Voting Systems

Voting systems should be designed to represent as well as possible the actual preferences of the electorate and to provide confidence that votes are being accurately counted. Current systems are failing us in both respects.

Many alternative systems exist which could allow voters to better express their preferences, avoiding issues like "wasted votes", and even potentially lower the cost of holding elections. Ranked choice and approval voting are well known examples. We urge the legislature and local jurisdictions to give these systems serious consideration. The current Top Two primary system is inferior to any of these and disenfranchises voters who support alternative parties, so we call for its repeal.

Current approaches to promoting "diversity" in city councils and similar multi-member bodies often make things worse. Electing members by geographic district doesn't ensure diversity along any dimension, and may actually make it harder for some kinds of minorities to be elected. We urge consideration of proportional representation systems such as "single transferable vote", to give all segments of the population, whether considered in terms of race, economics, or ideology, more opportunity to be represented on such bodies.

Voters frequently have no positive feelings toward any candidate, but rather distinctly negative feelings toward all of them. Therefore we propose placing on all ballots, for each elective office, the option "none of the above is acceptable" which, if it receives a plurality of the votes, would result in the office remaining vacant until a subsequent election.

We support voting systems that are open, transparent, and auditable. To avoid fraud and manipulation, we oppose systems which do not allow voters to confirm that their votes have been recorded and for the public to be able to verify that the totals are correct. Modern cryptographic technology opens up the possibility of secure and auditable electronic voting, and we urge adoption of such systems as soon as possible. In the meantime, we oppose electronic voting systems that do not have these properties, unless they incorporate a voter-verified paper ballot as the ballot of count, recount, audit, and record. If no electronic system is available that meets these transparency and audit criteria, simple paper ballots with counting by hand open to observation would be the better choice.