Ballots Too Crowded?

When I was a kid – way back when people actually told jokes about Communists – there was the one that went like this: “did you hear that the Soviets are holding a two-party election? The Communist Party and the victory party.”

Well, here in New York state we not only we have two major parties (and then some), but each candidate can just institute his/her very own multi-party system – or at least represent multiple parties on the same ballot.

This seemed very weird to me at first (I grew up in another state). Something in my gut said that the corollary to the “one-person, one ballot” idea had to be “one candidate, one ballot slot.” That just seemed natural to me. But, honestly, I couldn’t tell you why. Is it just a culturally transmitted mental habit?

Really, what’s so bad about having your name on the ballot multiple times? Even if it gives you a probabilistic advantage (does it? Statisticians please weigh in – my math creds are not what they once were!), maybe that’s not such a bad thing. If you’re able to capture multiple ideological camps, (literally “reach across party lines” as politicians are fond of promising) chances are good that you – and hopefully your policy postures – appeal to voters who identify with those camps… so your statistical advantage may just reflect the will of the people.

Besides, it is New York, and we just have to do things a little differently from everyone else, just because we can.

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