TED Conversations

Sam Chang

This conversation is closed.

Improve all democracies in the world, implement the Negative Vote.

Almost all the democracies in the world suffer from a common phenomenon where a minority, often the more extreme elements, could hijack a major party and force the society as a whole into conflicts that the majority population does not like. We see this kind of situation in the United States, in Israel, in Taiwan, etc. repeated again and again.

My proposal is to let people have the right to cast a Negative Vote in all elections. Each voter would still be entitled to cast only one vote, he/she may cast the vote for a candidate or against a candidate, but not both. Winner is the person who gets the most net positive votes, i.e. the person whose YES votes minus NO votes is the highest.

I believe over time this will prevent the extreme elements from winning any significant political office. Political rhetoric will also naturally move away from extreme rhetoric and more toward the middle. Eventually even the news media might find it difficult to help spread the extreme rhetoric because people aspiring for power or politics will learn quickly that extremism will attract the most NO votes and block them from such power in a democracy.

Voter participation will increase and the election results will more accurately reflect the people’s will.

In a democracy, I should have the right to say, through the ballot, “NO, I do not want this person to be in power”. This should be a basic right.

I’ve started a social group on Facebook called Allow NO Vote in Elections. It is public and I hope you will join and help spread the message.



Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Dec 28 2013: Interesting idea. However, the system could also be played against the ideal of making a more democratic system. As it often happens, sometimes you don't have the luxury but to choose the better of two devils. Casting a negative vote would to candidate A would be of advantage for candidate B. Of course, as you said, candidates' legitimacy can be weighted by the percentage of positive and negative votes he gains. Then if B candidate were to besmirch the opponent, this is giving him/her a "legitimate" way to do so by paying voters to vote negatively on A. (Although of course vote buying is a problem that already persist even without the negative vote). Or as suggested in one of the previous comments, certain political parties can organize voters to cast positive votes for their candidate and negative votes for the opponent. I don't see how this improves the current "democracy".

    I think the problem with democracy is more of uninformed voters - thus the solution should be how to address and educate voters to vote responsibly. I also think that information on candidates should all come from the election committee of your country, not the parties - then each candidate can have the same or equal reach to constituent, instead of their outreach being determined by their financial power and outreach.

    Instead of casting negative vote on specific candidate, how about simply casting NO VOTE, meaning you don't support either candidate. That way we can measure the real support that selected candidates get through the election. So, if you have 50% NO VOTE, 20% candidate A, 30% candidate B, that means candidate B has only 30% legitimacy through the election. The 50% simply is a lost vote - it doesn't support any candidates nor disfigure any. But it does show the real shape of the people's inclinations about whom to put in power.
    • thumb
      Dec 28 2013: Dewi, thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Negative Vote does not give anyone or any group extra power to besmirch the opponent. That already exists. Negative Vote does give the little guy, the voter a choice that is not currently available. Freedom to choose goes along with the essence of democracy. I am saying we should have this choice in our voting as a basic right.

      Your proposal of just casting NO VOTE but the vote itself has no power would not work. It is counter to the principle of one person one vote. The Negative Vote should have as much power as the positive vote. If it is just an expression of opinion, why would anyone bother to go to the polls to cast it? It will therefore not increase voter participation as the Negative Vote will. As I have said previously, if Negative Vote can increase voter participation, that in itself would be a big improvement for democracy.
      To reduce the influence of extremists and their rhetoric, the Negative Vote must not be modified to become just an expression of opinion.
      I am all for education and fair distribution of information etc., none of it conflicts with Negative Vote.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.