[EM] Legal brief vs. San Francisco limited IRV

Kathy Dopp kathy.dopp at gmail.com
Sun Mar 7 20:21:30 PST 2010

On Sun, Mar 7, 2010 at 9:08 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> At 12:39 AM 3/7/2010, Kathy Dopp wrote:
>> I've posted the latest plaintiffs' legal brief here. Plaintiffs
>> Francisco rank only three version of IRV.
>> http://kathydopp.com/wordpress/?cat=8
> 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.

Top-two allows *all* voters the opportunity to participate in the
final election of who will govern, so is IMO clearly more
constitutional than IRV which fails constitutionality in at least
three ways:

1. fails to allow all voters to participate in the final
decision-making process by excluding voters from the last round
2. fails to treat all voters' ballots equally, counting the 2nd and
lower rank choices of some, but not all, voters
3. fails to provide voters with knowledge of the effect (positive or
negative) of their votes on the candidates they rank due to its

Top-two runoff treats all voters equally, allows all voters to
participate, and allows all voters to cast a ballot with a positive
effect on a candidate's chances of winning, (I.e. voters know which
candidate they are helping to win each election.)

> 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.

I agree with you and find no objection to Bucklin method or most other
alternative voting methods that treat all voters' equally and is thus
precinct-summable, but don't have time to thoroughly study it now.
Interesting that this idea allows putting as many candidates as
desired into a limited number of slots. I like that on first glance.

The Condorcet method would still be easy to count in that case too
since an n x n matrix (where n = # candidates) would still work just

> 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.

I like Bucklin. Too bad the MN Supremes shot it down. MN Supremes seem
to make consistently poor decisions re. voting systems thus far,
although perhaps with an "as-applied" case they'd do better.




Kathy Dopp
Town of Colonie, NY 12304
"One of the best ways to keep any conversation civil is to support the
discussion with true facts."

Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting

Voters Have Reason to Worry

Checking election outcome accuracy

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list