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IRV wins big in Election 2007

To learn more about IRV (Instant Runoff Voting), please click here, or see below.

From the Fairvote web-site:

Election Day Landslides for IRV!
Three big ballot victories, three successful IRV elections

Newly elected candidates are not the only winners from Election Day 2007. Voters in Sarasota (FL) and Aspen (CO) voted by more than three to one to move to instant runoff voting. 65% of voters in Pierce County (WA) voted to keep IRV on track for next year’s county executive race, while voters in Clallam County narrowly rejected establishing an IRV option for now.

More and more places now use IRV. San Francisco held its fourth IRV election overall, with first-round winners in three citywide races, including mayor. Takoma Park (MD) smoothly held its first IRV election for mayor, with nary a single spoiled ballot, and the city of Hendersonville (NC) had a good first IRV election for two city council seats. As a bonus, a graduate student in Cambridge (MA) won a city council seat in an upset under the choice voting system of proportional voting, now in its seventh decade of use.



What is IRV?
from answers.com:

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single winner elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. In an IRV election, if no candidate receives an overall majority of first preferences, the candidates with fewest votes are eliminated one by one, and their votes transferred according to their second and third preferences (and so on) and all votes retallied, until one candidate achieves a majority. The term ‘instant runoff voting’ is used because this process resembles a series of run-off elections.

One Response

  1. While it’s clear that our traditional “vote for one” (plurality) voting system is inexcusable, Instant Runoff Voting is not much better – and there are many better simpler solutions. There is also a great deal of public misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding IRV, largely the result of the IRV propaganda organization, FairVote.

    One common myth is that IRV elects “majority winners”. But IRV can lead to the election of candidate X, even when candidate Y is preferred to X by a huge majority. Consider this hypothetical IRV election.

    #voters – their vote
    10 G > C > P > M
    3 C > G > P > M
    5 C > P > M > G
    6 M > P > C > G
    4 P > M > C > G

    C is the clear Condorcet (condor-SAY) winner, meaning he is preferred by a landslide majority over all his individual rivals. He is preferred over G, P, and M all by an 18-10 margin.

    But… M wins, even though he also has fewer first-place votes (6 voters) than C with 8.

    Also:

    1. P is preferred to M by 22 of the 28 voters, yet he’s the first candidate eliminated.
    2. G also has more first-place votes (10) than M’s 6.
    3. So M either loses pairwise to, or has fewer first-place votes than (or both) every rival, but still IRV elects M.

    Notice that the first group of voters could have caused C to win if they had only “lied”, and put him first in their list. That would mean they’d get their second favorite instead of their fourth favorite. Statistical analysis reveals that this strategy is advised for all candidates who don’t appear to have at least a 20% chance of winning. That means that, contrary to FairVote propaganda, IRV does not let you “vote your hopes, not your fears”. And this means that IRV effectively degrades toward plain old plurality (vote-for-one) voting. This is explained in more detail here, by math experts:
    http://rangevoting.org/TarrIrv.html

    Election integrity experts and activists, like computer science Ph.D. Rebecca Mercuri disapprove of IRV because it is conducive to the adoption of fraud-susceptible electronic voting machines. IRV is also more susceptible to fraud because it is not countable in precincts. That is, candidate A could win every individual precinct, but bizarrely lose when the ballots are all summed together – which enforces centralized tabulation, which is more susceptible to central fraud conspiracy. And IRV typically causes spoiled ballots to go up by a factor of about 7.
    http://rangevoting.org/SPRates.html

    A much simpler and far better system is Approval Voting. It’s just like the current system, except that there is no limit on the number of candidates one may vote for. While it may seem initially less intuitive than ranking choices, deep scrutiny shows that Approval Voting produces a far more representative outcome, and is less harmed by problems like strategic voting. This is shown through an objective economic measure called Bayesian regret, which shows how well a particular voting method tends to satisfy the preferences of the voters. The improvement gotten by Approval Voting relative to IRV is especially large if the voters are strategic, as was described above (although FairVote promoters will often falsely claim that the best strategy with Approval Voting is to “bullet vote”). See:
    http://rangevoting.org/BayRegDum.html

    If we don’t mind a somewhat more cluttered ballot, we can upgrade to Range Voting, which uses a ratings scale, like Olympics scoring. It is arguably more intuitive, and produces phenomenal Bayesian regret results, meaning more satisfied voters, and more competitive nominees if used for a party’s nomination process (i.e. a big strategic advantage).

    For a look at how the major parties could become dramatically more competitive by merely adopting Range Voting or Approval Voting, see:
    http://rangevoting.org/ForDems.html
    http://rangevoting.org/ForReps.html

    Election reformers must be diligent and do their research. Don’t be misled by FairVote’s clever marketing. Look at what Ivy League mathematicians and political science experts such as Steve Brams, who write entire books on this stuff, say. FairVote has an agenda, and it’s definitely not in the pubic’s best interest.

    Clay Shentrup
    San Francisco, CA
    415.240.1973
    clay@electopia.org

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