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

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Mon Dec 29 18:30:47 PST 2008

I side with Abd over Terry on this one.  Topic is what activity should be 
counted as a vote in determining what percentage of the votes were for the 
leader (was it a majority?).

Agreed that overvotes count - the voter clearly intended to vote, though 
the result was defective.

Agreed that blanks do not count - the voter avoided any attempt to vote.

But what of a vote for C which is for a loser aince A and B each got more 
votes (assume that all three were nominees for this discussion)?
      Terry would exclude these as abstentions since they dropped oujt of 
the counting before the final step.
      Abd and I would count them with A and B as part of total votes - C 
voters, like A and B voters, were expressing their desires.

To me abstention is simply refusal to vote - blank fits where the ballot 
provides for several races and a voter, while submitting the ballot, leaves 
the field for this race blank.

What we suggest makes achieving a majority more difficult.
      I say I am going for truth, but suggest a debate as to whether 
demanding a majority is appropriate here.
      Note that a majority makes more sense for Plurality elections - there 
voters can not completely express their desires and C voters could vote for 
A or B in a runoff.
      In IRV or Score or Condorcet, desires can be more completely 
expressed - so that possible value for a runoff is little to none.


On Mon, 29 Dec 2008 15:48:02 -0500 Terry Bouricius wrote:
> 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.
> There are quibbles around the edges. What about ballots with marks on
> them but the clerk can't figure out what the marks mean? Robert's
> Rules are clear: that's a vote, part of the basis for a majority.
> <snip>
> I guess a little rehashing is needed to correct Abd's miss-stating of 
> Robert's Rules of Order on the basis for determining a majority. Abd seems 
> to be relying on RRONR description in chapter XIII on Voting, on page 402 
> of how to deal with "illegal votes," such as over-votes, cast by legal 
> voters -- they should be included in the denominator for calculating a 
> 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. 
> Since RRONR mentions "abstentions" rather than merely using the word 
> "blanks," it can be interpreted that there may be some way of indicating 
> abstention, other than with a blank ballot. I think this perfectly fits 
> the concept of an exhausted ballot, where the voter has abstained and 
> indicated no preference between remaining candidates, if the voters 
> favored candidates cannot win. There is room here for reasonable people to 
> disagree. Perhaps an organization could reasonably write bylaws to 
> expressly include or exclude such exhausted ballots from the denominator 
> in determining a majority threshold. If the organization wrote bylaws to 
> include exhausted ballots in the denominator, then an election could fail, 
> requiring some alternate procedure (or new election) to fill the office, 
> or the bylaws could be written to exclude exhausted ballots so that the 
> one election would be decisive using a reasonable definition of a 
> "majority vote" (using RRONR's standard definition that EXCLUDES 
> abstentions in determining a majority threshold.)
> Terry Bouricius
  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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