[EM] FWDs on IRV and the Electoral College

Instant Runoff Voting supporter donald at mich.com
Mon Nov 27 05:27:56 PST 2000

From: "Casey Peters" <kcpeters at ix.netcom.com>
To: "IRV Supporters" <donald at mich.com>
Cc: "Instant Runoff Voting" <instantrunoff at egroups.com>,
        "CPR Los Angeles" <proprep at hotmail.com>
Subject: Re: Do the Math on any Electoral College amendment
Date: Fri, 24 Nov 2000
   While agreeing with your analysis that the Electoral College will not be
abolished under the United States Constitution, I wish we could replace it
with a French-style two-round direct popular election or with IRV.
   IRV (Instant Runoff Voting)  is an excellent system for electing
executives, such as governors, mayors, etc. It gives each voter
a chance to express their true desire and also a second preference.
If no candidate wins a majority in the count of first preferences,
then the lowest candidates are eliminated and their ballots are
redistributed to each voter's second preference.
   IRV should never be used for legislative offices, as it would
eliminate third parties, most women and minority candidates.
Using the unit rule (whether with States giving all their Electors
to one Presidential candidate, or with Members of Congress
and state legislators being chosen by winner-take-all districts)
wastes the votes of everybody but the plurality supporters.
Instead, all multiple member decision making bodies should be
elected by PR (Proportional Representation).
   IRV is the wrong answer for "reforming the Electoral College".
Since we are not electing an executive (the U.S. President), rather
a decision making body (Electoral College),  what we should do
choose Electors proportionally to the vote in each State.  In the
Y2K election, for instance, Florida would have given 12 Electors
each to Bush and Gore, and one Elector to Ralph Nader.
The Electors themselves could vote by IRV, with a majority of Electoral
Votes required to elect the President.
 -- Casey <proprep at hotmail.com>

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From: "Casey Peters" <kcpeters at ix.netcom.com>
To: "Instant Runoff Voting supporter" <donald at mich.com>
Cc: <fairvote at compuserve.com>,
        "Instant Runoff Voting" <instantrunoff at egroups.com>
Subject: Re: Addition to recent post:
Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000
    As a disclaimer, I must first reiterate that I am a long-time
advocate for abolishing the Electoral College.  We could
give it a try, but I doubt that, even following the current
debacle, the 15 or 20 smallest States would be willing to
forgo their bonus votes.  Passage of a Constitutional
Amendment takes approval from 38 States.  Therefore,
pragmatism dictates that we look at  proposals for making
the Electoral College more reflective of the popular vote.
    Your proposal has some good points, but also has flaws.
Please think this through thoroughly.
This added step turns your proposal from anti-third-party
(eliminating all but the top two vote-getters in each State)
into outright anti-democratic.  Think about it.  If, to take
an historical example, George Wallace carried several states
in 1968, his votes would be ignored because he came in
third nationally.  Wallace carried Mississippi with 63.5% and
Alabama with 65.8% of the vote.  Under the system you are
proposing, one-third of the voters would be awarded all of the
Electors, and the overwhelming majority in those States would
get absolutely none.  Sounds like grounds for another Civil War.
   Why eliminate any candidates?  If someone got enough support
to win Electors in any given state, why should that be denied?
Allowing all voters to be represented in their preferences is
morally necessary in a democracy.  In your words, "If we divide
the Electoral votes according to popular vote in each state, ...
the Electoral vote count ...will be in the same percentages as
the sums of the popular votes ...".  The only way to guarantee
that is a Constitutional Amendment mandating the use of
Proportional Representation in voting for each State's Electors.
   The Amendment should also direct the Electors to cast votes by IRV.
This will assure that all votes are counted and that, after ballots are
transferred,  a clear majority have voted for the newly elected President.
-- Casey

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From: Donald Davison
Dear Casey Peters,

     Thank You for writing. You asked me to: "Please think this through
     I have and find you are in error. (sorry)
     My plan is something a single state can do to improve the presidential
election for the citizens of its state, and my plan will do that very well,
while you and others are still waiting for a national amendment.
     When the state submits its official results, it is necessary for it to
have the same two candidates as the top two national candidates. To do
otherwise would deny the people of the state from having a voice in the
election when the final decision is being made between the last two
national candidates. Wallace may have carried Mississippi and Alabama, but
the people of those two states are still entitled to have a voice in the
decision between the last two national candidates. As it turned out, they
had no voice in the final decision.

     You have two more errors. One is when you advocate that the Electors
of the Electoral College should cast votes by IRV. This means that they
would be making the lower choices for the people of the state. This is
wrong, the people are able to decide their own lower choices.
    Your third error is when you wrote: "IRV is the wrong answer for
reforming the Electoral College".  IRV is the correct answer. I also would
like to point out that at the end of the same paragraph, you said: "The
Electors themselves could vote by IRV..."  Which is it Casey?  If IRV is
the wrong answer, then why do you advocate it to be used?
    If it is best for the Electors then it is best for the voters.

Regards, Donald Davison, Host of New Democracy: www.mich.com/~donald

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Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2000,
From: Steve.Chessin at Eng.Sun.COM (Steve Chessin)
To: donald at mich.com, kcpeters at ix.netcom.com
Subject: Re: Do the Math on any Electoral College amendment
Cc: instantrunoff at egroups.com, proprep at hotmail.com
   When it comes to electoral reform, I guess I'm more a pragmatist than a
purist.  I'm told by some mainstreamers that large states won't want to
divide their EC votes proportionally, as it makes them less
sought-after prizes.  (Of course, the biggest prize, California, wasn't
sought-after at all, since it was locked up early by Gore, but that's
how the argument goes.)  Also, if a PR system had been used in 1992,
the election would have been thrown to the House of Representatives,
and few of the mainstreamers will support that.  (The mainstreamers are
the people we need to win over in order to get any electoral reform
passed, whether by initiative or by legislative action.)
   One alternative floated by some mainstreamers is to have the EC votes
be done by Congressional district (a la Nebraska and Maine), but still
using first-past-the-post to determine the winner in each district.
(Under this plan, the extra 2 EC votes go to the statewide FPTP winner.)
Some mainstreamers even mistakenly call this a "proportional" system.
   The EC may be a mini-legislature, but its sole purpose is to elect
a single winner, so I don't see anything wrong with using statewide
IRV for it.  (And if your state wants to go to a district system, okay,
just make sure they use IRV in each district.)
  As a pragmatist, I say go with what you can get.  Since I don't think
the EC is going to be abolished any time soon, reform of the
Presidential election process is going to happen on a state-by-state
basis.  If you think you can get your legislature/electorate to support
PR allocation, fine.  If you can't get that, but can get
use of IRV, either state-wide or by district, that's fine, too.
   (Had state-wide IRV been used in New Hampshire, Oregon, and maybe New
Mexico, the Florida vote wouldn't have mattered.)
   The most important thing is to educate people that there are better
ways to decide an election besides first-past-the-post.  Let's not get
hung-up amongst ourselves as to what the "best" way is to elect the
President (there is no "best" way -- Arrow's theorem proves that -- and
reasonable people will disagree over the system they most prefer).
Let's instead take advantage of whatever buzz exists in our communities
to raise the level of discussion to include alternatives, and work for
whatever will is achievable in our respective states.

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