One way to be a “responsible information consumer” is to understand how different voting systems work. (There is no ideal voting scheme that ensures equitable distribution of power.) Three cheers to anyone who bothers to scrutinize and explain a particular voting system.
Last year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences adopted instant-runoff voting for its selection of best picture, a decision which is sometimes credited for its choice of “The Hurt Locker” over “Avatar” and other nominees. Although the system has its critics, it’s no more convoluted than, say, the voting process for “Dancing With The Stars.” Let me walk you through it:
Instead of simply voting for one candidate, each voter instead ranks all of the choices on his ballot from top to bottom (meaning, in this case, from 1st to 10th). The first-place votes are then tallied. If no choice has received an outright majority of first-place votes, then the choice with the fewest first-place votes is eliminated. If your first choice is eliminated, then your second-place choice gets your vote instead. For instance, if you had ranked “Little Fockers” first, and nobody else had agreed with you that it deserved best picture, your second choice (say, “Twilight: Eclipse”) takes its place. This process then repeats itself, with the candidate with the fewest first-place votes being dropped one stage at a time until one of the remaining choices has received an outright majority.