Assignment: Voting Theory Writing Task

In the United States, we typically use the plurality voting method, augmented with a sequential runoff system (primary elections). The primary election serves to narrow the pool of potential candidates to two (or one from each party, depending on the state), then the general election decides between those remaining candidates.

It is commonly claimed that our voting system favors a two-party political system, where there are only two major political parties, while other voting systems can favor multi-party systems (this is called “Duverger’s law“). A poll found that about half of Americans think we need a third party, yet few are actually willing to vote for one, not wanting to “throw their vote away” or take away support from their less-disliked major party candidate.

For this week’s written assignment, read this highly opinionated and inflammatory article, “Why Vote Third Party?” by John Ubersax. Then,

  1. Reflect on the article in a written paragraph. Are the author’s claims reasonable and/or logical? Are there aspects you agree with? Disagree with?
  2. To what extent, if any, do you think an alternative voting system (instant runoff, Borda count, Copeland’s method, etc.) would help or hinder smaller political parties in the United States. Be specific about the method and how it would help or hinder.
  3. How do you think voters would respond to voting using an alternate system?

If you do any research (books, newspapers, websites, etc), please include a list of these references in your answer. You do not need to write a formal bibliography, but remember that using someone else’s words or ideas without citing them is plagiarism. What you submit should be your own words and ideas.

Answers will not be graded on writing skills (unless it hinders understanding). Grading will be based on content; whether you answer the question completely, and make appropriate connections to concepts we have learned in this class.

7pts:  Reasonable reflection on the article.  Reasoning should be given.
7pts:  Discussion of how alternate voting would help or hinder smaller parties.  Should reference at least one specific method and give reasoning.
6pts:  Discussion of how voters might respond to using an alternate voting system.  Reasoning should be given.

Total Points Possible: 20

Download the assignment from one of the links below (.docx or .rtf):

Voting Theory Writing Task: Word Document

Voting Theory Writing Task: Rich Text Format