The Nomination and Election of Statewide Candidates

42 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2023 Last revised: 27 Nov 2023

See all articles by Edward B. Foley

Edward B. Foley

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: June 22, 2023


The standard system of statewide elections for governor and US senator, among other offices, deserves a thorough overhaul. The collection of signatures by candidates to qualify for the ballot, currently confined to antiquated pen-and-paper technology, can be modernized and put online, so that it can function as a kind of “approval voting” system that yields a reasonable number of candidates (five, for example) for a primary election ballot. Likewise, online party conventions can enable parties to endorse candidates before the primary occurs and to have their endorsed nominees qualify for the government’s “All Qualified Candidates Primary” ballot. Moreover, innovative forms of Ranked Choice Voting—like “Optimal Tournament Voting”—can be used to identify the two candidates on the primary ballot most suitable to advance to the general election, with suitability for this purpose determined by which candidates are most representative of the whole electorate.

Alternatively, even without ranked-choice ballots, the mathematical principles and procedures of Optimal Tournament Voting can be used to create a “top three” general election, in which voters directly express their preferences between each pair of the three candidates who advance to the general election based on the use of approval voting in the primary (or online signature-gathering). Moreover, whether the general election has two or three finalists on the ballot, “fusion voting” can be employed in the general election to permit parties whose nominees are not one of the finalists to renominate whichever finalist they prefer. States should experiment with these innovative alternatives and other variations along the same lines so that elections for statewide office, like governor or US senator, will produce winners who are the candidates most preferred by a majority of the electorate’s voters.

Keywords: Condorcet, fusion, primaries, ranked choice voting, political parties, polarization, representation, majority rule

Suggested Citation

Foley, Edward B., The Nomination and Election of Statewide Candidates (June 22, 2023). University of Illinois Law Review, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN:

Edward B. Foley (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

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