[EM] STV and weighted positional methods

Raph Frank raphfrk at gmail.com
Sat Jan 31 04:41:56 PST 2009

On Sat, Jan 31, 2009 at 2:57 AM, Kathy Dopp <kathy.dopp at gmail.com> wrote:
>> From: "Terry Bouricius" <terryb at burlingtontelecom.net>
>> Subject: Re: [EM] STV and weighted positional methods
>> What is even more puzzling is Ms. Dopp's continued defense of plurality
>> voting.
> Gee Terry. I guess it must really puzzle you that I would rather:
> 1. cast a vote and know it helps rather than hurts my favorite
> candidate to win (unlike in IRV/STV)

That isn't the case in plurality.  Lots of people vote for one of the
top-2 rather than their favourite.

IRV allows you vote for your favourite first choice while still
allowing you participate in the 'real' election between the top-2

You can consider it a series of elections.  In each election, the
weakest candidate is eliminated and a new election held with the
remaining candidates.

The ranked ballot allows this to be accomplished with only a single ballot.

> 2. have my ballot and all its choices treated equally with all other
> voters ballot choices (unlike in IRV/STV)

All voters are given equal ballots.  Any advantage that other voters
have, you also have.

> 3. have a method that is precinct-summable so easy to manually count
> and audit (unlike in IRV/STV)

That is an a valid complaint.  However, you can still be almost
precinct summable.

Each precinct announces its results, and then a central office issues
instructions on how to perform the next round.

In Ireland, all ballot boxes are brought to a central location for
counting in each constituency/district.

> 4. use a method that does not require computer programs that are so
> complex that they are considered to be of exponential runtime to run
> and so difficult to accurately write that so far not one US vendor has
> written an accurate one (unlike in IRV/STV)

Huh?  In Ireland, we hand count the votes for PR-STV.  It certainly
isn't exponential run-time.

Each round takes a linear amount of time and the max number of rounds
is equal to the number of candidates minus one.

The count time is thus at most (number of votes)*(number of
candidates-number of seats).  However, in practice, each round
generally only requires counting of surplus ballots or counting of
votes for an eliminated candidate.

> 5. allow all voters to participate in the final counting
> round/decision on whom to elect.

This is the case with IRV/STV.  The only time it doesn't happen is if
people don't fill in all the ranks (which granted does happen).

Also, if you always rank one of the top-2, then you are likely to be
part of the last round, even if you don't rank everyone.

I don't actually think IRV is a good system, though PR-STV is a good
system as long as it elects a reasonable number of candidates (say 4
or more).

> Yes. You are very puzzled Terry that I would want a fair, equitable
> system for counting votes.
>  I, on the other hand, am very puzzled by your desire to implement a
> voting method that is far less fair and equitable, in almost every
> single way, than our existing voting method is.

I think that you have rose coloured glasses for plurality.  It is one
of the worst voting systems out there.

I am not sure if IRV is really that much better though.  It seems to
maintain 2 party domination (see Australia).  Its advantage, if any,
is that it provides more info to the elected candidates about their
support base.  If a large number of the voters who elected you, voted
for a 3rd party as their first choice, it might be worth looking into
what that party stands for.

What is your view on approval?  That is monotonic, precinct-summable,
treats voters equally and produces fair results.  Similarly, what do
you think of the condorcet methods?  (they have meet/fail various

> 1. to help some voting system vendor handsomely profit by the sale of
> new software and equipment that can count IRV, or

I think that is a little unfair.  It is perfectly reasonable to
support IRV for non-corrupt reasons.

I don't think you support plurality in order to maintain the monopoly
of current voting machine vendors.  I disagree with your reasoning,
but I don't think you have an ulterior motive.

> 2. to help implement a voting method that is virtually impossible and
> very costly at best to manually audit after elections so that someone
> you know, perhaps, can have a better chance of committing undetectable
> fraud.

In Ireland, we count PR-STV by hand and there are various checks that
can be accomplished.

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