What if Score Voting was done with percentages?

Instead of a scale of 0 to X, set it to 0% to 100%. This immediately alerts voters that they are choosing to give a finite amount of their support, while making it easier to expand the scale i.e. 0 to 10 is all 10%s rather than 0 to 5’s 20%s. The one issue is that voters might think their scores must sum to 100%, but that could be clarified in the directions. This would also make computer input a lot easier, because the maximum score doesn’t need to be inputted or checked.

I mean, that’s literally just using a 0-100 scale instead of 0-10. That’s what per-cent means - “of 100.”
It all works the same way. 0-5 with stars is generally viewed as the easiest, but anything else isn’t “wrong” it’s just different without necessarily being better.


To be clear, a 0 to 10 scale in percentage form would be options of 0%, 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70%, 80%, 90%, and 100% support on the ballot.

It is just a question of granularity. It is fair to ask what the best granularity is but its still the same system.

It may help to clarify that a voter can give up to 100% support, but is limited to giving only one vote to a candidate max. I know @rkjoyce likes to say that you give up to multiple votes to each candidate, which seems potentially confusing and cleared up by this modification.

So this is like cumulative voting then?

No no, it’d be Score Voting, but instead of a person giving a candidate a 10/10, they might give “100% support” (which they can give to several candidates.) Someone giving a candidate a 6/10 might instead give “60% support.”

Nah, percentages mean unnecessarily large numbers, which might scare away the more innumeric voters.

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It might scare some people off, but it’s revealing the truth behind the system: you can give an amount of support from 0% to 100% to each candidate, and it’s only a matter of system design as to how many distinctions you can make within that range. It might actually help illuminate the system in a way that attracts support (as opposed to “Why are you bringing scoring into voting?”)

However, the connection to summing to 100% is very strong, and many people are familiar with a 1-5 rating scale (and I have seen many product reviews that wished they could give it 0 stars), and Amazon does NOT force you to only distribute 5 stars among all of its millions of products. You cannot expect everyone to read the directions, no matter how simple.


An older page, which knew comparatively little about this kind of research and recommended 0-99 score range (and had some good reasons), was Why99.html; that and the present page now will need to be reconciled. The present page seems to conclude 0-9 is the best scale.


I wasn’t questioning the use of a scale, but what values should be associated with each option on the scale. It’d be interesting to see research on that.

All score/range voting is really fractions.

People, in the USA anyway unless this has changed since I was little, are very accustomed to scores given in percentages, it is how school assignments are (or were, unless fashions have shifted) graded. And of course we use percentages a lot, both properly and in a loose, rhetorical way.

So I see just two possible risks with presenting voters with score options in this form:

  1. Some people might be considerably traumatized by bad experiences in school and turned off by the presence of percents in voting–though I daresay some of those who did not fare well K-12 might take delight in being able to turn the tables on the politicians! “Hah! Now I’m the one not grading on a curve!”

  2. A general problem with scoring, especially with numbers–I’ve actually seen this doing data entry from political canvassing, and even committed this little sin myself when I was out knocking on doors before winding up doing mostly data entry later–sometimes people will decide the best score falls between stools. “Hmm, on a scale of 0-9, do I really want to give this one a 9? But certainly not an 8, that’s not fair either…I know! 8.5! No, 8.6!”

Then when I get the form for input into the database, I have to pound my head on the desk and try to second guess as best I can which it is, 8 or 9, from my judgement of all their other answers (when the name of the game is to get the dang data entered ASAP–HQ is on Eastern time or Central time maybe, I am on Pacific Time, and they want it in well before midnight their time, never mind our coast is the one where we didn’t get pasted last election…grrr! The canvasser had the voter before them, could judge a lot better than me, but no, they punt the problem to some data entry volunteer in the middle of the night not realizing the data is only useful in discrete form. (Moral–ideally all canvassing/GOTV volunteers should mix and match a little bit, every data entry volunteer should go door to door or make calls at least once or twice, to see what it’s really like out there…and every canvasser should be encouraged to sit down, first with someone else’s canvass data to see what that is like, and perhaps with their own to see how much easier it is when you actually know what the interaction went like subjectively).

Non numeric scoring might seem to solve the x.11 problem, people don’t think of say letters of the alphabet as having fractional letters between them, and if the scale is “No support…Acceptable…Pretty Good…Excellent” they will want to qualify as with numbers but plainly can’t. Then it is a question of wording the scale so there is no big jump between one option and the next, that either leaves voters feeling their full range is not offered or distorts scoring as people either underscore options they like pretty well or overscore ones they actually dislike quite a lot. The advantage of number scales, especially written in percents that I think all but the most innumerate understand quite intuitively (again though as @AssetVotingAdvocacy says, some serious study should be done on this) is that it is clear to the voter what they are doing when they give a score. Wording is subjective on both the ballot designers and voter’s side.

One could do both–write percent scales on the ballot with equivalent, as the ballot designer, hopefully with some serious research guiding the wording,

Ballot design, and admonitions on the top of it, could clarify one should just mark the designed input dots, be then in 20 percent levels (6 degrees of support counting zero), 10 percent (eleven) or say 25 percent (5). Vice versa, if we allowed open form write in and we get people marking 96.734, but we instruct the ballot tally people to just round to the nearest whole number percent (and inform the voter this is what we shall be doing) any scoring method can take a fine gauged percent input like that just fine…in fact there’s no limit on the number of decimal points that can be handled as far as the basic math of scoring goes, it is pretty much entirely a data entry problem.

If we have electronic vote machines, say ones with a paper trail like those here in Nevada, the machine mediates what is possible to enter. I want to vote someone a 93 percent score but then see, dang, my options are 80, 90 or 100 percent, which shall it be since I can’t shoehorn in 93? Maybe I get mad on impulse and figure this particular politician is the one who stuck me with this limited option and give them a 60 in response? (Probably not, I hope, unless the voter happens to know for a fact this politician did fight the option of entering the full range 0-100 whole number percents, and does resent it–but then they came into the booth their mind already made up, knowing the actual options they have and already planning to discount the politician in vengeance–so their claim “well it would have been 93 but nooooo!” is really just rhetorical trolling).

Mathematically speaking how we define the score scale makes no difference, whether we process it as numbers 0-9, 0-5, percentages, or fractions, as long as we scale everything the same.

Fractions is probably the most “scientific” way to think about it, on the theory no politician is perfect from any voter’s point of view.

And on the general issue of innumeracy–I do think most people even with the poorest understanding of math have some clue as to the weighted meaning of percentages. And nowadays people are being asked to give ratings a zillion times on line too. The fact remains that some people are really bad with numbers. And as a person of moderately strong numeracy, who managed to get admitted to Caltech–at the top percentile of SAT scoring in math/science nationally, but the literal bottom percentile of Caltech’s intake (shouldn’t have gone there but that is another story, foolishly I did) I have had life experiences regarding others, a specific other in fact, who was certified (literally so, with basic standard test batteries) as having practically zero math aptitude, who was in fact quite shrewd, politically active, wise, and had excellent reasons for failing to learn math skills. (Her severe physical disability meant she could not write legibly–you try doing the practice to get basic math concepts into your head without being able to write down the steps somehow. Some people can do it, but most of us need some training wheels at least at first. She had none). And I should also note that in practical life, on a simple level, she was capable of quite shrewdly managing money, having evolved her own mental tallying system I never could fathom for keeping track of what we were spending in the grocery store, or translating recipes to larger or smaller batches. She was at sea in matters of high finance, but aren’t we all–see my other topic on Rep Porter, who put the chief Trump administration officer in charge of regulating lending firms on the hot seat to define basic financial terms consumers are “expected” to “understand,” and demonstrated he had no clue himself. Why should he, important people have people for that!

So we should not at any point think “Well, the innumerate are stupid people anyway and really should not be voting at all.” Quite a lot of them are very shrewd, often better at judging people than those of us of a more STEM bent. All of them are human beings meriting equal protection under the law, and it behooves us to therefore design our systems with every voter in mind, and be prepared to defend the fairness of a given proposal without saying “oh, you need to understand some computational stuff, just trust me!” We may be eminently trustworthy but how do they know that?

Interestingly enough, 0-99 and 0-9 (which use exactly two and one digit respectively) sort of have the “imperfect” quality to them. There is the issue of voters who write a 1 or 10 having those scores fraudulently changed to 100; mandating two digits avoids that because at worst the fraud is highly detectable.

I doubt that most people will really need something more fine than 10-11 values. If you really are that fine tuned you can always use randomness.

However, 0-9 makes the impulse to want to vote between them less likely, because the voter needs to craft decimals, while with a 10n% scale, voters will think of the integer 75 and want to vote it.

Suppose you are in a 51% majority and want to differentiate between two of your favorite candidates. Giving one a 9/10 and a 10/10, if everyone did that, results in them both getting on average 45% of the points, rather than 51%. Only with something like 100 levels of granularity would you be able to differentiate. I think in reality, most people should give both the candidates a 10/10, because you can always count on someone to bullet vote in favor of the better candidate, but it is a possible problem with elections where people are inexperienced with scoring or there are only a few voters.

So what? You make the rules, explain the rules (I have not seen much of that done very transparently here, but hopefully something worth selling to the public will have some clarity) and then play by the rules. No amount of fussing is going to pre-solve every imagined contingency!

I honestly think that whatever scheme anyone comes up with, a lot of people, not just this or that outlier, are going to bullet vote. Because they have identified the candidates they want to see win, and taken us at our word we have (I gather, I certainly am aiming at this) relieved them of the burden of trying to strategically outguess everyone else and come up with rules that let voters express their intents without a lot of second guessing, and they vote that way, then we abide by the body that results. No amount of clever procedures can magically make the voters intend other than what they do. So most are going to stack the deck toward whomever they think best, and I cannot fathom why anyone thinks that improper–that’s representative democracy, in republican form. It can go wrong, as can any human made system. We hope and trust that mass buy in means mass attention, and intelligent, humane responses. Each person has a share of power and must therefore be respected, that is how it works.

Now if anyone is interested, I have been working on a compromise concept that discounts cardinal votes spread out among many choices less than CV would do, which does stack the deck toward multi-choice voters and give some mild incentive against bullet voting, without unduly shutting out determined bullet voters.

Conceptually it depends on visualizing score votes (obviously with Approval being a degeneration, of voters choosing only max scores for the candidates they choose at all) as vectors in N-space, where N is the number of candidates a voter could possibly rate, normalized so they all have the same “length,” that is magnitude, and their differential ratings are thus fractions of 1. (This equality is the sense in which votes are equal, rather than their discounted shares of the whole adding up to one linearly).

Again the math is all under the hood, and the actual computation does not depend on N-dimensional manipulations, just dividing by square roots of squared sums of scores for each ballot.

Though I suspect to consider fair options toward quasi-proportional top ups, we’d need to revert to visualizing the vectors again, and we would have several choices depending on whether we want to triple down on privileging spread out votes–having already done that in two of three steps (recall step one is to settle some seats as district votes with simple score or some more fussy alternative–that’s entirely cardinal) is it fair to do it in the last step, fairer to enable the most partisan to have their way with the identity of the make up members, or some intermediate outcome that is simpler to compute and explain?

Ranking becomes a better option than scoring for coalitions that want to differentiate between their candidates while guaranteeing someone in the coalition wins. So scoring no longer is the automatic best option for everyone; I think for small groups, Condorcet may actually be better than Approval or Score based on the circumstances (one argument FairVote makes is that if a candidate is eliminated post-election, you can just cross them out of the rankings and recompute the result. As you’ve observed, cardinal methods “practically” fail IIA, so the new result may hurt some voters.)

Any cardinal single-winner method practically depends on strategy on how to vote among frontrunners (although Approval requires less, since it automatically makes your vote “strategic” by maxing power), and your proportional schemes seem like they’d exclude new candidates because voters won’t be sure if they can meet quota, and thus vote only for the frontrunner in their quota. That’s a big reason to prefer either STV or a cardinal PR method; they can devolve into SNTV-like methods, but do better with more honest voting.

To be intelligible, I think you need to frame your objection in some concrete election scheme.

As you might guess, I was pretty much doing this for you, as best I can divine your intentions, going over it meticulously.

But really only you can present a concrete, definite scenario to illustrate what you mean. Without situating your abstract “what if I am in a 51 percent majority but still want to support someone, but less than someone else, what if God forbid everyone does as I did and they wind up being equal?” in some concrete system, it is anyone’s guess what troubles you about this scenario.

Are we electing one person only? A or B or some other candidate wins, no one else does–if you would give A a 9 and B an 8, or a 2 and B a 1, or a 99 and B a 98, go for it.

Do you want A to win and not B? Then you just vote for A, and let the chips fall where they may.

Do you prefer A to win but B is OK, but you really fear C,D,E or God forbid F? See, that upon reflection is what I think you probably mean, something along those lines, but spell it out to avoid confusion. Visualize and present something concrete!

You could then give each of A and B your highest scores and cross your fingers other people a little bit less afraid of the other 4 scoundrels recognize A’s merit too. If they don’t but your majority of 51 percent do agree the first two are good and the others bad you can be pretty sure that whether A and B tie or not, either will have a higher score than the others, no matter how much the deluded 49 percent decide to all bullet vote for F.

Unless you take your eyes off the ball and vote 8 for B when you could have voted 9 and it turns out actually your fellow 51 percenters liked B more, so your withdrawal of one score point somehow tips it to F. If that really worries you, cover your bet and accept that getting second best is far better than risking getting the worst, and you might still luck out.

But your topic does not even clarify if here we are talking about multimember or single seat races anyway. It makes the most sense in the context of the latter, which I have not ventured into much because frankly I think we should introduce multimember aspects into unitary races, because the power of single unitary offices has grown pretty great and they are dangerous. We certainly have no business making multiseat bodies the sum of a bunch of separate single seat races with no wider integration!

No matter how finely you grade your scale, the dilemma remains on paper. Dare you risk 49 percent of the electorate trumping you, even when you sit in the group you know is larger–which in a political context can only mean, you know they align with your thinking about who has greatest merit. It seems that you ought to vote your heart and head, give the highest score to the one you like, hoping with some reason that a majority you agree with in values and interests will reason as you do, and if all of them rate A the highest they can, you can be sure A must win.

Then I suppose any level of support for B at all represents your uncertainty that your 51 percent majority bloc really does see eye to eye with you–if your priority is to prevent F, whom you fear the wrongheaded 49 percent will flock to with maximum scores, you need to max out B too. And if everyone in your bloc does likewise, presumably there is some tiebreaking rule. Also maybe someone in the benighted C-F 49 percent actually sees some merit in A or B too, if minuscule, and their grudging small score is what breaks the tie.

The point of scoring is, the candidate with the highest score most deserves the office. Whether you risk disaster by failing to rate B as high as A is not something you can conjure away by choosing a certain number of significant digits in the rating scale; if it can happen on a 0-9 scale it can happen on a 0-99 scale or a 0-999 scale.

If it is multimember–honestly, with the poorly, loosely, wink and nod “defined” procedures I see tossed around here, all iterative, for what is loosely called “proportional” for multimember bodies, it is hard to begin to see how it would work.

But if the general outcome bears any slight resemblance to “proportional,” we should expect from what you give that if it is two members being elected, either A or B shall surely win one and per my fearmongering “OMG F is where the 49 percent converge fanatically!” inference F shall be the other.

And that’s republican democracy; if you are trying to rig it so your 51 percent with a two point lead in numbers can impose both A and B, then you aren’t attempting to institute democracy, you are attempting to fool the rubes into believing an aristocracy is somehow of their own devising and true mirror of themselves–falsely.

What if it is three members? Or ten, or 100? How can any of us tell what you are talking about with your talk of wanting to support two candidates and dithering you dare put one a cut below the other, and looking in vain for a magic number that will always make it safe to do so?

Rolling with the insistence there can be no parties because they are bad somehow, then any assurance you get that your favorite A gets in can easily involve you in overspending your power on that one, just as I was assured Cumulative Voting (in its usual no-party form!) would surely torment its voters with, and vainly spending more on B who turns out actually to be doomed, and perhaps you should have been more inclusive and coalition minded and looked at C-E more charitably because there was your safe compromise.

But you can’t know how everyone else will vote nor should you worry about it, for if you believe in democracy, and consensus, and community, it is your fellow community members voting their hearts and heads that gives you the stew of outcomes that emerges, and whomever they throw up represents someone you have to deal with somehow.

Actually, Party means a bunch of candidates who mutually vet each other. If you know and trust one, can’t your take their word on the others being on the team? Sure you should verify, check out these others–if your most trusted candidate A lied to you, or was egregiously misled, that says you ought to reevaluate your judgement of A, doesn’t it. Presuming you and the candidates are reasonably intelligent and middling honest people (and isn’t everyone honest when they know they are being watched? Who shall watch the watchers? The people, that’s who, if they know it is worth their while) your bond to one is a bond to all, and you can also judge both the candidates as a group and check your own judgement by looking around you at who among the voters seems to be on this team.

See, I have pretty deep reasons to believe that Party is probably your friend.

Certainly if want a fair and certain degree of influence proportional to your general alignment of values and interests with other people, on a large body governing a large swathe of a society on a scale anything much larger than a typical US county, you are going to want this valuable guide to who your allies are; there is no way you can evaluate thousands of candidates for US House from afar, whereas if you allow yourself to be sectioned off into some reasonably sized bailiwick you cannot combine forces with people you reasonably ought to be able to. If fear of party is the only thing standing in the way of flexible and proportional national government, can’t you see why I have to wonder pretty hard at why that maxim is hammered down so hard hereabouts?

But maybe you are talking about a tiny little village council or something like that.

We don’t know, you didn’t tell us.

But even if we are, why not let party be a strong indicator of whom to look to first?

You know what is a perfectly good way to guarantee someone in your coalition wins? Form a moderately sizeable party, just a quota or two of the system wide population will do. Vote for that.

God willing we can provide for you to target your vote within the framework to specific subfactions of the party you most support, and I think I’ve told you exactly how that can be done too, exorcising all manner of bugbears of canned rants against parties.

But if in fact your vote targeted to a particular exponent of the best match to your own values miscarries, if they are within a larger effective party framework, presumably (again, apply the specific circumstances of positive representation, not the pretty messed up ones we have now) that comes closest among those who do span a quota or more, among the alternatives actually available, to being the generic best match to what you do value. Your failure is limited, your success is reasonably effective.

All that applies if you have just one choice, and I have expressed why it is risky and challenging to me to try to integrate cardinal systems in place of single choice, which seems adequate to reasonable expectations really.

But in fact cardinal seems less hopeless than it did at first glance, so it seems that this only expands rather than as you perceive it, contracts your options. Now you can cover your bet by putting your strongest rating on the one person you really want, who as I have laid out need not be running in your local district (if you accept being indifferent about who wins that, and if the one you really want is winning somewhere else with your help why should you not be unconcerned)? And yet putting in a token of support for a surer thing party unlikely to fail of quota, if the best candidate ever you’ve identified out there happens to be running in a party or alliance, or as a barebones independent, with some considerable risk of losing.

You can decide, will you split it 50/50, or bet harder on the best payoff?

How is this limiting?

Failing to describe concrete circumstances, with a concrete scenario, makes it hard to get a bead on whether you are just angling to be a guaranteed aristocratic kingmaker who must always win, betting on being a pretty normal, majoritarian person, or putting yourself in the place of a perennial outlier whose values and interests rarely seem to align with any large group’s and whose outcomes are always potluck.

I seem to have failed to convey the form of linkage of candidate and party to you then, though not for lack of serious trying. You vote for person and party, the latter by voting for the former, or should you wish not to be bothered with identifying and helping a particular person running under that banner, you can just put choices down for just the party and abstain from influencing which ones win. But at least you know the ones who win with your help are of that party. In fact you are encouraged to pick a person to back too, as your inclinations lead you to do the research. You can default to the local candidate if any and many will do just that.

In the frame of district races, it is sort of assumed by default you will in fact choose among candidates actually running in your district–presumably some faction that is extremely weak to the point of nonexistence in your bailiwick won’t bother to put someone up. Most people in a district will want, if they can get it, to elect someone who is actually local, and so one can infer that lots of the people around around you between them make sure their span of various interest groups is largely covered.

Say in UK elections, I observe there are districts where Labour runs against Tories as one might expect, but then others where either it is Labour versus Liberal Democrats or Lib Dems versus Tory. Plaid Cymru in Wales seems to often face off against a LibDem and neither Labour nor a Tory. Some districts have Greens running in them, some don’t. Presumably all this is a reflection of the individuality of particular districts, their varied demographics.

So it depends to a great extent where you live in a large society, and typically this will mean in traditional systems that lack of a local candidate for a party you like the most already forces you to abandon your true values and settle for the least evil compromise based on what your neighbors like. But of course if one is a typical person in the neighborhood, and not say a Scot in Cornwall or Welsh in Northern Ireland, the existing district candidates already are quite likely to include someone who suits you pretty well, and if you can get them elected, the fact they are organically linked to you by being a neighbor is quite valuable, and would tend to blunt the sharpness of any fanatical search for just the most perfect candidate in the world. They may be out there, but the local one is local and if good enough, defaulting to the traditional way most voting systems have evolved works out fine for a lot of people.

So now most anything you agonize about seems only likely to arise if one is in fact not in the mainstream of one’s current residence. But still, the odds are high that somewhere else out there in a big diverse country, there are places where people who share your values pretty closely are to be found in large numbers.

Hence my concern to leave each voter’s option open to support any faction running anywhere, transfer should I opt to my support to any specific candidate anywhere. I most certainly do not have to scan the sites of thousands of candidates if my local zone offers me one good enough for me! They are on my ballot by name already.

But if I am an odd duck locally, for any reason, it is of the nature of my situation I have more work cut out for me–that’s not oppression, that’s just life not giving everyone absolutely even breaks.

But it is not that hard, especially if I am not afraid or ashamed or something of using Party. People who think like me, who like what I like, fear what I fear, have dreams that I share, are liable to have made their mark somewhere, and all I have to do is recognize them. Identifying them, checking them out to make sure the hype is based firmly on concrete deeds and sound principles and reasoning as I define it, I will probably learn of one person or another who stands out as a special hero.

You know, one reason I like this exhausting dives, “Tranches” perhaps I might say? into detailed election data and teasing out the more obscure types is learning the unique stories of each independent who could have won if only the system were positively representative.

A lady named Claire Wright in East Devon, England, was in fact a close runner up to the Tory victor, and got more votes than another independent woman who did win, in Northern Ireland, FPTP, and would be the first of several British independents who could have entered the House of Commons in 2017. I liked her values and priorities a lot–maybe not enough to divert me from a harder core social democrat as certain Labour candidates would have been, had I one choice, but enough perhaps to throw her a bone, or even bet it all knowing that probably the overall electorate won’t do too badly and I am not solely the lone superhero voter whose single vote shall change the world.

The story of next after her, of Salma Yaquob, running in Bradford West, West Yorkshire, was less inspiring in terms of nearness to victory–she came in fourth, and with far less than a typical quota that would be needed (but who knows what spreading her campaign net wider to other districts might have got her?) but quite intriguing as to bringing a specific ethnic and cultural perspective to the body in the person of someone coming across as very humane, smart, and courageous to me.

Next in potential British positive representation indie winners in 2017 was a fellow named Scott Raven, who ran in the Speaker district, where the traditional large parties agree not to run in competition with the Speaker being reelected as formally non-partisan. (Commons should just exempt the Speaker from having to run at all, and suspend the district office of MP completely for that district, and let all parties freely run with the understanding all they can do is contribute to party totals, and potentially provide make up winners–probability of that much enhanced because even the largest would not automatically ascend on the basis of FPTP–but therefore almost surely do so as a top off member!) He seemed a fine earnest humane young man and I wish him well in the future.

In American races, in certain Senate schemes I have toyed with, former long term South Dakota Republican Senator and Vietnam veteran Larry Pressler could have been elected as an independent in the mid-2010s.

An Iranian-American from Maryland might have been elected under the right conditions in the same time frame; a woman in Alaska in 2016 had some rather intriguing looking credentials on immigration reform and particularly involving those who have served in US armed forces–a veteran herself, my main qualm would have been listing support of the Federalist Society.

A guy named Greg Ormond would be a shoo-in under almost any conceivable reformed Senate system, from Kansas in 2014.

Now none of these intriguing could have been Senators hits my hard left values, but I think in the context of the Senate we have their impact could have been catalytic and transformative.

In 2018 a party named Working Class in the state of Michigan won enough votes in two district races to earn a sure place under almost any reasonably House of Representatives reform; the front runner for it who would be personally elected would come from the same Detroit district Rashida Tlaib did, and I believe they would work pretty well together in the House.

Meanwhile elsewhere not too far away in a quite different neighborhood of Detroit, the conservative Reform party might also elect its single national representative. So you see, diving into the options, it is not all that hard to come up with some pretty good ones.

If I have only one choice but it could be anyone in the nation, running anywhere, I think I would not want a sure thing, unless it were to cast a strong vote of confidence for someone I judge absolute superstar best–off the cuff, right now probably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But in fact I bet under such a system, if I e-mailed AOC’s campaign her people would direct me to instead support someone else, who needs my vote more–and I would comply because I think I can trust this smart and courageous and visionary woman and any people she chooses to have around her. That’s the kind of partisanship I am talking about–find the best according to your values and back them. So AOC and the Squad generally spreading their net wider is exactly what I want to see happen, and honestly think is the way forward for all the people of the USA and the best hope for a better USA around the world.

AOC and Squad need country cousins and if they were in fact to vet some long shot Democrat who was running in New Mexico, or Arizona, or Idaho, or just maybe conceivably the same person who is right on my north Nevada local CD ballot, I’d listen to them.

And so what if my single vote for that candidate fails, either to win the district (a long shot for sure in half the places I just named, including my own home district–this NV CD has everything outside of Clark County you see, all the rural parts of the whole knife-edge balanced state) or even as a partisan top off later…so what, I at least voted Democratic and generically helped the big tent party I’ve settled for all my adult life, and now (in this alternative positive representation scenario!) would clearly be shifting in what I call the right direction.

So imagine instead AOC’s people said no, we’re joining forces with an expanding Working Class Party, vote for this guy in Michigan or that lady in Washington instead? Again I’d pretty much trust them to know what they are doing! I would do the research of course, check out that the WCP is what its name tells me it ought to be for real, check out their strategy and the assets in terms of winning for the candidates, if they can get support from people like me–and bye bye Democratic party, we had our ups and downs together but we’re going our own way now, hope you and the rising WCP delegation can work together a lot! Till then, bye!

So–it behooves you to align your values with some people seriously on the same page in serious numbers if you want a seat in the US House, of course. But it should not be that hard to do really, if again votes are being gathered on a national scale! If you can in fact identify and trust some people you admire and support them.

You note I did not feel the need to put my irons into the fire of the Greens and a bunch of other newfangled parties there. Just one will do, if it is the right party. If I honestly feel that absolutely nowhere is a movement jelling I can put myself behind 100 percent, I can just focus on voting for some progressive Democrat, and if I overall like what the Dems have been up to lately (today its yes as a whole, no as far as stupid leadership decisions go) I can just coast on voting for the sad sack doomed candidate (often great people, but dooooomed, in our conservative dominated district) right here in my own district just like traditional voting. One and done in that case.

Honestly if I think some Green (a good Green I mean, the details of their candidacies lately have been pretty offputting) is out there teetering on the edge but a little push from me can get them in, maybe I’ll figure the Democrats can wing it without me this one year, and who knows, maybe that year turns into decades and the rest of my life. Then my one and done might be for some new party none of us has heard of yet, and certainly is not on the Nevada ballot.

A lot hinges on being able to vote off ballot if you want to you see. But seriously how are you going to devise a sensible system for electing even just 435 Reps without most voters relying on party one way or another? Will the cult of “parties are bad, only vote for individuals untainted!” seriously stretch to making really expressive choices without arbitrarily chaining people’s options to whatever their local district has to offer? It generally will serve most people well, but we know there are large numbers that will not, why privilege the former over the latter?

So I think you have the picture diametrically backwards and perhaps a major reason is someone has drilled in a mantra into your head that Thou Shalt Not Truck With Parties. But Parties are a tool in your hands, to use, if we can escape this FPTP single district rep only system we are manacled with. When representation is positive, the symbiosis between person, be they each scattered voter or each contending candidate, and party as their common and mutually supportive bond will shake down into the main aspect of normal party operation. That is if we don’t let the fine print foist nonsense on us like 5 percent hurdles and all that crap.

As for surety, this is politics, and democratic politics. None of us are anointed the sole True Messiah, whose single votes shall save or damn the world. If you and I have positive representation, so do our neighbors and our friends–and our foes. We all get to vote, and it is the people together who determine the outcome, not you or me. Best we bet on what we sincerely believe is best then, rather than anxiously trying to secure multiple compromise lifelines against the worst we fear our worst neighbors might try.

You know there just ain’t no lower limit on on bad, things can always be worse and if we imagine the “worst” our lives will be endlessly haunted by either our fears coming true–or something we couldn’t even conceive of that is even worse doing so instead. If we focus on what good we can do, how to put our shoulders to the right wheels, how to navigate up to the higher ground for all of us, I honestly think we will be more surprised by what unanticipated successes we can win.

So your vision of how to do that and mine might be diametrically opposed, or so it seems, and perhaps one of us must give. But probably that one will be one who is least tied to others, who is most devoted to a single vision, my way or the highway, who is least flexible. Sheer bloody minded determination can be a kind of winner, but mainly if it just happens to connect to some deep and broad principle that serves many well. And agonizing over whether one dares show 10 percent more support for A one likes best over B who is being backed to prevent F from winning instead does not show that sort of single-mindedness either frankly.

Be bold, you might win. Be timid and surely someone else wins every time.

A candidate who knows they will win a quota of votes doesn’t have an incentive to work with others. The idea of cardinal PR is that, at least within each multi-member district, candidates are elected based on having the most (reweighted) points, rather than automatically winning based off quota preference; this allows someone outside the quota to at least try to offer support to one of the several candidates vying for that quota’s support. With a “zero-sum” FPTP-based method, there is a hard limit on how many candidates there can be vying to represent a quota, and thus it is much harder for others to try to influence that quota’s representative, because a) they need to preserve their vote to elect the candidate they prefer for their own quota and b) they’ll have to game out which person in the other quota might be likely to win, and then decide whether it’s worth compromising with them or not. Instead of that, just let several candidates run, the voters can max-rate all or any of them, and voters outside a quota have an easier time influencing some of those candidates with 1/5s. Within the framework of majority rule, this seems more likely to elect compromising candidates without forcing any great loss of proportionality if voters want it.

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