[EM] re Unger wrt tabulation

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Fri Feb 3 08:11:09 PST 2012

On 2/3/12 10:41 AM, David L Wetzell wrote:
>         dlw:       I do change my mind.  The fact I haven't wrt IRV is
>         because I
>                got a good case and it is a huge non sequitur to
>         presume that
>                "the" solution to the US's political problems is for it to
>                become an EU-style multi-party system....
>              RBJcareful, David.  a hard-won reform that performs
>         poorly the
>            *second* time it's used, sets *back* the movement for voting
>            reform.  it's important that we get this right, not just
>         change it
>            from the status quo.
>         dlw2: But it didn't perform poorly.
>     other than electing the wrong candidate (and all the anomalies
>     that resulted), i guess it didn't do too bad.
> When you try out a new piece of technology, you can't expect to get it 
> right right away.  A democracy is a function of both the rules and 
> people's habits.  If GOPers had seen that their party couldn't win 
> then some of them wd've voted Dem first and the CW wd have won....

David!  That's the point!  That's the problem!  IRV promised that you 
could vote for your favorite candidate and that would not help elect 
your least favorite.  it explicitly failed to do that on the second 
try.  In this town that, at least 3 years ago, had 3 major parties (so 
the spoiler wasn't some kinda Ron Paul or Ralph Nader gadfly who had no 
hope of election but could still rob victory from the majority 
candidate).  In the context where the 3 (or more) candidates are *all* 
plausible, Condorcet would have elected a candidate where, by 
definition, no other candidate was preferred over this CW and, at least 
in the Burlington 2009 example, would not have suffered spoiler, 
punishment for sincere voting, non-monotonicity, and 

It *failed*, David.  (but it still beats Plurality and, unfortunately 
the voters of Burlington, who adopted IRV by 65% in 2005, tossed the 
baby out with the bathwater in 2010 and *really* did in 2011 when they 
rejected the 50% threshold.)  now, elections are something that we (any 
particular group of people) do not do every day.  it's not like you got 
your iPhone or iPad and it worked the day you bought it, and had trouble 
the second day, but you are willing to see how well it works the next 
day.  it's more like a high-rise building technique or bridge-building 
technique (e.g. Tacoma Narrows Bridge).  if you use some new technique 
and it fails the first time you use it, you better believe there will be 
hesitation and controversy the next time its use is proposed.  and very 
similar if it happens the second use.

on the other hand, if the technique was used 50 times before it failed, 
you would more likely look at the failure as a fluke or outlier.  
elections happen once or twice a year (if you're politically active, if 
you're not it's more like once in four years) and their consequences are 
significant, in some cases worse than a building collapse.  a failure 
that occurs so soon after adoption might very well be an indication of 
something systemic, not just an outlier.

>         As far as we know, the sort of graft discovered about the
>         Progressive party's mayor was par for the course, but it got
>         revealed as part of a campaign to hurt the Prog party.
>     the political and legal difficulties of the Kiss administration is
>     non sequitur.  the failure of IRV in 2009 does not stem from any
>     political failures afterward.  the failure of IRV is because it
>     didn't do in 2009 what it was promised to do.  it literally did
>     not protect voters from a spoiler situation that (if IRV continued
>     to be the law) leads to tactical voting.
> To prevent all tactical voting is not the greatest good.

The *primary* reason for adopting ranked-choice voting, the greatest 
good promised, is to remove the *burden* of tactical voting from voters 
so that they do not experience voter's regret the day after the election 
(which, here in Burlington, soured many voters that do not return to the 
polls, thus reducing participation in democracy).  i don't suggest that 
we can prevent all tactical voting, but the common burden of tactical 
voting, the tactic called "compromising", is avoidable and *should* be 
avoided where at all possible.


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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