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A rad political idea--Would require constitutional amendment

I owe the following idea to my husband, who handed it to me last night:

Negative votes.

The more you think about it, the better it sounds. Here's approximately how it would work. In presidential elections, you have one vote. You can make it positive for a given candidate or negative against a candidate. You can spend it, positively or negatively, only one time. The popular vote for states would still be counted only within a state, as it presently is, and electoral votes would still go to the electors for the winner of the state popular vote, winner take all, as they presently are. So your negative vote could not negate a vote from a different state.

That's all.

Well, obviously, that can't be all, because with this set-up in place it would be possible in principle, though overwhelmingly unlikely, that all the state popular votes would come up zero for all candidates and hence that no candidate would get any electoral votes. And if even one state came up zero, no electoral votes would be counted from that state, which would doubtless cause some problems somewhere or other, in the form of resentment, if nothing else.

There would have to be a just-in-case set-up in place to deal with the situation in which no one won the election and it had to be done over. The term of office of the incumbent might have to be extended in such a situation. But, again, it is enormously unlikely that all popular votes would be canceled out in all states, and as long as somebody gets some electoral college votes, there will be a new President in January just as always.

It seems to me that this mechanism would encourage the development of additional parties and the courting of disaffected voters. No longer could anyone even try the argument that you must vote for A, as otherwise you are doing nothing to oppose B. Voters who could not in conscience vote for either candidate could indicate their perception of the greater evil by casting a vote against the candidate who represents the greater evil.

Name recognition would be a two-edged sword. The two viable party candidates would be more likely to receive negative votes than relatively unknown third (and fourth and fifth) party candidates.

A positive vote would, in such a system, be more obviously something to be earned than something that falls to a candidate as of right.

There's a lot to like about this idea. What do you think?

Comments (9)

I suspect this stellar idea has occurred to many over the years; myself included. Actually, I'd like to see it used for all elected offices. People being risk averse, and politicians being pretty much universally unappealing, I expect nearly all candidates would receive net negative tallies. The candidate coming closest to zero (remember, we're dealing with negative numbers) would be declared the winner and, unlike now, should enter office with an appropriate degree of humility (assuming it's even possible for a politician to be humble). Yikes ... that many people hate me?! has a more sedating effect on the psyche than does God, do they love me, or what?!

So let's a assume that this system were in place right now. We'd still be making arguments for who is the greater or lesser of the two evils, and some people would say silly things like "a negative vote for Obama is a positive vote for McCain. If you vote against Obama, you are supporting evil by assisting McCain's chances." Or the other way 'round. In this situation I'd definitely negate Obama, and risk the fallout. You could have really interesting situations come up where one candidate wins both the positive and negative vote. That would make for plenty work for the the spin-meisters. "Our guy won the positive vote." "Yeah, he won the negative vote too. More people hate your guy than our guy." Etc.

I like it though. It opens up the options, and it definitely means that a positive vote means more. Here's a sub-question:

If the McGrews got on a ticket together and ran for the Whitehouse, who would be Pres. and who would be Veep?

If 0 were equal to 1, what would be the value of pi?


Meaning, the McGrews will _never_ run for political office.

But Mr. McGrew would be Pres.

I love it. Much better than "none of the above."

Wonderful idea.

If 0 were equal to 1, what would be the value of pi?

(yeah, sing a song bro...)
If the sun refused to shine
I dont mind, I dont mind
If the mountains ah, fell in the sea
Let it be, it aint me.
(well, all right)

Got my own world to live through and uh, ha !
And I aint gonna copy you.

Yeah (sing the song brother...)
Now if uh, six uh, huh, turned out to be nine
Oh I dont mind, I dont mind uh ( well all right... )
If all the hippies cut off all their hair
Oh I dont care, oh I dont care.

cause Ive got my own world to live through and uh, huh
And I aint gonna copy you.

White collar conservative flashin down the street
Pointin their plastic finger at me, ha !
Theyre hopin soon my kind will drop and die but uh
Im gonna wave my freak flag high, high !
Oww !

Wave on, wave on...

Ah, ha, ha
Fall mountains, just dont fall on me
Go ahead on mister business man, you cant dress like me
Yeah !

Dont nobody know what Im talkin about
Ive got my own life to live
Im the one thats gonna die when its time for me to die
So let me live my life the way I want to
Yeah, sing on brother, play on drummer

Fair enough, Lydia! The idea may not have been yours but you did inspire it :-)

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

Every vote would be politically relevant and equal in a presidential election.

The bill would take effect only when enacted, in identical form, by states possessing a majority of the electoral votes—that is, enough electoral votes to elect a President (270 of 538). When the bill comes into effect, all the electoral votes from those states would be awarded to the presidential candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states (and DC).

The National Popular Vote bill has passed 21 state legislative chambers, including one house in Arkansas, Colorado, Maine, North Carolina, and Washington, and both houses in California, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The bill has been enacted by Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey, and Maryland. These four states possess 50 electoral votes — 19% of the 270 necessary to bring the law into effect.

See http://www.NationalPopularVote.com

Regarding that double-edged sword... What about this negative-vote system scenario:

Three candidates are running: McCain, Obama, and, say, Paris Hilton--the idea being a third candidate clearly even less qualified (I think) than either of the big two.

Just considering one state (how 'bout California?), let's say hardly anyone knows that Ms. Hilton is running (maybe she was too busy shopping to campaign).

The votes tally up to:

Obama with -100 votes.
McCain with -50 votes.
Ms. Hilton with 2 votes (maybe a couple guys heard about it at a party and thought it'd be great).

So, in this situation someone unknown or normally (and thankfully) unelectable (Ms. Hilton) wins California with a total of 2 votes?

Ghastly! :)


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