There is an interesting opinion article from the Washington Post about two issues in elections. The hook is that 63.4 million people voted in the American Idol finals, which exceeds the number of voters who voted in the 2002 mid-term elections. The piece poses two questions:
First, why can’t Americans vote in real elections using convenient voting methods, like the Internet, the telephone, or even cell phones. The article notes that there are pros and cons to this sort of convenience voting but we need to experiment with these technologies. (Note: This person clearly read our book Point, Click and Vote; that is recommendation one in our conclusions!)
Second, he discusses the idea allowing voters to cast multiple votes for each candidate. This sort of preference voting would allocate to each voter a set number of votes and then allow each voter to cast those votes. A voter could cast all of their votes for one candidate, spread their votes across more than one candidate, or cast a single vote and withhold the rest. This allows voters to vote their actual preferences. For example, if you are a Green but don’t think they will win the election, you might vote one or two votes for the Green and then vote the remaining three for the voter you think will actually win.
The current political environment may not be the most conducive for experimentation but at some point, there will be pressure to do this and to move elections into the 21st Century.
P.S. — Two notes. First, Mike reminded me that I blogged on the same IBM report that he did, which is either a sign of how good the IBM reports are or how bad my memory is. Second, Paul noted at the end of his blog on George Will that his recommendation sounds like something thought up by philosopher kings. For those of you who may not know this, Will is a PHD in political philosophy, so Will would likely appreciate philosopher kings!!!!