Negative Voting

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayIt’s been 16 years since I first announced in print my idea to change the American electoral process. Since then, my negative voting movement has gained absolutely no momentum, while election results have only affirmed my position.

In the summer of 2000, anyone could see the country was headed down the crapper. George W. Bush and Albert A. Gore — two of the country’s most hated men — were the favorites to become president. No one else stood a chance. I didn’t know the outcome of that election would be as controversial as it was, but obviously the result wasn’t going to be popular whether it was Bush or Gore ascending to the White House. It was clear our voting process was backward. It was time for negative voting.

When I launched the negative voting movement in June of 2000, it was already too late to save that fall’s election, and today it’s too late to fix the 2016 campaign. The timing is perfect, however, to get on the right path for 2020. So allow me to explain the simple change that would fix our broken democracy.

Negative voting is a simple reversal of the traditional way of voting. Instead of selecting the least objectionable representative of a major party, Americans would instead vote for the person on the ballot they dislike the most. The candidate with the fewest votes would win.

Under such a system, George Bush, Al Gore, Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders and any similar radical nutjob would have no chance of winning an election. They would be simply too unpopular for the office. Americans couldn’t resist voting for them.

Movie stars and headline grabbers would be impossible to elect because of their name recognition. Only those who avoid the spotlight would stand a chance of not getting enough votes to win.

Campaign finance reform would no longer be an issue because candidates would have no need for money. Keeping a low profile would be the only way to avoid getting votes. Also, term limits wouldn’t be necessary because getting re-elected to any office would be nearly impossible.

More Americans would vote under this system because there would be no sense of responsibility for electing anyone. No matter what the results would be, everyone who voted could say all they did was vote against someone.

Clearly, negative voting is America’s opportunity to turn its political frown upside down. And all it requires is reversing the system completely.

SpowlRibbonPaul Lundgren is author of The Spowl Ribbon, a book released in 2010 that finally broke even in 2015. Publishing success!

1 Comment

David Beard

about 7 years ago

This is so dry -- I want to smile and even giggle at some of it.

And yet I think it would make sense to try.  I remember a maxim about university administration -- that anyone who wants to be an administrator should probably not be allowed to become one.

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