Arrgh! I'm so sick of hearing people say that. I've talked to so many people who like Nader, but won't vote for him because of our screwed-up voting system. Most of these people aren't really voting for Gore; they're voting against Bush!
I'd like to see how the results of a survey would change if the question were changed from "for whom do you plan to vote?" to "which of the following would you most like to see win the election?"
Of course, the people who say a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush may have a point -- but it seems that nobody bothers to point out that the problem is our voting system. So, let's change it!
It can be shown mathematically that no voting system is perfect, but I'll spare you the tedious details. (I'm a mathematician, not a sadist!) But, in a winner-take-all election, the system that makes the most sense to me is called the instant runoff system. (This is not to be confused with standard runoff elections, which tend to have low voter turnouts, and are inconvenient for all concerned.)
In an instant runoff election, the voters rank the candidates in order of preference. In an instant runoff election, I could vote for Nader as my first choice and Gore as my second choice. If Nader turned out to receive fewer first-choice votes than the other candidates, my vote would automatically be applied as a vote for Gore.
Another voting method that deserves some discussion is called proporional representation. This method would not apply to a presidential election, but it could apply to a congressional election.
So, perhaps we should let the mathematicians come up with the ideal voting system. Oh yeah, I keep forgetting... I am a mathematician. But I don't have all the answers. It's just clear to me that our current system does not work optimally, since it encourages people to vote for candidates that they think will win, instead of the most desirable candidates.
Having said that, I'm voting for Nader. I think he's the best candidate. "Third parties" are not going to be taken seriously until they start getting some serious votes, so I'm going to do my part.
Anyway, here are some interesting links to sites discussing various alternative voting schemes
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