[EM] Condorcet How?

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Tue Mar 23 21:54:23 PDT 2010

On Mar 23, 2010, at 9:01 AM, Terry Bouricius wrote:

> Robert,
> Two corrections...

always happy to correct my misconceptions.

> Bills to use IRV for certain statewide elections have
> been introduced in Vermont in every session since 1998, and it was  
> passed
> by the Vermont House and Senate a few  years ago. It would require  
> IRV for
> U.S. House and Senate elections. That bill, however was vetoed by the
> Republican governor.

yeah, i kinda remember that.  i remember Douglas saying something  
about IRV, i didn't realize that he was vetoing a bill.

> The Secretary of State planned to conduct the statewide IRV tally  
> (if the
> initial first choice totals showed no majority winner), by having the
> sheriffs transport the sealed ballot bags to regional count  
> centers, and
> having the IRV tally done by hand.

it still has to be tallied centrally in order for the ballots to be  
transferred to different piles between IRV rounds.

i can't imagine a statewide election having ballots tallied by hand  
(even a small state like Vermont).  if it's only 3 candidates and  
they don't deal with Write-in, the only useful thing they can do at  
*any* decentralized counting venue is separate the ballots into 9  
piles from which they can propagate those numbers up to the central  
venue.  if it's 4 candidates, it's 40 piles.

> Since the bill, as passed, actually
> used a top-two contingent system (only the top two initial candidates
> would advance), the tally would be relatively easy.

so the regional venues would report 1st-choice tallies and *wait* for  
the central counting venue to indicate who the top two vote getters  
are?  then the regional venues do a pairwize tally between the two?   
is that how it would be done?  that's possible, but it requires a two- 
way communication and a deferred counting action later in the evening  
of Election Day.

it's the 21st century, secure two-way communication within government  
located at different places is possible.  but i can see why it's more  
comfortable for some that the precincts (or towns) can tally up their  
subtotals, report it upstream to the central venue while  
simultaneously publishing that data publicly for media and campaign  
interests to independently verify election outcomes.  the precincts  
do one counting operation, report their results, securely transmit  
sealed ballot bags to wherever (or store them), but need not return  
for any other counting *unless* there is a recount or manual  
verification of ballots.

you've been reported as saying (and i think you said it to me at the  
Dobra Tea house) that political capital and issue education effort  
should not be spent on Condorcet because it isn't already in use in  
governmental elections like IRV is.  (kinda like betting on the  
winning horse, regardless if another horse is more deserving.)

but that argument could not have been used when IRV was *first*  
introduced with Preferential Voting to the first government that  
adopted it.  at that time, neither IRV nor Condorcet had a track  
record in government.  do you know *why* was the decision made then  
to put all of the chips on IRV rather than putting some investment in  
selling Condorcet with the ranked ballot?  i have never understood  
that.  is it because of the RRoO?  is that why IRV (under whatever  
name) was first plugged for government elections in multiparty  

however it happened, i think that was where the sad mistake was made.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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