Earlier this month, the American people were given a choice between two people who desperately wanted to be their president. The American people, with extreme reluctance, elected one of them.
Next month, the Electoral College will elect the other one.
However, this is not merely the fault of the Electoral College. There are many things wrong with the system by which the United States elects its president; the Electoral College is but one of them.
The most important problem is the same one identified by Douglas Adams in The Restaurant at the End of the Universe: People are a problem.
The GoobNet Special Projects Enhancement and Enforcement Division [SPEED] knows that you should never trust somebody to rule over you who is eager to do just that. Thus, they decided to try to find a better way to elect the president. To this end, they locked themselves in their conference room on Tuesday. Nobody was permitted to enter or leave, save for the woman who delivered pizza to them.
Shortly after the pizza arrived, they emerged with a plan. In an unrelated development, the woman who delivered the pizza, Bettina, has joined the GoobNet SPEED. In an even more unrelated development, her cousin, Kelsey, has also joined the GoobNet SPEED.
So, was the pizza worth it? Is the GoobNet SPEED’s plan any good? Take a look, and then cast your vote. Remember, your vote in this matter counts about as much as your vote for the US president, particularly if you live in California.
Our proposal is the Multiply Allocated Draft of Candidates for the American Presidency. In this system, 200 people from across the United States are randomly drafted to be presidential candidates. A round of primary elections and a round of secondary elections reduce this field to eight candidates for the general election. In every round, ranked choice voting is used to limit the spoiler effect.
In January of a presidential election year, 200 eligible candidates are randomly selected. As with jury selection, the list of potential draftees is drawn from voter rolls and identification records, such as driver’s license and state ID card holders. Those ineligible to serve as president due to age or birth are removed from the list of potential draftees.
The first 50 draftees are selected from each state, and the 51st is selected from the District of Columbia. The remaining 149 may be drafted from any state, DC, or any of the US overseas territories [American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands]. Consequently, all 50 states and DC are each represented by at least one candidate, but the most populous states are likely to have more candidates.
Note that the current president is not one of the 200 candidates. Our proposal limits the president to a single term.
Upon being drafted, the 200 candidates complete the Political Compass assessment, and they respond to a set of questions on major issues. These results are made available to the general public to help them get to know the candidates.
Next, the candidates are allocated into forty groups of five, taking geographic and ideological considerations into account. For example, Group 1 may consist primarily of midwestern libertarians, and Group 36 may consist primarily of New England progressives. This method allows the general public to more clearly see the distinctions between similar candidates. Furthermore, it means that people who are overwhelmed by the options available may concentrate solely on the groups closest to themselves, either geographically, ideologically, or both. At the same time, those most interested in the process may follow as many groups as they like.
The candidates have the next several weeks to make their cases. They may make public appearances, participate in question and answer sessions on the Internet, issue policy statements, or any combination of these. Political parties may choose to endorse candidates and campaign on their behalf if they see fit. However, no paid advertising of any kind is permitted, neither by the candidates themselves nor by political parties, special interest groups, or superPACs.
During the month of February, each group holds one debate involving all five candidates in that group. No two debates may be held at the same time, but they may be held on the same day. For example, two debates per day could be held over a twenty day period.
Then, in March, the primary election is held. On this Super Duper Tuesday, all forty groups are placed on the ballot. Voters may cast votes for none, some, or all of the groups. In each group, ranked choice voting is used. If a voter wants to vote on a group, a 1 is placed next to the voter’s favourite candidate of the group. The voter may optionally place a 2 next to their second favourite candidate, and so on down to 5.
When the votes are counted, only the 1s are examined in the first round. The ballots are allocated based upon the number of first choice votes they received. If one candidate has a majority, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the candidate with the fewest first choice votes is eliminated. That candidate’s ballots are reallocated to the candidate that was ranked 2. Ballots that do not have a second choice listed are discarded. If one of the remaining candidates has a majority of the remaining ballots at the end of this second round, that candidate wins. Otherwise, the process is repeated until a majority is reached.
The forty group winners advance to the secondaries. Here, they are allocated into eight groups of five. As much as is practical, the candidates are again allocated based upon geographic and ideological considerations. For example, the midwestern libertarian who wins Group 1 may be allocated to Group A with other right wing candidates from the Rockies or the west coast, and the New England progressive who wins Group 36 may be allocated to Group F with other left wing candidates from the east coast.
As before, each group holds one debate. These take place in May, but these are limited to one per day. In general, these debates are to be longer and address a broader range of topics. During the rest of the time leading up to the secondaries, the candidates may continue to make physical and online appearances.
The secondary election is held in June. Again, all eight groups are on the ballot, and voters may vote for none, some, or all of them using ranked choice voting. The winners of each group advance to the general election.
During the remainder of the month of June, no public appearances or campaigning are permitted, as the general public are awarded a well earned break from the election process.
In July, the eight candidates in the general election select their running mates from amongst the candidates eliminated in the secondaries. The eight tickets then continue to make public appearances leading up to the debates.
In September and October, a total of four debates are held. Three involve all eight presidential candidates, and the other debate involves all eight vice presidential candidates. If they so choose, subsets of the candidates may also arrange additional debates with one another by mutual agreement.
When Election Day arrives, voters select their preferred candidate. Ranked choice voting is again available, but this time, voters may also write in a candidate if none of the eight options are palatable to them.
Because the Multiply Allocated Draft of Candidates for the American Presidency has abolished the Electoral College, the votes from around the nation [including the territories, finally] are tabulated and reallocated until the winner is identified. The winner serves as president of the United States, and the losing candidates return to their lives – as best they can.
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