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Perhaps this is the wrong place to offer some friendly advice to Tea Party Republicans, but I am a strong believer in democracy as a value.  Just as I think conservatives should support making fair voting laws, even if it seems to hurt their cause, so, too, will I suggest that it is in the best interests of Tea Partiers to support instant run-off voting.

TPers seemed to be among those on the right who held their nose and voted for Romney because he was not Obama, while wishing they had a more principled candidate who was a better fit for their values.  IRV is more likely to deliver what they want.  If IRV had been used to determine the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney may not have been the GOP standard-bearer.

Here are some reasons why instant run-off voting would help the Tea Party.

IRV tends to favor extremists over centrists and to favor candidates with strong rather than weak intensity of support.  The Tea Party is on the right-wing extreme of American politics and has very passionate supporters.  When America chooses to go in a more conservative direction, IRV will make that choice more likely to be a truly severe conservative rather a center-right moderate.  Compromise candidates who no one deeply loves will be weeded out early and the election will often end up as a contest between a true conservative and a true liberal (because hard left candidates will be favored over center-left moderates on the other side).

IRV is the sort of electoral reform that will raise the esteem of the Tea Party among those voters who believe that the two-party system is broken.  IRV gives supporters of third parties a chance to feel that they are not outsiders to our political process.

If you are concerned about spoiler candidates, including allegations of fake Tea Party candidates funded by the left to divide Republican voters, IRV prevents that effect.  Voters have an opportunity to cast a vote for third-party candidates as a form of protest without feeling that they are wasting their vote or casting a de facto for the major party candidate they loathe the most.  

This is something that disaffected members of both parties, as well as independents outside the two parties, can push for in order to have a greater voice against out-of-touch party establishments and the Washington insiders who support them.  I invite those who embrace the Tea Party label to channel whatever disappointment they may feel about the recent election and join the ranks of those who support this electoral reform.

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Comment Preferences

  •  IRV is still prone to a spoiler effect. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And IRV tends not to challenge 2 party systems. Approval Voting is less likely to have a spoiler effect and is more fair to 3rd parties.

    And for those who don't know what Approval Voting is, here is an explaination from

    What is Approval Voting?

    Approval Voting simply means that voters can vote for as many candidates as they choose... Approval Voting is more expressive than the typical way we vote — Plurality Voting. That's because Plurality Voting limits voter expression to only one candidate...

    How will Approval Voting affect spoiled ballots?

    Without a doubt, using Approval Voting will drastically decrease the number of spoiled ballots... If a voter approves anywhere between zero to all candidates (all combinations), then they've submitted a valid vote. To spoil an Approval ballot, a voter has to make the ballot unreadable — rather difficult. In fact, in the French and German studies referenced above, under 0.5% of voters managed to accomplish this folly (that's less than one in two hundred).

    Plurality Voting ballots are treated as spoiled whenever voters mark more than one candidate. The fact that voters do this tells us that they have more to say than Plurality Voting permits. Consequently, in the 2000 U.S. elections, nearly two million ballots were spoiled — almost 2%.

    Plurality Voting's spoilage rate of around one in fifty is almost four times more than Approval Voting. Had Approval Voting been used in 2000, not only would there have been no spoiler effect, but poll workers could have counted around one and a half million more voters' ballots.

    Does Approval Voting help major parties or minor parties?

    While this may sound impossible, we contend that Approval Voting is fairer to both major parties and minor parties. More importantly, Approval Voting is fairer to voters.

    Doesn't Approval Voting violate "one person one vote"?

    No. The term "one person one vote" refers to the weight of votes, not to how votes are expressed. And in Approval Voting, all ballots have the same weight.

    "Progress is possible. Don't give up on voting. Don't give up on advocacy. Don't give up on activism. There are too many needs to be met, too much work to be done." - Barack Obama

    by eaglekid85va on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 03:51:59 AM PST

    •  I love this (0+ / 0-)

      because it gives minority positions like the Greens a chance to express their true preferences without handing the election over to a totally objectionable candidate. It would give them a way to build support and momentum without having to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

      I would definitely vote green in order to express approval if it would not mean giving the election away. I think green sentiment, for instance, would be shown to have a much larger following than is reflected by current voting methods. With a larger approval base they would get much more media attention making it easier to get the green message across.

      Absent an objection that is not immediately apparant I would be for it. Is there any place to go to read the oppostion arguments?

      You should expand this to a diary.

      The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

      by Pirogue on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:15:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  IRV deficiencies (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    IRV doesn't come close to doing what most of its proponents claim.

    It is just as bad if not worse for entrenching two party politics.

    It encourages strategic (non-truthful) voting, just like first-past-the-post.

    Approval, Condorcet, and Range are all likely to be better systems for accomplishing some or all of the goals usually expressed by IRV advocates. (Other systems as well.)

    IRV encourages strategic voting. In Approval, there is never any incentive for lying when you vote. You will never be punished for answering the questions honestly. In the more complicated Range/Score or the much more complicated Condorcet, you will not be punished for ranking the list honestly. You will never have the incentive to falsely fill out your ballot. In IRV, just like in our actual Plurality (First Past the Post) system, you will be faced with having to strategically vote, that is to cast your ballot in such a way that it doesn't actually reflect your preferences but requires you to guess what the likely outcomes will be and then submit a false ballot in such a way that you calculate will be most likely to achieve the least cruddy result. Sometimes, in an IRV system, voting for someone can make them lose. Sound absurd? Of course it is. But it is straightforwardly the case in IRV that there are situations where by voting for the candidate that you actually want to win, you can cause them to lose.
    This sort of result in a voting system is ridiculous, and borderline obscene.

    Let's go back to Bush, Gore, Nader. Let's assume that your honest rankings for these candidates were Nader>Gore>Bush. Under First-Past-the-Post, you have to decide what the chances are for Nader to actually win the election and what the difference between Nader v. Gore is and what the difference between Gore v. Bush is. The position for most of us who thought that Nader>Gore was that there was an infinitesimal chance of Nader winning, and Gore>>>Bush. Thus we voted Gore (or we engaged in some sort of technically illegal vote-trading exercise perhaps, if we lived in an appropriate location). In IRV, if we expressed our vote honestly N>G>B, then we could actually cause Bush to win. Under Approval (yes/no vote for each candidate), voting yes for Nader can never cause Gore to lose to Bush. In Range/Score, putting Nader first can never cause Gore to lose to Bush. In IRV it can.

    Before a third party reaches enough political significance to actually be a threat to win an election, then IRV is meaningless except symbolically. Once a third party reaches enough political significance that it is a serious threat to actually win an election, then the very same problems with plurality First-Past-the-Post elections occur. You will have to scheme when you vote. If you think that N>G>>>B, then you have to seriously consider top-ranking Gore in order to avoid a spoiler effect.

    IRV leads to two-party dominance. It does so theoretically, and it does so actually. The countries in the world that have actually adopted IRV (Ireland, Australia, Malta) have entrenched two party systems.

    IRV nightmare scenarios are not that far-fetched. Here is a real world example (that led to the repeal of IRV in Burlington, Vermont).

    Here is the best website I can find that supports Range/Score.
    This is the page that contains the summary:

    The Condorcet website that I used to send people to seems to have vanished in the ether.

    I think that it is still a matter of debate whether or not Approval, Range, or Condorcet (as well as a few other possibilities) is best. It is probably the case that circumstances alter which of these is right. It depends on how much you value simplicity and transparency and how important it is to eliminate rare pathologic outcomes. There are geeky, wankish arguments about outlier cases regarding the various Condorcet systems and why Range might avoid these. I'm not sure I'm convinced. I am definitely sure that IRV is a loser.

    The plural of anecdote is not data.

    by Skipbidder on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:03:19 AM PST

    •  I value simplicity greatly (0+ / 0-)

      IRV is about as complicated as I am willing to go.

      My actual preference is to use IRV as the method in a primary to choose two finalists for a general election.

      •  If you value simplicity, you shouldn't support IRV (0+ / 0-)

        It might be that Approval is your better choice then. It is much simpler than IRV.

        IRV is considerably more complicated, since it requires strategic voting and a ranking of candidates.

        The plural of anecdote is not data.

        by Skipbidder on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 04:59:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  One reason I like IRV over Approval voting (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Is that IRV more closely resembles current voting.  

          If it were logistically possible to do non-instant run-off voting and have a period of debate and reflection between each round, I would go for that.

          Also, I actually don't care if IRV doesn't affect the two-party system.  I am not a third-party advocate.  I have no objection to the two-party system.  I am more interested in the effect IRV would have on the coalitions within each party.

          •  x (0+ / 0-)

            I agree that non-instant runoff voting has more appeal.

            I haven't thought about the effect that IRV might have on primary elections. It seems like the strategic vote element might still be heavy, but I might be mistaken.

            I used to live in Iowa. The caucus system was fascinating. You went to your area of the room with other supporters of your candidate. Then you eliminated the candidate that had the lowest support. Then everyone had a chance to try to convince those people to come to their group. Rinse and repeat until all groups are over a threshold percentage and divide the delegates up based on proportion. Perhaps the sort of hybrid system that you are thinking about. I was in the Dem caucuses, of course. My Republican friends told me that their experiences were far different. They were certainly faster, but didn't sound like as much fun.

            The IRV process may play out in a more familiar way (run-offs are understood), and in that way it more closely resembles current voting. But the ballot won't look the same or get filled out the same. The complexity involved may depress turnout. (The Aussies have high turnout with IRV, but that's because they require it!) The Approval ballot doesn't have to change looks, it just lets you vote more more than one candidate.

            The plural of anecdote is not data.

            by Skipbidder on Fri Nov 09, 2012 at 05:26:01 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  Approval is superior (0+ / 0-)
            IRV more closely resembles current voting.
            Approval Voting is much closer to our current system. The ballot is identical, and the algorithm is identical in that you just add up the votes, and the winner is the candidate with the most votes. Approval Voting is different from Plurality Voting only in that it removes the rule that says "if you vote for more than one, we discard your vote".

            IRV uses a ranked ballot and uses a completely different algorithm, in which we sequentially eliminate candidates. Even if you compare it to the Top-Two Runoff system used in some US elections, it's very different. In Top-Two Runoff, the winner has to be one of the top two candidates in the first round, and then there is only one more round for a maximum of two rounds. IRV can have up to one less rounds than candidates. E.g. in San Francisco's District 10, a recent IRV election went up to 20 rounds before a winner was declared.

            Also, IRV is just massively more complex and counter-intuitive. More importantly, IRV is the worst of the five commonly discussed alternative voting systems, as measured by Bayesian regret.

            Here's a more thorough comparison of why Approval is superior to IRV.

    •  False (0+ / 0-)
      In Approval, there is never any incentive for lying when you vote. You will never be punished for answering the questions honestly.
      Absolutely false. Say you honestly only approve Nader, but prefer Gore to Bush, and know Gore and Bush are the clear frontrunners. Then your strategy is to vote for Nader and Gore.

      Approval Voting does satisfy the Favorite Betrayal Criterion (unlike IRV and virtually all ranked methods), meaning it never hurts you to give the maximum support to your sincere favorite candidate.

      Clay Shentrup
      Co-founder, The Center for Election Science

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