“The Nomination and Election of Statewide Candidates”

I’ve posted on SSRN a substantially revised version of this article, which will be published in the University of Illinois Law Review as part of a symposium issue. The revisions reflect the many extremely helpful comments I’ve received on earlier drafts as well as my latest thinking on what forms of ranked-choice voting and other electoral methods would be best for electing US senators, governors, and other statewide offices. I very much continue to welcome comments as, not only will this article undergo additional revisions during the editing process, but also it serves as a springboard for additional work on this topic, including an eventual book. Here’s the current abstract for this piece:

The standard system of statewide elections for governor and US senator, among other offices, deserves a thorough overhaul. The collection of signatures by candidates to qualify for the ballot, currently confined to antiquated pen-and-paper technology, can be modernized and put online, so that it can function as a kind of “approval voting” system that yields a reasonable number of candidates (five, for example) for a primary election ballot. Likewise, online party conventions can enable parties to endorse candidates before the primary occurs and to have their endorsed nominees qualify for the government’s “All Qualified Candidates Primary” ballot. Moreover, innovative forms of Ranked Choice Voting—like “Optimal Tournament Voting”—can be used to identify the two candidates on the primary ballot most suitable to advance to the general election, with suitability for this purpose determined by which candidates are most representative of the whole electorate.

Alternatively, even without ranked-choice ballots, the mathematical principles and procedures of Optimal Tournament Voting can be used to create a “top three” general election, in which voters directly express their preferences between each pair of the three candidates who advance to the general election based on the use of approval voting in the primary (or online signature-gathering). Moreover, whether the general election has two or three finalists on the ballot, “fusion voting” can be employed in the general election to permit parties whose nominees are not one of the finalists to renominate whichever finalist they prefer. States should experiment with these innovative alternatives and other variations along the same lines so that elections for statewide office, like governor or US senator, will produce winners who are the candidates most preferred by a majority of the electorate’s voters.

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