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Random Anti-Voting

Some unknown guy on the street could do a better job.
  (+9, -2)
(+9, -2)
  [vote for,

All voting systems involving choosing a candidate, no matter how well-designed and fair the system is, suffer from the same flaw: they end up electing a politician.

As Douglas Adams said, "Anyone who is capable of getting themselves made President should on no account be allowed to do the job."

The more important the office, the more it will be interfered with by politics. But on this large a scale, simply choosing someone at random (as in "Selection, not Election") could very well result in choosing a real bastard who would revel in his suddenly-acquired power.

So, here's how to narrow down the choices. Each voter gets up to 10 anti-votes, with which he names anyone whom he thinks should not be President. Anyone who gets at least one anti-vote is eliminated from the pool of candidates. So, actively trying to become President and drawing attention to yourself would only get you anti-voted immediately.

There will probably be millions of inconspicuous, unknown people who get no votes. The winner of the anti-election is chosen randomly from these eligible candidates.

The random selection would have to be held in a publicly viewable way, such as someone picking digits from a Bingo machine to form a Social Security number, and repeating until an eligible candidate is chosen.

The result is that the President is someone whom nobody particularly cares about, and who might not want to be President all that much. He could decline the position and cause a new person to be selected; the result would be the same as simply anti-voting for oneself in the first place. The final selectee would likely be someone entirely ambivalent to being the President.

PurpleBob, Oct 20 2001

Switzerland is an exception; this country is a direct democracy http://home-1.tisca.../~chbeun/page3.html
Switzerland was in 1971 also the last western country to introduce women's suffrage [cypherpunks, Oct 20 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]

Ficus 2000 campaign http://www.commondr...lines/060100-02.htm
"The ficus campaign has recaptured voters' imagination in a way no other candidate can, by offering a real choice: politician or potted plant." [MrWrong, Oct 20 2001, last modified Oct 04 2004]


       <chuckle> That’s so logically insular it *has* to work. Croissant for the image of a presidential inauguration involving a confused hermit. Complete with scruffy beard, flannelette shirt and overalls, he suspiciously eyes his cabinet of babies, fifty-something bachelors, and angry loners as they are made leaders of the free world.
sdm, Oct 20 2001

       So you'd end up with the blind--er, sight-impaired--leading the smart-impaired?
Dog Ed, Oct 20 2001

       I can't find a reference, but I think this has been discussed semi-seriously by political theorists, perhaps not for electing a president, but for picking a jury-style group who will have some power to vote on legislation. After all, if randomly-chosen people (generally those either not paid enough to make bunking off jury service worthwhile, or too stupid to think of an excuse) can decide on the fate of a murderer, why not have them decide on fisheries policy?
pottedstu, Oct 20 2001

       Works for me.
DrBob, Oct 20 2001

       Ten votes each? That would mean that it would only take ten percent of the electorate, together with access to the electoral roll (or rather the list of eligible presidents) to completely rig the election.

       Think that sounds far fetched? Imagine a militant socialist group, circulating the names of all rich people among their members, so that each rich person gets one vote each. As membership of the militants increases, the threshold for being blacklisted drops right through the middle classes until...
...the eventual winner is one of the computer crackers who've managed to get their name removed from the distributed lists, or [sdm]'s baffled hermit.

Negative votes for self-promoting politicians is an interesting idea in general. However, if there's one thing I dislike more than strutting self-important windbags, it's the anonymous politician who cheerily claims their salary, plus expenses and free travel, and contributes diddly-squat to the running of the country. Unfortunately penalising a high public profile would breed thousands of these leeches.
Lemon, Oct 22 2001

       What a stupid idea! Politicians _must_ constantly promote themselves. If they don't, we don't know who they are, and we don't know what the hell they are going to decide on behalf of us. The more important the office, the _more_ politics should interfere with it.
Herman, Oct 22 2001

       Reminds me of Michael Moore's 'Ficus 2000' campaign -- he proposed that electing a ficus plant would be no worse than re-electing the incumbant congressman somewhere in NJ (see Link).
MrWrong, Oct 22 2001

       Something similar was done for a long time in several Ancient Greek states, but they went a bit further - they actually ran their man out of town for a year. That's what 'ostracism' was.   

       So, on the one hand, it's sort of baked, but on the other hand, it's known to work in practise; some high-profile politicians survived, provided that there was at least one even more unpopular person in town each year.   

       Change the numbers (ten is too many) and I'd bun it. For some offices. Maybe not the top job.
pertinax, Jun 21 2006


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