[EM] Legal brief vs. San Francisco limited IRV

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sun Mar 7 18:08:11 PST 2010

At 12:39 AM 3/7/2010, Kathy Dopp wrote:
>I've posted the latest plaintiffs' legal brief here. Plaintiffs
>attorneys are brilliant and this brief is actually fun to read the way
>plaintiffs' attorneys expose all the disinformation told the court by
>the defendants' attorneys and use Fair Vote's own words and the words
>of the Minnesota Supreme Court Judges against the restricted San
>Francisco rank only three version of IRV.

It is actually brilliant. Yes; limited. My view is that IRV is 
generally constitutional. I.e., if top two runoff is constitutional, 
full-ranking IRV is constitutional. They've hit on a technicality, 
the loss of equal treatment of voters if the voter can't rank enough 
candidates, but as they point out, the deprivation of equal treatment 
can be quite small and be unconstitutional.

And there is a quick fix, of course. Instant Runoff Approval Voting. 
Allow the voters to mark as many candidates as they choose in each of 
the three ranks. Then use Bucklin procedure. And make this a primary 
round, hold a runoff if there is no true majority found. What this 
will do is to eliminate *most* runoff elections. Not all. It's just a 
more efficient way of finding a majority in the primary. The same 
trick could be done with IRV, but, note this: IRV no longer would 
satisfy later-no-harm, and IRV does not count all the votes. Unless 
all the votes *are* counted, which would mean that one would count 
lower ranked votes against non-eliminated higher-ranked candidates. 
Bucklin does it much better and because there are no eliminations in 
the primary rounds, it finds a candidate who is supported by more 
voters than any other. Because of the runff, voters need not, in the 
primary, support someone who is the "least evil." They can vote 
sincerely. They can bullet vote if they want. They can add alternate 
preferences if they'd prefer these to a runoff (or if they'd want to 
see them get into a runoff). They choose.

 From my analysis, IRV, however, would not find a majority in most of 
the elections that went to instant runoff in San Francisco, and 
Bucklin would find it it in maybe half. But Bucklin is far less 
expensive to count, it's precinct summable, just count all the votes 
in each rank (typically three ranks were used) and report them 
separately. They can then be added together.

Bucklin was used in a lot of places in the U.S., at one time, pushing 
100. The actual method was only found unconstitutional in one place, 
Minnesota, is a decision that was aware it was idiosyncratic. It was 
popular, the Minnesotata Supreme Court decision was quite unpopular, 
the court notes that in its reconsideration. My guess is that 
political forces were operating. Some people did not want a good 
voting system, it's more difficult to manipulate. 

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