[EM] Re: Voting Systems Study of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota

Abd ulRahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Jun 7 21:01:03 PDT 2005

At 01:25 PM 6/7/2005, Araucaria Araucana wrote:
>On  6 Jun 2005 at 21:20 UTC-0700, Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:
> > What if we had IRV with Approval? What is that called?
>Equal-Rank [allowed], Instant Runoff Voting, whole [votes counted for
>equal rank].
>In other words, each round of the runoff becomes an approval election
>rather than a single-vote-transfer election.

Let me make sure I understand. If we had a face-to-face meeting, and an 
election was held by show of hands, which is not an uncommon thing, I've 
never seen a rule that prevents a person from voting for more than one 
candidate. And the winner is the person with the most hands shown. 
Essentially, approval voting is *standard*. The oddity is the practice of 
discarding ballots which are multiply-marked, as if they were somehow 
defective. Does anyone know the history of that practice?

Thus IRV would automatically become a more sophisticated Approval election 
if the discard rule were repealed.

I've certainly seen it noted that Approval voting would be very simple to 
implement, requiring no changes to voting equipment, but I've never seen 
this aspect of it mentioned, that it really only involves restoring to 
secret ballots something that is standard practice in face-to-face elections.

I can see only one argument for the practice of discarding multiply-marked 
ballots, and it is singularly weak. A corrupt election worker could weaken 
votes by adding extra marks. But this is truly weak because in the event 
that this occurred, it would be closer to legitimacy, under most 
circumstances, to count the ballot than to discard it. Discarding it helps 
to accomplish the purpose of the corrupt worker. The only way to truly void 
a ballot with extra marks would be to mark all candidates. In which case it 
is moot whether the ballot is kept or discarded. As long as one candidate 
remains unmarked, we would know that the original voter's intent excluded 
that candidate.

Anyway, the point is that it is singularly odd that Approval is considered 
a separate election method. It really is something that would exist in 
simple plurality elections if not for a special rule created to prevent it.

So promoting Approval voting might be as simple as pointing out the 
injustice of it. I can't see any reason for *preventing* a person from 
voting for more than one candidate. Allowing it merely adds to the freedom 
of the voter without complicating the process. For me, the question is "Why 
not" rather than "Why?"

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