[EM] IRV in action

Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Mon Apr 7 00:46:01 PDT 2003

James Gilmour wrote:

> > Similarly, when IRV is being used then the voters will also accept
> > situations where an extremist is elected because all moderate
> > candidates have been eliminated at earlier stages.
>Are there examples of this from real public IRV elections?

If you can find examples of IRV elections where there were three strong 
factions, and where actual ballot preferences are listed, then you may very 
well find such an example.  There are two problems in finding such results:

1)  Very few IRV elections list actual ballot totals.  At best you tend to 
get runoff numbers, which can make it difficult to trace back to the 
original ballots.

2)  Many here have argues that IRV has a tendency to keep two parties up, 
and keep the others down.  The effect is surely weaker than it is in FPTP, 
but it is present to some degree.  This reduces the probability of the 
"nightmare" scenario I described before, but at the price of keeping 
political competition down.

>But if this happens it
>will reflect the wishes of the voters.

Only in the narrow sense that IRV defines.

>I know there will be howls from many
>others on this list and a flood of theoretical examples to show me the 
>error of my
>ways.  But if it does happen in real election with real voters who behave 
>as real
>voters do, I would find it hard to argue against the validity of that result.

Truly, I would expect quite an uproar if my nightmare scenario played out 
in a real election.  To me, it seems blatantly undemocratic.


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