Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Negative votes: A proposal

In the coming election, I feel like I'm being asked to vote for either Stalin or Honey Boo Boo. I thought I was firmly in the "anyone but Stalin" camp until the other side nominated one of probably only five people in the world who I couldn't vote for. Perhaps it's fortunate that I'm not a member of a political party and don't embrace a particular political philosophy (my politics are somewhat eclectic), so I don't have any sense of obligation to vote for the candidate "my party" has nominated.

I've never really voted for anyone, I've only voted against them. That is, I've voted for the person I loathed least. I didn't want the person I voted for to get the job, but I really didn't want the other person to, and so I've always voted for the lesser evil. And, in fact, I think in the coming election one side is a greater evil than the other. But lesser evils are still evils, and this time around, I'm afraid the lesser evil is much too great an evil for me to cast my vote for them. Perhaps this is a failing on my part, but I can't bring myself to vote for the lesser evil this time.

Now I've never appreciated having to vote for lesser evils. What I want to do is cast a vote against the greater evil, and the only way to do this is to cast a vote for the lesser evil. The reason I haven't appreciated this is because it forces me to only indirectly vote against the greater evil by directly voting for the lesser evil. But why can't we reverse this? Why don't we make it possible to cast a negative vote? If you cast a negative vote for a candidate then one vote is subtracted from that candidate's overall total. The candidate with the highest total vote count wins.

You get one vote: you can either cast it for Stalin, for Honey Boo Boo, against Stalin, or against Honey Boo Boo. You don't get to vote for one candidate and then also vote against the other: you get one and only one vote. Certainly, by casting a vote against Stalin someone could object that you are essentially casting a vote for Honey Boo Boo -- but note that the order has now been switched. You are directly voting against Stalin, and only indirectly voting for Honey Boo Boo. Those of us who are, like me, too fragile to sully ourselves with lesser evils would be able to live with ourselves.

One possible negative (heh) consequence of this is that there could potentially be an election where the number of negative votes for both candidates is greater than their number of positive votes. So both sides would have total vote counts below zero. In this case, the candidate with the number of votes closer to zero -- that is, the smallest negative number -- would win. However, if there were write-in candidates (which is what I'm going to do this time), then the person with the most write-ins would win. I guess it would always be possible to cast a negative vote for a write-in candidate, although it would be odd since write-in candidates are usually not officially running. To cast your vote against someone who's not even running would seem to indicate a deep-seated hatred of them worthy of extended counseling: "I hate this person so much that I'm going to spend my one vote writing them in and then casting a negative vote against them." But even so, there probably wouldn't be many negative votes against write-in candidates, so one of them would still probably have more total votes than the main candidates. And that, in my opinion, would certainly be the lesser evil.

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