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

Russ Paielli 6049awj02 at sneakemail.com
Wed Jun 8 21:50:10 PDT 2005

Abd ulRahman Lomax abd-at-lomaxdesign.com |EMlist| wrote:
> 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?
>> ERIRV(whole):
>> 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 election if the discard rule were repealed.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?"

You make an excellent point. Rather than defending Approval, Approval 
advocates should go on the offensive and let the opponents explain why 
the voter *shouldn't* be allowed to approve more than one candidate.

Having said that, let me play devil's advocate and give you a potential 

The basic principle of voting is that you, the voter, are supposed to 
specify who *you* think should be elected. If you were the only voter, 
your vote should choose the winner. But if you approve more than one 
candidate, you have not specified who you think should be elected. You 
have not made a final decision. You have only narrowed the field.

Plurality forces you to make up your mind!

Well, that's one way to look at it.


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list