by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Forbes column explains why voters ought to be able to vote against candidates.
Both of the major party candidates for president this year have unprecedentedly high negative ratings among voters. And while some of them will vote enthusiastically for Libertarian Party candidate Gary Johnson or Green Party candidate Jill Stein, a great majority will cast their ballots for the major candidate they think is the least awful. That is the depressing Lesser of Two Evils (LOTE) syndrome.
American elections allow voters only the option of voting for a candidate. That is a flawed system because it doesn’t allow voters to express their strongest preference, which often is opposition to a candidate.
I believe that our elections would become more lively (and also more unpredictable) if voters could choose to vote against the candidate they dislike the most.
Emory University law professor Michael Kang puts his finger precisely on the problem in his Michigan Law Review article “Voting as Veto.” Kang writes, “Indeed, the familiar binary choices presented in American political elections obscure the pervasiveness of negative preferences, which are descriptively salient in voting under all types of circumstances.” (Emphasis mine.)
When it comes to making political choices, frequently we are motivated more strongly by strong opposition to one candidate than by strong support for another.