Why the Way We Vote Is Terrible

Mr. Beat is a social studies teacher who specializes in making history and geography more engaging

Mr. Beat explains why plurality voting is one of the worst ways to determine the winner of elections.

Thanks to the Center for Election Science for their support in the making of this video. https://www.electionscience.org/

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Special thanks to the AP Archive for footage for this video. It made a huge difference! AP Archive website: http://www.aparchive.com

Produced by Matt Beat. All images/video by Matt Beat, found in the public domain, or used under fair use guidelines. Music: "Mizuki" by Bad Snacks.

Sources:

Herrade Igersheim, François Durand, Aaron Hamlin, Jean-François Laslier. Comparing Voting Methods: 2016 US Presidential Election. 2018. Ffhalshs-01972097f

Photo credits/Creative Commons:

Gabriel Vanslette

First of all, what is plurality voting? It’s when a citizen only gets to vote for one candidate, and the candidate who gets the most votes, aka a plurality, wins the election.

Ok, so why is plurality voting terrible?

It only allows you to share your opinion about one candidate.

You have opinions about everything. Think about it. You probably have strong opinions about types of music, or coffee chains, or even different toothpastes. And your opinion gets to be heard about those things due to participating in the economy. You choose what songs to listen to on Spotify, what coffee chain to satisfy your caffeine addiction, and what toothpaste will help you keep your breath so fresh and so clean clean. And just because you like one toothpaste, doesn’t mean you hate all the others. You may like all these coffee chains, so you buy coffee from all of them.

But what about voting for those running for public office?

Well, lots of people run for President. At the time of this video’s release, 880 Americans have officially filed to run for President in 2020. One of them is a friend from college, Ryan Von Bevern. Ryan has some great ideas, but chances are, you’ve never heard of him. As a matter of fact, you likely would think that many of those 880 candidates are terrific leaders who have terrific platforms.

Even if you don’t follow politics closely, you likely already have opinions about more than just two of the 880 candidates running for President in 2020. Like, I’m sure you not only have an opinion about this candidate (DT) and this candidate (JB), but you also already have opinions on this one (BS) and this one (EW). Once the election is closer, you’ll likely have opinions on other candidates. And you may very well share that opinion with friends and family or online, but with plurality voting, only your opinion about one candidate gets heard.

It forces voters to pick the “lesser of the two evils.”

In my Electoral College video, I implied that having two crappy choices for President was like getting to choose only between a Chrysler PT Cruiser and a Geo Metro. So let’s consider that example. Plurality voting makes it so that we often only have two crappy choices when we go to the voting booth. Ok, so we can vote for a third party, or we can even write in our own name, but because we are often indoctrinated into thinking third parties or write-in candidates have no chance at all to win, we feel pressured to pick between two choices that we are often not that excited about. And so, we vote out of fear. Sure, we WANT to vote for the candidate we really like, but instead we compromise by choosing the less bad frontrunner because we’re scared the more bad frontrunner will win.

Voter turnout for the American presidential election hasn’t been over 60% since the 1960s. In the 2016 election, despite many Americans fearing BOTH of the frontrunner candidates, just 56% of Americans showed up to vote. More than 111 million Americans did not show up to vote, and I’d argue that most of them were not motivated to. They simply didn’t care. One big reason why they didn’t care? They didn’t want to vote for the lesser of two evils.

#voting #presidentialelections #apgov

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