[EM] To Bill Lewis Clark re: stepping-stone

Bill Lewis Clark wclark at xoom.org
Wed Jan 21 18:08:03 PST 2004

> IRV is not, in any way, an improvement - that is the point.

I believe Mike would agree with you, but I don't think this is as
clear-cut as you both seem to think it is.

First and foremost, IRV is a change.  Any change at all gets people
thinking about election system reform.  That's a good thing.  The natural
desire to stick with the status quo is the biggest obstacle to reform.

Secondly, IRV gets people used to ranking candidates.  From a voter
standpoint, the procedure they'd use in an IRV election is EXACTLY THE
SAME AS the procedure they'd use in a Condorcet election.  The only
difference is in how the tallying is done.  That means that it wouldn't be
as hard to transition from IRV to Condorcet, as it would to go from

Thirdly -- and please correct me if I'm wrong here -- the problems with
IRV aren't likely to spring up in a political climate with only two major
parties and relatively small additional parties.  For the time being,
that's the situation here in the US, and it isn't likely to change very
quickly, even if we were to adopt Condorcet.  The situations where IRV
does worse than Plurality are even less likely to occur.  I'm talking
about what's *really* *likely* to happen, given the existing political
situation in this country -- not what "might" happen in unlikely idealized

Finally, IRV is similar enough to the existing traditional runoff system
that it wouldn't be as difficult to convince people to transition to it,
as it would be to convince them to switch to Condorcet outright.  Once
they were comfortable with a new voting system that used ranking, it would
be easier to argue for additional changes to how the votes are tallied, in
order to complete the transition to Condorcet.

So, do you see why IRV might be a good stepping-stone, after all?

-Bill Clark

Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004

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