February 23, 2010

If you didn't vote for Kiss or Wright, then you didn't vote --- ??? Say what?

 A funny video clip from the Contois Repeal IRV debate. League spokesperson has been saying that IRV is a REAL runoff, and Repeal IRV says it is not. Question from audience about a bullet vote, and why IRV is not a real runoff. Check out the answer..... http://tr.im/PvPs  

The answer was enough to turn this voter around!

*Friends, please focus comments on IRV, Burlington's voting system for mayor which is proposed for elimination by Ballot Question #5 in the March 2 election. If you did not see the debate at Contois Auditorium, there is a link on this website. Informed observations and opinions are welcome.

1 comment:

Dale Sheldon said...

An excellent argument against IRV.

I worry though that this argument also seems to work on ANY attempt to move beyond plurality voting. Under plurality, since you can only vote for one choice, your opinion on all the other choices can be inferred as against. But any other voting system, IRV included, allows voters the option to provide more information, if they choose. But it is always a choice: choosing not to provide the additional information is allowed, and yes, not doing some can come back to bite the voter in the end.

If this voter honestly had no opinion between Wright and Kiss, then his voice was heard (aside: accept for the "majority of continuing votes" nonsense, although that was not an issue in this election, thankfully.) And if he did have an opinion on that contest, but chose not to express it, who's to blame for that?

The problem with IRV, since it sometimes proceeds in a chaotic and difficult to predict way from round to round, is that it's hard to know ahead of time what that final, most-important pair will be. Perhaps many voters assumed (rationally, I would say) that Montroll and Kiss would be the top-two candidates, in which case "bullet-voting" for either of those two would be a perfectly acceptable, and perfectly informative, vote. But unexpectedly, Montroll was eliminated early, in the penultimate round.

Plurality is known to have serious issues with spoilers, with limiting third parties, etc. IRV has serious problems as well; all the same ones as plurality (to a fractionally-less vital degree) plus others, such as this. And while there are many other voting systems, some of which do not suffer the spoiler-prone and two-party-reinforcing problems of plurality and IRV, those methods will still invite voters to provide more information, which, if they chose NOT to provide it, could come back to bite them.

Thankfully, many of those methods are also less chaotic than IRV, which should help guide voters to share their opinions on relevant candidates, because a candidate's relevancy will be more-obvious (and more-persistent; IRV's eliminations are perhaps the harshest technique used in any commonly-studied voting method). Perhaps this will alleviate problems, like in the video, where a voter feels as though they have been cheated of the opportunity to participate in the election.

To recap: yes, IRV is not living up to expectations. But PLEASE remember that, while IRV is bad and plurality is bad too, that doesn't mean that all voting-system reform is worthless. Plurality and IRV and widely considered the TWO WORST possibilities. Once (hopefully) IRV is repealed, I encourage Burlington to press on. Approval voting would be an excellent step forward; score voting would be even better. But even other ranked-choice methods, like one of the Condorcet methods, or the Borda count, or cumulative voting, would be better than either plurality or IRV.

Check out rangevoting.org for information on approval and score voting