First off, +k for the topic (and the 4am post kicking it off).
I voted no because I don't think there is enough evidence to suggest this is a serious problem (much like voter fraud) - in 56 elections this has only happened 4 times and only once in the 28 elections since the turn of the 20th century (I'd point it out but I know you guys are still fighting that battle like the South and the Civil War). Therefore, I don't believe a Constitutional amendment is needed to address a problem that doesn't really exist. And Dan, to your point about ending the two-party dominance (which I TOTALLY support), I just don't see how this change would address that problem. If anything, I think Ds and Rs would be even more motivated to work to limit ballot access for third party candidates and in the end it would come down to the same choice between dogshit and horsecrap.
To Dan's specific points:
Plurality and two-round voting doesn't solve the problem of vote-splitting, so it wouldn't be optimal.
Agreed, both systems seem like a train wreck in waiting given the public's already low level of general interest in the political system. And as you say below, if less than 2/3rds of eligible voters turned out in 2008 (the highest in 40 yrs), good luck trying to get more than half the population coming back for a second (and do we really want to put up with even the potential for a couple more months of campaigning and political ads?).
First, we rank the candidates as "first choice", "second choice", etc., so it eliminates the idea of "a vote for a is really just a vote for b".
Seems to me that a large portion of the country would just vote for the same candidate they otherwise would (D or R) and not put very much thought into anything else. You may get people who are firmly committed to one of the two parties voting for all the other minor candidates and then the opposite major party just to be dicks, but in general, I don't think many, perhaps most would take the time to learn about multiple candidates and make more informed judgments about them than they do now.
Third, it gives us an absolute majority, so we won't end up with a president that 60% of the country hates.
I'm not sure I follow this: wouldn't the ranking system have to be given declining weights (i.e., 10=first choice, 9=second, etc.)? If so, it there were enough parties on the ballot (but as I said above, I'm skeptical of even that), couldn't you still have scenarios where the winner didn't receive an absolute majority?
Also, why should the public's feeling as POTUS depend on his popular vote percentage? Does the fact that I voted for Obama in 2008 preclude me from disliking him now (I wouldn't use "hate", but certainly STRONG discontent)? I mean, would people who voted for W as their second (or third or last) choice be any less likely to hate him in the absence of this system?
And, fourth, the nature of IRV drastically decreases the amount of nasty and dirty campaigning, because the more a candidate comes off as an asshole, the less "second choice" votes he/she will receive.
Disagree, I think it would lead to a lot more cutthroat campaigning, especially by the two major parties who would almost be incentivized to work together to prohibit or delegitimize minor party candidates to maintain their stranglehold on the process. Once they "established" that the minor parties were totally insane, they could get back to the civilized and serious business of Big Bird and debt clocks.
Overall, I think until people begin to seriously get behind third party candidates (cough...Gary Johnson...cough), it will be difficult to break the two party system (although the fact that more people would rather register as Independents than either D or R tells me the level of frustration with both parties is a real thing). But that's why I don't understand the disillusionment with the "Tea Party" faction of the GOP. I'm not saying I agree with many of their stated positions (which more often than not belie the small gov't principles they purport to advocate, most of which I DO agree with). The Tea Party, if nothing else, has provided a model of how to affect change within the system. To me, one of OWS' (many) crowning failures was that they chose to occupy everything rather than following the Tea Party's lead and trying to find and elect candidates (either D or R although we all know which they'd be) who would represent the causes they supported.
I hate that if I wanted to vote Romney here in New England it is meaningless or vote Obama in much of the south it is meaningless. Really? My fate lies in Florida's capable hands every election?
This is the only cogent reason I have heard for going to a popular vote. If people are disenfranchised because their vote doesn't matter based on their location, that is an actual problem. But is that enough of a reason to change the Constitution to "fix" a problem which, as noted above, has only happened 4 times in our history? That I'm not so sure about.
I agree the EC made more sense before the 17th amendment when the 3 bodies were elected by 3 methods with 3 different terms for what I think were legitimate reasons (House/popular vote/2 yrs; Senate/state legislatures/6 yrs; POTUS/EC/4 yrs). But since that system has already been blown up there's definitely not as compelling a reason to maintain the EC (other than, as mentioned, more often than not it works out). Although I do take offense to the fact that amending the Constitution to go to a popular vote for POTUS is seen as a sane and reasonable approach (the EC is "antiquated," as you say) whereas repealing the 17th is a crazy John Birch radical idea. (for twatts, who's gonna love that answer and who asked me about this a ways back: here's a liberal law professor saying that while he doesn't support the idea, we should stop pretending that it's only lunatics who support it and that the apocalyptic warnings of corruption are, at best, a bit overblown
Parliamentary system or bust.
LOL. Because it's working out so well in Greece, and Italy, and UK. We know, everything is better in Canada. Unless, of course, you value free speech. Or property rights. Or pretty much anything that goes along with living in a free society. Or if you just don't want your professional hockey and baseball teams to suck ass.
If Romney wins the popular vote and Obama wins the electoral college, which is looking increasingly likely, I guarantee that this will happen.
Increasingly likely? Can I get some of that action? I'll give you hella odds.