[EM] Does IRV elect "majority winners?"

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Fri Jan 2 16:04:46 PST 2009

Who would have thought such a simple example and such a direct question could provoke so much obfuscation and prevarication.
References to IRV, FairVote and Santa Clara are all completely irrelevant.

So let's try again, with little bit of additional information that was (more or less) implied first time.

At a meeting we need to elect one office-bearer (single-office, single-winner).  There are four candidates and we decide to use the
exhaustive ballot (bottom elimination, one at a time) with the requirement that to win, a candidate must obtain a majority of the
votes.  East person is allowed to vote for only one candidate in each round of the exhaustive ballot and the votes for each
candidate are to be indicated by show of hands.

First round votes:  A 40;   B  25;  C 20;  D 15.  
No candidate has a majority, so we eliminate D.

Second round votes: A 47;  B 25;  C 20.
It seems that some of those present who voted for D in the first round did not want to vote in the second round  -  but that is
their privilege.

QUESTION: did candidate A win at the second round with 'a majority of the votes'?

If you want you can rephrase the definition: "Win with a majority of the votes";  "Obtain a majority of the votes"; "Win a majority
of the votes".  IF these differences in wording have real differences in meaning, it would be helpful to explain the differences and
then to answer the question in relation to each of the different meanings.

Paul said 'Legislatures who follow RRoO pretty much define majority by "majority of eligible voters." '  I am not going to argue
about RRoO, but that definition is VERY different from the election scenario above.  I have never heard such a definition used in a
meeting for an ELECTION.  The language I have heard would be something much more like "a majority of the votes".  Which takes us
back to my request for answers to the direct question above.

The wording "majority of eligible voters" would appear to include those "eligible voters" who were not actually present at the
meeting.  That could be a much higher threshold.  I personally have never known such a threshold set in an election, but it does (or
did) happen in public elections in Russia where the seat was left vacant and the local community unrepresented unless some minimum
proportion (50% ??) of the registered electorate actually voted.  I have, however, experienced a similar threshold in a public
referendum in Scotland  -  that was set at 40% of the electorate.

While such thresholds do not feature in election instructions in the UK, neither public nor private, something comparable is common
in many organisations' constitutions to regulate voting on resolutions to amend the constitution itself.  I have encountered three
forms (given that is only a "yes" or "no" vote on each amendment): 1. "a majority of the members";  2. "two-thirds of those
present";  3. "two-thirds of those present and voting".  These three thresholds are all very different, but in my experience, they
are not applied to ELECTIONS.



More information about the Election-Methods mailing list