Monday, December 17, 2007

Voting News

Are arguments breaking out between Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) advocates and the Range Voting (CRV) groups?

Either is better than our present system. The National Popular Vote movement, also called Fair Vote, is still gathering momentum with the New Jersey legislature signing on. They are also supporting IRV. It is easy for both liberals and conservatives to support IRV as a cost saving measure, no need for a runoff elections.

The facts seem to support the charge that Range Voting advocates make that IRV promotes both dishonest ranking and a two-party system. Interesting election in Peru where the candidate who would have beaten either of the other top two candidates in the runoff came in third and so did not get in the runoff.

Colorado decertifies most evoting machines.

Ohio GOP blog denounces bipartisan study of flawed voting machines as "left-wing activists."

The truth - the study did not go far enough and did not study why on election night Ohio switched to RNC servers to count their votes.
We filed a civil rights lawsuit. We won. The federal election law says the ballots were supposed—had to be protected, under federal law. We got an overlapping decision from a federal judge to preserve, for our civil rights suit, the preservation of these ballots. Fifty-six of eighty-eight counties in Ohio destroyed their election ballots, destroyed all their election records, or most of them, making a pure recount impossible. This is in direct violation of a federal court injunction and standing federal law. So far, nobody has been prosecuted. What kind of country are we living in?

Now, the Secretary of State comes out with a $1.9 million report and says that all the electronic methods of counting the votes that were used in Ohio in 2004 were easily—“easily,” that was her word—flipped. Anybody with a simple electronic machine could have gone in there and turned the election, and we know it was done, because the Republican Secretary of State was also co-chair of the Bush-Cheney campaign. How do you top that?

....But the 2004 election was stolen. There is absolutely no doubt about it. A 6.7% shift in exit polls [in Ohio] does not happen by chance.


Anonymous said...

The claim that IRV is better than plurality is questionable, since it increases the rate of spoiled ballots by a factor of 7, and incentivizes the implementation of fraud-prone (electronic) voting machines, and cannot be counted in precincts (and therefore requires central tabulation that makes counting less transparent and more prone to a central fraud conspiracy).

Is this made up for by the fact that it would help with most spoiled races like the Nader fiasco? It's really hard to say for sure.

But Range Voting does not have these problems, and it has a hugely better Bayesian regret (economic measure of how well a voting method satisfies voter preferences).

It is also not clear that IRV saves money. This claim is based on the idea of replacing runoff elections with IRV. But considering that runoff elections are not always required in the first place, and taking into account the long-term costs of voter education and the like, some estimates say that IRV might actually be more costly. That would certainly not be the case with Range Voting.

Here's a great Range Voting write-up on Newsweek.

Anonymous said...

The facts are just fine for instant runoff voting, thank you! Check out www.instantrunoffcom

Sure, it takes a majority to win. If you want to bust up duopoly representation, go for for proportional representation.

Range voting of course doesn't have any facts to test It's only used for things like figure skating, and that's full of enough controversy to make me skeptical.

Gary said...

Two special pleadings very quickly after posting.

There is really no question that IRV would save money. The issues with spoiled ballots and centralized counting I think are red herrings.

There was a lot of argument from third parties to go to IRV. It seems clear that IRV does preserve duopoly.

True, range voting doesn't have much history. I think a better argument might be are voters really sure and giving true rankings. Wouldn't they game the system as much as with IRV? I haven't looked at all the papers enough to answer that confidently.

Gary said...

Interesting experiment in the recent French election.

Anonymous said...

Jack Boyd is a good example of the sadly misled (or possibly outright dishonest) Instant Runoff Voting community. IRV doesn't really require a "majority" to win. It can easily elect candidate X, even though candidate Y was preferred to X by a sizable majority. (This has been pointed out to leaders in the IRV community zillions of times, but they still repeat the same misleading talking points.)

Jack also repeats the myth that proportional representation is required to break up duopoly. In reality genuine runoff elections (not "instant") have broken up duopoly in 24 of the 27 countries that use them. And Range Voting, and its simplified form Approval Voting, both would plausibly have an even stronger anti-duopoly effect.

Jack's assertion that Range Voting "doesn't have any facts" simply shows a contempt for the wealth of accumulated scientific knowledge in the field of election theory. Warren D. Smith, the Princeton math Ph.D. who co-founded the Center for Range Voting, has refuted such claims with a litany of powerful facts, including the world's most extensive computerized election simulations

Also let us not forget the substantial use of Approval Voting, the simplest form of Range Voting. It is just like our current system, except that we change the "vote for one" rule to "vote for one, or more". AV is used in the U.N., and was used for over 500 years in Venice, achieving some of the most harmonious periods in government ever known; until Napoleon came and tossed it.

Approval Voting is also used in several organizations, such as the American Mathematical Society, with tens of thousands of members -- more than many cities. And it has been promoted since the 70's by NYU's Steven Brams, one of the foremost experts in game theory and fair distribution schemes.

The people peddling IRV are not experts or scientists in any regard. They are political operatives with a specific mission to get proportional representation via any means necessary. And since they see IRV as a stepping stone to the STV system of proportional voting (which is probably mistaken, given the political realities of American politics), they want to implement IRV no matter how disruptive it might be.

The facts as understood by experts in the field of election theory, rigorously support Range Voting. The strategy of IRV enthusiasts is to deny the importance of those facts, and use misleading and even false propaganda. Jack Boyd demonstrates this, as he unabashedly writes off the findings of credentialed experts who have devoted years of their lives scientifically studying this issue, with a scientific agenda rather than a political one.


Anonymous said...


Many experts believe IRV would cost more, rather than save money.

As for strategic/insincere voting, it doesn't matter if just as many people do it with Range Voting than with IRV. Even if more people vote strategically with Range Voting, it has properties which mitigate the harm of this behavior.

Warren Smith's Bayesian regret figures show that Range Voting is approximately as good with 100% strategic voters, as IRV is with 100% honest voters.

Anonymous said...

Clay Shentrup hurls a lot of accusations here, but IRV is "peddled" by a whole lot of serious people and is widely used by serious people in real elections.

On costs,San Francisco has saved a lot of money by not having to hold runoffs (runoff cost a lot more than the transitions costs to IRV), and election officials in North Carolina seem very pleased with how IRV worked in saving money.

On range voting's wonderful strategy-free elements, tell that to corrupt ice skating judges who have had so much fun manipulating the system.

Anonymous said...

Again, Jack Boyd perfectly demonstrates the deceptive nature of the IRV advocacy. His points are a list of fallacies. Let's run through them.

First he notes that IRV is widely used. This is a well-known type of logical fallacy called "appeal to popularity". To make the problem more clear, does Jack think that our standard plurality voting system is better than IRV because it's more commonly used throughout the world?

Regarding costs, here are San Francisco's election allocations for the past decade, and I don't see any major decrease in the cost-per-election. And I mentioned above a University of Vermont study which finds IRV to be more costly in general.

Also, you might have missed this headline:

San Francisco forecasts doubling their budget in 2007-2008. San Francisco’s higher expenses include special voting software, special poll worker training, more laborious and costly recounts, and IRV related voter education costing about $1.87 per registered voter.

Boyd's final point is a straw man. No voting method, not even Range Voting, is "strategy free" - and we never claimed it was, so you're pretending we said something we didn't. The point is that Range Voting is much less susceptible to harm caused by strategic voting. In fact Range Voting is approximately as good with 100% strategic voters, as IRV is with 100% honest voters. That's simply an enormous difference in quality.