[EM] A simpler approval based way of replacing the CA jungle primary

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Mon Aug 13 23:39:45 PDT 2018

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: Re: [EM] A simpler approval based way of replacing the CA jungle primary

From: "Rob Lanphier" <robla at robla.net>

Date: Tue, August 14, 2018 12:36 am

To: "Kristofer Munsterhjelm" <km_elmet at t-online.de>

Cc: "Election Methods" <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>


> On Sat, Aug 11, 2018 at 1:50 PM Kristofer Munsterhjelm

> <km_elmet at t-online.de> wrote:

>> I also happened across the following draft paper by James Green-Armytage

>> on the question of how to select candidates for a top-two runoff:

>> http://jamesgreenarmytage.com/runoff.pdf


> Thanks for reviving this thread, Kristofer! Also, thanks for pointing

> out the Green-Armytage/Tideman paper. I'll queue that up on my

> reading list, and I'll be in a better position to respond to your full

> mail. Just in my initial skim, it looks like they make some of the

> points that match my intuition on the subject. In particular (to

> quote the paper):


>> Thus, one function of a [primary election selecting two candidates]

>> is to concentrate the attention of citizens on the relative merits of

>> the two finalists. When citizens know who these finalists are, they have

>> greater motivation to acquire information about them, ensuring that the

>> eventual winner will undergo close scrutiny during the campaign.


> This is the reason why I dislike arguments that discount the value of

> primary elections. If structured correctly, a primary election

> followed by a general election allows us to balance two competing

> needs:

>   a. we want elections with liberal ballot access as the most

>       democratic way to ensure a diverse selection of candidates.

>   b. we don't want to overwhelm the electorate (and the press, and our

>       public debates) with too many candidates


> A well-structured primary/general pairing can allow us to have both.

> Primary voters can vet a wide field of candidates, and give us a sane

> general election cycle. With a more sophisticated voting system than

> FPTP, it seems possible to have a field with more than 2 candidates

> (e.g. 3, 4 or maybe even 5 candidates). More than 5 candidates

> becomes kind of a clown show, as evidenced by the 2008-2016 Republican

> on-stage U.S. presidential debates, and the 2004-2008 Democratic

> counterparts. When the field narrows to 2-3 viable candidates, the

> policy discussions can get interesting

personally, i really dislike the California primary system that can potentially lock out a party from the general.  in fact, even though i dislike two-party hegemony as we have in the U.S., i actually believe that parties in politics can be and are a good thing (this doesn't mean
that there aren't bad parties or bad leadership in any particular party).  parties serve a useful purpose and, in my opinion, ballot access in the general election should depend solely on getting enough signatures and the state should recognize parties only to the extent of contract law to keep
some faction in a party from undemocratically screwing the rest of their party.  but every party should be able to get candidates on the General Election ballot, providing they get enough valid signatures on the ballot petition.  i don't think the General should be just between two
and both the Primary and General Election should be decided with Ranked-Choice Voting using a Condorcet-compliant method (either Ranked-Pairs or Schulze) for the single-winner races.  STV or IRV is still sucky.
for Ranked-Choice voting, the number of candidates appearing
on the ballot should not greatly exceed the number of ranking levels.  when San Francisco has 20 candidates and 3 ranking levels, someone who voted their heart's select which included none of the real contenders will feel disenfranchised when they found out that the contender they hated the
most wins and they didn't vote for the second-place finisher to oppose that hated winner.  but the way to make this happen is not to put in 20 ranking levels, what is needed is sufficiently strict ballot access law that makes it harder to get on the ballot.  but not so hard that only one
or two can meet that requirement.
and, i think that the law should allow a candidate that loses in a primary or caucus to have some time after the primary to gather signatures to run as an independent candidate.
what i am still unsure of is what New York does.  New York allows a
single candidate to be nominated by more than one party and have that candidate's name appear multiple places on the ballot (associated with each party that nominated him/her) and then to *total* the votes for that candidate from all of the parties that he/she appears with on the ballot. 
George Pataki did this with the GOP and the Conservative Party nominations.  it can't be fair to the other candidates when one of them appears on the ballot more than one place.
ballot access is weird.  in Vermont, because lawmakers didn't anticipate this problem, a 14-year-old kid
is running for governor and appears on the Dem party primary ballot.  ya gotta be at least 18 to vote, but you need not be that to run.  ain't that weird?


r b-j                         rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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