An Introduction to YNMS Voting


OK, so you get the paradox of majority rule voting and you’re beginning to understand why many of the problems you see with our political system stem directly from MRV’s weaknesses. YNMS may be a better alternative, but, you ask, just exactly what the hell is it? How does it work?

Good questions. Congratulations, you have graduated to the next level. So, OK, since you asked, here’s

YES NO ‘MAYBE SO’ VOTING

___________(YNMS)_________ _______INTRODUCTION_____

by Peter K Harrell

DESCRIPTION OF HOW YNMS VOTERS CAN VOTE

When Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting is the voting technique used in an election, each and every voter can vote in one of four ways about each and every candidate on the ballot. The way in which any given voter votes about any one candidate on the ballot does not limit or effect how that voter can vote about any of the other candidates on the ballot.

Imagine a ballot consisting of three columns: a column listing the candidates, a column for voting Yes, a column for voting No. This is what a Yes No ‘Maybe So’ ballot looks like.

Here is a sample Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Ballot for a single Nader supporter who also supported Gore.

_________2000 Election Sample Ballot________

For a single voter who is a Nader > Gore supporter

Candidate______Party__________Yes____No

Bush___________ Republican ______________X

Gore___________ Democrat _________X______X

Nader _________ Green ____________X

Browne_________ Libertarian _______________X

Buchanan________ Reform _________________X

Hagelin _________ Natural Law

McReynolds______ Socialist

Depending on the mechanism for collecting the votes voters would make a mark, punch a whole, click a check box, or simply touch a spot on a computer screen in either the Yes column, both the Yes and No columns, neither the Yes nor the No column, or just the No column next to a candidate on the ballot. Each voter can vote in this same way about each and every candidate on the ballot.

No matter what pattern of Yes and No column selections are made for candidates on the ballot, the ballot would still be a valid ballot. There is no possible way a voter can turn in an invalid Yes No ‘Maybe So’ ballot due to some sort of “multiple or double punching”. If the ballot is a paper ballot that has to be machine read and the ballot is physically mutilated, then of course that might constitute an invalid ballot.

As mentioned already there are four different types of votes in Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting. Here are the four types of votes and their relative effect on the prospects of a candidate’s chances for election.

Four Types of Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Votes

Vote Type______ Yes____ No_____Effect on Candidate

Yes Vote_________ X_____________ Most favorable to candidate

Yes/No Vote______ X______ X_____ Next most favorable to candidate

Null Vote________________________ Next least favorable to candidate

No Vote_________________ X______ Least favorable to candidate

A Null Vote decreases the chances that a candidate will be elected and can effect the outcome of an election.

That really is all a voter needs to know in order to be able to vote successfully using the Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting technique. Voters only need to know how to cast each type of vote and what is the relative effect of each type of vote on the prospects of a candidate’s chances for election.

In other posts to this topic I will explain how the outcome of a Yes No ‘Maybe So’ election is determined and some of the advantages of Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting.

Since even the submission of a blank ballot with Null Votes cast for all of the candidates can effect the outcome of the election, a true abstention from voting would amount to not submitting a ballot for the particular office in question. Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting ballots should clearly indicate how a voter can truly abstain from voting.

Please note that both Yes/No Votes and Null Votes can be considered as ‘Maybe So’ votes. There is no explicit ‘Maybe So’ voting type in the Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting technique, hence the single quotes in the name of the technique.

__________2000 Election Sample Ballot__________

For a single voter who is a Bush > Buchanan supporter

Candidate______Party__________Yes____No

Bush___________ Republican ________X

Gore___________ Democrat ________________X

Nader __________ Green ___________________X

Browne________ Libertarian

Buchanan______ Reform _________X______X

Hagelin _________ Natural Law

McReynolds______ Socialist_________________ X

Most of us have been trained in the use of Plurality Voting since grade school. Given the thoroughness of that indoctrination some people may have a little difficulty adjusting to the increased freedom of expression and political power permitted to them by Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting, but the basic questions implied by Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting are simple.

Do you approve of this candidate? Is this candidate acceptable to you? Or do you disapprove of this candidate? Is this candidate unacceptable to you? Yes or No. Mixed opinions are expressed either by combining Yes and No, or by not expressing any opinion about a candidate at all.

If it seems complicated, it did to me too, at first. But the complexity is in the counting, not the voting, and even the counting isn’t as complicated as it appears at first blush.

Voting is easy: “A Null Vote decreases the chances that a candidate will be elected and can effect the outcome of an election….. That really is all a voter needs to know in order to be able to vote successfully using the Yes No ‘Maybe So’ Voting technique.” Essentially YNMS is a very simple rating system, far more simple than, say, the system that rates movies or the ranking system of Instant Runoff Voting: YES means “I want him/her.” NO means “I don’t want him/her.” MAYBE SO means “I’m not wild about it but I can live with him/her.” That’s all there is to it.

Most people get hung up on the counting. Almost the first thing people say is, “How can you tell who won?”

Next Installment: “HOW THE WINNER IS DETERMINED IN YNMS VOTING”

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