The Holy Grail for the Green Party (and other third parties) is to get Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) and Proportional Representation (PR) implemented in this county. Doing so would insure that third parties get their fair share of representation.
Proportional representation is a system where, if you get 12% of the vote, you get 12% of the seats. Here in the U.S., of course, 12% of the votes means you get no seats, which makes us an aberration compared to the rest of the democracies of the world.
IRV is a voting system that eliminates the need for runoff elections and also eliminates the spoiler effect.. Sounds great, doesn’t it! And many countries already have it. Here in the U.S., Vermont now uses it for town hall meetings and San Francisco recently voted to start using it in local elections. Check our newly updated IRV page for complete details, and an example, explaining how IRV works.
For IRV and PR to work here, we need touchscreen voting – the new voting machines that allow voting by touching a screen and which also eliminate the paper ballet – as they can tabulate faster, especially for IRV ballots..
Ah, but that’s when the trouble starts. Eliminate the paper ballot? Then where’s the audit trail? What happens if the touchscreen system fails, or there’s a power outage, or the computer code is tampered with? These are some of the questions posed by quite serious, reputable computer security professionals. Many now call for a paper ballot as well, as that is the only way to have an audit trail. And, oh yes, touchscreen systems have failed and have sometimes miscounted votes, so these questions are hardly just theoretical.
There’s a major Black Helicopter element here too. The companies that make voting machines are quite secretive. They refuse to allow outside people to audit the source code to determine if the computer program is doing what it should be doing, and not, oh, ignoring votes from Democrats. Did I mention that one major voting machine company is (or was) partly owned by a Republican Senator? Do you hear the whoop-whoop-whooop of helicopter blades now?
You can read more about all of this on our Voting machine page.
Greg Palast and Martin Luther King III just endorsed a petition that, in effect, says let’s go slowly here and make sure that touchscreen is completely reliable, and while we’re at it, no more Florida vote-theft debacles too. Their lack of enthusiam for touchscreen has severely honked off the pro-touchscreen/IRV/PR people.
The Democratic establishment is, naturally, opposed to IRV, PR, and to anything that might give third parties their fair share. Expect them to do their best to make sure the closely watched upcoming San Francisco IRV vote fails.
And here you probably thought the whole subject was deadly dull and boring…
I strongly favor IRV, PR, and touchscreen. However we need to insure that touchscreen voting systems can not be compromised. At all. Ever.