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The Alternative Vote Explained Through Media

April 11, 2011

One of the best features of the internet is the ability to publish multimedia without the need for a large company to back you.

Using a youtube video of animals, CGPGrey recently explained how an alternative voting system would work. Without ever mentioning specific US political parties, he explains how the alternative compares to the current US system, frist past the post. In just a few minutes he explains one of the other options the US could consider for voting, and he does it in a nonaggressive way, making it easily accessible by many.

The idea behind the alternative vote is that people rank their favorite candidates instead of listing only one. It allows for instant run offs and removes what he refers to as the “spoiler effect.” The spoiler effect is the thought that, whether you like them or not, you vote for the candidate you think is most likely to win against the candidate you dislike more. It’s a theory of ambivalence that keeps people from voting for those they really like.

The video also reminded me of a podcast produced by This American Life this past fall, that took this theory and made it personal. The podcast follows one man who believes strongly in a third party candidate, even though it alienates him from his friends, who believe that spoiling the election for the republican candidate was the worst option. Had the election been an alternative vote, it would have removed the tension between the man and his friends.

It’s interesting to see how NPR and CGPGrey handle a similar story in different ways. CGPGrey creates a story that illustrates a concept, while NPR finds a story that connects people to the more personal aspects of it. Many people may see the political side presented by CGPGrey, but it’s hard for the average person to find a story like that presented by This American Life.

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