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

Aaron Armitage eutychus_slept at yahoo.com
Thu Dec 25 15:28:41 PST 2008

--- On Thu, 12/25/08, James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote:

> From: James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk>
> Subject: Re: [EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2
> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> Date: Thursday, December 25, 2008, 4:31 PM
> Aaron Armitage   > Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 7:40
> PM
> > To: jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk;
> election-methods at lists.electorama.com
> > Subject: Re: [EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious
> alternative 2
> > 
> > 
> >  > I do not think you have to be anywhere near the
> zero
> > > first-preferences Condorcet winner scenario to be
> in the sphere of 
> > > "politically unacceptable".  I am quite
> certain that the 5% FP CW
> > > would also be politically unacceptable, and that
> there would political chaos in
> > > the government in consequence.  The forces
> opposed to real
> > > reform of the voting system (big party
> politicians, big money, media
> > > moguls, to name a few) would ensure that there
> was chaos,
> > > and the electors would have an intuitive reaction
> against a weak Condorcet
> > > winner so they would go along with the demands to
> go back
> > > to "the good old ways".
> > > 
> > 
> > That depends on how soon after the switch this
> election happens.
> > Getting "5% of the vote" is not a meaningful
> concept in a Condorcet
> > election; the meaningful concept is getting X% vs. a
> particular other
> > candidate.
> Nowhere did I or other previous contributors to this
> discussion say anything about getting "5% of the
> vote".  What I (and others)
> wrote (as shown above) was 5% of the first preference
> votes.  That is an important difference, but your next
> comments suggests that
> you may not think so.

I do see is as an important difference, in such a way as to preclude the
use you're making of the first preferences. So to me it looks exactly
like you're treating 5% of the voters ranking a candidate over every
other candidate as getting 5% in the plurality sense. In a Condorcet
context, the question isn't how many rankings over every possible
alternative a candidate has, but how many rankings over this or that
particular alternative. We should be asking that question anyway; using
non-Condorcet methods means putting A in office despite knowing that a
majority voted B > A. Unless we're introducing some formal recognition of
preference strength (e.g., the extra vote I suggested in the other 
e-mail, CWP, or Range proper), there's no good reason to do that.

> > It's only by thinking in terms of plurality that
> this looks
> > like a problem, because in plurality you're
> "voting for" one candidate
> > rather than ranking them, a conception of voting that
> IRV 
> > retains despite the fact that it allows multiple
> rankings.
> It is not a question of my thinking in terms of plurality 
> -  that is where our electors (UK and USA) are coming from. 
> It is my
> experience (nearly five decades of campaigning) that UK
> electors attach great importance to their first preference. 
> You may say
> that's the result of bad conditioning, but if we want
> to achieve real reform of the voting systems used in public
> elections, these
> are the political inconveniences we have to accommodate.
> James

Well, I haven't spent very much time talking to UK voters, much less 50
years (having been alive only a little over half that long), but I
haven't had any trouble selling ordinary Americans on Condorcet. I
suspect you're playing up the LNHs.


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