[EM] IRV letter to the editor

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Mar 11 23:14:18 PST 2002

No on Instant Runoff

Instant Runoff (IRV) has big problems that its promoters  don't
talk about. They boast that IRV lets you
express all of your preferences, but they forget to mention that
it may or may not count them. When your 2nd choice compromise is
eliminated because your traveling vote hasn't reached him/her yet,
and your last choice wins, then your preference for Compromise over
Worst hasn't been counted. IRV is a crapshoot.

That results in big violations of majority rule, and it brings back
the old lesser-of-2-evils problem; voters will often regret that they
didn't bury their favorite by ranking Compromise in 1st place.

Ordinary Runoff at least guarantees that a candidate who can beat
each of the others in separate pairwise races can't lose if s/he
comes in 1st or 2nd in the primary. No such guarantee with IRV. In
IRV, s/he can lose even if s/he is the expressed favorite of the most

IRV will do other funny things: Moving someone from 1st choice to
last choice in your ranking can make him/her win. The fact that you
show up & vote can cause your voted last choice to win, where s/he
wouldn't have won if you hadn't voted. Even Plurality won't do those
things. Improvement?

problems I've listed can be avoided by a genuinely better voting
system: Approval.

Approval uses the same ballot as Plurality.  It differs from Plurality only 
in letting voters
vote for more than 1 candidate if they wish, thereby giving one whole
vote to everyone they vote for. Approval has none of the problems
that I've listed above. In particular, no one would ever have any
incentive to vote someone over their favorite. For the first time,
everyone would feel free to fully vote for their favorite.

[end of letter]

The Approval part should be left out when writing to people who
aren't interested in reform, or to a newspaper that wants a 1-topic

Doug, you said you wanted to give Nader some material about
IRV & Approval, and I suggest this brief note, which summarizes
some big IRV problems, and offers an alternative, Approval.

Mike Ossipoff

Chat with friends online, try MSN Messenger: http://messenger.msn.com

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list