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

Terry Bouricius terryb at burlingtontelecom.net
Mon Dec 29 17:50:20 PST 2008

Kathy Dopp wrote:

since "abstentions or blanks" are from those who have not voted.

I believe my interpretation of Robert's Rules of Order is correct. In 
order for a ballot being reviewed by a teller to be "blank," and thus 
excluded from the majority threshold calculation, as directed by Robert's 
Rule of order, the voter must certainly have submitted a ballot paper. 
RRONR is clearly not referring to hypothetical ballots from those members 
of an association who did not submit a ballot at all. Those who do not 
submit a ballot clearly did not vote, but those who cast ballots may 
abstain or leave the ballot blank, and thus not have their ballots 
included when calculating the majority threshold. The only question is 
whether an exhausted ballot should be interpreted as abstaining on the 
question of which finalist should win, or if that ballot should be 
interpreted as an "illegal vote," which RRONR says should be included in 
calculating the majority threshold. One can think of the ranked ballot as 
a series of questions about pairwise contests...not unlike the way a 
Condorcet ballot is viewed... one of the questions could be IF the race 
comes down to a final runoff between candidate C and candidate E, which 
should win? The difference between IRV and Condorcet is that IRV uses a 
sequential algorithm to determine  which candidates are finalists, while 
Condorcet does not reduce to "finalists" at all. However, if a voter has 
indicated no ranking for either C or E, that voter has effectively 
abstained from that particular question. Since the voter who voluntarily 
truncates is de facto abstaining from deciding which finalist should be 
elected, if the voter has indicated no preference between them, I think it 
is reasonable to treat this abstention as an abstention as directed by 

While I agree that it may not be completely UNresonable to take the view 
that Abd and Kathy Dopp favor, I think it is contrary to the most usual 
interpretation of RRONR.

Terry Bouricius

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Kathy Dopp" <kathy.dopp at gmail.com>
To: <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 7:54 PM
Subject: Re: [EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2

> From: "Terry Bouricius" <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net>
> Subject: Re: [EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2
> Abd wrote:
> <snip>
> The term "majority" as applied to elections has some very 
> well-established
> meanings. If we say that a candidate got a majority in an election,
> we mean that a majority of those voting supported that candidate.

> majority. However, on page 387 RRONR states that "majority vote" means
> "more than half of the votes cast by persons legally entitled to vote, 
> EXCLUDING BLANKS OR ABSTENTIONS..." [emphasis added]. The question is
> whether an exhausted ballot (one with no preference shown between the 
> finalists) in an IRV election, is an abstention or an "illegal" vote.



It's difficult to know whether you are merely confused or deliberately
trying to mislead, but it is clear that Abd ul's definition of
majority was exactly correct when Abd ul said that:

"we say that a candidate got a majority in an election, we mean that a
majority of those voting supported that candidate."

as that corresponds exactly with the Robert's Rules you yourself cite
since "abstentions or blanks" are from those who have not voted.

Fair Vote and anyone else who claims that IRV/STV produces "majority
winners" in any U.S. election (where a full ranking of all candidates
is never required according to U.S. law and is not even permitted in
most jurisdictions) is flat-out lying and deliberately attempting to
mislead the public.

Majority winners has a very simple definition - a majority out of all
voters who cast votes in that election contest.

To redefine "majority winner" as a winner out of all voters whose
ballots have not expired by the final IRV/STV counting round is just
one of the many unethically misleading statements made by IRV/STV

As everyone on this list knows, IRV/STV also does not solve the
spoiler problem if a spoiler is simply defined (as it has been for
decades) as a nonwinning candidate whose presence in the election
contest changes who wins the contest.

There are so many examples of provably incorrect and misleading
statements being made by Fair Vote and other IRV/STV proponents, even
after these proponents were amply informed of the falsity of their
statements, that the only conclusion one can reasonably draw is that
these IRV/STV proponents are deliberately trying to mislead the
public, in which case, the avowed publicly stated goals of IRV/STV
proponents must also be treated as suspect.


Kathy Dopp

The material expressed herein is the informed  product of the author's
fact-finding and investigative efforts. Dopp is a Mathematician,
Expert in election audit mathematics and procedures; in exit poll
discrepancy analysis; and can be reached at

P.O. Box 680192
Park City, UT 84068
phone 435-658-4657


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