IRV wins big in SF and Vermont

Forest Simmons fsimmons at
Thu Mar 7 17:42:35 PST 2002

On Thu, 7 Mar 2002, Rob LeGrand wrote:

> I'm sorry to hear of IRV successes.  The public might have to learn the truth
> about IRV the hard way.  Oh, why can't they see the near-perfection of
> Approval?  It's beautiful in its simplicity.

I feel exactly the same way.

My dialogues with IRV afficionados have taught me this: they believe that
IRV almost always allows them to safely vote favorite strictly above
compromise, and they realize that good Approval strategy often requires
them to vote compromise(s) equal with favorite.

That partial truth reflects a serious misunderstanding which they refuse
to consider. [I won't go into that again here.]

This one misunderstanding stands in the way of further consideration of
Approval for almost all who have been bitten by the IRV bug.

How do we solve this dilemma?  Do we just keep trying to reason with as
many as will listen?  Or do we try to modify IRV in a way that obviously
improves and simplifies it without sacrificing its apparent advantage over

Or what?

How about the Five Slot Approval?  How about Demorep's ACMA adpated to
the Grade Ballot?

How about Proxy Approval, where the voters designate their favorites as
proxies and let the proxies cast approval ballots on their behalf?  Or
Proxy Single Elimination, where the voters delegate authority to their
favorites to vote for them in a series of head-to-head contests, etc.?

A carefully chosen Proxy method would be less vulnerable to compromising
than IRV, and much simpler for the voter (just mark your favorite on the
ballot, and trust him/her to cast your vote wisely in the final stage or
stages of the election).

I don't believe that IRVies would claim that Proxy Approval punishes the
voter for voting Favorite strictly above Compromise.

Their main objection would be that some voters would like to designate
their second and third choices as well, not completely trusting their
favorite as proxy.

That's my main objection, too, (although I would trust Nader as my proxy
any day), but that defect doesn't bother me nearly as much as IRV's
defects. [Whoever wins, favorite or not, will end up as your proxy for
his/her term of office. Might as well get used to the idea.]

As near as I can see it beats IRV in every other respect, not the least of
which is simplicity of ballot.

If we are driven (by IRVie mental blocks) to propose a method inferior to
standard Approval, then let it be a method with a simple ballot, easy to


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list