Andrew Prokop’s piece about how a contested GOP convention could work is maybe the millionth data point from this endless election that convinces me of the need for a simpler election. Here’s how the election should work:

  1. You show up at the polling place. (Note that you’re only going to go to the polling place once in this process.)
  2. You face a long list of candidates. This year it’d contain Martin O’Malley, Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum, etc., etc., etc.
  3. You rank-order your preferences. Or maybe you’d have a certain number of points you could allocate. Me, I’d put Hillary or Bernie at #1 and #2, or (depending on the day) the reverse. O’Malley would be up there, too. None of the GOP candidates would get any of my points.
  4. Tally up the candidates who got the most points. If anyone gets a clear majority of points, or of first-rank votes, that person wins. Otherwise we start considering second-place candidates; whoever gets more first- or second-place votes than the others wins.

None of this nonsense where you first have to do well in a couple randomly selected states (Iowa and New Hampshire) to drive “momentum”. None of the nonsense where the people who even bother to vote in primaries are the most politically engaged, so that a party’s choice of its nominee is driven by its most rabid members. None of the nonsense where people who are obviously never going to be the nominee (like John Kasich) stay in so that they can deny the frontrunner a majority of the delegates at the convention. None of the nonsense where people fear voting for Bernie or Nader because they worry about being a ‘spoiler’: under the sort of system I’m describing, you could have voted for Nader as your first choice in 2000; once he got a single- or low-double-digit percentage of the vote, the ranked-preference voting scheme would consider all the second-choice candidates. Since nearly everyone who voted for Nader as #1 would vote for Gore as #2, Gore would have won.

When this insane election is over, I hope the winner will help America by pushing for a sane ballot.