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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Tue Dec 23 13:54:21 PST 2008

On Tue, 23 Dec 2008 13:02:09 -0000 James Gilmour wrote:
> Dave Ketchum   > Sent: Tuesday, December 23, 2008 12:23 AM
>>Disturbing that you would consider clear wins by a majority to be 
Ok, I did not say it clearly.

Obvious need is to package arguments such that they are salable.

Take the one about a Condorcet winner with no first preferences.  Ugly 
thought, but how do you get there?  Perhaps with three incompatible 
positions that share equally all the first preferences, while a neutral 
candidate gets all the second preferences.

Assume it will never happen, so do not provide for such?  As I suggested 
before, somehow, if you assume such fate will, somehow, prove you wrong.

Provide a fence, forbidding getting too close to such?  Where do you put 
the fence without doing more harm than good?

Leave it legal, while assuring electors they should not worry about it ever 
occurring?  I see this as proper - it is unlikely, yet not a true disaster 
if it does manage to occur.

The primary battle between Clinton and Obama here presents a strong 
argument for getting rid of Plurality elections - better for them both to 
go to the general election fighting against their shared foe, McCain. 
Actually, the Electoral College complicates this discussion for 
presidential elections but it does apply to others.

> Dave, I never said that I would find that result objectionable.  What I did say was that I thought such a result would be
> POLITICALLY unacceptable to the ELECTORS   -  certainly in the UK, and perhaps also in the USA as there are SOME similarities in the
> political culture.  It goes almost without saying that such a result would be politically unacceptable to the two main parties I had
> in mind.
> Political acceptability is extremely important if you want to achieve practical reform of the voting system.  The Electoral Reform
> Society has been campaigning for such reform for more that 100 years (since 1884), but it has still not achieved it main objective
> -  to reform the FPTP voting system used to elected MPs to the UK House of Commons.  The obstacles to that reform are not to do with
> theoretical or technical aspects of the voting systems  -  they are simply political.  It was for political reasons that the Hansard
> Society's Commission on Electoral Reform came up with its dreadful version of MMP in 1976 and for political reasons that the Jenkins
> Commission proposed the equally dreadful AV+ in 1998.  Jenkins' AV+ was a (slight) move towards PR, but it was deliberately designed
> so that the two main parties would be over-represented in relation to their shares of the votes and that one or other of two main
> parties would have a manufactured majority of the seats so that it could form a single-party majority government even though it had
> only a minority of the votes.
> It is sometimes possible to marginalise the politicians and the political parties in a campaign if you can mobilise enough of the
> ordinary electors to express a view, but our experience in the UK is that constitutional reform and reform of the voting system are
> very rarely issues on which ordinary electors will "take up arms" (metaphorically, of course).
>>In Election 2 Condorcet awarded the win to M.  Who has any 
>>business objecting?
>>      52 of 100 prefer M over D
>>      53 of 100 prefer M over R
>>      Neither R nor D got a majority of the votes.
> Leaving aside the debate about the meaning of "majority", it is clear to me that M is the Condorcet winner  -  no question.  But, as
> explained above, it is MY view that such an outcome would not be acceptable to our electors.  I base my view of UK electors' likely
> reaction on nearly five decades of campaigning for practical reform of the voting systems we use in our public elections.
>>As to my  "no first preferences" example, surest way to cause 
>>such is to be unable to respond to them.
> I'm not sure what this statement is really mean to say..
> I understand that a Condorcet winner could, indeed, have no first preferences at all.  But in political terms, such a possibility is
> not just unacceptable, it's a complete non-starter.
> James
  davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
  Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
            Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                  If you want peace, work for justice.

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