[EM] Burlington Vermont repeals IRV 52% to 48%

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Wed Mar 3 22:04:39 PST 2010

On Mar 3, 2010, at 9:13 PM, Dave Ketchum wrote:

> Actually, a chance to move ahead, if we grab it.
> IRV lost, and good riddance.

well, i believe the chance to move ahead in Burlington is lost for at  
least a generation.

my hope before Tuesday was for IRV (and the ranked ballot) to  
survive, but just barely.  because even though the anti-IRVers won by  
a modest margin, they believe that God has ordained the traditional  
ballot the way it is and that's all there's to it.  if IRV survived  
by just a little, i think the pro-IRVers would have to start  
admitting how flawed the 2009 election was and, with the ranked  
ballot still in the rules, might be willing to consider another way  
to count it.  and if the anti-IRVers were the losers, they might be  
willing to consider an alternative to IRV in tabulation of the ranked  
ballot.  a coalition of folks from both sides might have been able to  
make some history in Burlington.

frankly, i think all is lost.  we will probably have a few elections  
where the minority Republican capitalizes on the split vote of  
Burlington's liberal majority and wins.  the Progs will say "I told  
you so" (without acknowledging the defects of IRV) and the Dems (many  
of whom voted to repeal IRV) are just going to scratch their head and  
say "hunh?".  i'll still bet that the lessons (that is "ranked  
ballot: good, IRV tabulation: bad") won't be learned.  not for a long  
time, likely not while i am still residing on this planet.

maybe the Europeans and the Aussies will do better.

Terry Bouricius and i are both Burlington residents.  Warren Smith  
dropped in on some of the newspaper blogs and was welcome by me.   
Kathy Dopp has also (with her proclamations that IRV is  
unconstitutional, something that has been disposed of in court before  
otherwise it would have never become law, even momentarily, in the  
first place in 2005).

i believe that the pathologies of the 2009 Burlington mayoral  
election using IRV all stem from a single root: the Condorcet winner  
was rejected.  in order for the Condorcet winner to not be elected,  
he must be kept out of the final round (where we know he would beat  
anyone he meets there).  then you get a situation where the champion  
of some sport (like wrestling) is artificially held out of the final  
round and then if some hypothetical adjustment is made to some tally,  
the Condorcet winner gets into the final round and the election comes  
out differently.  this is at the root to the Spoiler pathology, the  
Burden of Strategic Voting pathology, and the Non-monotonicity  
pathology, all demonstrated in the 2009 election and pretty well  
documented at Warren Smith's page.  but i dispute his 753 figure a  
little, using the harmonized numbers from Juho Laatu, it's 744 Wright  
voters shifting to Kiss (at least 155 coming out of the 495 W>K>M  
voters) will cause Kiss to lose, not a big deal and it only makes his  
case stronger.

politically, what we got from the pro-IRV side (called 50% Matters)  
was mostly happy talk about how well the 2009 election went and some  
real mistakes.  at the debate, the advocate from League of Women  
Voters said that "no one" needed to worry that voting for the  
candidate they really liked did not risk electing the candidate they  
disliked the most, and that is objectively wrong (if 372 W>M>K voters  
had understood that their first choice wasn't going to win, they  
could have voted strategically M>W>K and changed the election to a  
more satisfactory result for them).  what we got from the other side  
was citing Smith's and Gierzynski's critical analysis of the 2009  
election (without really understanding it) and lot's of crap like  
"One person, One vote", when in reality, what they really want is the  
opportunity to vote a second time and pull a victory out of the jaws  
of defeat.

i wrote two different analyses of what happened in 2009 (one long  
winded one i've offered for people's perusal here) and the shorter  
one i shortened further to fit in the Burlington Free Press "My Turn"  
Op-Ed, but it was declined in favor of a few really stupid columns on  
both sides.  (if anyone wants to see it, i can send a copy.)  even  
Howard Dean, who i supported especially when he ran for Prez, did the  
cause some real damage in a video-taped endorsement of IRV and his  
misrecollection that it wasn't used in 2006.  made him really sound  
like he was out of Burlington and out of touch.  FairVote pumped some  
money into the battle which was probably needed but, being out of  
town, was widely criticized.

so, i'm for Condorcet too.  i am sorta agnostic about what to do  
about a cycle (because i really doubt it will happen at all often in  
reality) as long as it's a sensible resolution (Shulze would be okay  
if it was easy for a layman to understand, so probably Ranked Pairs  
is the simplest, but i might just say give it to the Plurality winner  
in the Smith set to toss the IRV haters a bone).

but i don't ever expect to vote on a ranked ballot again.  i guess i  
should feel privileged that i had twice in my life.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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