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Voting for Pizza? GP Clerk Candidate Offers Five Ways to Pick Your Favorite Toppings

Voting for Pizza?  Clerk Candidate Offers Five Ways to Pick Your Favorite Toppings

La Pietra Will Bring Alternative-Methods Trial to “Rock the Vote” at KCC Tuesday, September 2

John Anthony La Pietra, the Green Party of Michigan (GPMI) candidate for Calhoun County Clerk-Register
of Deeds, will offer people attending [next] Tuesday’s “Rock the Vote” event at Kellogg Community College
a chance to try out five different voting methods — with a tasty twist:  the subject of the vote will be everyone’s favorite pizza toppings.

Voters at the event at KCC’s Student Center (450 North Avenue, Battle Creek) will get to compare:

  • The traditional US plurality system.  In this, the highest vote-getter wins no matter how low that      top total is.  (With six choices on the ballot, plus a space for write-ins, the winner could have less than 20% of the total votes.)
  • A two-round plurality system, also often used here. If no choice wins an absolute majority, the top      two finishers have to campaign and compete again in a runoff election.  That’s expensive and time-    consuming, but at least you know the winner will have a majority of the votes cast in the runoff.
  • Approval voting.  Here, voters mark their ballots for candidates they approve — and they can vote      for as many choices as they want to.  Again, the choice with the most votes wins.  In a slightly different system called range voting, voters can assign scores of (for example) 1-10 to show how much they approve of each choice, and a 0 or no vote at all to show disapproval. The highest total or average score wins.
  • Cumulative voting.  Each voter gets a certain number of votes, and can distribute them among the choices or lump them all together for one choice or a few choices.  Again, the winner is the choice with the most total votes.
  • Instant-runoff voting (IRV).  Here, you can rank as many choices as you like:  1 for your favorite, 2 for your second choice, and so on.  If no candidate has a majority, shift each votes for the last-place candidate to that voter’s next choice.  Repeat until someone has over 50% of the remaining votes and wins. You can also turn the ranking system upside down,and make it look more like a sports poll:  10 for the top choice, 9 for second place, and so on.  If we do this, the highest score is the winner.

The ballot also asks voters to rank the five methods.  John will tabulate all the results, and announce them,
by Friday.

How did John pick pizza toppings as the subject of his demonstration?  “I’d seen a brochure from the Center
for Voting and Democracy using pizza toppings as an example of something a bunch of people with  different views might need to decide.

“When I found out about KCC’s ‘Rock the Vote’ event, bringing pizza toppings into the discussion seemed like a natural fit.  Especially for a La Pietra.”Unfortunately, John can’t afford to use actual pizzas to measure people’s preferences.  “Or ice cream — that’s what the Ferndale Mirror used as an example when that
city was considering a charter amendment on IRV.”

“There might be 50 ways to pick your pizza,” smiles John. “This trial can’t cover them all.  But I invite people to come try these five methods — and talk about others, like proportional representation and range voting.

“Some we may recognize from other areas of decision-making and ranking preferences, like sports polls or Hall of Fame voting.  Some we may see used in other parts of the world.  And some we may decide we like, and want to use more often; state law lets cities decide to use preferential balloting, and Ferndale did that when it adopted IRV.”

John concludes, “The more we know about these different voting methods and how they affect the result, the better prepared we will be to think of and apply the best decision-making tools in our governments and our lives.”


Wikipedia’s “Politics and the Election” series includes this page which offers a good introduction to a number of voting methods, as well as a link to a discussion of consensus decision-making: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voting_system

The Center for Voting and Democracy’s “pizza principle” flyer is at: http://www.FairVote.org/media/pep/pizza.pdf

You can read a column John wrote for the former Marshall Review newspaper in January 2002 about some aspects of different methods of voting, by following these links:http://www.jalpForThePeople.org/voting_column.html [standard Web page]   http://www.jalpForThePeople.org/voting_column.pdf [Adobe Acrobat format]

A one-page Adobe Acrobat PDF file with two copies of the ballot John will bring to “Rock the Vote” at KCC can be seen at http://www.jalpForThePeople.org/voting4pizza_x2.pdf

If you want to contact John’s campaign and find out what you can do to help elect a Calhoun County Clerk-Register For the People, please feel free to visit the Website http://www.jalpForThePeople.org or e-mail jalp@triton.net or call 269-781-9478

For more information on the Green Party of Michigan and its other candidates, including eight more that Calhoun County voters will see on the November 4 ballot, contact Green Party of Michigan 548 South Main Street, Ann Arbor, MI  48104 http://www.MIGreens.org info@MIGreens.org 734-663-3555

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prepared and distributed (with donated labor) by John Anthony La Pietra  * For the People *  County Clerk-Register, 386 Boyer Court Marshall, MI  49068 http://www.jalpForThePeople.org

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