[EM] Condorcet How?

Terry Bouricius terryb at burlingtontelecom.net
Wed Mar 24 06:30:18 PDT 2010


Responding to two of your points...
1. How would a statewide tally have been done under the IRV bill that 
passed the Vermont legislature, and
2. How did FairVote come to advocate IRV.

1.   Because the legislators did not want to buy new voting machines, the 
decision was made to pass the bill in a form that would ease a manual IRV 
tally. First choices would be counted the same as currently using optical 
scan machines in towns that have them and by hand election night in the 
smaller towns without machines. These results would be reported as usual. 
Voters' ballots would have places to rank alternate choices, but these 
would not be considered in the initial tally (no new machine software, 
      If no candidate had an initial majority according to the canvass of 
votes (takes about a week to make official), an IRV tally would be 
ordered. The bill was written to limit the instant runoff to the top two 
candidates in order to make this simple. Ballots transported to the 
regional count centers would only need to be sorted into three 
piles...candidate A, candidate B, and other (blank, exhausted, etc.). 
There would be no waiting for instructions on who to eliminate, as that 
was determined by the regular (first choice) canvass.

2. Why did FairVote first start advocating IRV instead of Condorcet? 
FairVote's initial and still leading concern is the promotion of 
proportional representation (the majority should elect the majority of 
seats, but minorities should be fairly represented at the table). Because 
of the anti-party sentiment in the U.S. ("I vote for the individual, not 
the party"), made the adoption of party list voting appear unachievable. 
The most plausible form or PR for the U.S. seemed to be the 
candidate-based STV, which already had been proven to be adoptable in the 
U.S. earlier in the 20th century, and used for many generations in 
Australia as a model. There are no functioning models of a Condorcet 
variant for PR, and no functioning models in government elections for 
single-seat Condorcet. It is virtually impossible to get a government to 
adopt a voting method that is not already used by other governments, or at 
least by numerous non-governmental organizations....so Condorcet was never 
a real option. FairVote has been involved in several near-miss referenda 
to adopt STV PR (Cincinnati, San Francisco, Lowell, etc.). IRV is merely 
the single-seat variant of FairVotes' preferred PR system. As happened in 
the Australia national Senate elections, which transitioned from IRV to 
STV-PR, once IRV was adopted, a huge barrier (the use of ranked ballots) 
to adopting STV PR is removed.

Terry Bouricius

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "robert bristow-johnson" <rbj at audioimagination.com>
To: "election-methods List" <election-methods at electorama.com>
Sent: Wednesday, March 24, 2010 12:54 AM
Subject: Re: [EM] Condorcet How?

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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