[EM] The art of the possible, & request for info

John B. Hodges jbhodges at usit.net
Wed Jul 9 07:30:07 PDT 2003

Greetings- In the past few days I've noticed that the folks at 
www.fairvote.org, the Center for Voting and Democracy, are not only 
pushing IRV as a political reform here in the U.S., but also have 
begun pushing for cumulative voting in 3-seat "superdistricts". 
(Cumulative voting is where you have one vote per open seat, i.e. in 
this proposal 3 votes, and you can allocate them among the candidates 
however you wish; 2 for one and 1 for another, all 3 for one, or one 
each for your favorite three candidates.)

These guys are much more focused on political action than on academic 
argument; they want to get some reforms enacted. From that standpoint 
I can see their view. Both IRV and Cumulative voting in 3-seat 
districts have an actual history of use, in real elections in real 
countries, so no one can say they are flaky ideas. Both are 
improvements over plurality in single-seat districts. Both are simple 
enough to explain to busy non-academics, who wouldn't hold still for 
talk of "monotonicity" or "Condorcet-efficiency". Neither requires a 
supercomputer to make a few billion calculations for each voter's 

Futhermore with these two reforms it may be possible to enlist the 
support of the Democratic Party, precisely because neither seriously 
challenges the two-party system. IRV might do so, conceptually, in 
the long run, but not if the experience of Australia is any guide. 
Cumulative voting lowers the threshold for winning a seat, but not by 
much; new parties would still face very high hurdles. Both, arguably, 
would improve the future prospects for the Democrats, given that the 
Republicans are agressively seeking to establish one-party dominance, 
as has been seen historically in India and in the American South.

IMHO, I'd prefer a system that allowed the growth of four, five, 
seven parties, so that "every voter would be a swing voter." In other 
words, party-list Proportional Representation.
Greetings again. Recent discussion about strategy in Approval Voting 
makes me wish to read the original articles; can anyone give me a 
reference for the articles analysing the effects of (results of) 
following different startegies in AV? Much thanks- JBH
John B. Hodges, jbhodges@   @usit.net
The two-party system is obsolete and dysfunctional.
Better forms of democracy: www.fairvote.org

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