kuro5hin just asked a very interesting question.
Why do we just vote for one person?
Why don't we put the candidates we like IN ORDER, first to last on our ballots, instead?
Candidate 1: gets 1 vote.
Candidate 2: gets 1/2 vote.
Candidate 3: gets 1/3 vote.
Candidate 4: gets 1/4 vote.
etc. as many as you want.
In a system like that, two candidates who are similar but both favored over a third would actually have that sentiment borne out in votes.
I'm pretty sure that the only reason this wasn't written into the constitution is because it would have been backbreaking mathematics work for the vote-counters.
Among five people, if two vote for fred with their second choice as bob, and three vote for bob with their second choice as fred, bob would win as usual. But if three candidates are running, and the third candidate is the second choice after bob for two people instead of fred, then bob would win, as the rightfully preferred candidate. IT'S SO SIMPLE!
But seriously ... doesn't this make more, a LOT more, sense than just voting for one person? It handily solves the problem with 'throwaway candidates' messing up elections, and in a choice among many candidates, the most favored one really does end up winning.
It's not hard to understand, either. The ballot can read:
|Write a 1 next to the candidate you like most. Write a 2 next to your second favorite, if you have one. ONE NUMBER PER CANDIDATE.|