[EM] A turd by any other name

Brian Olson bql at bolson.org
Tue Mar 23 23:01:59 PDT 2010

Someone needs to tell Thomas Friedman that "Alternative Voting" (IRV) isn't all it's claimed to be.

Also apparently "Larry Diamond, a Stanford University democracy expert" (as cited by Friedman), who sounds like probably a smart and nice guy who mostly specializes in growing new democracies around the world, and that's great, but for all the international cultural issues he's probably dealt with maybe we could help him out a little with this one little detail. If you want to get people started out right with the best methods we know of right now, IRV ain't it.

I posted this to the NYT comments section. dunno if the moderators will accept it.

Friedman and Larry Diamond need an adjustment on a point of election theory. "Alternative Voting", also known as "Instant Runoff Voting", is actually a pretty bad reform only barely better than the current system. Burlington VT enacted IRV for their mayoral elections but in 2009 on only the second time they used it the system got the wrong answer and elected the wrong person. A year later they repealed IRV. "Virtual Round Robin" elections, often known as Condorcet's Method, don't have that flaw and are just as easy or easier to implement than IRV. A few people have latched onto IRV and promoted it a lot, perhaps somewhat staking their reputations on it now, but really for the same amount of work we could have much better reforms.

Brian Olson

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