Newspaper logo  
 
 
   Majority Rules--or does it?

ON THE SOAPBOX:

Majority Rules—or does it?

By Lynda Lambert

Four percent of those voting in the November 2000 election didn't want Bush or Gore. This means that 52% did not want Gore and 52% did not want Bush. No matter how you view that election, neither candidate had a majority of the votes.
Our election system is flawed. Yes, there are problems with getting a fair vote count, but that's not what I'm talking about. The primary election this past September 10 that retained Patricia Jessamy in her post as Baltimore City State’s Attorney because she received 44% of the primary vote—the majority, as it were—gives a false picture of her achievement.

Fully 52% of Democrats voted against her. (56%, if you count those who didn't vote at all for any of the three candidates running for that office.) And Republicans won't even really get a chance to vote against Jessamy, since they have no candidate opposing her in the November election. The problem was similar in the last national election. George Bush did not receive the highest percentage of votes among those who went to the polling booths. On the other hand, neither did Al Gore. Although Gore received more votes overall (50,996,116 to Bush's 50,456,169), the fact is that 4% of the those voting didn't want either of them. Which means that 52% did not want Gore and 52% did not want Bush.

If we are going to persist in offering three or more candidates for any one office, whether local or national, primary or general, I think it is time we changed the rules just a mite. My quick fix would be to make a rule that no one wins unless he or she wins more than 50% of the votes cast. But that would cause some problems if every race had a full slate. So, this is what I propose: What we should do is have open primaries—Democrat, Republican, Independent and whatever—all running side-by-side. Everybody runs; everybody votes. Out of those, the top two run in the November election.

This could mean that we have two Democrats running against each other; two Republicans. But what it would also mean is that we would have a clear winner in November. With only two candidates, one of them will have to receive 50% of the vote. There would be no third or 4th party candidate to draw off votes.

*Let’s assume for this example that voting machines work correctly and there’s no behind-the-scenes voter registration fraud here, okay?

If we'd done this in 2000, for example, we might have had McCain running against Bush—or Gore running against Nader. If we'd done this in the Maryland primary, Jessamy still might have won, but whoever came in second would have been running against her in November.

We think of ourselves as a country where the majority rules, but this has never been so. What we have instead is candidates who win with a percentage of a percentage. Example: where only 50% of eligible voters vote, and the winner gets, say, 30% of that 50%, that candidate was voted in by only 15% of the total number of eligible voters.

With open primaries and only two candidates guaranteed for the final election, one of them comes out the clear winner*. And the majority, for a change, would finally rule.


Copyright © 2003 The Baltimore Chronicle and The Sentinel. All rights reserved. We invite your comments, criticisms and suggestions.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle and Sentinel content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

This story was published on October 2, 2002.
  
OCTOBER 2002
LOCAL NEWS
·NEWS BRIEFS
·CALENDARS:
· Local rugby player starts for USA Under-23 (Collegiate All-Americans) in South Africa
· Sports: JOHNNY UNITAS: No. 19: 1933–2002
ART & ENTERTAINMENT
·The Bottom Floor Gets off the Ground
·From Tapas to Halloween Hijinks, The Creative Alliance Shows There’s a Lotta Life in Highlandtown
·Pumpkins Can Put a Grin on Our Faces, Too
SPEAKING OUT
·EDITORIAL:
·ELECTION:
·LETTERS
·Batch#3 of McDougall Letter Responses
·An Open Letter to Mr. McDougall of Canada—and to Those Who Responded to His Letter to America
·No Reason to Go to War
· (11/4) Why your vote won't matter
·Antiwar Open Letter Urges Us To Consider Civil Disobedience
·(10/10) Bush's "Shoot First Doctrine" Comes Home to Roost
·(10/14) Sniper poem: Metaphor
·(10/10) Open letter to Scandinavian Foreign Ministers
·Stop the Department of Homeland Security!
·Was George W. Bush "With" God "Or Against" Him on 9/11?
·The High Price of "In" Security
·Soapbox: Majority Rules—or does it?
·Open Letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
·“Pork: The Other White Meat” Month in October—and other US “Calendar Items”
·Why We Should Get Rid of ‘Political Correctness’
·Keep the Internet Open
·Don’t Call Bush, Ashcroft & Co. “Conservative”
·Bush’s ‘Healthy Forests Initiative’ Is Anything But
·“Consensus” and “Facilitation”: When You Hear These Words, Beware of Being Suckered
·The Mikulski Watch
·Why I Won’t Forget What Happened to the Refugees of Sabra and Shatila
·Who Decides Who Gets To Fly?
NEWS MEDIA CRITIQUE
·In the Wake of 9-11, the American Press Has Embraced a ‘Demented Caesarism’
·Fox Hunting Trumps Peace Activism at Washington Post & New York Times
·911 Mysteries
·Sunspot.net – Light for all Tyranny
NATION & WORLD
· 20 Questions We Ought to Get Answered Before We Start Killing Arabs ... Again
· What Al Gore Really Said in San Francisco: “The United States has squandered the world's goodwill”
· Learning the Wrong Lessons from the Anthrax Attacks
· U.S. Military “Interventions” From Wounded Knee to Afghanistan
· How Bush Spent His Summer Vacation: Undermining Environmental Protections
FROM OTHER SITES
· Websites We Like!
· Outstanding Analysis & Perspective

Public Service Ads: