[EM] Historical perspective about FairVote organization

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Wed Mar 13 13:16:12 PDT 2013

For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes IRV 
(instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants here, 
I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long message 
by Abd.

On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> ...

> Example from the United States: There was a conference in the early
> 1990s to discuss and support proportional representation. A small group
> of people then formed the Center for Proportional Representation, and
> leaders appeared. Eventually this because the Center for Voting and
> Democracy. Early on, this thinking developed among the activists involved:
> 1. The best method for proportinal representation is Single Transferable
> Vote. (it isn't but that's what they believed, these were not voting
> systems experts, but political activists.)
> 2. STV requires a complex voting system. Read, expensive to canvass,
> difficult to audit, etc.
> 3. The single-winner version of STV could substitute, it was thought,
> for the fairly common runoff voting, which requires, sometimes, a second
> ballot, which is expensive.
> 4. They invented the name Instant Runoff Voting, then, for single-winner
> STV, and represented it as equivalent to Runoff Voting. (It isn't, and
> studies have clearly shown this, but, again, they are coming up with an
> *action plan*, something they think they can sell.)
> 5. And so the primary activity of CVD became promoting instant runoff
> voting.
> Early on, voting systems experts tapped them on the shoulder and pointed
> out that, while multiwinner STV is a decent voting system, the
> single-winner form wasn't, it suffered from some serious problems. They
> rejected these experts as impractical dreamers. Only their plan, they
> believed, had any chance of success. And, of course, they, and their
> Executive Director, became heavily committed to a whole series of
> deceptive arguments.
> Because many people saw the defects in existing systems, they did
> succeed in getting IRV implemented in a few places. And then those
> places started to discover the problems with IRV, and quite a few have
> rescinded the implementations, and it's possible the backlash has made
> it unlikely for voting system reform to succeed in those places for many
> years. The experts whom they rejected have started to independently
> organize, and to present evidence at hearings and in campaigns, it's
> getting more difficult for FairVote, as they ended up calling
> themselves, to win implementations.

I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and 
European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.

(BTW, please don't confuse the similarly named FairVote and VoteFair names.)

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