[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Dec 22 09:50:35 PST 2008

At 06:39 PM 12/21/2008, James Gilmour wrote:
>It MAY be possible to imaging (one day) a President of the USA 
>elected by Condorcet who had 32% of the first preferences against 35%
>and 33% for the other two candidates.  But I find it completely 
>unimaginable, ever, that a candidate with 5% of the first
>preferences could be elected to that office as the Condorcet winner 
>when the other two candidates had 48% and 47% of the first
>preferences.  Condorcet winner  - no doubt.  But effective 
>President  -  never!

Depends on the process. What if the process required majority 
approval. I.e., say it was a Range ballot, and "first preference" is 
expressed with a 100% vote. (Voters *may* express multiple first 
preferences, perhaps but there is little strategic incentive to do 
so, a 99% rating would have almost the same impact. Or a first 
preference marker is required, there could be some reasons for doing 
that.) But 50% rating is defined as "Approval." I.e., consent to elect.

If the winner had a majority of ballots showing consent to elect, why 
would you think that this President couldn't be effective? We don't 
require that now! And some very effective Presidents didn't get a 
majority. They got a majority in the electoral college, that's different.

What if the electoral college were actually representative? What if 
it used real deliberative process, instead of voting as obligated? 
So, perhaps, electors, say, represented first preference votes. A 
candidate gets 5% first preference. But this is really the compromise 
candidate, and because of this, eventually gets the votes of a 
majority of electors? Why would this be a bad result?

Low first preference can mean different things. It means, for 
starters, that the candidate isn't the candidate of a major party. 
That could mean ineffective, or not. It would depend on the context. 
I'd assume that the electors representing the major party candidates 
wouldn't compromise on this one unless they though he or she would be 

But *effective* isn't everything. Sometimes it's enough to Do No 
Harm. In a badly polarized environment, on the verge of a civil war, 
electing the candidate with the most "core support" can be a total 
disaster, think the Hutus in Ruanda.

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