every voter the chance to make their choice anew. And in an era when we will all be switching to Internet voting, the costs of making up your mind again will be minimal. I expect it will be initially resisted by the politicians to the right of the political spectrum but they are natural pessimists and it might surprise them that this system can work for them too. It is better than the alternatives.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

Complaints, comments, criticisms and compliments can be sent to  peter@lowry.me


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