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Bullet Voting As A Voting Strategy

Original post made by Student Advocate, Another Palo Alto neighborhood, on Oct 26, 2012

I just want to follow up on the thread that was deleted (rightly so) which contained a voting strategy that I have used my whole life. It just seems like common sense to me that if there is only one candidate that I strongly support (in this case I am supporting Ken Dauber)that I only vote for him. If I just do the everyday math I can see that this really makes sense. Some folks may feel this is undemocratic but I have never felt beholden to vote for someone whose platform I don't believe in or whom I may have really lukewarm feelings about just because someone tells me to fill in all the bubbles. I have had to do that on two many many higher level elections (ie President) and it doesn't feel good voting for someone just because I couldn't abide by having the other person win! This is an instance where using a shrewd voting strategy can win votes for my candidate so I will use it. I am not often faced with the ability to increase my candidates chance of winning so why would I walk away from the opportunity? Why have people become so outraged at the suggestion that people only vote for one for PAUSD School Board? I wonder.........

Comments (16)

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Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:27 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

I voted for Ken Dauber, too. However, now that people are somewhat aware of bullet voting, will more of them do it, or be repulsed by the idea?

Something about it just does not feel right, even if it is legal. My experience has shown me that if something feels wrong, it usually is. Perhaps not legally, but morally or ethically.

Also important to know: did Ken Dauber know about emails encouraging the practice, or was this done by someone else on their own?


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Posted by no big deal
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm

I think this is a tempest in a tea pot personally. The email was sent by an over-enthusiastic supporter, not by the candidate. Ken sent an email to my friend at Hays saying that he didn't send it and that he is voting for Melissa. So this should not reflect on him.

On the other hand, poor Ken has been the victim of a lot of negative email, negative leaflets, even a nasty letter containing a line of personal attack here in PA Weekly (bad on the Weekly for publishing the personal attack by Hays). Different standards apply to the Committee of 400 than the regular people who post here, I guess.

What is a campaign asking people to vote for anyone but Ken as has been run by some of our so-called community leaders such as Camille Townsend? Reverse bullet voting, if you ask me.

Just vote for who you like and don't vote for who you don't.

Trust Palo Alto to make it complicated.


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Posted by Student Advocate
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

@Ducatigirl: I have known about maximizing odds of a candidate winning in multi-candidate races for years. It is a common and well know practice. It just makes sense if you do the math and it doesn't really require someone with average or above intelligence much to do much thinking to come to this conclusion on their own. It would not take an email from a friend encouraging me to do so for me to get the idea. For you if it feels wrong then you shouldn't do it. For me there is nothing about morals or ethics. I find it much more unethical for me to have to go to the polls in so many elections voting against a candidate rather than for a candidate (so many of the presidential elections have been about voting against). Ethically, it feels great for me to be able to vote for someone that I feel really good about. BTW, this is not a discussion about emails
so I will refrain from comment on this. It is just about voting strategies. You will find my opinions about Ken and the other candidates on other threads.


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Posted by parent
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:43 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm

I don't think the thread were deleted because of the topic of bullet voting, but the fact that they included an email about it.

I was listening to the radio recently (KLIV) and there was an opinion piece about voting. The speaker suggested that generally speaking most voters in a multi faceted election (like we have this time around) are only passionate and well versed in certain topics. He went on to say that unless a voter had a passion or had done a great deal of research on all the different races, it was sensible to only vote for those candidates or those races in which the voter had a passion or strong feelings for. In other words, it is OK to cherry pick the ballot and only vote for what the voter really wanted rather than to feel obliged to fill in every box.

This was a well thought out opinion because otherwise people may vote for reasons other than what they should.

I hope this is not edited out as I know I have passed on my thoughts on what I heard and it cannot be verified. But it made a lot of sense to me and I agree that if you only have one person who you really want that it makes no sense to choose other names just to fill in the blanks.


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Posted by village fool
a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:04 pm

village fool is a registered user.

Talking with several citizens who grew up in other democracies, having different jurisdictions and voting systems presented to me the possibility that - "shrewd voting strategy" or "does not feel right" (copied from above) is just a matter of geography.
It did not cross the mind of those growing elsewhere that all the bubbles need to be filled. Simple. Voting for one preferred option could have resulted from of not knowing enough of the other options, or not caring.


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Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 26, 2012 at 10:31 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

Thanx for the info, everyone. It really does help me and I appreciate it.


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Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2012 at 11:14 pm

determinant is a registered user.

Interesting approach. The other candidates are saying " even if you're not voting for me, still vote". What example do we want to give to our children.


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Posted by Peggy Duncan
a resident of Community Center
on Oct 27, 2012 at 9:26 am

Peggy Duncan is a registered user.

I remember talking about this idea a long time ago at a League lunch. If I remember right, it is really about making sure that you are not voting against yourself. If you really want one candidate to win and are less excited about the others, then you would be silly to vote for your favorite candidate and then go on to give another one of your votes to their opponent. You could be cancelling out your own vote, and helping your less preferred candidate to beat your more preferred candidate. It makes sense to me, why vote in a way that makes it less likely that the election will come out the way that you want?

For the school board election, I want to try to get Caswell and Dauber elected, since I think they will make a good team. I will vote for both of them (not just Dauber), but other people could have different ideas.

I don't understand what determinant is saying, since nobody is saying that people shouldn't vote. I have been so involved in the League because I think everyone should participate in our local elections.


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Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 27, 2012 at 10:06 am

determinant is a registered user.

Kent's approach is "if you vote for me, don't vote for anyone else" . I would have thought the difference was obvious.


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Posted by JLS mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 28, 2012 at 2:26 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

@Determinant, I have been receiving some very negative email from supporters of Camille and Heidi saying that I should vote for a slate to stop Ken from winning. I do not appreciate this negative campaigning at all since it has nothing to do with our schools (particularly since some of it is coming from someone who doesn't even live here any more).

I have decided to vote just for Ken and Melissa because I am offended by the negative campaigning. I want to offset this by not voting for them so that their slate plan won't work. I was actually planning to vote for Camille and said so on one of these forums but I am offended by the negative campaigning and I will not do it. My votes are going to Melissa Caswell and Ken Dauber.


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Posted by Ducatigirl
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Ducatigirl is a registered user.

I am so glad this whole bullet voting thing was brought up as a post. I really am enjoying and appreciating everyone's input. Seriously, it has been educational, because this is new territory for me.

However, I have to agree with JLS mom, that all this negative campaigning is really off-putting. These are adults acting like adolescents! What must our children be thinking as they observe this???




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Posted by determinant
a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 29, 2012 at 9:05 am

determinant is a registered user.

"I do not appreciate this negative campaigning at all since it has nothing to do with our schools (particularly since some of it is coming from someone who doesn't even live here any more)."

I don't know what you're talking about - can you post those emails? Are they just sending out media endorsements or do they directly say "don't vote for Ken"?

Making sure everyone understands the impact of their vote is about the district and our schools. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


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Posted by milefive
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Oct 30, 2012 at 10:34 pm

milefive is a registered user.

I also do not appreciate the negative campaign smearing going on against Ken Dauber and decided to vote only for him as I don't know which other School board candidate's camp has been spearheading this nastiness. The three women school board candidates have not seemed to have taken any steps to stop any of it thus demeaning all three of them in my eyes. I wish they had stepped up together and said, "Please, let's focus on the issues and keep everything above board." Instead they have been silent thus complicit. I cannot vote for such people and therefore have voted only for Ken Dauber, the only candidate who has run a professional and clean campaign. That's the kind of School Board member I want.


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Posted by Fred
a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 30, 2012 at 10:50 pm

Fred is a registered user.

To be clear, Dauber's supporter promoted bullet voting and, from the stories I read, Dauber did nothing to discourage it and appreciated the support. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

I don't think that's negative campaigning - that's just the facts about what he has done. He may have good ideas (or not - really I don't know), but I don't like his tactics and I worry that he brings a divisiveness to the board.


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Posted by JLS mom of 2
a resident of JLS Middle School
on Oct 30, 2012 at 11:32 pm

JLS mom of 2 is a registered user.

Fred's post is a good example of why I am voting for Ken and Melissa only. I hope that Melissa is not involved in this negative campaigning and if I found that she is I would not vote for her either. [Portion removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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