[EM] IRV with approval
Abd ulRahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed May 18 08:04:48 PDT 2005
At 09:51 AM 5/18/2005, Sean Harris wrote:
>Has anyone ever combined IRV with approval voting in order to eliminate
>some of the problems associated with traditional IRV?
>I have been searching but I haven't found anything quite like it yet.
There are methods described on the electorama site, I believe, but I'll
leave it to others more familiar with the landscape than I to describe and
point to them. My concern here is for one thing:
>If a candidate receives an absolute majority of first choice votes
>in the first round of counting, they are declared the winner.
This feature reproduces, with only slight amelioration, the basic problem
with plurality elections. To point this out, I'll use an imaginary example
based loosely on a tragic history. In other words, I don't know the details
of the history, I'm imagining them, but the round outlines might be more or
Elections are being held in a country we'll call Ruanda. The majority of
people are Hutu, and a minority are Tutsi. There is a Hutu nationalist
movement and party, and a Tutsi party. The Hutu nationalist party is able
to obtain a simple majority in an election; by the proposed method (and by
most non-Approval methods, I think), they elect the President. The minority
Tutsi party is so shut out by this that a revolution is started.
Suppose there had been a Hutu who was widely trusted, including by many
Tutsis. In an Approval election, this Hutu would win. But in an election
method that awards victory to a candidate who is the first choice of a
majority, he or she would lose.
The consequences of using an election method that fails to maximize
consensus could be -- and have been, historically -- serious indeed. Wars
are started, revolutions take place, and, in fact, worse.
This alone is a strong argument for Approval voting. But, as I have
expressed many times, and will probably continue expressing, the whole
political process, which includes how candidates get on a ballot, and how
the electorate becomes informed, is critical. As they say, the devil is in
Condorcet voting has a clear intellectual appeal. I'd say that where
Condorcet and Approval voting produce the same winner, you've got a real
winner, one who will unite the people and whose government will elicit
maximum citizen participation and satisfaction. Where they don't, it gets
complicated, but, in my view, this is a sign that the political process has
not been allowed to move to completion, it has been interrupted by the
artificial constraints of scheduled elections and a process that only
periodically consults the public, that must make a decision NOW when there
is insufficient information. A situation to be avoid if at all possible.
The probability is that if the political process is correct, even plurality
voting will be sufficient. However, transitionally, advanced election
methods could be very helpful.
And we badly need an open organization to make tactical and strategic
decisions regarding election reform. To my knowledge, it does not exist
yet. Any interest? (A mailing list is not an organization, though it could
be a means whereby an organization meets....)
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