Strange things have been shown to correlate with the odds getting elected, that ideally should have nothing to do with being a good leader/politician (unless being tall makes someone a better leader/politician).
Given that the US is a democracy and that is a good way to pick a government (that may be the topic of a later post), it would be better if these irrational biases are eliminated.
Here are a few ways to eliminate the biases:
- Don’t put any names on the ballot. Instead, create lists of positions on the issues for all the candidates, and then display all of the candidates on some of the issues (requires a computer screen). Have it display a random selection of the issues to every person that votes, with the option to display more. This would prevent people from voting for a candidate that they know nothing about. As a downside, this will make voting take longer, but considering the impact of voting, it would be worth it to extend the voting period to a few days or even a week (this would also raise voter turnout)
- Allow people to split their vote into number of candidates+1 parts. This would allow people to better express the way that they feel in more elections, and to allow third party candidates more of a chance to get a vote.
- Prevent candidates (or people promoting them) from lying, or being deliberately misleading, or assess some kind of penalty. The problem with this idea is that it is most probably unconstitutional, and if the penalty is meaningful enough, it may be worth it for the opposition to promote lies about a candidate.
- Throw bogus candidates onto the ballot (mixed with number 1) to make it a roster of lets say 8 (the number is arbitrary) total candidates. This will a number of things:
- Encourage more non-mainstream candidates. This will happen as if slots are not taken, then bogus candidates will appear, and so getting votes for minority parties will be easier.
- If people vote for a candidate that does not exist (i.e. randomly picking a person) then they are not really making a choice anyway, and discarding their vote is the right thing to do.
- Encourage people to learn more about the candidates. If they only know one point of difference between the candidates, there is now a risk that they will pick the wrong thing on the ballot. In order to make sure that their vote will go towards the person that they want, which will lead to a better educated electorate
- Use something like STV, though in general that works better when there are more candidates. This will also encourage more centrist candidates, as there is no downside to picking as a first choice a candidate that can’t win.
These ideas are not mutually exclusive, and some of these ideas are implemented in other places, but I think all of them would make the voting process more meaningful.