[EM] Dave: Primaries, runoffs

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Sat Jan 4 23:33:44 PST 2003

Dave said:

>>The above considerations suggest that if we propose Approval for
>>municipal elections now done by Runoff, then the Approval balloting
>>should be followed by a top-2 runoff. It's a matter of suggesting
>>that people be allowed to vote for as many as they want to in
>>the 1st balloting instead of only for 1.

Sounds like regression. Separate elections as runoffs are an UGLY attempt
to make a weak method acceptable. Looking for a strong method to offer as
a replacement, minimizing the number of physical elections should be a goal.

But I said that I prefer ordinary Approval, with just one balloting.
Even if it isn't as good to have a runoff, and I agree that it isn't,
I merely meant that it makes for a more minimal proposal, for municipal
elections. If you ask people to get rid of the runoff, then you're
asking them for one more thing, and it's something that past experience
shows that they're reluctant to accept. For instance one objection to
IRV when it's been proposed is that people want to keep the runoff.

1 balloting with Approval or Condorcet would be better, but when
proposing Approval, we'd be asking the voters for less if we didn't
ask them to get rid of the runoff. That's all I meant.

Alex pointed out an offensive order-reversal strategy that's possible
when Approval is used with a top-2 runoff, but the victims of that
offensive strategy will notice it, and will have ample opportunity
to retaliate against it in the runoff. If, for instance, the Republicans
got a runoff consisting of Bush & Nader, then the Democrats could
retaiate by voting for Nader in the runoff. That possibility would
probably deter the offensive order-reversal by the Republicans.

I don't think that offensive order-reversal will be a problem in
Approval with runoff. A similar offensive order-reversal strategy is
possible in Sequential Pairwise (SP) a method that's standard in
meetings & legislatures. Voters vote between some pair. The winner
of that vote goes against the next candidate in the list, in another
vote. And so on till there's only one unbeaten candidate.

IN SP, as in Approval with top-2 runoff, offensive order-reversal
strategy is possible, but can be retaliated against. In SP, as in
Approval with top-2 runoff, if you notice that people have used
offensive order-reversal against your favorite, then you should vote
against their favorite when it comes up for a vote. I've never heard
of offensive order-reversal  being a serious problem in SP.

I'd said:

>>I don't care if they keep the party primaries. No
>>doubt people would insist on it, though I agree with the Libertarians
>>that parties have no right to expect the public to pay for parties'
>>voting to decide whom they'll run.

Dave, if the people insist on it then the primaries will be kept. I
didn't mean to make you think that I meant that the primaries should
be taken away even though people insist on keeping them :-)
What I meant was that, though people will insist on keeping the primaries, 
and they'll be kept, it still makes no sense for
the parties' internal voting on whom to run to be paid for by the
public. Or maybe people will agree that they'd like to save lots of
money by dropping the primaries. So maybe I was wrong, and maybe
people won't insist on keeping the expensive & unnecessary primaries.

Here, Dave speaks for the people:

Libertarians might be more popular if they could recognize that government
should properly do whatever the people wish government to do.

I reply:

Now there's a radically new suggestion. Have you invented democracy?

Ok, so then you, Dave, are the people's spokesman?

Is it that whatever is the status quo is also what the people most

If you'll forgive us, Dave, some of us have temerity to suggest that
it might make more sense to do some things differently from the way
in which they're now done.

Alex had said:

>I see it this way: Parties should have the right to nominate their
>candidates at private conventions open only to registered members.
>However, if they avail themselves of the public primaries then ANY voter
>should be allowed to participate, not just registered members. I
>suspect that the candidates nominated in open elections will fare better
>than those nominated in smoke-filled rooms.

Dave replied:

How does a party get its millions of members together for such a
convention to nominate a candidate for governor in NY or CA? Once
together, how do the members manage to accomplish anything useful?

I reply:

You're missing the point, Dave: How they get their people together,
and how they accomplish anything useful when they're together--those
are their problems, not the problem of government, not a problem that
the public should spend its much money on.

Mike Ossipoff

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