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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-06-09 02:35 PM
Original message
Instant Runoff Voting's Unintended Consequences to Democracy

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Instant Runoff Voting's Unintended Consequences to Democracy IRV does not work as advertised, has unintended consequences is costly & complicated to implement, damages election transparency, and threatens the confidence in election results. Several places that have tried Instant Runoff Voting are ditching it or moving to ditch it. IRV is not a solution, but a problem.

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Highlights from the article:

IRV is not "as easy as 1-2-3".
IRV actually hurts third parties.
IRV does NOT help voter turnout.
IRV consistently suffers from majority failure.
IRV does not save money
IRV affects Campaign Finance Disclosure.
IRV does NOT reduce or eliminate negative campaigning
IRV is complex to count
IRV is not additive
IRV is not transparent.
Current IRV Vote Counting Computers are experimental and not trustworthy
Instant Runoff Voting Results are not intuitive
Traditional Runoff Elections are much better than IRV
Other election methods that do not damage election integrity
IRV does not help racial minorities and may even impede them
IRV may negatively impact the disabled.
We can't even count votes the plain old vanilla way yet, but we are told we should adopt IRV and make elections more complicated

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MarjorieG Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-06-09 03:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. Instead of verifying, counting a true first vote, we'd have to use complex electronics, vulnerable
to error and fraud, that never gets 100% first count result. Settling for whatever second, third choice results from the fraud or errors.

In fact, here in NY, we're trying to save our transparent, publicly observable levers, and avoid the transtion to secretly counted optical scanners, where our election commissioners don't want to count the paper ballots (and may not have to according to old state law). We woouldn't be able to determine vote share of our fusion party, Working Families Party, which depends on election results for power. Yet, they won't become interested in saving levers, which could even be self-serving on their part.
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xxwwyy Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 11:54 AM
Response to Reply #1
5. IRV works well in my city and ENHANCES election integrity
In Burlington (VT) we have used IRV to elect our mayor since 2006. It works great (no concerns about a spoiler problem with both Democrat and Progressive Party candidates running). Voters had no problems with the ranked-choice ballot and fully 99.9% of ballots in the mayor's race were valid.

Opponents (like the author of this article) have the mistaken notion that IRV will lead to paperless DRE machines or reduce election integrity. That is not the case. Optical scan paper ballots are the norm. Also, because the machine record of every ballot is posted on the city's web site any voter can double-check the tally if they want to. A manual recount of ballots after the 2009 election confirmed the machine record of ballot rankings was extremely accurate (a few votes were found, where human eyes recognized the voter intent that the optical scanner couldn't determine). Because there is a redundant record of each individual ballot (both the paper ballot and the machine record, these elections are more resistant to fraud than traditional vote-for-one elections.

The national clearinghouse for information of voting method reform (such as IRV, universal voter registration, proportional representation, etc. is FairVote with an exhaustive web site at
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 07:27 PM
Response to Reply #5
8. Burlington Instant Runoff Election riddled with pathologies
Burlington Instant Runoff Election riddled with pathologies

The instant runoff election in Burlington,Vermont suffered from nearly every pathology in the book!
Non monotonicity - where with instant runoff, a voter can hurt their preferred candidate by ranking them first. A spoiler effect - in this election, Kurt Wright was the spoiler. The "no show" paradox - Wright supporters who also supported Montrol would have helped him if they hadn't shown up to vote at all. Majority failure -the candidate supported by the most voters did not win. Incumbent protection thanks to name recognition. Centrally counted votes - instant runoff opened up the election to fraud because votes were not counted where cast.

Instant runoff voting helped Burlington incumbent Bob Kiss won by getting the most 3rd choice votes. Opponent Kurt Wright had the most 1st and 2nd choice votes but lost the election.

Election method experts have issued a report that shows the bizarre pathologies in the Burlington instant runoff election. Here are some excerpts:

Burlington Vermont 2009 IRV mayor election
Thwarted-majority, non-monotonicity & other failures (oops)

By Anthony Gierzynski, Wes Hamilton, & Warren D. Smith,
March 2009. (skip to summary)

The pathologies

1. According to the pairwise table, Democrat Andy Montroll was favored over Republican Kurt Wright 56% to 44% (930-vote margin) and over Progressive Bob Kiss 54% to 46% (590-vote margin) majorities in both cases....

2. Despite that, IRV still seems to have performed better in this election than plain plurality voting, which (based on top-preference votes) would have elected Wright. That would have been even worse, since Wright actually was a "lose-to-all loser"....

3. Also, in this IRV election, Wright was a "spoiler"; if Wright had not been in the race then Montroll would have won (which the Wright voters would have preferred...

4. Another problem with IRV is the fact that it cannot be counted in precincts because there is no such thing as a "precinct subtotal." That's bad because it forces centralized (or at least centrally-directed) counting, thus making the election more vulnerable to fraud and communication outages....

5. ...this election also featured (what voting theorists call) a "no-show paradox." That is, if 753 Wright voters who favored Montroll over Kiss had simply stayed home and refused to vote, they would have gotten, in their view, a better election winner(Montroll) than they got by honestly voting....

6. Finally and probably craziest of all this election also featured nonmonotonicity.....In other words, Kiss won, but if 753 Wright-voters had switched their vote to Kiss, that would have made Kiss lose!

...pretty much every voting method mankind ever invented would elect MONTROLL
making this a pretty easy election to call except that IRV elects KISS and plurality elects WRIGHT.

...The truth

As shown in this election, IRV does not "solve the spoiler problem," does not"allow voters to vote their true preference without fear of inadvertently electing a candidate they cannot stand," and it does not elect candidates "actually preferred by a majority." These and other (e.g. non-monotonicity) pathologies are not rare. IRV in this election did not serve as a "bulwark of democracy" rather the opposite. Our belief is that range voting, also known as "score voting," (and probably also approval voting) would not have exhibited any of these problems and in the present example would have elected Montroll. (Indeed range voting never exhibits non-monotonicity or spoilers, and it is rare that it refuses to elect beats-all winners.)

See the full report at the Center for Range Voting.


and never mind the uncertified software and the Diebold voting machines.
The FairVote talking points are just that. Talking points.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 07:30 PM
Response to Reply #5
9. oh, and welcome to DU xxwwyy - but Fair Vote is not noted for election integrity or trasnparency
but no thanks for the FairVote talking points.

Steven Hill, a former employee and IRV advocate made it clear how impt
election integrity was when he attacked CA Secretary of State Debra Bowen.
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greeneyedboy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 01:58 AM
Response to Original message
2. seems to work fine here in San Francisco n/t.
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truedelphi Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 02:32 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. That was my understanding - that it really worlks well there.
So what is the reason it would not work else where?
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 07:15 PM
Response to Reply #2
6. Seems?
Elections after 3 years of instant runoff voting

Voter turnout has declined. In the 2007 mayoral/municipal election, turnout was only 35.61%, with 100,000 fewer voters than in the mayoral runoff in 2003 where 54% of the voters turned out to vote.

Many SF Voters did not utilize the option to rank choices. 94% of absentee voters did not list 3 choices on their ballots in the November municipal election, even though the field of candidates for mayor was large.

There was confusion over ranking. According to a Nov 8, 2007 Electionline report . "Voters also questioned the value of ranked-choice voting." "There are a lot of people who only mark one or the same person three times," "I don't want to vote for a second one, I want this one."
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 04:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
17. Grand Jury report on problems with IRV in San Francisco
Edited on Wed Jul-08-09 04:09 PM by WillYourVoteBCounted
San Francisco is the largest jurisdiction in the US to have IRV, and they have had it for the longest, adopted in 2003, implemented in 2004. We know they spent $1.87 per voter and had 700 public outreach events the first year, for a city with around 418,000 reg voters

Grand jury report

*The 2007-2008 San Francisco Civil Grand Jury review of five elections for the city/county of San Francisco*
< >
The report says that some voters and poll workers do not understand IRV, and that a back up plan is needed in case the new Sequoia system is not certified.

*Excerpts of the Grand Jury Report*

The 2007-2008 San Francisco Civil Grand Jury reviewed the materials provided by the Department of Elections for the November 2007 and February 2008 elections

Ranked-Choice Voting and Absentee (Vote By Mail) Ballots RCV ballots were used in the November 2007 election for the offices of Mayor, District Attorney, and Sheriff. *Some pollworkers and voters told the Jury that they did not understand how to vote for candidates where RCV ballots were used. *In the November 2008 election, RCV ballots will be used for some local offices. Aditional education and outreach need to be provided to the voters to clarify the RCV process so that the ballots accurately reflect the intentions of the voters.

*Findings:11.* Some pollworkers and voters do not understand the procedures for voting for candidates where Ranked-Choice ballots are used.Findings14. While the DOE does meet these legal requirements, additional outreach efforts areneeded on voter registration requirements and deadlines, the Ranked-Choice Voting process and the requirements for submitting a valid Absentee Ballot.V Recommendations3. The DOE should publicly establish a date certain by which Sequoia must receive the Secretary of State's certification regarding the counting of RCV ballots. This date should be no later than September 15, 2008.

*Response required: Department of Elections; Elections Commission*

*4. TO prepare for the possibility that Sequoia fails to obtain the required certification*, DOEmust develop a contingency plan for counting RCV ballots, which should be in final form by October 6, 2008.

Response required: Department of Elections; Elections Commission

*8. The DOE's outreach program needs to improve voter instructions* on the Ranked-ChoiceVoting process and the use of Absentee Ballots.

Response required: Department of Elections; Elections Commission

9. In addition to established communication approaches, the DOE should explore enhance
techniques to communicate information on the less understood aspects of voting such as
partisan primary elections, Ranked-Choice Voting and Absentee Ballots.

*Final Report and Certification of Election Results and Canvass Procedures* - The
Secretary of State's certification of the Edge II machines requires the DOE to manually count all voter Verified Paper Audit Trails and compare those results to the machines electronic records.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 06:02 AM
Response to Original message
4. Sounds to me like a problem in implementation, not an inherent system problem...
Yes, it is a newer system that might at the outset be harder to understand, but that is a learning curve issue, not a systemic problem.

You can still make sure that you have physical ballots that record people's ranked choices on a physical paper ballot so that you can have verifiable means to do recounts, etc.

The system that counts these ballots if written well should not have problems going through ballot choices and using IRV rules to generate the winner properly.

If one is concerned about a given vendor's ability to turn out the proper winner and not hide the "details" of who the real winner is, perhaps the solution is to have at least TWO different independently developed pieces of software that look through the same scanned ballots. If they both come up with the same results, and the efforts in contracting them and developing them are truly separated and not having the same parties involved with both, then that should provide a good confident means in getting quick and reliable results.

These are just my immediate reactions. The key is to have ballots that have peoples votes recorded properly so that recounts can be made with indisputable results.

I can't see how third parties are hurt if those who vote don't feel like their voting for a third party hurts their concern that the worst candidate doesn't get into office. In the example given, if regular voting was engaged in, and people voted the same way, worst would still win 45-35-20, or if people are "dishonest" some of those 20 might vote for their top picks. I don't think that Nader voters were evenly split on their second choices for Bush and Gore either. So that was an unrealistic view.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 07:19 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. IRV is "a kind of voting voodoo with election officials in the role of witch doctor"

From Voting Matters Blog:

"The counting of IRV is complex the elimination of some candidates at the end of the first round means that second choice votes are transferred to other candidates. If a third round is required the elimination and transfer process continues. The average voter has to place great trust in the reliability of the counting algorithm in a way far beyond what is necessary in plurality voting. So the counting is opaque and non-transparent a kind of voting voodoo with election officials in the role of witch doctor producing the magical results. If one believes strongly that the average voter should be able to understand and observe the counting of votes in a democracy, then IRV fails to meet this standard.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 09:06 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. People vote now for the lesser of two evils and not their first choice...

So, we already have the worst vs. the next worst for many people, and many of us feel like we'd like to have our best get at least a shot at it. Yes, there will be some people playing games, but if people truly rank them in the proper order, it should avoid having to pick the next worst over the worst candidate (if one feels that only those have a shot at getting the top two numbers of votes).

If people aren't really ranking them truly in their order of preference to "play games", all they are really doing is saying something like "my way or the highway", not thinking of the consequences if their guy loses. If they try to push a guy that would be sentimentally their second best choice further down the ladder by putting him at the bottom, then they are working against their own interest if their guy doesn't win. Then they have someone even worse who they actually voted for than they would have had if they truly followed the concept of IRV of just ranking candidates in the order of their preference.

I think most people, upon understanding the system, wouldn't play these kind of oddsmanship games. They would vote their preference order, which should hopefully have their views better represented when the top two candidates vote totals are added up, instead of that small minority that would play games to push their second choice down the ladder further.

The biggest problem that IRV has now is people's ability to understand how it works.

Now I'm against electronic voting without paper ballots as much as most voter reform activists are. That is where you really don't have an ability to know what's being done behind the scenes with your vote, since there's no place where you can verifiably see what vote you cast and know that its being put in with other votes properly.

Paper ballots still can be used for elections with instant runoff voting and I would in fact demand it.

If you had open source software that would do the IRV counting, it could be reviewed by many different individuals, and if you have two separately developed blind implementations of counting software generate the same results with paper ballots, that should be as reliable as scanned paper ballot votes are today. If the two different tabulation systems generate significant differences in results, then one could do a recount and examine the code of each to see where the breakdown is. But if you had paper ballots, you could even go through and evaluate through a hand count if necessary. The problem with e-voting machines today, which is a totally DIFFERENT problem, is that it's not possible to do a true recount and have the original voter verified ballots as a basis for a recount or other forms of evaluation.

I still think we need something like IRV to get us away from the stranglehold of the two party system we have now. I think as much as people are confused about it leading to resistance to it, there are also just as many of the two parties insiders that want to use that skepticism to try and keep it from being used too, to keep their control over their political seats, when they sense that a very large amount of Americans are getting fed up with both parties and want something different now.

Everyone who I've explained it to who've not understood it before, once understanding how it works, have their eyes light up and say, "YEAH, that's the kind of system I'd like in place!" It's primarily issues with voter understanding of the process, not the inability of this system to work with integrity given the right implementation.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 10:28 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. IRV has entrenched the two-party political system wherever it has been tried
Instant Runoff Voting and Third Parties
IRV leads to two party domination:

"The three IRV countries: Ireland (mandated in their 1937 constitution), Australia and Malta (and more recently Fiji for a brief period of IRV democracy before its coup) all are 2-party dominated (in IRV seats) despite having many other features in their governments which would seem much more multiparty-genic than the USA with IRV added will ever have. So you can be sure the USA with IRV would be 2-party dominated too." - from the Center for Range Voting's report "Why does IRV lead to 2-party domination?

Two Parties entrenched wherever IRV tried:

"IRV has entrenched the two-party political system wherever it has been tried.xxiv
One reason is because if a voter puts a third party candidate as his or her first choice,
it can hurt the chances of the voters second choice major party candidate,
who could potentially be eliminated in the first round, causing that voters last choice to be selected for office.xxv

Examples include Australia (IRV seats are two-party dominated, zero third party members currently in the federal house; even though other NON-IRV seats NOT 2-party dominated, so this makes it quite clear) ditto Ireland and Fiji (but Fiji's democracy recently ended)." From From Kathy Dopp's report "Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting -18 Flaws and 4 Benefits":

More on IRV and Two Party Rule

Australian Politics - the "Disadvantages of the Preferential System"... promotes a two-party system to the detriment of minor parties and independents.

Libertarian Reform Caucus "Anyone for a Bullet in the Foot? Instant Runoff!"

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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-07-09 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #11
12. You just said here that a third party choice could finish ahead of one of the other two...
Edited on Wed Jul-08-09 12:01 AM by cascadiance
and in the OP said that it hurts third parties. How is finishing second (or first!) with IRV "hurting" third parties when they can't break into the top two in just about every election with the status quo?

There's an added dimension of IRV that's not really measured by statistics and not measured here. If in fact as you point out as a "flaw" one of the top two parties can finish in third (the ONLY way that instant runoff voting can hurt them), don't you think that puts added pressure on the two major parties to address the needs of ALL voters in their constituency, if they want to make them all happy and avoid the case where a third party finishes ahead of them? Right now the two major parties basically ignore who they call the "fringe" elements who they feel have to take them for granted as with the present system, there's no chance that a third party can win, and therefore, they write those voters off. They therefore just campaign towards the "center" and/or those that foot their campaign bills instead of their core constituency.

With IRV, they have to make sure that they keep the "fringe" more happy, so that more of them pick their candidate as the *first* choice rather than the second choice to avoid finishing third. That aspect with IRV makes them more accountable to the "fringe" voters, who currently have to throw up their hands or still vote for candidates like Nader and risk being called someone who "gave" the election to Bush.

My guess is that IRV was thrown out and sold as "not making any difference", but the parties in power were too afraid to lose an election where they didn't pay attention to the fringes with IRV in place where they wouldn't have to worry about such with the current status quo. In other words, they had to work harder if this voting was in place, and they didn't want to have to work harder!
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 12:26 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Besides failure to help 3rd parties, IRV makes election rigging easier
and if we have a fraudulent election, than none of this smoke and mirrors IRV game helps at all.

In fact, since IRV in non intuitive, it is harder to recognize incorrect results.
IRV requires a central counting of votes, hauling them away from where they were cast before counting them.

Its all about election integrity, which this forum is basically about.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 04:39 AM
Response to Reply #13
15. It isn't about helping third parties, it is about helping the system to represent voters!
And the current system is doing a damn piss poor job of representing those that these parties feel don't have any other choice because they're "less worse" than the other party. We're paying for it now with the big mess we're in when progressives have been ignored for decades now and being replaced by corporate fat cat interests instead...

Other countries and our own have had run-off elections for years, and not many have complained that those elections were "non-intuitive". If people just understand that they are just ranking their candidates from best to last, so that the last candidates don't get voted in when their vote for a higher candidate in the runoff counts, it isn't that hard. It is only "non-intuitive" because the media has made it so in completely IGNORING trying to explain it to average people. It isn't that hard. Give me a couple of minutes with a few people and I can have them understand it very clearly.

Why should IRV require "central counting" of votes any more than the current setup does. Yes, ultimately today AND with IRV you need to preserve the paper ballots for a while in case recounts are needed. But just like today's scanned transmittal to electronic tabulation machines, you could do it with IRV ballots too. The only difference is that you are sending a ranking with each candidate for an office instead of just one being selected. The tabulator software can take care of the rest once it gets it. It's really NOT that hard a problem to solve!

And as I said before, if you have double-blind systems to count the ballot results on two different systems, if they are both following the rules properly, they should give the same results. And if a recount is run with the ballots again, they again should generate the same results. And I would stipulate a REQUIREMENT that the software written for these should be open source, so that they could be reviewed by industry experts. It IS doable, and is no more prone to fraud than today's tabulation software is.

In fact, given that the software is more complex and if you have multiple systems doing tabulation (to match them up), it would make it HARDER to fraudulently doctor the system, as there would be a lot more complexity involved in trying to fix two systems to both fraudulently tabulate votes without being noticed.

People are accepting what are cumulative results today too without really knowing if the counts are accurate or not.

Arguably if the top two parties nail down the two top spots, then the vote breakdowns should break down more to who is really in favor by the populace than we have today when votes for other candidates are in effect thrown out as they are now. So the final result should really reflect more what people favor in those cases. Now if a third party finishes ahead of one of the two parties, then it is the fault of that top party for not appealing enough to its base to lock in those votes to be in the final two. If they are in the final two, they SHOULD win, if a majority of people want them. If they don't win, it probably wouldn't have been any different than the setup we have today, where a significant number of those votes that chose the third party first in the IRV counts would vote for the third party and not have ANY support for this party.

The whole point of IRV is to allow people to truly vote their conscience without feeling like they'll pay a bigger price for it if their candidate doesn't win. And by opening it up, it makes parties more accountable to their core constituency. I really don't see that these "problems" are any more significant than the ones we see with our current voting systems. They can be dealt with in the same way we should be dealing with e-voting systems of today. REQUIRE paper ballots so that we always have a voter verifiable ballot to use for recounts, etc. Make sure that the tabulation software is reviewable and protected while in use so that people know its not tampered with. I still don't see why having a "double-blind" two software system mechanism for counting votes would be any more subject to fraud than what we have today. If you have it separated enough by who writes it, who controls it, who installs it, etc. so that they both take the same paper ballots that are filled out separately, then it should work.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 04:06 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. IRV fails that too, because you can hurt your preferred candidate BY voting FOR him/her
This happened in Burlinton VT and also in Aspen Colorado.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 04:45 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. I think you need to explain this because your statement isn't making sense to me...
Edited on Wed Jul-08-09 04:52 PM by cascadiance
Now I'm assuming your preferred candidate is your "first place candidate".

Now if you pick this person "first", then there's no way that it can be worse than the present system, since if that person finishes in the top two, you vote would count for him/her the same way it does today, no matter what. So you YOURSELF are NOT hurting him/her by voting them as your first place choice.

Now, if you're referring to your "preferred candidate" as someone who you would rather win compared to your worst choice, but who isn't your first choice and you vote for as your second choice (but might vote for that person today if you figured he/she was the only one who had a chance), then that's a different matter. But by definition, your second choice candidate isn't your "preferred" candidate over all of the rest of them. It is who you favor over the other candidates in the field other than your first choice but not someone you feel is doing the best of the field of representing your interests or you'd be making them your first selection.

What are the possible outcomes if you vote for third party candidate 1st, and your "lesser of two evil" candidate 2nd?

1) your third party candidate doesn't wind up in the top two, and your lesser of two evil candidates finishes in the top two and gets your vote. This IS better for your second choice candidate than if you voted for someone like Nader and didn't have your vote count for someone like Gore if you didn't vote a second choice selection. If you would have voted for Gore instead, then it really isn't any different an outcome.
2) If your third party candidate does wind up in the top two (which he/she likely wouldn't in today's situation) then yes, your second choice likely finishes out of the top two, but that is WHAT YOU WANTED. Now if your third party candidate still loses, then likely both your second and first place choices would have lost under today's rules too. But at least your third party candidate had more of a chance at winning.
3) IF your third party candidate actually wins, then they are HELPED by this system where they wouldn't have likely gotten enough votes under the present system to win.

And as I noted in my previous response here, it isn't just about "who wins", but how each of your first and second choices try to appeal to you for your vote. With the present system, your second choice (from the two major parties), doesn't have any motivation to campaign to you, since he figures that you'll be pragmatic and ignore your first choice and vote for him/her anyway and not want the other of the two big parties candidates to win. But if he/she has to worry about third party that you actually find MORE appealing to yourself than he/she and have more of a chance of either winning or forcing he or she to lose, he or she will be more responsive to those like you that are looking for representation and have more realistic options than you have under the present system.

So even if the same two parties "get the top two spots" and give the ILLUSION that nothing's changed, I would argue that they have to answer more to the fringe voters than our present system does, even if they both wind up in the top two slots. That extra work asked of them is why they don't like IRV and are trying to make it sound like it doesn't work. I think these studies should go further and find out what voters actually feel about what their first or second choice elected politicians do for them versus what they feel was done for them without IRV. Might be a different story, and that IS important.

How those who get elected govern is as important as who gets elected with IRV in place.

I still don't see how IRV actually *hurts* third parties more than the present system does when they can't even get out of the chute. And ultimately it's not about making it better for third parties, but whether the voters feel better represented or not. I still would contend that whether your first or second place choice in IRV wins, you're more apt to get someone elected that works for your interests than the present system does. And if they both lose, I can't see how either would win with the present system and both lose in the second setup. Bottom line is that your first and second choices aren't doing enough to represent a plurality of voters then, so it might not work for you personally, but it works the way it should for most people to feel represented, and you'd likely be just as disappointed with the results under today's system.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 06:26 PM
Response to Reply #18
19. Show documentation where IRV has helped 3rd parties
just document it please, rather than asking me to repeat proven instances where
IRV does not help third parties and has maintained 2 part control.

It doesn't work - its just a placebo, a very damaging one,
a real poison pill for election transparency.

Maybe thats the real reason for pushing IRV - to undo the transparency that
many states are working towards.

Who funds these pro IRV groups anyway?

The biggest IRV group is "partners" with voting vendors.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 09:35 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. I have NO ties to voting vendors, but I DO see the value to the principles of IRV...

Again, and I'll say it again. It is NOT just about promoting third parties. It is to try and get people to feel that who they vote for, whether they vote for a third party OR one of the main parties, feel a greater need to answer to all of the people that are in their constituency, not just those that *might* vote for the other big party, but ignoring those that *might* vote for a third party.

I do believe that IRV gives us with one set of votes more of a means to give in one vote our feeling of who all is running that is best and who is worst, rather than just to pick "one" of the above, and risk not being heard at all.

You need to explain why "it doesn't work" more. What are your measurements of success? Even if the two major parties continue to get elected, that doesn't mean necessarily that it hasn't worked at getting those two parties to work harder to meet the needs of those who they feel might have more power to have them lose than if they were running under today's system.

And just because it hasn't been done a lot yet doesn't mean that it isn't a good idea to look at. The same can be said for public campaign financing. The same can be said about single payer health care in *THIS* country too. Or that at some point we might try and use solar energy for things we don't feel its capable of being used for now That doesn't mean that any of those proposed systems to dealing with deeply flawed current systems aren't good ideas too.

FDR might never have got us out of the depression if they treated the New Deal as snake oil back in those days too. And yes, there are probably some green energy companies that have interests in us moving more to green energy too to help themselves too that we need to be extra careful about what we do. An example of this is Slim Pickens efforts that are partly saying the right things, but also who want to bend the future energy development to natural gas which a number of California state propositions amongst others that were funded by him and which would reward him personally a lot more are the right ways to deal with it too. But whether his proposals are flawed or not doesn't mean that moving to green energy is a bad idea either.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 10:43 PM
Response to Reply #22
24. whn the largest "non profit" supporting IRV also supports voting vendors
it impeaches the integrity of that movement.

Especially since the push for IRV is ginned up from the top down, not from the bottom up.

IRV has existed for over a hundred years but doesn't spread because of its failures.
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 11:33 PM
Response to Reply #24
26. Do you feel that there isn't a problem with the major parties ignoring big segments of the populace?
You could also say that the two major parties are also the forces that continually try to dismiss IRV as a valid voting system because it works against their interests, just as you could try to postulate that IRV is only useful to those that are trying to vend such systems to government. Sorry, but I don't buy that argument.

Whether or not a system is IRV or not, the details of implementation need to be made open source, and need to be under control of those accountable to the people, and not under those who choose to make profits from it. Our election systems and our campaign finance system as broken as it is now, is precisely why our health care system is so broken now. Some risks NEED to be taken to change the equations here. Part of it is the system for paying for it. Part of fixing this problem is also fixing the processes for choosing who our decision makers are and how they are answerable to us so that the system is created that serves us, and not the small minority that pays for them to get elected.

If you agree with me that the status quo is a problem where the two major parties ignore big segments of society's concerns (especially when they have money being used as "free speech" votes from special interests), then what do you feel is the best way to correct these problems, if we don't look at changes to the system like IRV? If you feel that the two parties are serving us adequately without third party involvement, then you just have a different concept of how government serves us than I and others do, and that is probably at the core of our differences. If you feel that third party voices are needed to effect change, then I think you owe us some alternatives that you think would work better than IRV, and then explain why you think they would work better. The current system is clearly broken now when it comes to third party representation having any sort of realistic chance. I really can't see how IRV can make or is making things worse than they are.

People can bad mouth attempts at change like IRV of being too risky until they're blue in the face, but if you don't have some sort of change ideas yourself that you would move forward with when a system is broken, you'll still have a broken system. At some point you need to take some risks. If you don't we are doomed.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 06:31 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. why is Fair Vote, the main IRV proponent - partners with voting vendors? and sells election services
can you answer that?

Here FairVote partners with the company that seeks to spread internet voting:

Everyone Counts (E1C) has developed a very sophisticated online election and survey product that handles multiple versions of ranked ballot elections. E1C has allowed CVD to set up demonstration elections with their system, and FairVote has partnered with E1C to run private sector elections

How much money does Fair Vote make selling election services?
How much would that increase if IRV were spread, since jurisdictions cannot run IRV elections alone?

Fair Vote has an offshoot that provides election services.

The Election Services Group
We perform your elections.

Since 1992, FairVote has been dedicated to fair elections where every vote counts and
all voters are represented. As a catalyst for reform, we conduct research, analysis, education and
advocacy to build understanding of and support for more democratic voting systems.
Through our IRV America Program, we advocate instant runoff voting (IRV) as an alternative to
plurality elections and traditional runoff elections. Our Election Services Group (ESG) also consults
on electoral systems and implementation, with a focus on non-governmental elections.

We provide full service consulting on all aspects of elections.
We have worked with organizations that include large companies,
small non-profit organizations and political parties. We are experts in all aspects of elections,
including voting equipment, hardware, software, and procedures.
We can help you figure out the election solution that is right for you.


Simple Online, Electronic or by Mail IRV Vote: FairVote's Election Services Group has
highlighted three options for implementing this method of IRV, as well as the services and assistance
that we are able to provide.

Full Service Corporate Elections
General consulting on electoral design: Our consultants will work with you to clarify the goals
of your election, select an appropriate electoral system.

Elections training: Our consultants will work with you to choose balloting technologies that are right for you
and design any necessary voter education materials.
Referrals to technology providers: We are knowledgeable about election technologies,
including mail voting, phone voting, Internet voting and hybrid systems, and we can provide referrals
and recommendations about vendors.

Total solutions: We can assemble the necessary team to conduct all aspects of an election at any scale.
Once you settle on the necessary parameters -- election design, voter list, balloting technology and budget --
we will conduct the entire election from start to finish, from voter education to certified election results.


ESG has had a wide clientele, including corporations, political parties, and NGOs.
Our staff members have played key roles in providing technical assistance with IRV
implementation in San Francisco, CA; Ferndale, MI; Burlington, VT; Berkeley, CA and many other jurisdictions.


Download a sample voting system education presentation we created for a client

For a list of clients or to discuss a project, please contact Program Director David Moon at 301-270-4616
or dmoon(at)

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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 09:22 PM
Response to Reply #20
21. A lot of both flawed and honest companies pursue solving certain problems...
Just because a company is good or is bad in an implementation or is working ethically or not ethically, doesn't necessarily mean that the problem it is working on to make a solution is also flawed. You have to look at the problem itself, and whether they are doing a fair job for it separately. I can't speak for them, but there still is a problem where we have two main parties that BOTH are corrupted by corporate money and other problems with the system that don't make them serve us.

Also, I don't claim that IRV is the panacea that solves everything, just like I don't think that redistricting or term limits solves problems by themselves either. Some of those, if done incorrectly can also make things worse than we have presently too.

I personally think that the biggest problem that ultimately needs to be solved is getting in public campaign financing too. That would make these large two parties less dominant and those that buy both of them off less able to control them the way they do now, and would go in concert with something like instant runoff voting that would let people feel they have more of a voice in who gets elected. IRV by itself won't solve anything either.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #21
23. you support IRV even though it harms election integrity, doesn't work, confuses voters & raises cost
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cascadiance Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. That's your assessment, not mine...
There maybe some vested interests that want to promote it to reward themselves as trying to be a part of the processes. As I noted before that happens every place.

But the concepts of IRV ARE valuable to consider. Those who understand it, who don't have any ties with these companies, like myself see the value of it as citizens.

You claim it "doesn't work", "harms election integrity", "raises costs", and "confuses people".

The only one that I can agree with you here that I feel a case can be made is that it is confusing. But that is an educational process that can be rectified if people become informed about it, just like single payer health care is something that few people really understand and some vested interests are also intentionally trying to complicate it to suit their interests, but that doesn't mean it isn't something worth pursuing to fix a broken health care system we have now.

I think having decentralized local responsibility for elections does FAR MORE to raise costs than doing things differently like with IRV. Now if every locality had different IRV systems, and had to educate people with different rules, you might have a point, but I think more people are seeing that election systems need some degree of standardization and consistency across locales, whether IRV or the status quo means of voting are used. It isn't because it is IRV that makes it costly.

If it "doesn't work", I would submit that its because those implementing it aren't doing their job properly. And that also depends on what you expect the outcome to be. I expect the outcome to be greater accountability of politicians running to the people who vote for them, whether they be from major parties or from third parties. I still see no constructive argument that it in principal doesn't do that. The only argument would be if the implementations are flawed in their development.

Same with "election integrity". It is not because it is IRV, but it is because it is designed poorly. This happens with evoting machines now, that are far more harmful to election integrity than a well-designed paper-ballot IRV system would be. I see no detailed argument that makes that case for me that it is inherently more flawed as a system for this than the present status quo is.
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WillYourVoteBCounted Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Jul-08-09 12:28 AM
Response to Reply #12
14. IRV will not usually prevent a STRONG 3rd party from winning
like in Burlington Vermont, where third party candidates won before IRV was enacted.
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