[EM] On Naming and Advocacy

Jan Kok jan.kok.5y at gmail.com
Mon Jun 19 22:39:13 PDT 2006

> I believe that (on the political front) we should temporarily not worry about which ranked ballot method we are pushing for, and focus on promoting (as an election method framework) the ranked ballot with the candidate withdrawal and selection from published rankings options.

Forest, have you ever engaged in the political process in a major way,
such as collecting signatures, or working with a group to draft
legislation and get it passed? It ain't easy, even when there is no
particular opposition. Some people don't like any change, and will
automatically vote NO on any ballot measure.

I don't object to candidate withdrawal and selection from published
rankings, but I do object to letting the IRV people have their way all
the time. When will Condorcet, Range and Approval ever get a chance?

> Once this framework is in place, we can worry about selling our favorite ranked ballot "back end."  In fact, different back ends can be tried within the same framework.  If IRV gets adopted within this framework, it won't be the end of the world, because its worst features will be ameliorated, and because it can be replaced with another method as a relatively minor adjustment, without bringing down the whole framework.

The problem is, the voting method tends to get written into city
charters, state constitutions, etc., and it's a royal pain to change
those things. There has to be a fairly pressing need for change. For
example, in Denver, validating provisional ballots takes time and
delays the results of elections, making it difficult to conduct a
runoff election one month after the main election when needed. So they
want to get rid of the delayed runoff (which is a hassle for everyone
anyway) and replace it with IRV.

Now, if they succeed, where will the motivation come from to change
from IRV to something else? The things I can think of are either: A
spectacular screw up by the voting equipment, or, a spectacular case
of Condorcet failure in the mayor's race, where a reasonable centrist
candidate is squeezed out between two
fanatical/corrupt/special-interest candidates. Look up "David Duke"
(1991 Louisianna governer's race) or "Le Pen" (2002 French
presidential election) in wikipedia.org for examples of what can
happen with Plurality+top-two runoff elections.

Also look up the 2006 Peruvian presidential election, where Flores was
the Condorcet winner according to pre-election polls, but was
eliminated because of coming in third place in the main election. This
is pretty good evidence that IRV can exhibit Condorcet failure in real
life. Yet Peru isn't having a bloody revolution right now, as far as I
know. Which tells me that most people don't care very much who wins,
as long as it's not someone too outrageous. So if Denver or anyplace
else gets IRV, how much chance is there that the method will ever get

If Condorcet fans want to work with the IRV promoters, I suggest
trying to get them to adopt BTR-IRV in place of IRV. Good luck.

- Jan

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