[EM] Does IRV elect "majority winners?"

Paul Kislanko kislanko at airmail.net
Fri Jan 2 11:33:46 PST 2009

Not to muddy an already muddied water, but if I define "majority" to be
50%+1 of ELIGIBLE VOTERS no method can claim to select a majority winner
unless there's a large turnout in every round (for systems that include more
than one round of VOTING.) 

-----Original Message-----
From: election-methods-bounces at lists.electorama.com
[mailto:election-methods-bounces at lists.electorama.com] On Behalf Of Terry
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 12:23 PM
To: Dave Ketchum; election-methods at lists.electorama.com
Subject: Re: [EM] Does IRV elect "majority winners?"

Dave makes a good point, that I may have emulated Abd in verbosity in
making my point. Here it is in a nutshell:

Since the two-round runoff election system widely used in the U.S. that
involves counting votes in two rounds is said to always elect a "majority
winner," meaning a majority of votes from those voters who chose to
express a preference between the two candidates who made it into the final
runoff, then by the identical logic, an IRV winner is also a "majority
winner" who ALSO has a majority of votes from those voters who chose to
express a preference between the two candidates who made it into the final
runoff. Both methods define a majority by excluding from the basis for
calculating the majority threshold all of the voters who may have voted
for a candidate in the first round but abstain (do not indicate any
preference) in the final round. In sum...If two round runoffs result in
"majority winners" so does IRV.

Terry Bouricius

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dave Ketchum" <davek at clarityconnect.com>
To: "Terry Bouricius" <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net>
Cc: <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>; "Abd ul-Rahman Lomax"
<abd at lomaxdesign.com>
Sent: Friday, January 02, 2009 1:06 AM
Subject: Re: [EM] Does IRV elect "majority winners?"

Terry and Abd look set to duel forever.

Conduct of elections is a serious topic, but both of them offer too many
words without usefully covering the topic.

They offer RRONR as ammunition in a war it was never intended for:  Over
100 years ago General Robert had to chair a meeting.  As an army general
should be able to handle such a task?  After doing it he decided there
better be batter directions put together for the future.  The resulting
rules continue to be used by many.

RRONR has a few pages about elections.  Unlike some of their directions
new meeting chairs, these are not designed for blind obedience.  Their
major direction is that whoever does serious elections had better decide
carefully and formally agree as to how they will do such.

Meaning of 'majority' is their big dispute.

IRV documentation claims its found winner has a majority (with no attached
statement of what this means) and Terry defends this usage.

Abd claims this is deception, if not worse:

Majority means more than half and, without qualification, means of the
whole thing measured.
      Blanks are excludable - presumably their voters chose not to
participate in deciding whatever is voted on.
      Exhausted ballots are not excludable - those voters certainly
participated, though for other candidates.  But IRV, claiming a majority,
has to be excluding these since IRV only has a majority between the last
two candidates considered.

Therefore Abd complains since:
      Deciders can be sold IRV based on the Fairvote claim of majority.
      Anyone looking close will disagree due to failure of IRV to produce
true majority.

On Tue, 30 Dec 2008 18:59:09 -0500 Terry Bouricius wrote:
  > I take offense at Abd repeatedly suggesting I am a liar or am engaging
  > deception. We have a legitimate difference of opinion about the
  > appropriate use of the term "majority" and interpretation of RRONR.
  > ----- Original Message -----
  > From: "Abd ul-Rahman Lomax" <abd at lomaxdesign.com>
  > To: "Terry Bouricius" <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net>;
  > <kathy.dopp at gmail.com>; <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
  > Sent: Monday, December 29, 2008 11:55 PM
  > Subject: Re: [EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 2
  > At 08:50 PM 12/29/2008, Terry Bouricius wrote:
  >>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
  >>Rule of order, the voter must certainly have submitted a ballot paper.
  > Bouricius, you are totally off, stretching, trying desperately to
  > find ways to interpret the words there to mean what you want them to
  > And now the kicker: we have explained -- and I could cite word for
  > word, and have in many places -- the explicit language of Robert's
  > Rules of Order on this. Bouricius has just said the exact opposite of
  > the truth. What he is proposing as the meaning of "abstention," and
  > the basis for majority, is totally contrary to the plain language of
  > RRONR, not to mention the "usual interpretation."
  > Usual interpretation by whom? By FairVote activists and those duped by
  > them?
  > I'm saddened, to tell you the truth. This is the absolute worst
  > argument I've ever seen from Bouricius, it's word manipulation to try
  > to take a text and make it say the exact opposite of what it plainly
  > I'd thought that he was above that, but, apparently not.
  > The public will *not* be fooled when the issues are made plain and
    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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