[EM] Does IRV elect "majority winners?"

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Fri Jan 2 14:37:48 PST 2009

At 03:53 PM 1/2/2009, Jonathan Lundell wrote:
>FWIW, in California there's no way to write in NOTA and have it counted.

Depends on the election and perhaps on local rules. Pick the absolute 
best candidate *including write-ins" and, if necessary, write that 
name in. A write-in is "None of the above." In some elections, true 
write-in votes are not allowed, but the California constitution 
requires that write-ins be allowed; however minimal registration 
requirements have been considered acceptable. So San Francisco only 
recognizes registered write-ins. They aren't on the ballot, so voting 
for one of them would be voting for "none of the above."

>NOTA is also hard to count, since it's not quite like just another
>candidate. In my 1948 example, one voter might be voting for "anybody
>but Dewey or Thurmond", and another for "anybody but Wallace or
>Truman". That is, the "above" in NOTA differs from ballot to ballot.

Actually, in a sane system, requiring a majority, NOTA causes the 
exact intended effect. None of the Above are elected. If most voters 
vote NOTA, either directly -- were it allowed -- or indirectly, for 
various write-in candidates, then the election fails. And the rules 
presumably prescribe what happens next.

>NOTA is easier to interpret in a Condorcet method. It's very difficult
>for IRV to handle, I think, especially if counted as just-another- 
>candidate, since it's not unlikely that NOTA would be eliminated
>early. Looked at another way, I don't think that the fact that IRV
>fails to find "everybody's second choice" is ordinarily a very serious
>problem. But it *is* a problem if that choice is NOTA.

It's a problem in both cases. But that's enough for now. NOTA should 
cause election failure, and all that has to occur is that a majority 
be required for a candidate to win. Under standard democratic 
process, talking Robert's Rules as a model, writing NOTA on a ballot 
has exactly the desired effect. It contributes to the basis for 
election, but not to the victory of any candidate.

But don't imagine that we have the rules we do in public elections 
because of pure democratic considerations!

>>Preferential voting with a runoff trigger can be a much better
>>method than without it.
>>With IRV, it seems, about one nonpartisan election in ten, very
>>roughly, the method produces a winner who would lose in a direct
>>face-off with either the runner-up or an eliminated candidate.
>I'd be interested in seeing documentation on this that didn't involve
>reinterpreting plurality or TTR results as an IRV election.

It's the other way. TTR results in runoffs, sometimes. When there are 
many candidates, often. A certain percentage of these runoffs are 
"comebacks." It's roughly one-third.

We can assume that first preference votes in IRV are *roughly* how 
people will vote in a runoff primary. Now, in the IRV elections -- 
look at em! there is an article on the implementations in the U.S. on 
Wikipedia -- there are *no* comeback elections in recent history. 
About nine runoffs, as I recall. No comebacks.

Isn't this interesting?

Think about it. It does make sense. We just didn't know how to look at it.

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