[EM] Our laziness let IRV win

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 11 23:07:02 PST 2002

Doug Greene wrote:

So, in the real world, the IRVies are kicking our asses, while we debate
how many voting systems can dance on the end of a ballot.

I reply:

Yes, I was so busy debating winning-votes vs margins that I didn't
notice that IRV was soon going to be voted on in San Francisco.

Not only didn't I send any information to the SF IRV opponents,
for use in their ballot arguments and campaign materials, but I
didn't even send a letter to the editor until just before the
election; it didn't get printed.

What can anyone say that would make us feel sillier for letting that
happen? Let's not let it happen in Alaska.

My Feb. 28 letter to the Chronicle described IRV problems and then
introduced Approval as a genuine reform, all in 200 words. But
it was probably perceived as an effort to exploit the IRV issue for
promotion of my own proposal, and it wasn't printed. Then I sent
a letter devoted entirely to IRV's problems, comparing it unfavorably
to Plurality & ordinary Runoff. But I sent that the night before the
election, and so I might as well not have bothered.

Rob Lanphier's interesting, thoughtful, and fairly couragous letter
deserves a more detailed reply, but let me make a few comments here:

You never were an IRVie! An IRVie is different from an IRVist.
Maybe you were an IRVist, but you weren't an IRVie.

An IRVie is a special kind of IRVist.  The kind of arrogant promoter
who is all promoter and not at all interested in the relative merits
of voting systems.

I've had lots of experience with CVD, and they fit my IRVie
definition. People to whom IRV is being promoted deserve to hear
all information relevant to the issue of adopting IRV. CVD and friends
don't share that. They've heard the IRV disadvantages from us, but
they sit on that information. I don't know about you, but that
sounds dishonest to me.

I was a member of CVD. Members of CVD have no influence or vote
in CVD's policies. I once called it CVA, Center for Voting &
Autocracy. Around '93 they announced they were going to publish
position papers on various topics including single-winner. But
before announcing that, they'd already chosen who would write the
single-winner paper. How's that for democracy? The paper predictably
touted IRV as the best single-winner voting system.  But if you
want an example of real sleaze, I refer you to their behavior in
the California League of Women Voters election reform project. I've
written about that before. Blake says I shouldn't say they're
dishonest or sleazy. Sorry, Blake, but that's what they were.

They gave $5000 to California LWV. They just happened to get an IRVie  
majority on the committee that governed the project. That committee
was IRVie all the way. Their informational materials, to assist
local chapters in choosing a voting reform, were blatant IRV promotion.
IRV promotional articles were at their website, but though I long
requested that Approval articles be allowed at the website, they
were never put up. At least not for the long time during which I
was attempting to take part. That was after Approval had been accepted
as one of the proposals for LWV to consider.

These people need to be taught that if they arrogantly promote without
trying to improve their ignorance, then they'll lose. I must admit that we
didn't do a good job of that in SF. Maybe we can reverse them in SF
and stop them in Alaska & elsewhere. Wait till IRV fails in use in SF,
as it's sure to. IRV then will discredit its promoters when it
discredits itself.

I don't agree that IRV will lead to Condorcet. IRV is a step sideways
into a mudhole. We'll be stuck with that nonreform, and genuine
reform won't have a chance--for how many generations?

Doug continued:

Where can I find a good tutorial on ranked pairs (margins) and ranked
pairs (weighted votes)? I've seen much discussion about this lately,
but am not too familiar.

I reply:

Let me state a few definitions of Ranked Pairs. I don't consider
Ranked Pairs a very good descriptive name. "Tideman" would be better,
even though Tideman only proposed the margins version.

Worded in a way that makes it more comparable to other Condorcet

Drop the strongest defeat that's the weakest defeat in a cycle.
Repeat till there are no cycles.

[end of definition]

In my classification, I called that a top-down Condorcet version
as opposed the the bottom-up versions like PC, SSD, & CSSD.

Someone might well ask why it starts by dropping stronger defeats,
and it would be better to avoid making people have to ask that.
So it could instead be worded:

1. Arrange the pair-defeats in a list with stronger defeats closer to
   the top.
2. Starting with the top defeat, and proceeding down the list, consider
   each defeat as follows: Keep it if it doesn't cycle with previously-
   kept defeats.
3. When all the defeats have been so considered, the candidate wins
   who has no defeat.

[end of definition]

Steve Eppley and Tideman have proposed briefer definitions,
based on goal rather than procedure, but I feel that those require
too much explanation, and that people want a procedure for a definition.

Of course the 1st 2 defeats will be kept, since there aren't
enough already-kept defeats for them to cycle with.

Advantages of CSSD over Tideman:

CSSD has a more briefly & simply programmed implementation, the
BeatpathWinner implementation. Added to that, Tideman becomes especially
wordy & difficult for small committees where there can be equal
defeats and pairties.

So I consider CSSD better than Tideman for committees.

Also, CSSD always chooses from the initial Schwartz set, but
Tideman doesn't. But in public elections Tideman virtually always

When CSSD/BeatpathWinner and Tideman pick different winners, the
Tideman winner more often than not pairbeats the CSSD winner.

Tideman's definition is somewhat briefer, and doesn't need to
define the Schwartz set. Some try to avoid mentioning cycles, but
then they have to say "...conflict with previously-kept defeats".
Maybe that will be better-accepted by the public than saying "cycle
with previously kept defeats", but I'm not sure.

Tideman's simpler definition (I prefer the 2nd one that I wrote here)
may make it a more winnable public proposal, if people are going
to throw up their hands when we speak of the Schwartz set. But I
don't know if people will be bothered by the Schwartz set. It didn't
bother my girlfriend at all, and she had no experience with voting
systems. I defined it with a diagram. She'd objected that other
voting system definitions were difficult, and so she wasn't just
being polite about SSD.

Polling trials are the best way to find out if Tideman or CSSD
is the more winnable proposal.

In a subsequent posting, I'll post a combination of my 2
unprinted letters to the editor about IRV.

Mike Ossipoff

Join the world’s largest e-mail service with MSN Hotmail. 

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list