Friday, September 25, 2009

Term Limits

I've suggested before how score- and approval-voting could make primaries unnecessary, but after reading about this poll, it occurred to me that they could also make term limits unnecessary (or at least redundant).

It's well-known that incumbency is a huge advantage; name recognition is a big part of that (better the devil you know...), and being in office is the best way to build recognition. But the next-best way is to be in the news for months leading up to an election. But because of spoilers and vote-splitting, no party can risk running two candidates in the same election, and when the incumbent is a member of your party, of course you're going to run them. So if you don't like the incumbent, but do like the stance of their party (or at least, hate them less than the other guy), you've got little choice, because the party isn't going to risk the election by ditching their incumbency advantage (which I'm sure is precisely the thoughts going through people's heads when they're voting in the primary.)

But with score and approval, a party could run multiple candidates, the incumbent and an up-and-comer; giving voters the choice to stay within their party but still vote for change, instead of being stuck settling for "more of the same, but at least not a change for the worse".

Spoiler-free election methods allow for smoother incremental change, by weakening frictions like incumbency and "lesser of two evils" decision making. Its ability to make primaries redundant has occurred to many, but it will also lessen the need for legal patches like term limits. It's just like how the common comeback to anti-duopoly arguments, "If you don't like them, just vote for a third party!", won't actually work because of systemic problems in the voting system. Similarly, the common comeback to term-limit arguments, "If you don't want them to serve another term, vote for someone else!", also doesn't actually work. It's the same friction, the same systemic problem; and the solution is the same: score voting.

ASIDE: I've been super-busy this last month. Hopefully, this post marks a return to more-regular blogging on my part. I owe a guest post out there, too... I haven't forgotten about you!


  1. Great article, and the title was very catchy. Keep up the great work. I included link and blurb to your article in my voting news blog (google).