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Multichoice Elimination Voting:  Key to a More Democratic America


By Jon Schultz


Note: This is a work in progress which may contain errors. Please send corrections and comments to the contact email below. Your help will be acknowledged in the "Thank You" section which will be added when the article is complete. Last edited 10/26/15.


While our educational institutions and the news media generally portray the United States as a democracy - and while the U.S. is in fact more democratic than most other countries in the world - the fact is that our Federal, state and local governments are unfairly controlled, to a large extent, by the Democratic and Republican political parties. The main reason for this "two-party system," by which these parties have an unfair advantage in elections, is the primitive and outdated method which we use for holding elections.

The Current Single-Vote Method of Holding Elections


I am talking about the "single-vote" system of holding single-winner elections, whereby each eligible voter is allowed to cast one vote for one of the candidates - the "one man, one vote" system, as it was positively described, many years ago, when it was a step up from even less democratic procedures. Unfortunately there is a basic and serious flaw in this system which makes it unsuitable for use by a group or society which wishes to be democratic. As unbelievable as it may sound, despite the great technological advancements of our civilization we still have not figured out and implemented the most democratic method of holding this most basic type of election. More unfortunately, there is a lack of will on the part of our elected officials to even consider this issue, as the current unfair voting system contributes to their staying in power.

I'm going to present this issue in very simple terms, without the use of advanced mathematics, which isn't necessary to understand it. All of the books which I have seen on the subject require an understanding of calculus to be fully read, and none of them have reached the conclusion which I, and perhaps many others as well, have reached through simple, logical thinking with the aid of basic algebra. That is because the issue is not merely a mathematical one, but one which requires non-mathematical considerations as well. By focusing too much on the math, you can miss the forest for the trees.

The All-Important Question


So the question we are considering, then, is what is the most democratic way for voters to choose one candidate, out of a group of candidates, to represent them? That doesn't sound too tough, does it? Let's consider.

When there are only two candidates, the single-vote system works fine. You vote for the candidate you prefer and the one with the most votes wins. Perfect, but the voters were only given two choices and we naturally want more (imagine if you had to choose between a hamburger and a hot dog for every meal). The problem arises when there are three candidates or more.

The Basic Flaw in the Single-Vote System


The basic flaw in the single-vote system can be seen by a simple example. Imagine that 66% of the voters in a particular state are liberal and 34% are conservative. There is then a gubernatorial election with three candidates, two who are liberal and one who is conservative. If, under the single-vote system, each of the liberal candidates gets 33% of the vote, the conservative will win with 34% even though almost two-thirds of the voters are liberal. Is that democracy? Will that Governor represent the will of the people? Obviously not.

The Unfortunate Results of the Single-Vote System


From that basic flaw in the single-vote system, all kinds of problems result. First, this potential for unfair outcomes can lead to manipulation. Going back to our example, with the conservatives knowing, from previous elections and from polls, that most of the voters are liberal, there is a temptation for them to secretly sponsor or fund campaigns of multiple liberal candidates who will then "split the vote," as the situation was described in the 1949 movie "All the King's Men" with Broderick Crawford. (Of course the opposite is also true. I am not trying to contemptuously imply that conservatives are less scrupulous than liberals:)

The situation is usually much more complicated, with there being several candidates vying for a party's nomination and then several independent or small-party candidates in the general election. Nevertheless, the potential for such manipulation remains and the very complexity of the situation makes it easier to hide. We simply don't know how much of it goes on, both in party primaries and general elections. Considering the amount of money which is spent in electoral campaigns and the economic ramifications of who gets elected, the presence of such underhanded dealings may be the rule, rather than the exception, in major elections all over the world.

What we do know is that many people will not vote for the candidate whom they prefer most of all when they don't think that he or she has a good chance of winning. They instead choose the "lesser of evils" candidate - both in polls and elections. Note that because pollsters want to accurately predict the winner of elections they generally ask, "Which candidate would you vote for if the election were held today?" rather than, "Which candidate do you prefer most of all?" This in turn results in the frontrunners of a race seeming to be more popular than they really are and thus getting more media attention than they deserve - often including exclusive participation in debates - to the detriment of the other candidates who are unable to demonstrate the true extent of their support and receive a fair share of coverage.

That is why the "two-party" system - which has become quite unpopular as people complain more and more about having to choose a lesser-of-evils candidate in elections - is a direct result of the single-vote system. Occasionally a "dark horse" candidate can win or make a strong showing, but generally only if he or she can come out of the gate, so to speak, with good popular support. Once reported as being far behind, such candidates can rarely catch up as many of the people who prefer them will desert them in favor of someone who appears to be able to win. It is almost impossible, under the current system, for a small political party to demonstrate the true extent of its support and receive a fair share of media attention. That is the main reason we have a two-party system in America, which pleases few other than our current crop of elected officials, the bigwigs of the Democratic and Republican parties, and, according to many polls, the small minority of citizens who are enthusiastic about the way the country is being governed.

Holding a Runoff


The basic flaw in the single-vote system is very obvious and one method which is used to improve on it is, of course, the holding of a runoff election if no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote. Aside from the obvious disadvantages of voters having to go to the polls twice and the additional expense, the holding of a runoff does not, unfortunately, guarantee a democratic outcome. Consider the following example.


34% Liberal                                  32% Centrist                                  34% Conservative

There is an election with three candidates - a liberal, a centrist, and a conservative - who are each preferred by about one third of the voters. Note here that the centrist is the natural second choice of both the liberal and conservative voters, so that in separate, two-way contests the centrist would defeat both the liberal and conservative candidates by margins of about two-to-one. (That is a crucial point so if you didn't get it read that sentence again.) Yet, if the centrist is the first choice of 32% of the voters, with the liberal and conservative candidates each being the first choice of 34%, the centrist is eliminated from the race and doesn't even qualify for the runoff. Whatever some people will say - and some people will say anything to defend a corrupt system which benefits them - that most certainly isn't democracy.

Now it can be argued that we can't assume the liberal and conservative voters will have the centrist as their second choice, because the definitions of "liberal," "conservative," and "centrist" are somewhat nebulous and because people make choices based on many different factors, however we are only using those terms to represent a spectrum of opinion which logically allows us to predict second and third choices. We could just as well be talking about a referendum where at one end of the spectum people want a man punished for comitting a particular act, at the other end they want him rewarded, and in the middle they feel he should neither be rewarded nor punished. We are simply imagining examples where the preferences of the voters can be reasonably predicted so we can think about this issue in a logical way.

The Condorcet Candidate


This issue of how single-winner elections should be held has been thought about for quite some time. In the late 18th century a Frenchman known as the Marquis de Condorcet noted that if voters rank the candidates in an election in order of preference, it can deduced how each candidate would fare against each other candidate in separate, two-way races. For example, if there are three candidates in a race, A, B and C, and a voter ranks them in the order C-B-A, then we know that voter would vote for C over B in a two-way race between them, for C over A in a two-way race between them, and for B over A in a two-way race between them.

Thus, with all of the voters ranking all the candidates it can be seen if there is one candidate - now known as the Condorcet candidate - who would defeat all of the others in separate, two-way races. Logically, there should always be a Condorcet candidate because otherwise it is like the voters saying that they prefer apples to oranges, oranges to cherries, and cherries to apples. That doesn't make sense but theoretically it can happen, so there then has to be a backup method for deciding which candidate will be declared the winner in the absence of there being a Condorcet candidate. Many such methods have been suggested.

The real problem with using preferential voting to find the Condorcet candidate, however, lies in the fact that voters will not always rank the candidates honestly. In the absence of any information with regard to how other voters are likely to vote there would be no good reason for a voter to rank the candidates dishonestly, but imagine an election with three candidates, A, B and C, where C is an extremist candidate who represents the views of very few voters and obviously, from the results of past elections and from polls, has no chance of winning. In that case there is then a temptation for the A and B voters to rank C as their second preference, to prevent their main rival from being declared the Condorcet candidate. And if enough of them do that, the vote tally will then erroneously show C to be the Condorcet candidate and C will win. That is the basic flaw in the Condorcet system, which thus would be dangerous to use.

The Hare-Clark or Instant Run-Off System


Another voting method which is used in certain areas and has been endorsed by some very prominent politicians is the "Instant Run-Off" system, sometimes also referred to as the Hare-Clark method. This system also instructs voters to rank the candidates in order of preference and it is then calculated, first of all, if any candidate is the first choice of a majority of the voters. If so, that candidate is declared the winner immediately. If not, then the candidate with the least number of first-preference votes is eliminated from the race, and for each ballot which has that candidate designated as the first choice, the second choice then becomes the first. It is then calculated again whether any candidate is now the first choice of a majority, and if so that candidate is declared the winner. This process is continued until one candidate has a majority of the first-place votes and thus wins.

It is a very ingenious system which is analogous to the holding of multiple run-offs, with only one candidate being eliminated each time - and with voters only having to go to the polls once. Unfortunately, however, it suffers from the same flaw as the holding of a simple run-off does, as explained above. A Condorcet candidate can easily lose.

Proportional Representation


Many countries around the world have multi-party systems based on the use of what is called proportional representation for the election of legislative bodies. Some people, when faced with the issue of how single-winner elections should be held, think it doesn't matter all that much because they feel that we too can achieve a multi-party system by adopting proportional representation. With that in mind, let's quickly examine proportional representation.

There are many different proportional representation systems which are used in countries throughout the world. We will consider only the simplest, a legislative body in which political parties are seated in direct proportion to the percentage of the vote they received. In other words, the voters only vote for the political party of their choice and if their party gets 15% of the vote, it gets 15% of the seats. In this way even small parties are represented in the legislature.

Once the parties are seated, they then generally have to make alliances with each other on various issues, if no party holds more than 50% of the seats, so that legislation which requires the approval of a majority can pass. Thus, a small party can sometimes achieve considerable power, for better or worse, in exchange for joining a coalition which creates a majority on an issue. A lot of wheeling and dealing goes on. One important point to note, in this regard, is that the more people who are assigned to make a decision, the slower that decision will be made and the more it will cost the taxpayers. Large legislative bodies are not necessarily conducive to good government, however infrequently this may be admitted by the people who hold seats in such institutions.

In any event, in preparation for an election to seat such a legislature each party has to select many party members, from those who declare themselves to be a candidate, and also decide the order in which they will be seated as the party doesn't know, in advance, how many seats it will receive. (This assumes that the party's candidates will be listed on the ballot. If they are not, then people who vote for the party won't know who they are voting for.)

The question then arises as to what electoral system should be used for the party primary (or by the party bosses, if the party doesn't allow a primary) to choose, say, 100 potential seat-holders from, say, 200 candidates, and also determine the order in which they are to be seated? Considering that we haven't yet determined the best way of choosing one candidate out of a group of three, you can forget about accomplishing that task with the expectation of the results being democratic. We need to understand, first of all, how the most basic type of election should be held.

The Rating System


So what is the best way for voters to choose one candidate out of a group of three or more?

You might think it would be a rating system (sometimes referred to as Score Voting or Range Voting), by which voters would simply rate each candidate on an arbitrary scale of, say, zero to 100, with the candidate getting the most total rating points (or votes) winning. This would be great for the voter, as not only would you be expressing the order in which you preferred the candidates, but also the amount by which you preferred one over the other.

That is what we are looking for, a system which gives voters the power to express their real point of view in elections without being penalized for doing so. Under the single-vote system voters have relatively little power, often being forced to choose between their favorite candidate and one whom they think has a chance of winning, with the constituency or constituencies of like-minded voters to which they belong being subject to division among multiple candidates. (A voter can belong to several constituencies of like-minded voters simultaneously, i.e. the constituency of liberal voters, as opposed to the non-liberal ones, and the constituency of liberal and centrist voters, as opposed to the conservative ones.)

So let's imagine an election, using the example we used to evaluate the holding of a run-off, in which we make plausible rating assumptions for all of the voters.


34% Liberal                                  32% Centrist                                  34% Conservative

We'll say there are 34 liberal voters who, if they are to be honest, rate the liberal candidate 75, the centrist candidate 50, and the conservative candidate 25. Conversely, there are 34 conservative voters who rate the conservative candidate 75, the centrist candidate 50, and the liberal candidate 25. The remaining 32 centrist voters also rate their favorite candidate 75 and, being midway on the political spectrum between the liberal and conservative candidates, rate each of them 50.

However simplistic and unlikely you may say this scenario is, it is a useful model as we are being both reasonable and fair on all sides. What we are doing is taking the hypothetical election in which both the single-vote and runoff systems failed to produce a democratic result, and looking to see if the Rating System will produce a democratic one.

Here is how our election tallies. Counting the votes of the liberal voters first, the centrist voters second and the conservative voters third, the liberal candidate gets a total of 5,000 rating points or votes as follows:

[(34 x 75) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 25)] = 5,000

The conservative candidate also gets 5,000 rating points or votes:

[(34 x 25) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 75)] = 5,000

The centrist wins, however, with 5,800:

[(34 x 50) + (32 x 75) + (34 x 50)] = 5,800

Now of the total 15,800 rating points or votes cast (5,000 + 5,000 + 5,800), the centrist's 5,800 is 36.7%, while the 5,000 for both the liberal and conservative candidates is 31.6% each. These percentages display how well each candidate represents all the voters, considered as a whole, relative to the other candidates.

To understand more clearly what the system is telling us, let's look at how those percentages change as we change some of our assumptions while keeping them balanced on all sides. Let's consider a more polarized electorate, where all of the voters rate their favorate candidate 100, while the liberal and conservative voters rate each other's candidate 0 and the centrist candidate 50, while the centrist voters continue to rate both the liberal and conservative candidates 50.

In this case the liberal candidate still gets 5,000:

[(34 x 100) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 0)] = 5,000

The conservative candidate still gets 5,000:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 100)] = 5,000

While the centrist now gets 6,600:

[(34 x 50) + (32 x 100) + (34 x 50)] = 6,600

Of the total 16,600 rating points or votes cast (5,000 + 5,000 + 6,600), the centrist's 6,600 is 39.8%, while the liberal and conservative candidates' 5,000 is 30.1% each. What we're seeing is that as the electorate becomes more polarized, the centrist candidate better represents all the voters.

Now we'll change our assumptions one more time and make the electorate even more polarized, with the liberal and conservate candidates being so far out on the ends of the political spectrum that the centrist voters rate them both 0, while all other assumptions remain the same.

Now the liberal candidate gets only 3,400:

[(34 x 100) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 0)] = 3,400

The conservative candidate gets the same:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 100)] = 3,400

While the centrist again gets 6,600:

[(34 x 50) + (32 x 100) + (34 x 50)] = 6,600

Of the total 13,400 votes cast (3,400 + 3,400 + 6,600), the centrist's 6,600 is 49.3%, while the liberal and conservative candidates' 3,400 is 25.4% each. This is now in line with our observation that the centrist candidate would defeat both other candidates in separate, two-way races by margins of close to two-to-one. Note that is using the single-vote method, which when translated into the Rating System means 100 for your favorite candidate and 0 for the opponent, in a two-way race.

Now at this point you might ask, "What if the liberal and conservative voters rate the centrist candidate 0 as well?" They cannot, in our model, as we assumed from the beginning that the voters are voting honestly. If the liberal voters rank the liberal candidate 100 and the conservative candidate 0, they have to rank the centrist 50 as he or she is midway along the political spectrum between them.

Honestly Speaking


But that brings up the issue we had to consider when analyzing the Condorcet system. Will the voters vote honestly? As with the Condorcet system if there is no information with regard to how other voters are likely to vote there is no good reason for a voter to rate the candidates dishonestly, but with such information - which is always available to one extent or another (and should be) - many voters surely will, so that voters who do rate the candidates honestly may be penalized for doing so.

Using our first rating-system example, above, where the tally was:

Liberal:

[(34 x 75) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 25)] = 5,000

Conservative:

[(34 x 25) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 75)] = 5,000

Centrist:

[(34 x 50) + (32 x 75) + (34 x 50)] = 5,800

We'll now assume that with polls showing the centrist likely to win, the liberal and conservative voters decide to rate their candidate 100, the centrist zero and each other's candidate zero as well. Now the tally is:

Liberal:

[(34 x 100) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 0)] = 5,000

Conservative:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 100)] = 5,000

Centrist:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 75) + (34 x 0)] = 2,400

Of course with the polls showing the Liberal and the Conservative about tied for second place, it would be risky for the liberal and conservative voters to rate the Centrist 0 as that could just as easily cause the candidate at the other end of the spectrum to win as their candidate. So let's more reasonably say that half of them decide to take that chance and half do not. Now the tally is:

Liberal:

[(34 x 100) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 0)] = 5,000

Conservative:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 50) + (34 x 100)] = 5,000

Centrist:

[(17 x 50) + (17 x 0) + (32 x 75) + (17 x 50) + (17 x 0)] = 4,100

The Centrist, who is the Condorcet candidate, still loses. The Centrist can now only win if the centrist voters are dishonest (or shall we say "strategic") as well, rating both the Liberal and Conservative 0:

Liberal:

[(34 x 100) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 0)] = 3,400

Conservative:

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 100)] = 3,400

Centrist:

[(17 x 50) + (17 x 0) + (32 x 75) + (17 x 50) + (17 x 0)] = 4,100

Multichoice Voting


So what we have seen is that our search for the best single-winner voting system is not just a matter of mathematics but must take the reality of strategic voting into consideration. So is there anything that we can do, at this point, to make the Rating System less susceptible to strategic voting?

Well, we were using an arbitrary scale of 0 to 100, which is subject to criticism anyway as different voters would perceive the scale differently, so, first of all, let's crunch that down so there's as little room for inconsistent interpretation and strategicness as possible. Now we have a rating scale of 0 to 1, with only whole numbers allowed, which basically means that a voter says either "no" or "yes" for each candidate. This is also the same as taking the single-vote system and simply giving voters the option of voting for more than one of the candidates.

Note that we don't want to give voters just one vote (or an arbitrary number of votes) which they can split, as they choose, among several candidates, as constituencies would still be split by candidates with similar views. In our first example, above, with two liberal candidates facing a conservative one, if each liberal voter split his or her vote between the two liberal candidates, the conservative candidate would still win. (Nevertheless we will revisit this system, which we will call the Split Vote system, further on.) Rather we are talking about giving voters the option of casting a full vote for as many of the candidates as they like.

Your first reaction to giving voters the option of voting for more than one of the candidates may be that it isn't fair because a voter who decided to vote for more than one of the candidates would be exercising more power than a voter who only decided to vote for one. That isn't true, however, as a voter who voted for all of the candidates in an election would in fact be exercising no power at all, benefiting all of the candidates equally. Rather, giving voters the power to vote for more than one candidate enables them to avoid having the group(s) of like-minded voters to which they belong subject to division among multiple candidates. So, in our example where there are two liberal candidates facing a conservative one, the liberal voters can vote for both liberal candidates and avoid having their constituency split.

In addition, at this point we can stop calling this a rating system in which voters are expected to rate the candidates honestly. Considering that at least some voters, and probably most, will vote strategically in any case, there is no advantage there. In fact, voting honestly here - which would be to cast a vote for each candidate you honestly rate higher than 0.5 on the scale of 0 to 1 - would be extremely dumb in some instances. Imagine an election where you basically liked all of the candidates and rated them all higher than 0.5. If you cast a vote for all of them you would, again, have no effect on the outcome.

So instead of calling this a rating system we can simply call it Multichoice Voting, meaning that voters can choose, or vote for, more than one of the candidates (or options, in the case of a referendum), with the candidate being chosen by the most voters winning. To date, this method has generally been called "Approval Voting," however that is not a good name because it misrepresents the nature of the system.

How Nomenclature Can Affect Voting


The problem is that the word "approve" has several meanings. One is simply to vote for or choose, and in that sense "Approval Voting" simply means "Voting Voting," which is redundant. The most common meaning of approve is to like or feel positively about, and in that sense "Approval Voting" means to cast a vote for each candidate whom you like or feel positively about. But the whole virtue of the system is that it enables you to vote for both the candidate(s) whom you like and, if you feel it is in your best interests, one or more other candidates whom you do not like but whom you fear may lose to a candidate you like even less if you don't cast a vote for him or her.

For example, let's say there are three candidates in a race, a liberal, a conservative and an ultraconservative. A liberal voter may not like or approve of the conservative candidate at all, but depending on what the polls are showing it may be in his or her best interests to vote for the conservative, in addition to the liberal, to keep the ultraconservative from winning. Under the name "Approval Voting," which implies that you vote for the candidate(s) you approve of or like, he or she may be reticent to do so, not wanting his or her vote to be seen as a sign of approval. Similarly, in our example above where all of the candiates are viewed favorably, it would simply be dumb to "approve" them all if you have any preference whatsoever, but under the name "Approval Voting" some people might think that they should.

Sizing up Multichoice Voting


Let's now go back to our example where the Rating System failed due to strategic voting, and see if we can make reasonable assumptions as to how the voters would vote under Multichoice Voting:


34% Liberal                                  32% Centrist                                  34% Conservative

As before we'll assume, for simplicity, that the voters in each of the three groups share the same position on the spectrum. We'll also assume, to begin with, that the voters have no knowledge as to how other voters will vote.

The liberal voters will definitely want to cast a vote for the liberal candidate and they'll definitely not want to cast a vote for the conservative candidate. The opposite, of course, will also be true. Whether the liberal and conservative voters will want to cast a vote for the centrist candidate is a toss-up. If they do so it could help the centrist candidate defeat their preferred candidate, and if they don't that could help the candidate at the other end of the spectrum defeat the centrist, whom they prefer among the two. So let's say that half of them on each side decide to do so and half do not.

For the centrist voters, they definitely want to cast a vote for their candidate, but being that they are midway on the spectrum between the liberals and the conservatives they have no preference between the liberal and conservative candidates. So their only intelligent choice is to vote only for the centrist.

When the votes are tallied (again, for each candidate adding the votes of the liberal voters, the centrist voters, and the conservative voters, in that order) we have:

[(34 x 1) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 0)] = 34 votes for the Liberal

[(34 x 0) + (32 x 0) + (34 x 1)] = 34 votes for the Conservative

[(17 x 1) + (32 x 1) + (17 x 1)] = 66 votes for the Centrist

The Centrist wins with 49.3% of the votes cast, compared to 25.4% received by the liberal and conservative candidates, and with 66% of the voters having cast a vote for him or her, compared to 34% for the other two candidates.

Now if the voters do have polling information which tells them that the Centrist will likely win and the Liberal and Conservative are about tied for second place, that doesn't really change the situation. The centrist voters will still only want to vote for the Centrist and it's still a toss-up for the liberal and conservative voters as to whether they should also vote for the Centrist.

And not only doesn't polling information make Multichoice Voting less efficient in selecting the candidate with the broadest overall support, it in fact makes it more. Imagine an election with five candidates - an ultraliberal, a liberal, a centrist, a conservative and an ultraconservative. What is the best strategy here for the ultraliberal voters? Well, in the absence of polling information it would be to vote for the Ultraliberal and the Liberal, with voting for the Centrist again being a toss-up. However, if polls show that most of the voters are right of center, then it would be to vote for the Centrist as well, and if polls show that the electorate is so conservate that only the Conservative and the Ultraconservative have a chance of winning, then they would also want to vote for the Conservative, however much they may dislike his or her positions.

So Multichoice Voting seems to work better than the other systems we have considered. The system is a method whereby voters, again, do not indicate which candidates(s) they like or approve of, but rather which candidates they are willing to settle for under the circumstances, in light of their knowledge of the preferences of other voters. Thus the entire electoral process, including the publication of polls (which at least happens in major elections), becomes like a meeting at which voters work out a compromise solution to the problem of who is going to represent them. Of course it should be illegal, if it isn't already, to knowingly publish inaccurate polling information.

This is especially important in polarized electorates, where there are relatively few centrists and large groups which are diametrically opposed. In any election where such an electorate is to choose just one person, it can be very important that a centrist be chosen, even though he or she is the first choice of relatively few voters. Otherwise there may be bitter conflict or war.

Multichoice Elimination Voting


Unfortunately, however, Multichoice Voting leaves something to be desired. First, to be as efficient as possible, the system requires that accurate polling information be available to the voters. Second, it would be difficult, for the ultraliberal voters in our last example, to cast a vote for the Conservative, whom they might hate, which would be exactly the same as the vote they would cast for the Ultraliberal, even though doing so would be in their best interests as it could prevent the Ultraconservative from winning. Some of them might find it so distasteful that they simply wouldn't do it, and for the same reason they might not vote for the Centrist or the Liberal as well. Voters want to express their preferences in elections. If you are a liberal and there are several liberal candidates, do you want to just vote for all of them, so your constituency is not split, and have no say in which of them wins?

So what can we do to improve the system? Well, in addition to giving voters the option of voting for more than one of the candidates, we can also give them the option of ranking the candidates, or as many as they care to, in order of preference. Then we can use an elimination system, just as the Instant Runoff does, to eliminate the candidates one by one. Only this time we won't be eliminating candidates based on the invalid basis of first-preference support, which does not take a voter's other preferences into consideration, but on the valid basis of overall support which Multichoice Voting establishes better than other systems.

Thus we have Multichoice Elimination Voting, which could be presented to voters in a three-column ballot. The first column would have the names of the candidates, and there would be two boxes, in the other two columns, to the right of each candidate's name. Above the first column of boxes it would say, "Place an X next to each candidate whom you wish to cast a vote for." Above the second column of boxes it would say, "Rank the candidates, or as many as you care to, numerically in order of preference."

The winner is then decided as with the Instant Runoff system. If any candidate is the first choice of a majority of the voters, he or she immediately wins. If not, then the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, with the second choice on each ballot which had that candidate as the first choice then becoming the first. It is then rechecked to see if any candidate is now the first choice of a majority, and if not then the next candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated, with this process continuing until one candidate has a majority of the first place votes.

Note that voters would not be required to do anything more than they are doing now. They can still simply cast one vote for one of the candidates if they wish. We are simply giving them more options, more power. If a voter doesn't rank all of the candidates and all of the candidates whom they do rank are eliminated, then his or her ballot is declared "inactive" at that point and the remaining candidates only needs to become the first choice on a majority of the "active" ballots in order to win. If a voter chooses not to rank any of the candidates then the ballot immediately becomes inactive, unless he or she only voted for one candidate in which case that candidate is considered the first choice. If a voter only ranks candidates then their first choice receives a vote. In any event, inactive ballots are not discounted, they continue to contribute to the total number of votes received by each candidate.

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