Utopia - Part 4

And now for the most topical utopia post so far: elections. It’s no secret the US election process is so messed up that it can barely reach “suboptimal” at even the best of times. Clearly a utopia can’t use the US system as a model. I shall instead take the best ideas I’ve heard and mash them together with a couple thoughts of my own.

Ideally, there should be no political parties. None of this group identification shortcut crap that shuts out candidates who don’t toe the party line exactly. They can, instead, represent their actual constituents.

Every candidate for office should run campaigns based on actual issues of interest to the public. Prior to election season (which shouldn’t last as long as an actual season), public comments and questions are submitted to a qualified news outlet (remember those from Part 2?), and are consolidated into a single questionnaire for candidates to fill out.

These questionnaires can pull double duty in an “I Side With” kind of way, allowing voters to see which candidates most closely represent their views once the election is underway.

Zero money changes hands as part of an election. Every candidate gets a few infomercials on qualified news outlets to explain policy positions; an equal amount of time across the board. And these must be factual - the independent fact-checkers get their review before the ads are allowed to air. Political advertising of any other kind is prohibited.

Candidates are encouraged to have blogs and participate in social media. In fact, I think that’s where the debates should go. Put the debates online, where everyone can participate in real-time chat; candidates, media, fact-checkers, and the public. The Google town hall with Obama earlier this year might make a decent template for these events.

Votes should be cast by ranked order of preference. This gets you a clear winner no matter how many candidates there are. In case you’re unfamiliar with the idea, here’s basically how it works. When you vote, you don’t just check one box; you order the entire slate of candidates from most preferred to least.

Vote counting starts with everyone’s most preferred candidate. If one of the candidates has a clear majority, that’s the winner. If no candidate has a clear majority, the candidate with the least amount of votes is removed, and all votes for that candidate switched to the next most preferred candidate. Repeat this procedure until one candidate gets a clear majority.

This kind of a system doesn't work well with human vote counters, so would have to be done by machine. Voting machines should be commodity-hardware, open source solutions. Any closed-source solution is capable of being subverted to the will of the controller. Only an open-source solution, where everyone can examine the source code for flaws, is trustworthy enough for a task as important as voting.

One assumption I haven't stated yet is that everyone gets to vote. Participatory systems work best when people actually participate. Online registration would be the easiest to implement since the entire population has internet access (Part 2 again).

I'm sure I've overlooked something. Feel free to let me know what I've missed.


  1. I just want to make sure that anyone else reading this is fully aware that you did not mention the electoral college. That is because the electoral college is the single worst thing in the US voting system and needs to be done away with.

    1. I wouldn't say it's the single worst thing; I think the unfettered money is worse. But I certainly see no need for it.