[EM] Answers regarding claim about Approval's enact-ability

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Mon Apr 16 18:56:56 PDT 2012

On 4/16/12 7:49 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> On 4/16/2012 12:50 PM, robert bristow-johnson wrote:
>> hey Richard, how did you get "ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org" for the
>> Reply-to header?". i had to change it to get this to post.
> That's the email account I sent the message from.

i understand.  different mailing lists are different and i have trouble 
remembering.  usually on this list, if i inadvertently hit Reply, 
instead of Reply All, i will notice right away.  but instead i had 
thought that i was replying to the list.  couldn't figure out why my 
post wasn't getting posted.  i didn't realize it was *your* address.  sorry.

>> On 4/16/12 12:42 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>>> As I recall the issue is that I stated in a previous message that
>>> Approval voting was very unlikely to be adopted for use in U.S.
>>> Presidential _general_ elections. Here are some reasons:
>>> 1: Making that change requires adopting a Constitutional Amendment.
>> not precisely. there is a going state compact movement that will
>> essentially make the Electoral College a figurehead. it will exist, but
>> it will be powerless. and it doesn't need a Constitutional amendment,
>> because the Constitution says that the state legislatures have the
>> exclusive authority in defining how the presidential electors are
>> chosen.  ...
> > ...
> Notice that the "state compact movement" specifies that the state's 
> electoral votes goes to the candidate with the "most votes."

i agree.  it *is* the plurality of the popular vote, rather than the 
majority of the electoral vote.

> That will lead to ambiguity if there is a strong three-way race.

it was intended only to cure one thing, to go after the popular vote 
rather than have a non-linear function "process", in an unpredictable 
manner, the popular vote.  there is not always a majority, but there is 
always a plurality.

BTW, a strong 3-way race can also mess up IRV, and again the example is 
Burlington 2009.

> For example, if the group that has gotten approval in many states to 
> add a third Presidential candidate in the upcoming Presidential 
> general election (I forget their name) were to choose a well-liked 
> liberal candidate, vote splitting between the Democratic candidate 
> (Obama) and the added candidate could cause the Republican candidate 
> (Romney, presumably) to get the most votes, even though a majority of 
> voters vote "against" the Republican candidate.

i know, it's not past the FPTP, but at least it's not the electoral vote 
where 48 out of 50 states (including all of the really populated states 
with lotsa electoral votes) dump ALL of their electors on the state-wide 
plurality winner.  the weirdness in coupling that to the will of the 
people is far worse.

people that defend the electoral college (the previous GOP gov of 
Vermont, who also vetoed an IRV bill) as "serving us well" must be 
contemplating it in religious terms.
> That would "break" the "most votes" workaround.

the compact changes it clearly to the plurality of the popular vote, and 
they don't talk about that much.

> Yes, I agree that it is possible that the reform could happen without 
> a Constitutional Amendment.
> However, at this rate of progress, the Constitutional Amendment seems 
> as likely as a well-written workaround.
well, it gets more difficult to craft a compact that when activated, the 
state electors go to the Condorcet winner or some other majority winner, 
not simply the national popular vote that is easy for all of the states 
to measure. however method, there is no way measure the majority without 
a ranked ballot and to fix the problem when states that haven't adopted 
the compact don't give you the same ballot information, that sorta 
limits getting anything other than the national popular plurality winner.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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