[EM] On Naming and Advocacy

Simmons, Forest simmonfo at up.edu
Thu Jun 22 13:53:51 PDT 2006



From: Jan Kok [mailto:jan.kok.5y at gmail.com]
Sent: Wed 6/21/2006 10:48 AM
To: Simmons, Forest
Subject: Re: [EM] On Naming and Advocacy

On 6/21/06, Simmons, Forest <simmonfo at up.edu> wrote:
> Jan,
> It seems to me that decoupling the method from the framework would make it
> less likely for IRV to get enacted.

Why? (asks Jan)

Forest replies:

Divide and conquer.  Eat a bagel in two small bites instead of one big bite.

If  ranked ballots are not decoupled from IRV, then ranked ballots will usually entail IRV.  And since many folks have the good sense to realize that IRV is not enough of an improvement on Plurality to justify all of it extra baggage, IRV will fail, and drag down with it the ranked ballot concept.  That is what happened here in Oregon.

If we unite with IRV supporters to enact ranked ballots, on the condition that the "back end" will be decided later, then we can get ranked ballots enacted, and the back end decided in a less charged atmosphere.  Many IRV supporters, will come over to our side.  

Five years ago during the FairVoteOregon campaign which unsuccessfully tried to get IRV on a state iniative here, I made a presentation to the movers and shakers of that campaign, suggesting several alternatives, in particular Approval and what some people are now calling IRV-BTR.    They weren't ready to make those changes at that stage of the game.  Almost all  of them were Green Party members (like myself) who had heard Ralph Nader (in the 2000 presidential campaign) suggest IRV as a way of getting more votes for third parties.

If I had gotten into the fray earlier and suggested that we just concentrate on the voters being able to specify a ranking or rating (at least as an option) for use in deciding elections, as a way of overcoming the spoiler problem, they would have gone along with it.  On that basis I and others like me could have promised them help in getting signatures for the initiative.  As it was, I had to tell them that I could not in good conscience collect signatures for an IRV initiative. With our lack of support the initiative failed!

By specifying that the bagel had to be eaten in one bite, the bagel got rejected.  I believe the same thing would have happened no matter what "back end" got coupled with a ranked ballot front end. 

But uncoupled, there is a better chance of getting support for the voter specified rankings concept, especially if the voters realize that they have the option of selecting a ranking or rating from a published list with only one stroke of the pencil.

In Washington  State Rep. Toby Nixon is working on getting SSD enacted.  Because we did not decouple this back end from the ballot options, it will never get enacted.

The folks that supported SSD are very happy that they prevailed with Rep. Nixon, but their victory is rather hollow, because they will have only the half-hearted support of the losers.  Had they decoupled the back end, they would have had full support from everybody.

So you see, the one bite approach is not sound psychologically.



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