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

Eric Gorr eric at ericgorr.net
Wed Jan 21 18:56:01 PST 2004

At 9:01 PM -0500 1/21/04, Bill Lewis Clark wrote:
>First and foremost, IRV is a change.

Change is perfectly capable of doing more harm then good.

>  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.

The same benefit can be gained by supporting a genuinely better 
system, like Approval or Condorcet (rp, wv).

>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

The same benefit can be gained by supporting a genuinely better 
system, like Approval or Condorcet (rp, wv).

>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.

Only if you believe that polarizing issues do not or would not play a 
significant roll in any election.

For example, consider the case of Abortion. Pretend we have a 
democrat who was pro-abortion, a republican who wasn't and a 
libertarian who was. Do you really think that the pro-aborition voter 
would rank someone who wasn't above someone who was?

Many more, similar examples could be given as well.

>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.

Mere assumption based on no evidence that I have ever seen.

It has already found acceptance in the Debian and Free State 
projects. I personally have demonstrated these various election 
methods to people and invariably they reject IRV in favor of Approval 
or Condorcet (rp, wv).

>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.

It would seem equally likely that they will be turned off of 
additional changes, no longer believing the promise that this 'new' 
system really is better.

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

You have yet to show that IRV provides any benefit over Condorcet.

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