[EM] I could use some help with advocacy.

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Fri Apr 16 15:25:42 PDT 2021

okay, more about terminology and semantics and strategy...

Again, I **only** want to use the term "IRV" for Hare RCV (a.k.a. Hare STV) which is the common RCV you see in Australia, Ireland, Maine, several U.S. cities including Burlington from 2005 to 2010.  I do *not* want to use that term for Rob LeGrand's adaptation of IRV to be Condorcet compliant.

I will make sure that the audience (this Gov Ops committee and anyone else in the legislature) will understand that "RCV" means *any* ranked ballot and will allude to how FairVote appropriated that term for two disingenuous reasons: 1. "IRV" lost cache and they realized that and 2. they want to insinuate that any time "RCV" is used, it means the product they are selling.  They're like "Of course Hare RCV is the only way to implement RCV in government elections."   But, in discussion, I will always used "Hare RCV" or "Hare STV" to mean the FairVote method.

I will make clear that Condorcet preceded Hare by a half century and considered Hare's method before Hare did.  Hare came up with the term "Single Transferable Vote" I believe and really was the main innovator for that method.  Ware contributed nothing, really, but is sometimes credited with creating IRV.  STV is a useful legal instrument, but I would prefer a flat method such as Ranked Pairs or Schulze.  But I will not promote either methods.  It's important to make this reform self-contained (all of the legal language exist in the law without external reference) and as short and as familiar as possible.

BTR-STV (and that is the label I will use) is the smallest incremental change to the Hare STV method that will make it Condorcet compliant.  I only want to say "Condorcet method" or "Condorcet-compliant" (as an adjective) for any method that satisfies the Condorcet criterion.  I think that "CWC-compliant" or "Condorcet-winner-criterion compliant" is more verbiage than necessary.

Now I would like to know more about this Debian 2003 thing.  I thought it was a city, but was it about this: https://www.debian.org/News/2003/20031010 ?  I would like solid information about any other time (other than Burlington 2009) that Hare RCV did not elect the Condorcet Winner.  FairVote claims there is only one case out of more than 300.  I am skeptical that they were able to get ballot date for 300+ elections but if anyone knows a solid case of another IRV failure, I would appreciate knowing it.  (I haven't done the math, but if the 3rd-place candidate is low enough relative to the top two, I think you can prove mathematically that the CW was elected with Hare-STV even if you don't have the individual ballot data.  The failure of IRV happens when it's a close 3-way race and the spoiler candidate has enough support to get into the final round and loses.)

About a good name for the Condorcet Winner (sometimes "Condorcet candidate"), there was a discussion on this list a while back.  "Beats-all winner" sucks.  It sounds aggressive and tacky.  In the 2004 Scientific American article https://drive.google.com/file/d/1m6qn6Y7PAQldKNeIH2Tal6AizF7XY2U4/view?usp=sharing the coined "True Majority Rule" and I will point to that but not use it.  

"Pairwise Champion" was mentioned and isn't so bad, but I coined the term "Consistent Majority Candidate" because I will get into the claim that IRV "guarantees a majority winner".  I will ask them how to justify that claim and eventually they will have to boil it down to two candidates.  I will get specific about Burlington 2009 and they will claim that Bob Kiss was the majority candidate because of his 4313 to 4061 majority over Kurt Wright.  Between two candidates there is *always* a simple majority, unless they tie.  But I will ask, "Why not identify Kurt Wright as the majority candidate over Dan Smith (3971 over 3793)?" and if they say "Because the voters preferred Kiss over Wright so Wright's majority over Smith is not relevant", then I will pounce.

What I need are more knowledgeable people that are willing to say that Hare RCV is flawed and why.  My position is that their three big selling points: 1. guarantees majority winner, 2. eliminates spoiler effect, 3. removes tactical burden from voters that might want to vote 3rd party or independent.  It failed all three in 2009.  I will also point out that when you fail to elect the *true* majority candidate (the CW), that besides spoiling the election, you have valued the votes of the fewer voters preferring the IRV non-majority candidate over the greater number of voters preferring the true majority candidate.  In my opinion, One-person-one-vote is sacrosanct and violating it in a democracy is profane.

And what I need are as many solid examples of IRV failure as I can get.  So far, all I have is Burlington 2009 (other than the other towns that have repealed IRV because they just didn't like the ranked ballot).

So showing up and cheering will help.  Perhaps answering directed questions.  And other examples of "bad IRV" or where Condorcet (likely to be Schulze) is used and is good.  There appears to be one city in Portugal that has used Schulze in government.  But I will have to point to organizations.

I will also talk about corner cases.  Of all RCV elections in government, perhaps 99.999% *have* a Condorcet Winner (no cycles).  And perhaps in about 99%, Hare RCV had elected the CW.  So I will be arguing about the 1% corner case which **has** happened at least once (in my very own city in 2009).

My point will be that even though this is a corner case, it is worth correcting, much like correcting the few cases where the Electoral College did not elect the popular vote winner.  And now in Vermont is the point, the optimal time and place, to make that correction rather than jumping on the FairVote train.

If anyone brings up Arrow and the 0.001% corner case, I will acknowledge it, illustrate it with a simple Rock-Paper-Scissors example and show that BTR-STV will be more consistent than Hare-STV.  BTR will always elect the largest vote getter of the three (let's label that candidate "Rock") and Hare will sometimes elect Paper, sometimes Rock.

But that is the minutest corner of the corner case and, as Arrow points out, it can be that it is just not possible to elect a candidate that has no one else that voters prefer more and that is an unavoidable flaw.  However failing to elect the CW when such exists (and the CW almost always exists) is an avoidable flaw.  And democracy is worth it to preemptively correct a flaw resulting in even a rare avoidable failure.

"That's my story and I'm sticking to it."


r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com 

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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