Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Preferential Voting Could Save Pro-Life Voters in the Next Election

I want to make a suggestion for a project for voting Catholics to work on for the next four years:

Preferential (aka Ranked) Voting

It's called "Ranked Voting" or "Preferential Voting". According to Mark Monmonier's Bushmanders and Bullwinkles: How Politicians Manipulate Electronic Maps and Census Data to Win Elections this practice is used in other parts of the world that don't suffer through a strict two-party system. Some of us who consider ourselves conservative pro-life Catholics and Christians of other stripes find ourselves grumbling about the current state of things, especially after this most recent electoral disappointment where we await the most liberal and pro-abortion President in American History.

Some of us wonder if a third party could serve us better. I think it's premature for conservative Christians to push for the creation of a strong third party right now. A third party would be in big trouble in a hurry if it somehow materialized tomorrow.

Ranked or Preferential Voting would ensure that in the future there WILL be room for more parties. Basically, it ENSURES that you never "throw your vote away", as some people claim third party voting does to one's vote. It does this by giving the voter that a single transferable vote that transfers to second and third choices as the voter's choices are knocked out, allowing us to vote for big party candidates as a contingency, but to show our support for a hypothetical third party of our choice first. And hopefully, we'd one day see a third party of more authentically pro-life representatives and senators in our States and in Washington D.C. I strongly believe that this won't come until preferential voting, or some other way of voting, comes first.

Let's take an example that doesn't involve me suggesting the Constitution Party. Say you take a guy who, for God knows what reason, is voting in a Presidential election and he leans toward the Green Party, likes the Libertarian party a little less, but always ends up voting Democratic. In this previous election, his vote would be applied to Obama because in the first two rounds of processing, the Green and Libertarian candidates would be knocked out. Read the article cited for a better explanation. Again, I maintain that this would allow us to put a future, admittedly pie-in-the-sky-idealistic, third party candidate on the ballot. I just want to see that option!

Many Pro-life Catholics tend to vote Republican either enthusiastically or with a grain of salt, and the GOP's policies could definitely be improved upon for our purposes. Even conservative pro-lifers working against abortion should also be working against the death penalty and unethical torture practices, and believers of Catholic just war doctrine have problems with pre-emptive war, all of which are baggage that the Republican party carries.

According to one Steve Skojek (quoted here),
"We've heard a lot of talk this election cycle (and the one before it . . . and the one before that . . .) about stopping a great evil by voting for a lesser one. And yet, the only certain outcome of constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is the perpetuation of evil."
I agree, although I'm hesitant to call either party evil in and of itself. My own family fights over this: we're all pro-life and we hate having to choose parties right now; we're a house divided in this way.

I would love to hear what people think about Preferential voting. I think it could lead to a lot of good and is the one thing that could finally shake the complacent bipartisan system and force the Republican party to compete for Pro-life votes by producing more results! Even better it could inaugurate another party, espousing better Catholic ideals that even Evangelicals and other people of faith could get behind. We need to use our current frustration and unleash it on some new goal to fix our country before it goes through a "parting of the ways", as Father Benedict Groeschel has speculated.

Image Credit:

* Sample ballot image created in MSPaint by Tom Ruen (For public domain)

edits: bear with me, I'm improving my writing little by little


Lauren said...

I definitely agree with you that we need to be whole hearted pro-life approach in all aspects of human life (from conception to a natural death!) Change is needed!

Preferential voting is an excellent idea... but I wonder how likely it is that our government's voting system would change and how long it would take. Instead of focusing on the government, I think the Church should strengthen prolife efforts, preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth, and teaching its followers the specifics of choosing life in the Spirit and turning from death and sin's destruction.

Preferential voting sounds like it could make a great impact on voting changing politics and eventually legislation (whether good or bad). I believe our best bet is in sending forth Christians to live out and actively promote a culture of life in our country again. "Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God." (Psalm 20:7)

tour86rocker said...

Bro. Andy,

I think you're referring to the visual aide...it's just an example from Wikipedia. I don't know of any ballots that really limit you to three.

Are you saying that Australia requires one to rank EVERY candidate in a particular race? I don't think one normally has to rank candidates that they don't want their vote to go to.