The surprising problem of hierarchical choice voting


By all the metrics I can think of, tiered choice voting is a better way to run a modern election. When a group of people want to make a decision at the national level or even at the organizational level, the fact that everyone ranks their options is a clear positive.

Mechanics are much easier in the age of computers. If an option is required among the majority, you are done. Otherwise, discard the least liked result and recount, using the second choice of people who voted for the eliminated candidate. Continue the process of elimination and recounting until you have a candidate who is most acceptable to most people.

This process tends to reward candidates who are less confrontational and more willing to listen to multiple points of view. It also leads to a result that more people can live with more easily.

The surprising thing? During a recent primary in New York City, some people had problems with the new method. It is not that the voting method is particularly difficult. The problem is, we have trained ourselves to be right. To have “our candidate” and not to be open (or pushed) to even consider that there could be an alternative. And feeling stress when we have to do the hard work of ranking the possible outcomes, because that involves, in advance, considering acceptable outcomes which, while not our favorites, would be acceptable.

It is hard work and worth it.

And we don’t have to wait for public elections to do that. It’s a great way to organize our choices not just in small groups, but by ourselves.

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