A Letter explaining Range Voting to Ralph Nader

Dear Ralph Nader.

I am a mathematician and founder of a new activist group with webpage

We are promoting RANGE VOTING (RV), a better kind of voting:
  1. each voter gives a score in a fixed range (say 0-to-9) to every candidate. (Possible example vote: Nader=9, Kerry=9, Cobb=5, Bush=0.) candidate with highest average score wins.

You recognize that the voting system in the USA is a big problem preventing candidates like you from getting anywhere. Your bitter experience indeed has been that you even running at all is viewed as a "traitorous" and self-defeating act. Unfortunately there is some truth to that.

Many insiders feel the Green Party in 2004 was hijacked by Democratic operatives intent on "no Nader" who gave us Cobb. Although Cobb ran on a platform quite similar to yours, he pledged not to campaign in "swing states" and generally was less appealing than you due to Cobb's less-impressive resume than yours (and his comparative lack of determination). Similarly the effectiveness of the Socialists also is massively reduced due to the fact they too are split into competing fragments.

Learn from all this. Fix the underlying cause of the problem.

If we had RANGE VOTING, then

  1. The Democrats would not have even been interested in TRYING to split up the Greens and sabotage you! Because with range voting "vote splitting" does NOT EXIST so Nader's candidacy could not have hurt Kerry. In fact Nader by running actually, genuinely, clearly, indisputably, would have helped Kerry by agreeing with him more than Bush. (Unless Nader actually won the presidency, of course.) The Dems would have viewed you as an ally not an enemy & traitor. More logical... healthier...
  2. The 2-party control stranglehold would gradually disappear.
  3. Cobb's "I pledge to be inoffensive and not to try hard" platform seemed inherently insane. But it made some sense BECAUSE of today's plurality voting system. The only reason the GP went with Cobb (Democratic ops or no) was because enough members of the GP saw and appreciated that "logic." However, that logic simply would not have existed with range voting.
  4. The different Socialist party fragments would no longer be bitterly competing for votes, but again would act as allies each causing the other to get more votes - genuinely, clearly, and indisputably. Healthier. More logical.
  5. Voting Nader actually helps cause BOTH Nader and the most Nader-like major-party candidate to BOTH lose - voter honesty is a self-defeating act. With range voting, that is no longer the case.

OK. You need to support RANGE VOTING.

Both you and Cobb have mentioned Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) in approving tones. That looks like a good move on the surface, but really it's a suicidal mistake. IRV is promoted by the Center for Voting and Democracy (CVD) as a cure-all for the problems we have with plurality voting. Wrong: IRV leads to 2-party domination, just like the present plurality voting system - and unfortunately neither Cobb, you, or the CVD have shown much sign of recognizing that. The reasons why we know IRV leads to 2-party domination are on our web subsite


OK? So IRV is simply suicidal for third parties to advocate. Other reasons third parties should stay away from IRV and favor range:

IRV could be viewed as yet another Democratic Party Plot and the CVD as a front group for the major parties – or might as well be even if they aren't. Unfortunately the Dems are laughing hysterically at you (or should be) for falling for that one. You need to slam them back in their seats by reversing course and promoting range voting.

In 2004 Greene, Quintal, and I conducted an exit-poll range voting presidential election study.

The results were
Canddt     Plurality Vote%    Avg Range Vote Score (0-100 scale)
------     ---------------    ----------------------------------
Bush          50.7              40
Kerry         48.3              55
Nader          0.38             25
Cobb           0.10              5
          (US wide)          (NY state suburbs)
Notice that Nader would have got 83 TIMES AS MANY VOTES (relative to Bush) using range voting. Cobb would have got 63 TIMES AS MANY VOTES (relative to Bush) if we were using range voting.

"Hello!" (You should now be saying.)

In fact every 3rd party candidate would have got OVER 50 TIMES as many votes with range voting. Every. Over 50 times.

And 83 and 63 and 50 are just the tip of the iceberg: if you and your ilk got this many votes, then you'd get more funding (since why should people donate to candidates with no chance?) and more support and have more and better quality candidates running under your banners. (Since why should lot of good candidates want to run if they know they have no chance?) And the media would cover you all more (since you would be getting more votes and have more chances). That would drive these factors up even more. And fratricidal competition between, e.g. 5 different flavors of socialists would no longer mean 5 times fewer votes for each. That's another factor of 5 right there.


Do you see now the immense distortion in democracy caused by our current flawed voting system? This is not democracy at all. In 2000 I conducted a computer simulation study of about 30 different voting methods. It found that that the quality improvement with range voting is comparable to the quality improvement got by the very invention of democracy in the first place. (Which is generally considered to be big.)

That means supporting range voting is one of the biggest possible improvements to the human condition that could be attained with as little effort.

Now at this point you may ask: ok, how are you actually going to get range voting to HAPPEN? Well, we have a new strategy: Get the Dems & Repubs to want it. We claim they do want it in their IOWA 2008 presidential caucuses. because if (say) the Repubs but not the Dem party adopts RV in their caucuses, it will

"Hello." (is what, again, you should be thinking.)

So all we need to do is get big enough and endorsed enough soon enough so the top Dems & Repubs cannot simply ignore us and instead have to genuinely consider our ideas. Then - if they have brains - they will do it. Karl Rove and Howard Dean are generally claimed to have brains.

Other facts about RV (some non-obvious):

OK. So we need your endorsement, and your help and advice, pronto. I am dogmeat compared to you when it comes to organizing political action. (The reason I say "pronto" is time matters. There is a very limited time window for the Iowa effort. Miss it? Have to wait 8 more years. bad.)

I am right now trying to get unified spectrum of endorsers from all third parties. You not only could endorse us yourself, you also could exert considerable influence to get others also to endorse us. In a unified manner.

So far the Libertarian and Socialist 2004 presidential candidates (Badnarik & Brown) have both endorsed us. Say we add your name to that list. Say we add Constitution Party to that list. Now we are talking 1 million 2004 votes worth of endorsers. That is enough the Ds and Rs have to at least listen to us. When they listen seriously, they'll see the self-advantage of doing RV in Iowa 2008.

Does this seem like a plan that could work to you?

Please check out the CRV web site

read it, and email me if you have any questions. Continue until convinced and satisfied.

It would be very useful for us to be in direct communication with each other. Only reaching you with extreme pain and indirectness like this will not do. I want your endorsement (click "endorsements") and I want your help in getting the Green Party on track to support this instead of the suicidally stupid move of supporting IRV, (which was an embarrassing classic trap caused by "a little knowledge is a dangerous thing"). Just your endorsement alone will take only a few minutes.

Thank you.

Warren D. Smith
PhD Mathematician and CRV founder.

warren.wds AT gmail.com