This page is being re-written to reflect the latest discussion that I had with the MRG voting sytems group. Expect changes.
See this page for a more in-depth discussion of criteria for evaluating voting systems.
Is it better to have a system that elects somebody who half the population likes feverishly and a third of the population dislikes feverishly, or one that elects a candidate one tenth of the population likes feverishly and everybody else is lukewarm toward? These are very real questions, and ones with subjective answers. I have selected the following criteria for evaluating the quality of an election system as a starting point: Proportional Representation, Descriptive Results, Limit Strategy, Comprehendability, and Feasibliity. Read the full page for a more in-depth discussion.
See this page for a more in-depth discussion of how to analyze voting systems.
Each voting system has it's own logic and it's own strategy. It is very important that when we analyze a voting system, we cast ourselves out of the strategies we are used to from the systems we have used in the past, and into the strategy the voter and candidate will feel as they use each new system. In order to do that, there are some concepts we must think about and some principles we must assume. For more, read the page on analyzing voting systems.
See this page for a more in-depth discussion of multiple-winner systems.
In order to have Proportional Representation, you have to elect more than one member from each district, because one person can't "look like" a district if the district looks like a lot of different things. If we want the members of the legislature to "look like" the state, then we have to advocate that the House of Representatives elect more than one representative from each district. Almost any system that elects more than one member from a district is more proportional than almost any system that elects one member at a time!
When selecting between multiple-winner systems, a general rule is that voters should be allowed to allocate all of their votes to one candidate. This helps encourage proportional representation by allowing small voting blocs to allocate all their votes to one candidate. Systems that meet this criteria include Cumulative Voting, Single Transferable Vote, and Single Non-Transferable Vote.
See this page for a more in-depth discussion of single-winner systems.
Single-winner systems are systems for when we can't use a multiple-winner system, e.g. because the position requires only one office-holder, like "Treasurer", or because it would be infeasible in our political environment to win a proportional representation system.
Plurality voting (the most prevalent voting system in the United States), scores very poorly by our objectives. It encourages strategy by candidates and voters, and it sets a trade-off between descriptive results and accurate representation. Instant runoff voting and Approval Voting both improve on this, but each has their own idiosyncracies.
See this page for a more in-depth discussion of an alternative system.
Although this document is mainly about voting to elect representatives, we all know that there are many problems with this system. When representatives are making decisions, inevitably they make decisions in order to improve their own position. This may take the form of passing laws which make it difficult to challenge incumbents or of pandering to only those people who they need in order to get elected, whether that's influential or wealthy backers or simply non-immigrants. There are some truly radical ideas for how to make decisions in a society; Direct Representation is one of them.
When we advocate for voting systems, it should be because they are truly better. When we can, we should advocate for systems of proportional representation. These can be complex or simple, but they always must elect more than one representative at a time. Insert single-winner conclusion here. Insert alternative systems sentence here.