When PluraIity Just Won’t Do

Some thoughts on elections- applicable to both major US parties.

Some elections (all Federal ones and most State level, as far as I know) go to whoever has a plurality- that is, the highest number of votes- even if it’s not a majority of the votes cast.

This is, by the way, a separate issue from Electoral College votes not matching the “popular vote” or different electoral districts having a wide range in the number of eligible or active voters (meaning votes have a greater or lesser impact on the result). These, and other weaknesses in a theoretical ‘one person one vote’ world are discussions for another time.

There are, however, some cases where run-offs (including variations such as Two Round System or Exhaustive Ballot) are a part of the system. While generally used to reduce a large field of candidates to a smaller list, that’s not always the case. And in any form of Run-Off Voting, the front runner going in might not be the eventual winner. Otherwise, whoever has the plurality in the first round of voting would just be declared the winner at that point.

The reality is that both Democratic and Republican Party upcoming conventions are set up to use run-offs if the first vote results in a plurality, not majority, winner. To suggest that ‘whoever has the most votes (delegates)’ at the beginning of the Convention must be the eventual candidate is evidence the speaker does not understand this basic point. And in fairness, it has been some time since either major US party has not had a pre-determined candidate at the start of their convention.

Arguably such ‘contested conventions’ are non-democratic, divisive, and harmful to party unity. But to change the rules this late in the process would be to add yet another level of disruption and hypocrisy to a process already seen as corrupt, rigged and shameful. Complaining that any candidate, of either party, is willing to use the clearly-stated rules and procedures to win their party’s nomination won’t garner any sympathy here.

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