Demorep1's SW method 2/14/97

Hugh Tobin htobin at
Sun Feb 16 22:32:29 PST 1997

DEMOREP1 at wrote:
> A copy of this is being sent to the ER list since some folks fail to note the
> importance of having a MOAV winner- see Step 2.

	Perhaps this is because there is no particular importance to having a
"MOAV" winner, and because the additional opportunities for manipulation
that are introduced by requiring it are not worth the candle.  It might
be nice to think there is sufficient consensus in the society so that
one candidate would be chosen by a majority of those voting.  It might
also be nice if the majority were of all those eligible to vote, but are
we going to demand that?  The difference between the two denominators is
largely a function of factors such as the weather, the nature of the
other races on the ballot, and how many candidates are on the ballot for
the particular office.
  There is nothing inherently wrong with having one of the alternatives
on the ballot be that the legislature select a candidate (though what
happens if the legislature deadlocks is a problem -- does the incumbent
just stay in office? -- if so and if deadlock looks possible his
supporters won't want to "approve" anyone else).  But there is no reason
why this option should get preferential treatment, so that a failure to
vote "yes" for a candidate would count as a vote for the parliamentary
option.  The ballot should present clearly the choices available and
implement the will of the relevant majority -- that is, the majority of
those who vote one way or the other on a particular choice.  In order to
select the parliamentary option over any given candidate a voter should
have to do so expressly, and that option should not prevail if a
candidate beats it head-to-head and also beats all other candidates.
	As a voter, I would resent being told I must vote to "approve" a
candidate in order to prevent the position from becoming vacant, or
being filled by order of Newt Gingrich.  Let me vote as between the
actual alternatives, please -- in this case, in a pairwise race between
Clinton and an unspecified politician to emerge from smoke-filled rooms
on Capitol Hill -- and without the form of the ballot skewing the
results.  If Clinton wins that contest, I may be relieved but I will
deny being part of a majority who "approve" of him.  If such a pairwise
race were expressly on the ballot and Clinton were to win that race but
with less than a "MOAV", and Clinton also beat Bob Dole, I think it
would be quite unfair if Newt then announced that, due to the system's
requirement for a candidate to receive a "MOAV" in order to defeat the
unspecified congressional appointee, the Congress would appoint Dole as
President (even if it were Mrs. Dole).  It could be equally unfair if
that result were reached in an "approval" system that conceals the
choice being made and counts abstentions in favor of the legislature --
e.g., if Clinton had only 49% "yes" because some voters failed to
understand that by not voting "yes" they would be treated as voting in
favor of the parliamentary option. 

-- Hugh Tobin

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