Two of Mike-O's letters

New Democracy donald at
Wed Nov 11 07:45:03 PST 1998

  ------------ Forwarded Letters ------------
Cc: ntk at
Date: Fri, 6 Nov 1998 21:18:47 -0800 (PST)
From: Mike Ositoff <ntk at>
Subject: Re: [ER] Minnesota and IRO
To: elections-reform at

[John Gear wrote:]>
> Perhaps the Condorcet method needs less hostile advocates.  The contempt
> and rage against instant runoff (IRO) that fill messages from Condorcet
> supporters are a real turnoff.

What you call "rage" could better be called frankness.

Contempt? Maybe, but, if so, it's contempt based on study of
IRO & its problems. Not like your contempt for people you
disagree with on a subject about which you haven't informed
yourself. That's what contempt is.

CVD seems contemptuous of the opinions of most people, authors
& other interested people, who have taken the time to study
the merits of voting systems. You're pretty much a good CVD
organization man, aren't you, John?

> Also, I think the depth of the Condorcet advocates' passion causes them to

Spare us the dramatic language, & try to be more objective.

> >That's not hard to understand either, and it's not controversial.
> (snip)
> At least if you agree already.  But exactly how many people have you

Most would agree that if more people rank A over B than rank
B over A, then A can be said to beat B. What part of that don't
you understand?

> managed to reach with the message?

Not as many as can be reached by CVD's funding. Is that your
standard? Who has the most financial backing, and who can
afford to jet around the country the most?

> You knock the Center for Voting and Democracy pretty hard, but you don't
> mention what you've done to promote your preferred method; you don't say
> which organizations you've founded, you don't give a web site URL, you

Regrettably, the people who do the most promotion seem to be
the people most determined to remain ignorant about the
merit issues involved in choosing what to promote.

If you promote something stupid in my state, then don't
be surprised or offended if I criticize it. Your non-reform
would get in the way of actual reform. I'll tell you what--
go back & tell your CVD leadership that if they don't want
to make responsible study of voting systems' relative merits,
no one would object if they refrained from promoting a
single-winner method.

> don't hold conferences--it's not at all clear that you're anything but a
> handful of disagreeable cranks who lash out at people who are actually

This coming from someone who admits his ignorance of the subject
under discussion. A crank is a twit who butts into a discussion
in complete ignorance, criticizing our position when you
haven't taken the trouble to inform yourself about the subject.

> trying to bring election reform to a wider audience beyond lists such as
> this.  You just rage at CVD and say "They're stupid because they don't
> agree with me."

You seem to be mainly into criticizing individuals. Those of
us who criticize IRO are criticizing a method. I'm sorry you
don't like that. Freedom of speech, you know? You aren't stupid
because you disagree with me; you're stupid because you
run off at the mouth, criticizing others' positions, while
self-admittedly not having educated yourself on the subject
on which you're butting in.

There's a decorum standard on these lists; we try to avoid
criticizing people. But since you have nothing else to say,
it's understandable that you resort to that.

> Good luck persuading people to support Condorcet with tactics like these.
> If I was new to the list I would think that Condorcet supporters actually
> wanted status quo, since the main part of their energy seems to be devoted

Better to have the status quo till we can get something that
can be considered improvement. A non-reform promoted as a reform,
and enacted, sets reform back. Maybe before too long, someone
will start active public promotion of a genuine reform. I'd
rather wait for that than go with a non-reform just for the
sake of change.

Mike Ossipoff
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Cc: ntk at
Date: Sun, 8 Nov 1998 00:05:56 -0800 (PST)
Subject: Re: [ER] Reply to Minnesota and Instant Runoff
To: elections-reform at

Don said:

>Instant Runoff will give you a

> majority winner every time. The other methods are inferior to Instant
> Runoff, they cannot produce a majority winner everytime. Condorcet, the

That produced majority, manufactured majority is a delusion of
Don's. It's a "majority" created by the rules of his method.
First we do IRO's erratic & capricious eliminations till there
are only 2 alternatives left. Whichever one has more people
preferring it to the other, according to Don, has a "majority".

As Blake Cretney pointed out, let's say, in a many-candidate
race, we randomly choose 2 candidates, and then hold a public
vote between those 2 (or use the rankings to simulate that vote
as IRO would do). One of them wins the vote; does that mean
that candidate has a majority in any meaningful sense?

You could intentionally choose the 2 most hated candidates, in
fact, and hold a vote between those 2, and according to Don's
comical definition of a majority, the winner of that vote
has a majority. The method has "provided a majority".

If you're new to ER, Don is a clown who has been entertaining
EM, and sometimes ER. We have to apologize for him when he
spills over to ER.

> best of the other methods, will only give you a majority winner two out of
> three times. That third time is when Condorcet slips into a circular tie,

That 2 out of 3 idea is based on a simulation that I pointed out
was structurally flawed at the time that it was first described
by a member of EM. I don't know how often circular ties will
occur. Some will be natural, some will result from people's
natural tendency to vote short rankings, or to attempt reversal-
strategy if one of the worse circular tie-breakers is used.

> which is when each candidate has won over one other candidate but has also
> lost to a second candidate. Once Condorcet is in a circular tie it is
> mathematically impossible for a majority winner to be determined, no matter
> which tie solution you decide to use.

Fruitcake Don does more talking than listening, and so he
has forgotten that majority rule still applies in a circular
tie. Even if everyone is beaten, it's still possible to exclude
election of anyone beaten with a majority of the voters against
him. Sometimes only 1 candidate isn't majority-beaten.

Another thing that Don has forgotten is how readily IRO violates
majority rule, when none of the Condorcet versions would. Here's
one simple example:

 40  25  35
  A   B   C
  B       B

A wins by IRO, even though a 60% majority prefer B to A.
There's also a 65% majority preferring B to C. B beats everyone.
The expressed wishes of a majority are violated when IRO elects
A instead of B.

>      Which raises the question: Do you know which tie solution are you
> going to use? This is important because a different solution will select a
> different candidate, and there are as many tie solutions as there are so
> called "Condorcet voting specialists". The lion share of the endless debate
> on the Methods list revolves around the many different tie solutions, in
> spite of the fact that not one of them will give you a winner with a
> majority.

You've seen from the above example what kind of "majority"
IRO gives you. There are only 2 significantly different Condorcet
versions being proposed & debated on EM. There are various
different count procedures which are agreed to not be significantly
different from eachother in merit. There are many ways to do anything.
There are only classes of count rules significantly different in
merit which are debated on EM.

>      R L Suter wrote in one of his recent letters: "And if there is no
> candidate that beats all the others in 1-to-1 comparisons, the candate that
> does the best overall against all the others wins."
>      In the event someone does not understand what Suter is saying, allow
> me to translate by saying the same in different words:
>  UFO calling: Houston we have a problem. Our Condorcet has slipped into a
>               circular tie - over.

Fruitcake likes to re-invent things that we've said. I mention
that because he does it often.

> Donald Davison

Mike Ossipoff
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