Why Socialists Should Support Range Voting

Range voting has been endorsed by Socialist 2004 Presidential Candidate Walter Brown. To learn more, see http://RangeVoting.org; you then may endorse it yourself by clicking "Endorsements"; you can offer your help by clicking "Join/Volunteer"; and you can contact us.

The lesser-of-two-evils problem makes most progressives vote for some sleazy corrupt "lesser-evil," abandoning the honest candidates for whom they wish they could vote. And you know that is why Socialists, Greens, Ralph Nader, and other progressive candidates receive vote-totals only representing a fraction of their true support.

But what isn't generally appreciated is the size of this problem and the degree to which the lesser-of-two-evils problem is nothing but an artifact of a bad voting system -- the vote-for-one Plurality system now in use.

That's good news, because it means that this is a huge problem that could be eliminated just by changing to a better voting system: Range Voting.

We're not just blowing smoke here. The table shows both the official 2004 popular vote results (USA-wide) for the Republican, Democrat, Nader, Green, and Socialist Workers presidential candidates, and what their range-vote average scores would have been (NY state suburbs, from our RV exit poll study using scores on an 0-100 scale).

Candidate Plurality Range-Voting
Bush 50.7 40
Kerry 48.3 55
Nader 0.38 25
Cobb 0.10 5
Calero 0.003 4

All of the minor party candidates did over 50 times better (relative to Bush) in the Range Voting poll than in the actual Plurality voting election. (More details about this study: http://RangeVoting.org/ForSocial.html.)

Range Voting is not Instant Runoff, which has been heavily promoted around the country. Instant Runoff, contrary to its promoters' claims, and unlike Range Voting, won't get rid of the incentive to betray one's favorite by voting him below top to help some lesser-evil. (We know that both because of several counterexample elections on our web site, and also because all the world's IRV countries are 2-party dominated.)

Range Voting is already familiar to you since we've all been asked to rate things from 1 to 10. Some Olympic events are scored by Range Voting. The definition:
Each voter may give points to any number of candidates, giving to each any number of points that the voter wants to, within some range pre-specified by the election rules. The candidate with the highest average rating wins.

E.g. in one popular version, you could give any rating from 0 to 10 to any candidate.

The beauty of Range Voting is that you never have any reason to vote anyone over your favorite. Even if you want to fully help the Democrat (by giving him/her 10 points), that doesn't prevent your vote from also giving 10 points to the Socialist, Green, or Nader.

For the first time, everyone would be able to fully vote for their favorite, even if they feel a need to help the corrupt sleazy Democrat. For the first time, vote totals would finally reflect true support.

Another thing: No more rivalry. Socialist parties and candidates are not each other's enemies, though vote-for-one Plurality pits them against each other. With 0 to 10 Range Voting, Socialists could give 10 points to all the Socialist parties' candidates. Why not?
So here's how two ballots could look.

I (voted by a Socialist, Naderite or Green)


Socialist A: 10 points
Socialist B: 10 points
Socialist C: 10 points
Ralph Nader: 10 points
Green:       10 points
Democrat:     0 points
Republican:   0 points

II (compromise progressive)


Socialist A: 10 points
Socialist B: 10 points
Socialist C: 10 points
Ralph Nader: 10 points
Green:       10 points
Democrat:    10 points
Republican:   0 points

Note that these ballots only vote the extreme ratings, 10 points and 0 points. That's good strategy: maximum points to the acceptable and minimum points to the unacceptable candidates. But anyone can vote intermediate ratings if they choose.

WHAT IS SOCIALISM all about? We think it is about the people getting power and using it to make good decisions. Well range voting is a superior collective decision-making tool. We've done computer simulation studies of different voting systems and found range voting to deliver robustly the best quality decisions (on average) among about 30 systems compared. In contrast, plurality voting is an excellent tool for rich fat cats to use to control everything via locked-in 2-party dominance and 98%-predictable US elections, while making the people think something "democratic" has happened.

DO YOU WANT Socialist Party supporters to feel free to vote for the SP candidate, without fear of "wasting their votes" or "spoiling" the election (electing the Republican)?

DO YOU WANT the different Socialist Parties to be allies rather than rivals in the election?

DO YOU WANT the Socialist Party to get much better vote results that it has been so far?

DO YOU WANT the media to pay much more attention to Socialist Party campaigns, and to the issues promoted by the Socialist Party and its candidates? (We can assume that the media will pay more attention to the minor parties if they get much better vote results.)

IF SO: urge the SP Platform Committee to make promotion of Range Voting for public elections a part of the SP Platform, and a high priority action item in the SP's strategic plan.

For more info (and the details that back up the claims here), visit the Center for Range Voting web site at http://RangeVoting.org. Click on the "Ways to Help" menu item to find out how you can help promote Range Voting for use in public elections. Click on the "platform plank" for a pre-written party platform plank on voting reform.