[EM] How did local IRV affect CA state elections?

robert bristow-johnson Rbj at Audioimagination.Com
Tue Dec 14 20:07:53 PST 2010

On Dec 14, 2010, at 9:52 PM, ⸘Ŭalabio‽ wrote:

>> 	Tue, 14 Dec 2010 13:30:04 -0500, “Robert Bristow-Johnson” <Rbj at Audioimagination 
>> .Com>:
>> 	do you mean that the turnout in the IRV election is no greater than
>> turnout in a regular election?  i might agree.
> 	¡You got it!:
> 	The question is whether the turnout for the IRV-Election as part of  
> the general election increased, thus effecting state-races.  Your  
> hypothesis about people not bothering to show for runoffs is  
> interesting and probably true, but not the issue at stake here.

well, that's *is* the issue (or at least one of them) regarding the  
use of the ranked-order ballot (of which IRV is one method to tabulate  
it).  i consider it very important, because with a delayed runoff  
(assuming that the first election sends the "correct" two candidates  
to the runoff an assumption that i don't accept, but will stipulate to  
at this time), if the margin of victory is very small, much smaller  
than the quantity of voters that vote in the first election but do not  
make it to the runoff, then there is a legitimate question as to who  
would have really won if the two runoff candidates were the only two  
in the original election.  the legitimacy of the election of the  
winner is in question.

this legitimacy of the winner is always a problem with close  
elections, but if we get everyone to the polls to vote that we can  
(without compelling them like the Australians do), then i think we  
must accept the legitimacy of the winner.  it's the best we can do and  
there is no compelling reason to give the elected office to the  
candidate with the fewer votes.  but it is *not* the best we can do  
when the elected office is awarded to a candidate with a "majority"  
vote when it's a majority of a greatly reduced number.

most people here know that i am a partisan for a Condorcet compliant  
voting system (and i'm more agnostic about which Condorcet system to  
use) which uses nearly the same ballot form as IRV (the only  
difference is that equal rankings make sense for Condorcet, but would  
be difficult to transfer for the STV method).  the main reason to have  
*either* of these systems (over plurality or two-round runoff) is this:

    If a majority (not just a mere plurality) of voters agree that  
    A is better than candidate B, then candidate B should not be  

i think that principle is defended by considering the alternative; why  
should we (if we have "majority rule") give the office to Candidate B  
when more of us think that Candidate A is better?  from that, i think  
you can derive principles regarding "no spoiler" and "no burden of  
strategic voting".

but a separate principle is that of voter convenience (and delayed  
runoffs are inconvenient).  it's the same reason to make voter  
registration easier (like Motor-Voter laws).  the newly-elected  
Secretary of State in Vermont put this as making voting easy and  
cheating difficult.

IRV and Condorcet both try to uphold these principles, i just think  
that Condorcet does it better than IRV and have seen IRV fail that  
majority rule principle above in the very town i live in (and now IRV  
has been repealed and, to my dismay, replaced with 40% plurality rule).


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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