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

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km-elmet at broadpark.no
Sun Dec 28 01:44:55 PST 2008

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 09:05 AM 12/25/2008, James Gilmour wrote:
>> Kristofer Munsterhjelm  > Sent: Thursday, December 25, 2008 8:36 AM
>> > Do you think my runoff idea could work, or is it too complex?
>> My personal view is that runoff is not desirable and would be an 
>> unnecessary and unwanted expense.  I know runoff voting systems are
>> used in some other countries, but they are not used at all in the UK.
> They are used in places with strong multiparty systems. The UK is a 
> two-party system.

The UK is also parliamentary, so I suppose there would be few places 
where you could actually have a runoff. Scotland doesn't have runoffs 
either, yet multiple parties grew there after its change from FPTP/SMD 
to MMP. I'm not sure about Scottish politics, but I think there are 
three or four main parties now.

>>   I am satisfied that there are perfectly adequate "vote once"
>> systems available for all public elections, both single-office 
>> elections and assembly elections.
> If they are good for public elections, why are they *never* used for 
> smaller organizations where repeated ballot is easy? Wouldn't it save time?
> Yes, advanced methods *can* save time, *if* a majority is still 
> required. Otherwise the result can *easily* be one that a majority would 
> reject. How often? Depends on the method, I'm sure, but my estimate is 
> that it's about one in ten for IRV in nonpartisan elections in the U.S. 
> It's pretty easy to show.

Wouldn't that be because you can do RRO type iteration because of the 
small size? Consider the extreme, where there's just you and a few 
friends. There would seem to be little point in voting when you can just 
all discuss the options and reach a conclusion. Perhaps there would be 
if you just can't reach an agreement ("okay, this has gone long enough, 
let's vote and get this over with").

In short, you'd have something like: for very small groups, the cost of 
involving a voting method is too high compared to the benefits. For 
intermediate groups, iteration works. For large groups, voting is the 
right thing to do, because iteration is expensive and may in any event 
lead to cycling because people can't just share the nuances of their 
positions with a thousand others, hive-mind style.

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