Voting System Improvements November 2016

There are a lot of good arguments for why voting is not done online in the United States, but despite these, I still believe that we will one day figure it out. There was a day when nobody thought there would ever be a black president too, but that didn’t stop us.

Assuming we get online voting, there are two other huge improvements we could make to the system. It seems that elections are very delicate systems that are easily skewed by minor things such as the weather and the medium of their debates.

Given that level of volatility, the system could be made more robust and less sensitive to single, one-off events by taking a simple moving average of the populations’ voting decisions. This is commonly used in stock market analysis to see long-term trends in markets that have a lot of moment-to-moment noise. Since a volatile stock’s value can change massively from one hour to the next based on momentary events or sudden fluctuations in supply and demand, looking at it’s actual price over time isn’t that meaningful - you are seeing an over-representation of minor events such as a press release or an executive’s stock sale in the stock’s price before the price has had a chance to reach a market equilibrium. Taking a moving average shows a more accurate representation of what the true value of the stock is. Similarly, the fact that it rains in one state on a given day should not have a factor in who becomes president of the United States next. The system should be more robust than that.

Implementing a simple-moving-average style of voting would be easy if voting was done online. Voters would vote numerous times - perhaps every two months - leading up to the election, for the final six months of the election. Whichever candidate the population voted for the most times overall would win.

Finally, the system could be improved if we used a ranked voting system allowing voters to rank their choices in the order of who they would most like and least like to fill a position. This would allow third parties and independent candidates to more fairly enter the election. As the system is now, if someone wants to vote for an independent candidate but knows that candidate has little chance of winning, they actually increase the odds of the opposing major-party candidate winning, so it’s unusual for voters to deviate from major-party candidates.