[EM] IRV in action

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Sat Apr 5 18:12:06 PST 2003

On Sat, 05 Apr 2003 10:30:54 -0800 Bart Ingles wrote:

> James Gilmour wrote:
>>>Dave Ketchum replied
>>>Here you need to understand the language IRV uses - they LIKE the word
>>>"majority", treading lightly on the fact that they are doing a majority of
>>>the ballots that remain to be used to determine a winner, and not a
>>>majority of total ballots.
>>See my comment above.  Whatever other defects it may have, IRV does ensure that
>>the winner has the support of half or more of those who are voting at the point
>>when the final decision is made.
> If my favorite is eliminated, but I despise my 2nd-ranked candidate only
> slightly less than my last choice, this doesn't mean I *support* the
> 2nd-ranked candidate in any meaningful sense.  The claim of IRV, or of
> any ranked method for that matter, to guarantee a "majority winner" is
> based on a fallacy of equivocation-- that the derived majority is
> somehow equivalent to an outright majority of voters.  In fact the only
> way to guarantee a majority is to manufacture one.

Yet, voters' possible choices of desires, before they look to see what the 
election method allows them to say, is:
      I consider those two candidates to be equal.
      I consider one candidate to be more desirable than the other.

Seems like, assuming we are down to two candidates competing for winning, 
having verified each is better than the rest of the field, that the 
decision should be left to those voters who see a difference between them, 
  and we should not be concerned as to what percentage make this decision 
(remember that one way to say "equal" is to simply not vote).

If we do not like the words the IRV backers use for this, we should 
complain about the words, rather than complain about the deeds because we 
dislike the words.

> A method which randomly dropped candidates until only two remain, and
> then selected the remaining candidate with the most votes, would have
> just as valid a claim of a "majority winner".  You could even
> sequentially eliminate candidates with the *most* first choice votes,
> until only two remain, and then declare the surviving candidate with the
> most votes a "majority winner".

Seems to me you convict yourself - your lottery discards available 
information to the point that you have no idea whether a majority 
preferred your declared winner.

> You can also guarantee an artificial majority by preventing all but two
> candidates from entering the race in the first place.  You can
> accomplish this, or at least make it more likely, by adopting
> restrictive ballot access rules, or by adopting a two-party-stable
> method such as FPTP, two-round runoff, or IRV.

More ways to prevent voters indicating their desires - EM should be into 
making it easy for voters to express their desires, and recognizing what 
they say, rather than the opposite.

> Some would claim that Condorcet methods choose the true majority, since
> the Condorcet winner is the majority winner in all pairwise contests. 
> But since the pairwise majorities are all "artificial" in the above
> sense, any aggregation of these majorities will also be an artificial
> majority.

Puzzling how this information gets to be "artificial", for it is simply 
looking to see what the actual declared preferences happen to be.

>>>BTW - "majority" is a word that often needs qualification, such as "most
>>>of those who voted" or "most of the members".
>>"Majority" also needs further qualification when it is used with regard to
>>election results.  Here in the UK, the word has been distorted from its original
>>meaning ("more than half") to mean, in elections, "the winner's lead over the
>>second-placed candidate".  This distortion of the language goes well with our
>>placid acceptance of the distortions of FPTP in single-member districts!!
> I'm doubtful that the original meaning of "majority" was "more than
> half".  As far as I can tell, it simply meant "the larger portion".

I tried 3 dictionaries and Robert's Rules just now.  I see all agreeing on 
"more than half".

Actually, the enemy I would like to kill is "50%+1" which, half the time, 
is more restrictive.

> Bart

  davek at clarityconnect.com    http://www.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
   Dave Ketchum    108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708    607-687-5026
              Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                    If you want peace, work for justice.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list