STAR Voting with optional "Electors"

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STAR Voting with optional "Electors"

TLDR: Let voters choose a candidate on the ballot as their elector, and use that candidate's publicly published and locked in ahead of the election scores for all the candidates the voter leaves unscored, require all candidates to score all the candidates on the ballot at several points in the lead up to the election. It lets voters vote "lazily" like they do now, without having to judge "electability" or worrying about spoilers, they just need to trust the judgement of one candidate. It also gives more information to all voters about what the candidates really believe/care about.

This is a modification I have thought up to add a layer of both complexity and simplicity to the Score Runoff Process.
It is the option for voters to indicate one of the candidates on the ballot (including a write in candidate) as their "elector", and have that person's previously published scores of all the other candidates be used for any candidate they have left unscored.

This means voters can vote just as they are used to doing, selecting a candidate that they like/trust and giving them the power to make political decisions on their behalf. Except now there isn't any game theory or spoilers to consider, just voters choosing who they most like/trust/agree with, and letting them to the messy work of figuring out what issues and candidates to support or oppose. Voters could also give scores for those candidates they feel they know enough about to make a decision, but trust to their favorite candidate to fill in the gaps in their knowledge in a way they would approve of. The choosing of an elector could also serve as a tie breaker at various stages of the process, if two candidates have equal scores in second place, the one with more "elector" votes advances to the runoff, if candidates are given equal scores on a ballot, but one of them is the voters elector, that candidate is considered preferred to equally scored candidates in the Runoff round.

Computer voting machines (with or without paper records, I suggest with) could allow voters to see what various candidates have given as scores to other candidates, and then after choosing an elector, adjust the scores to suit their own preferences where they disagree with the elector. Displays in the waiting area could let voters view the various scores, and potentially read statements about each candidate from the other candidates, serving as a crash course/refresher on the issues of the race, as expressed by the candidates themselves.

This would make voting simpler for voters, because they wouldn't feel like they were missing out on having full impact if they didn't research ever last candidate in what could be a crowded field, they just sacrifice some control by being less informed, which is the natural consequence of being less informed and so isn't really a downside.

On the other hand, it would increase the complexity of information required from the candidates themselves. There is no law, and likely will be no law, requiring that candidates give their explicit stance on various issues, all we can do is hope the press, and the voters, demand answers with enough force to make it a convention.... this doesn't seem to be happening with great regularity. However, a system that gives candidates the ability to impact the race even if they lose, by affecting the scores of other, more popular, candidates and having a large core of supporters willing to give you control of their votes, candidates might well accept that, even if it comes with the requirement that they publish their scores at several stages of the election, and have them locked in place well ahead of voting time so voters can see what all the various candidates truly think of their competition, and the press would have time to ask final questions about why various scores were given.
Those scores, and the questions they raise, would give a strong indication of where even the cagiest candidate stood on many issues, unless they do some form of bullet vote/approval vote. I suspect though, that justifying either to the public will be hard without alienating a large number of voters, and so would only be done by candidate who know they can't win, and are more or less running on a single issue, and using it as a litmus test on who to support or oppose. In the case of anyone who really thinks they have a shot, they will need to carefully weigh both what their scores will say about their values and opinions, but about honestly who they would like to win if they don't, and if the people they most support don't, and who they really really DON'T want to win. So you might well have candidates giving higher scores to stronger opposition candidates than weaker ones, because they cannot justify either to themselves or the public, any indication that they think the clearly worse candidate is the same or better than the clearly better (and thus stronger) candidate, and whether they really want to help, or fail to prevent, that weaker candidate winning because they tried to be strategic and frankly, selfish. It won't work on every candidate, but the fear of losing support from moderates and even minimal support from the opposition because of your political gamesmanship while at the same time boosting the chances of a candidate you consider to be a truly bad option would discourage dishonest or polarized scores from candidates.
That quantifiable and impactful feedback on how candidates feel about each other's fitness for the office they covet, with the forces encouraging and even rewarding honesty and moderation, would broaden the conversation beyond just points of disagreement, to shades of disagreement, and areas of agreement, and respectful differences of opinion, and places where one candidate has changed the mind of another. Together I feel it would change the tone of conversation, compounding the effect that STAR voting alone would have in this regard.

Finally, it would give voters an example of how to properly fill out a ballot, including the basics of strategy. Namely that it's a good idea to use the entire range, or as I put it in one run-on sentence: Find the candidate you least like that you think has a chance of winning, give them and anyone you think is worse than them a 0, find the candidate you most like that you think has a chance at winning, give them the max score, and anyone you would prefer to them the max score, arrange the other candidates according to how much you would like them/be okay with them winning.

 

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