Close election? Flip for it

I have an op-ed in today’s Washington Post advocating the use of randomization devices to determine the winner of close elections.

Some will balk at the idea of choosing our leaders by chance. But that’s actually the coin flip’s most important benefit! Close elections are already determined by chance. Bad weather in the big city, a busted voting machine in an outlying town, a poorly designed ballot leading elderly Jews to vote for Pat Buchanan — any of these chance events can make the difference when the electorate is stuck at 50-50.

A note for the many people who either e-mailed me or posted comments to say that I was a nutty leftist who would never have written this if the more liberal candidate in the Wisconsin supreme court election were ahead: in fact, I pitched this when Kloppenburg appeared to be leading by 200 votes.  The correction of the Waukesha numbers, which made the election much less close, was thus inconvenient for both Kloppenburg and me.  But I just rejiggered the piece to place a greater emphasis on very close votes from the past (Franken-Coleman, Bush-Gore.)  Not sure why I neglected to include the equally tight Gregoire-Rossi WA-GOV race.  Or how I failed to notice that Charles Seife, whose book I quote in the piece, also wrote essentially the same editorial in the New York Times two years ago.

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2 thoughts on “Close election? Flip for it

  1. majordomo says:

    An idea like the one you propose is too sophisticated for the largely innumerate public to fully digest or accept. Most won’t be able to get past the randomization aspect. Sorry but someone had to say it.

  2. Laura says:

    Crawford County Clerk Don Pyle’s simple rationale makes me happy. He’s definitely from Kansas.

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