Home | About | Donate

The Oscars Use a More Fair Voting System Than Most of America Does

The Oscars Use a More Fair Voting System Than Most of America Does

Zaid Jilani

The 90th Academy Awards brings with it anticipation from movie fans about who will come out on top.

Will Best Picture go to Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri or The Shape of Water? Will comic genius Jordan Peele take home an Oscar on Sunday for his original screenplay for Get Out, or does that distinction belong to Kumail Nanjiani, who could be the first Pakistani-American to win in the category for co-writing The Big Sick with his wife Emily Gordon?

Must read book. Or why direct online democracy https://directdemocracyus.org is the future now.


This is instant run-off voting falsely claiming to be ranked choice voting. It is designed to save the oligarchs the expense of a runoff election and not really ranked choice voting.

Actual ranked choice voting does not include the instant run-off aspect.

Consider a vote for a favorite cookie in your group or town. Imagine there is no favorite cookie. Instant run-off ensures that your group has a favorite cookie. You will have a favorite even if the oligarchs own them all, as in movie stars.

Ranked choice voting is a step forward, if none of the above is one of the choices. Instant run-off as described in this article is an oligarchs dream, the movie industry requires favorite cookies for oscars.

Try the basic idea here http://autonomousdemocracy.org/Distiller-1/ballot-test-2.html (no tally is recorded).

Two separate varieties of ranked choice voting are in use. The Oscars elect a single winner. The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts, continually since 1940, has used ranked choice voting to elect its 9 member city council. The Cambridge method of electing a body of more than one official is light-years superior to any single winner system.

Too often the single winner system keeps electing the same color and nationality as mayor, as governor, as president. Moreover the single winner system keeps electing the same guy again and again and again, mainly because the guy uses his/her power base to solicit vast amounts of political donations and/or kickbacks from the business community. Then he/she turns around and buys/rents the press to say “I’m so great!”

Cambridge, Massachusetts and similar cities are barely on the same planet. With the Cambridge electoral system, all of the political money in the world can’t seem to buy anyone a majority on the City Council. Sure it can buy some bigshot one seat, but what financial good is a 1 to 8 vote against a pet proposal going to do him/her? As a result, successful election campaigns have been generally affordable in Cambridge.

When a whole city council is determined by transferable vote, large minority populations regularly get proportional representation on the city council. Imagine a city council where four or five out of nine members are usually women, where Asian, Hispanic and African-American constituencies have representation, where an occasional student gets on the council and where an LGBT council member often wins a seat.

Furthermore, no seat is safe. Just because you might be courting the LGBT voting bloc doesn’t mean that two other legitimate LGBT candidates won’t also be running for that voting bloc and for that seat. In general, political corruption isn’t ever going to get anybody re-elected.

Next, Cambridge has near-zero mudslinging. If twenty candidates are running for nine seats and if you sling the mud at one of them, you might damage one candidate out of twenty but some of that mud will stick to you, and then you’ll probably lose. At least in Cambridge, the winning strategy is usually to discuss with voters where the city needs to go, and in exquisite detail. As a result, Cambridge is a well-defined city. The city just happens to have approximately zero unemployment, a good subway system, good bike routes, good schools and an AAA municipal bond rating. Moreover, political corruption is fairly rare. Once in the past 78 years a city employee fixed some parking tickets, but that wasn’t directly the City Council’s fault.

This system has been tried elsewhere, there’s a long history of it being tried, and it has always been good for real democracy. I doubt that there has been one failure ever of the system. The only known failure is that the local crooks will spend vast sums of money to put a revoke of the new voting system on the ballot, just to go back to the old form of crooked political machine politics and steal vast amounts of money from the people. The crooks regularly aligned themselves with the city’s racists in the early 20th century, yelling that you don’t want your lily-white city council polluted by a black (gasp!) city council member sitting right next to them.

Cambridge has survived five separate revoke ballot questions, all well-funded.

I have one political quibble. Cambridge’s system doesn’t allow for a recount, because when one candidate wins a seat, the excess votes beyond what she/he needed are RANDOMLY split among the voters’ second choices. I also have a successful solution to this quibble. If all votes are divided up into one million microvotes, then when one candidate wins a seat the microvotes can all be PROPORTIONALLY split among the voters’ second choices. Problem solved. Game over.

So, if you want real democracy, do multiple-office proportional representation. It’s that simple.

Do it in your student council, because it’s only right. Do it in your union local if they let you. Do it in your church business meeting. Do it in a neighborhood council. Get away with real democracy every single time and place that they let you. That’s a path by which you can win actual democracy and defeat corporate corruption.


Interesting, yet one must realize that the voting method is not democracy.

Very interesting. Are municipal campaigns (let us pray) time-limited? Elsewhere, as you know, as soon as Senator Batson D. Belfry wins his election, he has to start raising funds for the next one, which is toxic to the people’s business.

The corporate media, of course, would prefer that campaigns—and their revenue stream—never end, and will no doubt fight tooth and nail against any attempts at reducing their length.

Really?! We’re looking to a vacuous self-congratualtory promotional event from an industry that didn’t even have the gonads to walk their talk and not award two people accused of sexual abuse for guidance on how to govern? Really?!

Your point is well made. All the vote tally techniques will have zero impact if all the candidates are easily afforded by one oligarch or another.

How many rich people live in Cambridge? My guess is there are enough to fund every candidate in every election at least until the arctic thaws completely.

Here is a wedge the people can put between corporate media and other wealth. An election cycle technique so cheap the people can afford it over and over to select a good candidate. Multiple elections and run off electiona are great for medie revenue and a nightmare for rich owners of representative democracy.

I’m sorry if it seemed I was arguing in favor of increasing corporate media’s revenue, of which they have more than enough already. Public financing of political camapigns would be a partial solution—IF we could get it through a corrupt Congress and an equally corrupt SCOTUS.

Another sorely needed reform would be to greatly increase the number of representatives; that number stands at 435, a number which was set according to the census of 1910. In the intervening century-plus, our population has more than tripled.

More people need more representatives, I would argue. In addition, more representatives would make both bribery—er, lobbying—and gerrymandering much more difficult and expensive.

1 Like

What are you claiming to be the difference between IRV and RCV? My understanding has always been that they are literally identical, two different names for the same system.

In the past the term IRV was used, now the term RCV is used because it is a clearer description of how you vote.

Please explain a difference.

My go-to site for understanding different systems of voting: www.electology.org

My preferred system would be Score Voting (score each candidate on a scale, say zero to three or zero to nine. Candidate with the highest total score is the winner).

The Electology people promote Approval Voting (the simplest system of Score Voting, with a scale of zero to one, essentially you vote yes / no, acceptable / unacceptable, for each candidate. Again, candidate with the highest total score is the winner).

Both of these systems, as well as Ranked Choice Voting, allow voters to weigh in on each candidate, not limited to a single vote that has to be given to only one candidate. All three systems vastly reduce “lesser of two evils” voting and the problem of “wasted votes.” They also eliminate the need for primaries and any runoff elections.

The Duopoly loves the stupid Plurality Voting / “first-past-the-post,” winner-take-all system that currently predominates in the USA, specifically because it strongly tends to resolve into a duopoly system and generate pointless arguments over “lesser of two evils” and “wasted votes.”

Here Electology explains the difference between Score Voting and Approval Voting.

No problem, you did not leave the impression you were seeking to increase corporate media revenue. I suggested it as a possible way to make elections too expensive for the one percent.

I see representative democracies the world over as violent war promoting units that are easily affordable to oligarchs. And they can also easily afford owning more candidates.

My impression is global environmental collapse has been orchestrated by bought out representatives pushing programs that enrich a few who are given a green light to load every living cell on Earth with chemicals and the atmosphere with heat trapping gasses.

Representative democracy is proven by reality as a hoax in my book. The same problem exists even down to food coop governance. Representative democracy does not work. This is a fairly new and disappointing idea for me.

1 Like

Here’s a report from Electology about an effort in British Columbia to move to Proportional Representation.

Interesting, Trudeau campaigned and won the national election with a promise that “This will be the last “first-past-the-post” election” but is now backpedaling on election reform. Lots more in the article.

i have come to similar conclusions, and learned hard lessons by serving on an elected food co-op board.

One conclusion i reached is that the model of the consumer co-op is flawed, in that consumer-owners do not actually see themselves as owners, and do not engage in real oversight of their business, inevitably allowing management to take over. At REI for example, they have incrementally watered down quorum to where literally 1/2 of 1% of the owners constitutes quorum for a board election. Not even legitimate “representative democracy.” But any consumer co-op that reaches much scale at all, will tend toward dilution of the intended purpose of the business and real democratic oversight. The food co-ops in Seattle have reduced their quorum requirements to 5% of the owners a the smaller co-op and 3% of the owners at the larger one.

i am more interested in the worker co-op model, where the workers are the owners, because they will not lose sight of their actual ownership, since they rely on the enterprise not just as a preferred place to shop for some things, but as the center of their livelihood.

But your point goes further, to recognize that representation itself is inevitably flawed. With time, i come closer to sharing that view.

Ranking of choices is a pure idea. The words define what it is.

Appended to ranking of choices are several plans for dividing up the choices that voters put for their second or third choice. In other words if your first choice is eliminated, then your second and third place points are added to those still in the race.

Instant Runoff employs one of those techniques to ensure there is a winner. In cases of a tie or no clear winner points are reapplied according to the particular plan design.

None of this mattered very much back in the days of hand-crank telephones. Now times have changed. Now it is clear that oligarchs can afford to fund every candidate in every election and is what has been going on since the articles of confederation were overthrown.

Elections themselves are very inexpensive for the people; about 50¢ per person.

The people have no reason to fear the cost of a new election so the oligarchs propose a monkey on the back pure preference ranking. The monkey wrench that cancels a reasonable improvement by ensuring a winner.

Evolution to a democratic system that focuses distributed intelligence will utilize ranking of choices with nuances, formerly called, “gaming the system.” Supposed intellectual leaders did not like it that people could withhold ranking of anyone but their first choice and thus give nothing to establishment candidate if your fringe candidate lost. So Instant Run-off was invented to force the people to dilute their preferences. This happened almost a hundred years ago.

Now if you live in the computerized information age and are unafraid of 50¢ elections, and you can see that the idea of winning and a clear victor are not always necessary to learn the direction our fellow citizens may understand with reasons no single person had seen.

There is a constitutional convention on the verge of happening. All persons sent there must be subject to immediate recall at the slightest waiver from ranking of choices with inclusion of non of the above. Democracy may well exist outside of governments for the health of every one and Earth itself.

You have not shown any difference between Ranked Choice Voting and Instant Runoff Voting. They are identical. Under this voting system, by either name, you rank your choices, and if your top choice does not win in the first round, your vote then goes to your second choice. This continues until there is a winner, with no runoff.

Also you give no explanation of any problem with Instant Runoff. You just denounce it, without showing any actual problem with it.

You are confusing the issue. Why?

You have not seen the difference.

Ranked choice does not employ the instant runoff add-on unless servants of the upper class force it on by claiming what they want to add on is the real thing.

Instant run-off is a watered down ho hum idea from the the past however you choose to rename it.

Instant run-off forces a victor on the people even if they don’t want one. That’s the problem.

There is a better way than tired and old Instant run-off. That is plain preference ranking with no add ons. It is your link that says;

"Election reform is a hot topic in Canada in general, and in British Columbia in particular.

"Country-wide, Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned on the promise that 2015 would be “the last election under FPTP”; but once he was elected, and the study commission and national poll he’d punted the issue to had come back in support of bona fide proportional representation rather than the weak-tea reforms such as IRV that (most suspect) he would have favored, he backed down. Essentially, he said: “Experts don’t agree on every detail of the path forward, so we’d better just do nothing.”


My sense is, what you are actually talking about is including NOTA as an option, not about any supposed differentiation between IRV and RCV. So that under this system (whichever name is used), if NOTA were the “forced winner” (as you put it) when the ranked choices worked out, then there would be no winner.

i will inquire with the Electology folks to see if they are familiar with your critique and differentiation between IRV and RCV based on having or not having a NOTA option.

Or, please explain further if you see that I am still confused about what you mean.

And, I would certainly agree that under any voting system, NOTA should be an option.

There is a major difference between simple ranked preferences and IRV. The simple ranking of choices calls for a new election if there is no clear victor. The new election might have all new people, proposals or ideas. In the case of candidates, if Nota made a strong showing, then, most likely, few of the original candidates would choose to face that embarrassment again.

One interesting aspect of including Nunuv/Nota is that choosing Nota instantiates a new candidate with n + 1 points and zero for everyone else. Did you look at this example that does not add up votes yet illustrates the ideas? http://autonomousdemocracy.org/Distiller-1/ballot-test-2.html

Yes. It demonstrates nothing that relates to what you are apparently sure you are saying but still makes no sense to me.

Unless your actual point is as i assume through your fog, that what you are actually insisting on is that NOTA be included as an option. The link includes NOTA as an option. Do you agree that that is the sole point you are making?

Otherwise, what do you mean when you say “IRV forces a winner, but RCV does not.”? No matter what you call them, IRV begins by ranking your choices, and so does RCV. And RCV ends with one choice as the top choice, and so does IRV. Would you dispute these two statements? If so, please show me how RCV does NOT end up with one option as the top choice. Even if that option is NOTA.

No one else who works on election systems makes the apparent distinction that you keep insisting on between IRV and RCV. IRV and RCV are the same system.