IRV: No, but we appreciate the debate

St. Paul is being treated to an important and spirited debate this fall about how we will vote in future city elections. Full Story
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Lewis Sinclair

Saint Paul, MN

#1 Oct 29, 2009
"The city's low-turnout primary has long been a concern. IRV supporters correctly point out that it brings out a small subset of the electorate - some would say the extremists — and can be subject to manipulation."

So, if we voters are unimpressed with the usual suspects presented by the DFL or Republican parties, we're a small subset and maybe even "extremists"? Sounds like a matter for Homeland Security. Maybe we could have a sweep of the polling places, some interrogations, a trial or two, and sell more newspapers.

But what the heck, we peasants could never understand anything as complicated as IRV anyway, so it doesn't make any difference. I'm still marveling over yesterday's editorial: "We endore Chris because he likes the choo-choo train, but that nice lady sure is cute!".

Morons.
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#2 Oct 29, 2009
IRV has many other serious flaws not mentioned in this opinion piece. IRV is a huge threat to voter rights and to the fairness, integrity, economy, and timeliness of elections.

Casting an IRV vote is like gambling due to the fact that in IRV some times increasing a vote for a candidate can cause that candidate to lose, whereas if you stay home or do not rank a candidate, that candidate may win.

Also, as mentioned above, many voters are involuntarily excluded from participating in the final counting rounds in IRV and IRV rarely finds majority winners and by letting the voters of the least popular candidates have the most say in who is eliminated, tends to eliminate majority favorite candidates and elect extreme left or extreme right candidates.

In IRV your first choice vote hurts the chance that your 2nd choice wins and because a large group of voters whose first choice loses, never has their 2nd choice counted at all, IRV does *not* solve the spoiler problem in many cases and does not find majority winners.

IRV/STV causes many more problems than it solves and should be avoided like the plague. There are many simpler voting methods that do solve the problems that IRV falsely alleges to solve without eviscerating election integrity and transparency like IRV does because IRV requires centralized vote counting and is not precinct summable, etc.

There is possibly not a worse voting method available than IRV/STV short of a dictatorship.
Mike

Saint Paul, MN

#3 Oct 29, 2009
Challenging to explain? Vote for the candidate you most desire to win, there I did it I explained it, what a challenge..

Now lets explain the current system, vote for the candidate who has good poll #'s that you like most, or waste your vote.

The explanation has always dealt with the trickle down effect using results under the current system, the key to IRV is not how Dean Barkley votes would have gone to Franken and Coleman it's about how many more 1st votes Barkley would have had, it is possible Franken would have been eliminated before Barkley under IRV.

Don't give me the it's hard to explain argument, there is no trick to it despite what some of the opponents say. 1st place votes will always be more important then 2nd place votes, and so on.
Mike

Saint Paul, MN

#4 Oct 29, 2009
100 votes 3 Republican candidates 2 Democrats 2 Greens and a Libertarian. You like Republican #2, create an example where voting for anything but Republican #2 turns victory into defeat. I'll be waiting, you can say it over and over but the election is 5 days out and it's time for a real example to back up your lie.
Bob the Bilderberg

Minneapolis, MN

#5 Oct 29, 2009
This isn't hard to explain. All you need to know about IRV is to notice who's strongly in favor of it. That tells you all you need to know.
Ursa Major

Palo Alto, CA

#6 Oct 29, 2009
Mike wrote, "100 votes ... it's time for a real example".

That's not a real example, and the critics of ranked choice voting always create unreal examples.(See the lawsuit against the Minneapolis charter amendment for the kinds of examples they use all over the country.) For the critics to be right, they have to know BEFORE the election how everyone will vote. That's the only way anybody can manipulate votes to get the outcome they falsely claim hurts their candidates.

St. Paul general elections have tens of thousands of voters. Create an example with that quantity and the numbers of candidates that Mike listed and show how -- without knowing the results ahead of time -- you can vote for your candidate and "turns victory into defeat." You cannot.

Your vote continues to count for your candidate as long as s/he isn't the low vote-getter. If, and only if, your #1 candidate is dropped -- loses -- you get your second choice counted. If you CHOOSE not to mark a #2, that's like not showing up to vote. So if you have the chance to vote in that runoff and don't, why does the editorial writer think you should be counted anyway? There's no "false majority". The majority in any election is 50%+1 of the people who voted for a seat.
10000Laker

Palo Alto, CA

#7 Oct 29, 2009
Here's a real life example. A Mayor's election in Burlington, VT which used IRV:

Mike

Saint Paul, MN

#8 Oct 29, 2009
I watched that video for a minute and it never mentioned Burlington, if it did later thats great, it would be something that you could then put into words here.

I'm still waiting. All you have to do is show the vote counts. No real example is required by the way to meet my challenge.
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#9 Oct 29, 2009
Mike wrote:
I watched that video for a minute and it never mentioned Burlington, if it did later thats great, it would be something that you could then put into words here.
I'm still waiting. All you have to do is show the vote counts. No real example is required by the way to meet my challenge.
Mike, the video did show *exactly* the vote counts for Burlington, VT. If you watch the video you will see that the majority favorite candidate who was favored above all other voters in the Burlington mayoral contest *lost* because the IRV method was used, and a candidate on the extreme left won instead. IRV is just as likely to overlook the majority winner for an extreme right candidate as well because in IRV the 2nd choice votes are never counted for a large group of voters whose 1st choice loses in the final counting rounds and the voters of the least popular candidates have the most say in who is eliminated in early rounds.

That is just *one* of IRV's many flaws. To learn more about IRV see this page:
http://kathydopp.com/serendipity/index.php...
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#10 Oct 29, 2009
Mike wrote:
Challenging to explain? Vote for the candidate you most desire to win, there I did it I explained it, what a challenge..
Now lets explain the current system, vote for the candidate who has good poll #'s that you like most, or waste your vote.
If you use that method to vote in IRV you will be disappointed in the results because in IRV your 1st choice vote will always hurt the chances that your 2nd choice candidate will win. In other words, you can easily cause your *least* favorite candidate to win if you use that strategy in IRV.

There are alternative methods that do solve the spoiler problem, but IRV and STV are not one of them. BTW, the other alternative methods also don't introduce all the problems that IRV/STV does.

Please learn more about IRV here before making a mistake:

http://kathydopp.com/serendipity/index.php...

If you use a spreadsheet, just sit down and play with a few examples for a while and you'll see quickly how bad IRV performs.
Rebekah Smith

Saint Paul, MN

#11 Oct 29, 2009
St. Paul’s Better Ballot Campaign has presented us with a real opportunity, a chance to use a voting method that would require candidates to get the support of a majority in order to be declared a winner. We are invited to think about a democracy in which a diversity of ideas as expressed in a diversity of candidates can no longer be perverted and leveraged to elect anyone who fails to rally a consensus around a way forward. While there are numerous benefits to using this voting method, Instant Runoff Voting (IRV or Ranked Choice Voting), which have been noted in multiple places, liberating ourselves from the predicament of being governed by the accidental choices of a fractured electorate is truly exciting. I will not miss the days of ABB when our fears of worst case scenarios held us hostage. Let’s be done with that! This coming Tuesday on November 3, let’s pass IRV in St. Paul.

Dedicated volunteers have done the legwork. In order to get the measure on the ballot, they collected thousands of signatures. Then, the State Supreme Court had to uphold IRV as being constitutionally sound, and it did. Finally, the City Council had to approve the measure for the ballot. We’ve got the easy part. We just need to show up on November 3 and vote yes for IRV. Not so easy, you say? You don’t have the time? Maybe you’ll forget? Tell that to the people who oppose IRV and insist that we lug ourselves to the poles once in September and again in November just for the privilege of getting access to a full slate of candidates.

Election Day is just a week away and the naysayers are feverishly busy making last-ditch attempts to derail an extraordinary effort to include more people in the democratic process and to elevate politics to its proper place, where ideas are the driver and business-as-usual campaigns that can be quick to go negative must yield to a rich public dialog about the kind of community we want to build together. With the State’s highest court striking down their prized arguments, what is left? Ranking candidates 1-2-3 is confusing? Just like the detractors of health care reform floated death panels, these naysayers, maliciously or with the best intentions in mind, are resorting to scare tactics and essentially manipulating the very people whom they supposedly want to protect, the elderly and the immigrants. Furthermore, to be consistent shouldn’t they be alarmed by abysmal primary turnouts that might suggest that a runoff that requires two trips to the poles is possibly confusing and is showing no signs of improvement? In any event, so jaw-dropping is this silly claim that upon hearing it, even while trying to give a person the benefit of the doubt, you have to wonder what other motivations are at work.

Here’s the bottom line. It took a tremendous amount of work to get IRV on the ballot so that we might have a choice to include more people in the democratic process, set the stage to eliminate low-turnout costly primaries, and ensure that winners are not mere flukes, the products of spoilers, but actually enjoy broad support. IRV is a good idea that has been proven here and abroad. If you like IRV in principle, there is only one thing to do. If you're not sure, get the facts: www.stpaul.betterballotcampaign.org

Please join me in seizing this amazing opportunity and vote yes to use IRV for St. Paul elections this coming Tuesday, November 3.
greg wm

Saint Paul, MN

#12 Oct 30, 2009
Huh? You report well the advantages of IRV, and then say but only 2 choices is simpler? How about only one choice, wouldn't that be even simpler? Voters are not morons. Voters like myself so want their vote to matter. It so hurts to know if i vote for who i really want, i'll help elect someone i don't want. IRV will eliminate that problem! Obama clearly knew IRV wouldn't "disenfranchise" anyone, why do you get taken by that lie? I am surprised and perplexed at your conclusion. The time for IRV *has* come! I vote YES.
tww

Saint Paul, MN

#13 Oct 30, 2009
Maybe we could just let ACORN cast our votes for us in the future.
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#14 Oct 30, 2009
Rebekah Smith wrote:
St. Paul’s Better Ballot Campaign has presented us with a real opportunity, a chance to use a voting method that would require candidates to get the support of a majority in order to be declared a winner.
Paula, You apparently haven't studied how IRV/STV works since all jurisdictions that used to use top-two runoff to find majority winners and then switched to IRV/STV methods have had to eliminate their legal requirements for majority winners.

IRV/STV rarely finds majority winners due to its requiring that voters rank one of the two candidates who make it to the final counting round to even participate in the final decision round.

In fact IRV/STV often eliminates the majority favorite candidate early on and elects candidates who are opposed by a majority of voters.

For the truth on IRV/STV see this web page:
http://kathydopp.com/serendipity/index.php...

It has lots of youtube videos to make it easy to understand.
Tony

New Westminster, Canada

#15 Oct 30, 2009
While IRV certainly has flaws compared with other more sophisticated voting systems (eg, Condorcet voting, which is the scheme that is used in the video above to prove that Montroll should have won), consider that in that example, our current First Past the Post (which is really Nearest to the Post since no-one ever has to win even 50% to win) would have declared Wright the winner with 37% first preferences (vs 29% for Montroll and 34% for Kiss), even though voters preferred EITHER Montroll or Kiss to Wright by solid majorities.

The reason IRV occasionally does not produce a >50% result for the final winner is that a some voters simply express no opinion if their top choice is eliminated. If they did, then their vote would count in the second round. In the Burlington example, close to 15% of the voters had no opinion about which of Montroll or Kiss was preferred; if Wright had been eliminated in the first round, these voters would not have provided any information which could have been used to decide between these two. At least IRV offers the voter the option to register such an opinion - FPTP makes it impossible to do so.

“I am always right.”

Since: Oct 09

Former MN Taxpayer

#16 Oct 30, 2009
Dearest PiPress,

You are just so wrong in your conclusion here. There is no better way to gage the sentiments of the average voter than to go with IRV. This way you will be able to support the smaller parties without throwing your vote away.

No wonder the biggest critics of this new technology are the Republi-thugs. They know it will be the end of their power when they can no longer buy their way into office.
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#17 Oct 30, 2009
Tony wrote:
While IRV certainly has flaws compared with other more sophisticated voting systems (eg, Condorcet voting, which is the scheme that is used in the video above to prove that Montroll should have won),
FYI, what Tony calls a "scheme" is simply an easy method to determine which candidate voters prefer in a head-to-head comparison over all other candidates. It is a much simpler method than the IRV method, as well as much fairer.
Tony wrote:
consider that in that example, our current First Past the Post (which is really Nearest to the Post since no-one ever has to win even 50% to win) would have declared Wright the winner with 37% first preferences (vs 29% for Montroll and 34% for Kiss), even though voters preferred EITHER Montroll or Kiss to Wright by solid majorities.
First, a simple fair plurality election would work best if all we care about is "first past the post".

Second, The voters in Burlington, VT may have voted much differently in a simple plurality election or if they had realized that in IRV your 1st choice vote often causes your 2nd choice vote never to be counted, even if your 1st choice loses, so just like with plurality, you'd better rank the candidate first who you think is the strongest candidate, most likely to be in the final counting round.
Tony wrote:

The reason IRV occasionally does not produce a >50% result for the final winner is that a some voters simply express no opinion if their top choice is eliminated. If they did, then their vote would count in the second round.
Tony's statement is false because even if all voters fully rank three choices, whenever there are more than 4 candidates running in any election contest, voters are involuntarily excluded from participating in the final IRV counting round. With IRV methods voters must rank one of the top two candidates if they want to be sure to be able to participate in the final counting round.

Tony and others should learn more about how IRV really works by watching the videos mentioned above.
Eric Paul Jacobsen

Minneapolis, MN

#18 Oct 30, 2009
Higher voter turnout - which is attested wherever instant runoff voting is adopted - gives the lie to all claims that IRV is "too confusing." If it were really too confusing, wouldn't it lower rather than raise voter turnout?

It is also pretty lame to argue that IRV is too expensive. The Internet was pretty expensive to develop, too, especially in its early stages. Does that mean the Internet was a mistake, and we would have done better to stick with snail mail?

Anybody can understand why status-quo politicians like Dave Thune and Kathy Lantry oppose IRV. They're politicians, and they don't want any more competition. But it is less clear to me why the self-appointed "watchdog" of Saint Paul, the Pioneer Press, would share their fear of change.

The PiPress editorial is honest about the advantages of IRV: It increases voter choices and voter turnout, reduces wasted votes, and insures that every winner gets an absolute majority of votes. But then, the editorialists conclude: "we remain unconvinced of the compelling need to change." Well, what better reasons do you need?
Kathy Dopp

Schenectady, NY

#19 Oct 30, 2009
Eric Paul Jacobsen wrote:
Higher voter turnout - which is attested wherever instant runoff voting is adopted
False. Please look at the actual statistics. IRV has actually lowered voter turnout in many places. Do not believe everything you hear. See Instant Runoff Voting, Facts vs. Fiction
http://www.instantrunoffvoting.us/ or obtain the original documents and sources yourself like Joyce McCloy has done.
Eric Paul Jacobsen wrote:
If it were really too confusing, wouldn't it lower rather than raise voter turnout?
The research done by political scientists (in Burlington, VT at UVM I believe) show that IRV disproportionately disenfranchises the poor and elderly. However, IRV has also caused a significant increase in the number of spoiled ballots that are not counted wherever it has been tried. Don't believe the hype you hear from Fair Vote. Fair Vote is not a reliable honest source of information.
Eric Paul Jacobsen wrote:
It is also pretty lame to argue that IRV is too expensive.
We are simply rebutting the false claims by IRV proponents that IRV saves money so that you are not misinformed. I agree that cost is a lousy reason to adopt a flawed method like IRV.
Eric Paul Jacobsen wrote:
it is less clear to me why the self-appointed "watchdog" of Saint Paul, the Pioneer Press, would share their fear of change.
Watchdogs and election integrity activists fear any method of voting like IRV that is fundamentally unfair, treats voters' votes unequally, eliminates majority winners, removes voter rights, and requires central counting and eviscerates election transparency and integrity, etc. Please put in some serious research time so you understand what IRV really does.
Eric Paul Jacobsen wrote:
IRV ... increases voter turnout, and insures that every winner gets an absolute majority of votes.
If you watch *any* of the videos linked from this page or look at any of the real IRV elections that have occurred in the US, you will quickly see that IRV rarely finds majority winners, often eliminates the majority winners early in the rounds, and that all jurisdictions that have adopted IRV have had to eliminate any legal requirement they had for majority winners. Please do some research as I am certain that you are not intentionally spreading falsehoods about IRV like Fair Vote has done.

For IRV to find majority winners would require limiting the number of candidates who can run for any election contest to the number of ballot ranking positions (three on all current US optical scan ballots of the type that MN uses)*and* would require making a requirement that all voters fully rank all the candidates running for office (and that would be illegal in the US, although it has been done in Australia.)

You can begin your research here:
http://kathydopp.com/serendipity/index.php...
Bruce Pomerantz

Chanhassen, MN

#20 Oct 30, 2009
The Pioneer Press editorial decision can be summed up thusly: We've always done it this way.

Thank goodness the editorial board wasn't around to vote on the Declaration of Independence. After all, "We've always been ruled by a king living in Europe. He may have been Dutch or Spanish or English or French but nevertheless, we've always had a king."

The system is broke. Let's fix it.

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