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There are many problems with our voting systems in the United States. The ones we hear about most frequently relate to illegal tampering with the voting process, such as manipulating voting machines, not allowing registered citizens to vote or disregarding certain ballots that should have been counted. These issues have rightfully received a great deal of media attention in recent years and need to be fixed.

However, we have an even more fundamental problem with how we vote in the United States - the very nature of the way we count votes and determine winners. The methods we use are so familiar to us in this country that many of us would never even think to question whether they are the best methods. We may not even realize that there are different methods that are used in other countries around the world.

The fact is that the particular processes the United States uses for electing many of our officials have major flaws. There are countless difficulties in our country and the world without easy solutions - many of them directly affected by our elections and the people that we elect. But there is no excuse for continuing to suffer from some of the fundamental flaws in the election process itself. There are better voting methods that already exist that achieve much fairer and more optimal results. Through legislation and ballot measures, we can adopt these methods in our communities and our country.

Two of the most important such election methods are Instant Runoff Voting and Proportional Representation. While there are many variations in exactly how they are applied, both methods are used not only in countries throughout the world, but in other settings such as academic and corporate boards. And forms of both have been and are used even today in the United States. For example, in 2004, I coordinated a successful ballot campaign to move toward bringing Instant Runoff Voting to Ferndale, Michigan.

Another important election method gaining widespread, diverse support is the National Popular Vote. This measure would reform the current American Electoral College system, making elections of the President of the United States fairer and more inclusive.

Many people have worked and are working hard to bring these systems to more places. If you want to make an impact on an issue that directly or indirectly affects nearly ever area of our society, I encourage you to learn more about election reform and to get involved in the election reform community.

You can begin here, where I look at each of these methods, explain the relevant flaws in the current system, describe how how each method solves them, and link to further resources.

You can also check out All of my Blog posts tagged election reform.

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