TRY OUT THE VOTE
Here is a chance to try out the different voting systems, and see how some of them can alter the will
of the people.
This virtual voting machine allows you to try out three different voting systems, and see how some of them divide
voting blocs, emphasize marginal candidates, and cause other strange problems. You can pretend to be seven different
voters, so you can see how votes affect each other. Instructions follow on how to use each of the voting machines,
and how to activate the examples:
- PLURALITY VOTING
The Plurality Voting System requires you to select only ONE candidate. In doing so, you vote AGAINST all of the
- Click on the button next to the candidate's name to vote for him.
- Select "(Reset)" to clear the vote for that voter.
- APPROVAL VOTING
The Approval Voting System allows you to vote for ANY candidate, but you can't vote against anything.
- Check the box next to the name of each candidate you want to vote for.
- Press the "RESET" button to clear the vote for just that voter.
- INDEPENDENT VOTING
The Independent Voting System allows you to vote for or against ALL candidates.
- Check the YES box next to the name of each candidate you want to vote for.
- Check the NO box next to the name of each candidate you want to vote against.
- To abstain on a particular candidate, either leave both boxes unchecked, or check both boxes.
- Abstaining allows the voter to express approval of a candidate without preferring that candidate. It is also
used when the voter knows nothing about the candidate.
- Press the "RESET" button to clear the vote for just that voter.
- TALLYING THE VOTES
Push the button next to "TALLY BALLOTS" to find out the results of the votes you cast.
- STARTING OVER
Push the button next to "RESET BALLOTS" to remove the votes you cast, so you can start over.
- ABOUT VOTER BLOCS
Voter blocs are voters who vote on an issue. When several candidates support a single issue, these voters
tend to support all of the candidates who agree with them on an issue. The issue represented in this page is
Proposition A. The candidates are divided as follows:
- Candidates supporting Proposition A are listed in green.
- Candidates opposing Proposition A are listed in red.
- Undecided candidates are listed in yellow.
- FINDING OUT ABOUT VOTER BLOC SPLITTING
Push the button next to "2-WAY SPLIT" to see how the Plurality Voting System can divide a voter bloc
when multiple candidates support that bloc's beliefs. In this case, the voter bloc comprises 57 % of the voters,
and supports Proposition A. But because the voters must choose between two similar candidates, the voting bloc is
diluted between them. In order to win, these voters would have to illegally collude to all vote for the same
- HOW BLOC SPLITTING INCREASES WITH MORE CANDIDATES
Push the button next to "3-WAY SPLIT" to see how the Plurality Voting System divides the voter bloc
even more when more candidates support that bloc's beliefs. In this case, the voter bloc still comprises 57 % of
the voters, and supports Proposition A. But this time, candidate Phat also expressed a support for Proposition A,
but not as strongly. But because the voters must choose between three similar candidates, the voting bloc is
diluted even more between them. So the Plurality Voting System selects an oddball over mainstream candidates in
- HOW APPROVAL VOTING AMPLIFIES MARGINAL SUPPORT FOR CANDIDATES
Push the button next to "OVERSIZED MARGINAL SUPPORT" to see how marginally approving a candidate
results in election of a candidate that nobody really wants.
- COMBINED EFFECTS
Push "2-WAY SPLIT & MARGINAL SUPPORT" to observe the combination of both effects. Notice that each
of the three election systems produces a different winner. The Plurality system splits the bloc, and the
Approval system magnifies marginal support. The Independent Voting System removes both biases.
- YOU CAN VOTE PLURALITY IN THE INDEPENDENT VOTING SYSTEM
If you wish to cast a Plurality system vote under the Independent Voting System, do this:
- Check the YES box for your preferred candidate.
- Check all of the NO boxes for the other candidates.
- YOU CAN VOTE APPROVAL IN THE INDEPENDENT VOTING SYSTEM
If you wish to cast an Approval system vote under the Independent Voting System, do this:
- Check the YES box for your preferred candidates.
- Do not check any NO boxes.
- ABOUT THE CONDORCET AND RANKING SYSTEMS
The Condorcet and ranking systems require complex systems of buttons (for these candidates, 16 buttons per ballot)
which won't fit on this page. These systems also introduce drawbacks:
- It is impossible to support two candidates equally.
- The systems do not allow a certain vote against more than one candidate.
- For a candidate ranked in the middle, the system can't tell if the voter likes or dislikes that candidate.
HOW BLOC SPLITTING IN THE PLURALITY VOTING SYSTEM CHANGED U.S. PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS
The bloc splitting in the unfair Plurality Voting System changed the outcomes of the following US Presidential
- In 2000, Ralph Nader took enough votes away from Al Gore to hand 2 states, 29 electoral votes, and
the election to George Bush Jr.
- In 1996, Ross Perot didn't garner enough votes to change the outcome, but he did take 8 states and
93 electoral votes away from Robert Dole, giving them to Bill Clinton.
- In 1992, Ross Perot took enough votes away from George Bush Sr. to hand 29 states, 262 electoral
votes, and the election to Bill Clinton.
- In 1980, John Anderson didn't garner enough votes to change the outcome, but he did take 9 states
and 122 electoral votes away from Jimmy Carter, giving them to Ronald Reagan.
- In 1968, George Wallace took enough votes away from Hubert Humphrey to hand 21 states and the
election to Richard Nixon. But that is assuming that all of the Wallace voters would have voted for Humphrey. With
the Vietnam-war protest vote being against Humphrey, the election results might not have changed.
- In 1960, only the fact that Harry Byrd was not on the ballot in all states saved John Kennedy from
the bloc-splitting effect of the Plurality Voting System.
- In 1912, Theodore Roosevelt took enough votes away from William Taft to hand 29 states and the
election to Woodrow Wilson.
- In 1892, James Weaver took enough votes away from Benjamin Harrison to hand 7 states, 49 electoral
votes, and the election to Grover Cleveland.
- In 1860, John Breckenridge took enough votes away from Stephen Douglas to hand 14 states and the
election to Abraham Lincoln.
Note that I use the old convention of red for Democrat and blue for Republican, which was based on finding the
letters of the color in the spelling of the party name.