And all this leads too . . .?

Norman Petry npetry at
Fri Jul 31 23:25:57 PDT 1998

Perhaps you're in the wrong place.  According to the list sponsors,

Join the Election Methods Mailing List...

This list is intended as a compliment to the elections-reform mailing list
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has a more "mainstream" appeal. On "election-methods-list", we discuss the
nitty-gritty details of single-winner election reform, the relative merits
of different proportional representation systems, and the technical
underpinnings of all election methods. This list is intended to compliment,
not to replace, the existing "elections-reform" list.

"elections-reform" is still the best forum for discussing strategies used in
reform campaigns, specific legislation addressing reform, and educational
material about reform.

What is the difference, you ask? "election-methods-list" discussions will
most likely be more technical in nature, with the ultimate goal of providing
recommendations and educational material to the members of
"elections-reform". There have been complaints in the past that discussions
on "elections-reform" have been too technical, and "election-methods-list"
has been created to offload the more prolific technical discussions from
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Those that want to have in-depth discussions about the technical subtleties
of election methods can use "election-methods-list" to discuss those things
without fear of reprisal from those who aren't interested.


That said, I think discussions here recently have been making _very_
appropriate use of the list.  Believe it or not, I think most of the people
here have a serious interest in electoral reform, and not in just splitting
hairs.  The reason we spend so much time discussing the fine points of
different election methods is because we know how much more difficult it is
to get an election reform adopted than it is to design a good one (although
even that's not always easy).  Therefore, it makes sense to carefully
analyse voting methods for flaws while the matter is still academic, so that
all the hard work of convincing the public to accept the change is not
wasted because they've replaced one bad method with another.

Once an election method with flaws has been adopted and become well
established, those individuals and groups who are best placed to exploit the
system's weaknesses have a vested interest in ensuring that it is never
changed.  The plurality voting rule which causes many of the problems you
mentioned is a good case in point.  Perhaps if the founding fathers of the
United States had given the matter more thought at the time, they would have
replaced the defective plurality voting rule they inherited from the British
when it would have been easy to do.  Electoral Reformers in the U.S. would
not now be facing such a monumental task.

Norm Petry

-----Original Message-----
From: Curtiss Brown <jcbrown at>
To: election-methods-list at <election-methods-list at>
Date: July 31, 1998 7:25 PM
Subject: And all this leads too . . .?

>        It seems to me that there ought to be some sort of end to all this.
>Some people get accused of not seeing the forest for the trees but this
>is discussing the holes in the bark of the upper branches.
>        Maybe I was naive, but I subscribed to this list to get some ideas
>on how to move the process in my little community from a winner-take-all,
>racially devisive, issue pendulum swinging, voter discontentment generating
>election method to something more glorious.
>        Does anyone have any ideas on how this might be accomplished?
>Curtiss Brown
>jcbrown at
>  or

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