Strategic voting

LIHUE — The most effective way to get your favorite candidate elected into one of the many positions up for grabs is to talk story.

That’s according to Colin Moore, director of the public policy center at UH Manoa.

“Most elections aren’t won by games, they’re run by turnout, particularly with county council elections,” Moore said. “If you want your candidate to win, ask your friends and family to support that person.”

However, there are a few tricks to the voting trade that could give your favored candidate a leg up in the race. They fall under the term strategic voting, also called tactical voting.

“You vote in a different way than your sincere preference,” Moore said.

When it comes to the upcoming county council race, where there are multiple candidates, one specific type of tactical voting that has been used in the past is called plunking, or bullet voting.

“The idea with that is, if you get three choices for instance and you favor candidate A, you only vote for candidate A. You don’t vote for candidate B or C,” Moore explained. “You make your support more concentrated on that one candidate and it doesn’t dilute your vote. That would work in an election like the one for county council on Kauai.”

Moore explained these kinds of tactics, however, aren’t widely used by the general public.

“There’s been a fair number of studies in political science that show that rarely happens,” Moore said. “We’re talking about a tiny number of people, only the most sophisticated voters bother with that.”

In fact, he said he can’t think of a significant race where anyone attributed the results to strategic voting.

“Most voters just don’t think about things like that if they’re there to vote,” Moore said. “They are expressing their sincere preference and not playing games.”

Enough people banded together with a unified strategy, however, Moore said there’s “no doubt it works.”

“It’s a way to make sure that your favorite candidate gets the most support they possibly can,” Moore said. “But generally it’s far less effective than talking to your friends and neighbors.”


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