[EM] Approval Runoff

Moe St. EverGreen evergreen at lovemail.com
Mon Apr 30 20:28:51 PDT 2001

At the Green Party of Florida meeting last weekend,
the issue of how to handle our officer elections came up.

The first suggestion was, predictably, to use IRV.

In fact, we also received several calls to endorse IRV.

I was encouraged that I was not the only one there aware
of the problems with IRV.

We ended up endorsing Preference Voting in general, taking 
that at its most generic meaning.. that of ranking vote references,
with the final counting method not specified. The purpose of
the endorsement being to make sure any new voting machines,
(as most US people now know Florida needs) would support ranking 
of ballots.

Anyway, back to the point, IRV was not accepted by the group.

Instead, I made a counter proposal that we use Approval Voting.

Approval voting was accepted, and worked wonderfully for most of 
our elections (with a large majority of voter satisfaction, it seemed)
until we came to a tie for spokeperson.

2 people tied, with the third candidate having a lesser number of 

So, I suggested a runoff between the top two.

That was accepted (I was the third person losing, by the way, so
perhaps my suggestion was given more credence in that I was
accepting my defeat).

And although some people might have predicted otherwise,
the removal of a person (and possibly further reflection on
the fact that there was a tie), resulted in a different amount 
of votes for the two people after the runoff, again with a high
majority of voter satisfaction.

In this case, I think that a random determination had a high
chance of being perceived as unsatisfactory, and similarly
a chair breaking the tie would have not been acceptable.

However, I'm not really sure the runoff needed to have eliminated
a person. Since we don't use secret ballot, and actually count 
the people voting, and allow people to caucus and discuss for
two minutes before voting, it seemed that rather than the elimination
changing the dynamic, politicking changed the dynamic. 
Some people were likely convinced by others to absent, 
because the winner's votes only increased by 2, while the other 
person's votes decreased by 10.

Anyway, I though this story might interest those searching for
hybrid systems. 

It seems Approval makes the use of a serious runoffs slightly more 

Runoffs are usually a serious of pluralities, having all the problems of IRV.

A series of Approval Runoffs which might be seen as an extension of
what we used for a tie breaker, seems to have more merit for a meeting
than a series of Plurality Runoffs as described in Roberts.

Especially when the vote is not secret and here are not too many
people (or there is some good voting mechanism) to easily count 
them quicky.

I'm can not see how, though, a ballot could be designed
for any kind of useful Instant Approval Runoff.

In that circumstance, I hope to find a way to describe
something like Cloneproof SSD that would be acceptable 
for an instant balloting for use with expensive one-time mail ballots.

IRV has a main disadvantage (and one big advantage
for its opponents) in that it would be much more expensive to 
implement than most Condorcet methods.

However, all of the definitions of cloneproof SSD that I have seen
are very difficult to describe, and often don't have very distinguishable
examples that show various aspects of the process.

- Moe.

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