[EM] Burlington versus Aspen in Declaration

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Tue Apr 10 12:12:40 PDT 2012

On 4/10/12 2:06 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> Regarding the Aspen versus Burlington choice, no one else has 
> commented, so it will stay unchanged.  Given what I now know, Aspen 
> would have been a better choice, but the difference is too subtle for 
> most people to understand.

i dunno what happened in Aspen, but i doubt that IRV was repealed 
because it failed to elect the Condorcet winner and voters were unhappy 
with that.  i *do* know that, in Burlington, the main sentiment against 
IRV was because it didn't elect the Plurality winner (and the final 
round margin was close).  i doubt that at either town, the voters were 
sophisticated enough to even consider the Condorcet winner.  i think, 
even though i had not signed it, that the statement should be modified 
to say that IRV failed in Burlington, and that most election scholars 
would blame its failure to elect the CW, but the slim majority of 
Burlington voters who rejected IRV didn't do so because of that and were 
fully unaware of any notion of a CW.

> On 4/7/2012 11:12 PM, robert bristow-johnson wrote:
> > ...
> > just to be clear, i am not (yet) a signer. maybe i should be, but i
> > really can't get behind any solution other than a Ranked-Choice voting
> > (Condorcet preferable, IRV maybe acceptable). i really can't get at all
> > behind promoting Score nor Approval nor Asset nor SODA for governmental
> > elections. They're just too messy. (Approval isn't messy, but I don't
> > think it will nor should catch on because of the need for 
> "expressivity"
> > for voters where we want to be able to separate our first and second
> > choices *and* separate our second and last choices.)
> I share your preference for ranked ballots and Condorcet methods.  Yet 
> I also realize that, as does Jameson, that Approval voting will not 
> get used for U.S. Presidential general elections, and presumably the 
> same applies for Range voting.
> The Declaration has helped me appreciate Approval voting for use when 
> a group of people are gathered in person and are making a simple 
> choice, such as where to eat dinner, and that made me realize that I 
> would be fine with Approval voting being adopted for Presidential 
> _primary_ elections, and that qualifies as a governmental election.
> As for Score ballots, they are the best choice for the distant future 
> when we have a way to count them that is not vulnerable to strategic 
> voting.  (Majority Judgment is clever and mathematically appealing, 
> but too complex to explain in words.)

even in the distant future, voters will be faced with the tactical 
question of how high to score their 2nd choice (or whether or not to 
approve their 2nd choice).  no technology will solve that problem.

> Even IRV would be a good choice for a small group of people gathered 
> together without access to a computer.

IRV works okay if the race is essentially between 2 strong candidates 
and the potential spoiler is way below them and has no chance in 
winning.  IRV will successfully prevent that potential spoiler from 
changing the outcome of the election in comparison to a 2-candidate race 
between the 2 leaders.  but, 2009 Burlington shows that IRV may fail if 
it is a real 3-way race between 3 (or more) contending candidates who 
any could very well be the winner.

> I'm not trying to change your mind about the voting methods.  Rather 
> I'm pointing out that I signed because single-mark ballots are so 
> awful that any of the methods even mentioned in the Declaration would 
> be a significant improvement, and that, in my mind, is what the 
> Declaration says.

and my problem, as has been demonstrated in my town 3 years ago, is a 
"reform" that fails.  that can set the reform movement back by 
generations.  i believe we need to carefully pick the reformed method 
before promoting it to the public and to legislatures. (Fairvote wasn't 
careful enough and put all of their credibility behind IRV without even 
*mentioning* Condorcet as an alternative for governments and voters to 
consider.  they mistakenly equated and conflated RCV with IRV.)  it will 
not help to promote Score or Approval or Borda or Bucklin or Asset or 
(now that we know) even IRV, because of their ostensible weaknesses.  
they will get shot down quickly and then any Ranked-Choice Voting 
(including one decided by a Condorcet-compliant method of tabulation) 
will be stained along with it.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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