[EM] To Marquette, to Marquette ...

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Thu Jan 30 13:12:45 PST 2003

On Wed, 29 Jan 2003 10:18:21 -0800 (PST) Alex Small wrote:

> Steve Barney said:
>>BTW, one reason given in a news article for dropping Nanson's Method and
>> reverting back to the plurality with a runoff was that they preferred
>>voting  twice, and felt that they could be more informed voters the
>>second time  around. What to do about that?

Sounds like an argument against Nanson's method.  Condorcet ought to be 
salable; IRV ought to be salable, if you do not mention its spoiler problem.

Could make a difference that this community had been doing separate 
runoffs and felt that these were affordable and useful for them.  Get to 
New York City and separate runoffs cost real money and do not attract many 
voters (the few voters make sense, assuming the radical candidates get 
polished off in the major election and many do not care which of the two 
remaining contenders wins).

> It's tempting to use the example of the 2002 French Presidential election,
> but the reality is that dangerous ideologues aren't running for mayor in
> many small towns.  Maybe some extremists get their starts in local
> politics, but it's harder to conjure up the nightmare scenarios.  An
> overhaul of zoning regulations just doesn't carry the same emotional
> impact as immigration and foreign policy.
> The cost of a second round is a possible issue, but if the first round is
> held on the same day as partisan primaries and the second on the day of
> the general election then cost isn't a factor.  Besides, there's always
> the argument that a good democracy is worth a little extra money.  Since
> that argument is true as far as it goes, we have to argue that there are
> better forms of democracy than 2-step runoff, and we're back at square 1
> with the cost issue moot.

Could make sense to state where our various schemes hope to be workable. 
Being from New York, I see your words as strange and impractical here:

Assuming all the elections are to be more or less together, they would be 
EXACTLY together, the partisan primaries would be for ALL public offices, 
and I cannot imagine there being any variation among single seat offices 
(districts electing multiple members for a legislature might use a 
different method, but this second method should apply for any such 
districts, whether for state, county, city, town, or village).

Also, our primaries are a private election within each party, so the above 
"first round" would be a separate election - a significant complication 
and including voters who could not participate in any primary.

NY law permits villages to do their elections in March.  Makes much sense 
in a village such as Owego, where there are twice as many Republicans as 
Democrats and doing this election in November would give Republicans a 
monopoly on village offices.  Here we do no primaries and "parties" such 
as People's, Oak Tree, and Youth compete with partial or complete slates.

> I think 2-step runoff may have a lot of inertia in local races, and may
> not be worth arguing against for now.  The new Approval Voting
> organization is looking at primary elections, which often have 3 or more
> contenders.  Since some states gives parties considerable latitude in the
> conduct of primary elections, the hope is that 3rd parties, having a
> vested interest in promoting election reform, will adopt Approval Voting
> to give the public an example of Approval in action.  Proponents of other
> alternative single-winner methods could try similar tactics.  In any case,
> third-party primaries may be the best place to advocate alternative
> single-winner methods.

There are states in which individual parties conduct their own 
primaries. There you might get a party to try most anything.

In NY, state Board of Elections conducts all the elections (except 
villages that choose to do their own, and some or all school boards), so I 
would not expect variations to be tolerated.

While, in theory, Approval voting can be done on a voting machine not 
designed for such use, I WOULD NOT bet on machines about as old as I am 
tolerating such mistreatment.  What I would bet on is that it is time for 
us to buy new machines - for which the specifications could demand ability 
to handle Condorcet voting and tallying.

Cost of doing 2-step runoffs in New York and some other cities is an 
argument for going to SOME method that will do away with this expense.  I 
see the method, whatever it is, being used in both primaries and general 
elections.  While primaries often have several candidates, we had eight 
parties last year, and about 10 candidates for governor in the general 

> Alex

  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.

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