More than half the adults in the U.S. have now gotten at least one shot of a COVID-19 vaccine. But interest has slowed down, so, a lot of companies are thinking more about whether vaccinations are key to bringing employees who’ve been working from home back into the office. Indiana University Professor Kosali Simon says at this point, more companies seem inclined to offer incentives for vaccination instead of requiring it, which she says is a good place to start. Simon says any time an employer mandates something, there is going to be goodwill cost. Companies are waiting, she says, to see how well the approaches of providing information and incentivizing softly with decision tools goes before moving to any mandate-type actions. Recent studies have shown that about 90 percent of U.S. companies now say they will either require or encourage employees to get vaccinated. Furthermore, 65 percent say they’ll offer incentives to their employees to do so, Simon says.
In other news, former President Donald Trump has claimed at times that he’ll start a third political party called the Patriot Party. In fact, a recent poll showed 62 percent of Americans say they’d welcome the chance to vote for a third party. But Marjorie Hershey, professor emeritus of political science at IU, says while in almost every other democracy in the world, Americans would get their wish of a third-party option, in the U.S. there has yet to be a viable third-party option. Hershey says the American electoral system is the primary reason why the U.S. is the sole major democracy with only two parties consistently capable of electing public officials. Votes are counted in most American elections using plurality rules, or “winner take all.” Whoever gets the most votes wins the single seat up for election. Other democracies choose to count some or all of their votes differently. For instance, instead of voting only in your state district, some systems would allow for voters to see a list of all candidates in all of a state’s districts and to select one of the party slates. In this type of system, Hershey says it would make sense for even a small party to run candidates for the U.S. House, reasoning that if they got just 5 percent of the vote, they could win 5 percent of the state’s U.S. House seats. Additionally, Hershey says, there’s another factor working against third-party success: State legislatures make the rules about how candidates and parties get on the ballot, and state legislatures are made up almost exclusively of Republicans and Democrats. So, a minor-party candidate typically needs many more signatures on a petition to get on the ballot than major-party candidates do. Hershey says the idea of a “center” party has great appeal – in theory. However, in practice, few agree on what “centrist” means and lots of people envision a “center” party that reflects all their own views and none of the views they disagree with. There are good reasons for Americans to want more major parties, Hershey says. It’s hard for two parties to capture the diversity of views in a nation of more than 300 million people. But Hershey says to get there, Congress and state legislatures would need to make fundamental changes in American elections, converting single-member districts with winner-take-all rules into multi-member districts with proportional representation.