Home General Washington, D.C. On-Line News Source "Greater Greater Washington" Advocates IRV

Washington, D.C. On-Line News Source "Greater Greater Washington" Advocates IRV

Published on August 26, 2010, by in General.

Topher Matthews has this column in “Greater Greater Washington”, an on-line news source for the Washington, D.C., area, advocating that city elections in Washington, D.C. (or at least mayoralty elections) use Instant-Runoff Voting, and that the primary be abolished.  Washington, D.C., has partisan city elections.  The city is overwhelmingly dominated by the Democratic Party.  Yet, as the column points out, the general election in November always has a substantially higher turnout than the summer primary.  See the column here.

19 Responses

  1. The North Atlantic Super-state Parliament Circuit #3
    Delaware, District of Columbia, Maryland, Pennsylvania and New Jersey

    Wayne Turner [AIDS Cure], Daniel Vovak, [Republican], Robert Creager [Libertarian], Bob Bongen [Unaffiliated], Random Dude [Pot], Czar of Spain [Nationalist], Richard Louis Carter [Anarchist], Ed Hertzog [Digital Anarchist], Eddie Bowers [Pot], David Seachrist [Pot], Marcus Pearson [Pot], Rushrock63 [Smoker], Amber Emmertz [Legalize Marijuana], Bill [Stuff], Rob Levin [Democratic/Marijuana], Nate Wien [Pot], Martha Crabill [Democratic], Bill Bradley [Democrat], Sarah Blakey [Libertarian], Ryan Baily [Bullmoose Republican], Robert “Jeffrey” Schundler [Republican], Scott Baier [Pot]

  2. You know, if you assume everyone is hyper-partisan, sure, IRV works; you could have 30 Democrats run against 1 Republican, and with IRV, one of the Democrats would certainly win (not necessarily the _best_ Democrat, but certainly _a_ Democrat.)

    But as soon as any voter–or any third-party–starts crossing traditional partisan lines, the system fails in the same way that plurality elections fail; extra candidates can become spoilers, and voters find themselves choosing between the lesser of two evils.

    Oh, and since there still aren’t any machines that are federally certified to count IRV elections, the cost will go up by about 20%.

    Let me turn on my broken record and say: Approval voting or score voting would be better choices.

  3. What about election transparency? If you want verifiable recountable elections, its extremely difficult to do with IRV.

    With IRV, you can elect the candidate that most voters disliked, as happened in Burlington VT’s last IRV election.

    Minneapolis MN’s first IRV election had lowest voter turnout since 1902.

  4. Demo Rep

    IRV = THE method to elect Stalin and Hitler clones when the Middle is divided.

    34 H–M–S
    33 S–M–H
    16 M–H–S
    16 M–S–H

    Hmmm. A mere 67 votes for M in 2nd place.

    IRV has UNEQUAL treatment of 2nd, 3rd choice votes — one more blatant ANTI-Equal Protection EVIL scheme by the usual suspects — who are hyping IRV, NPV, etc. etc.

    I second the App.V. broken record for single offices – to STOP the EVIL math MORON IRV CRAZY fanatics — as fanatic as Stalin and Hitler CRAZY fanatics ever were.

  5. Mr. Anon

    I’m gonna expect a slightly more redundant mid-ground idea. Where you have a September primary with all parties on one ballot, then the September results are used to set a ballot order for the IRV/RCV election in November, but candidates have the option to drop out for a period of time after the results are in.

    IRV/RCV is likely better for party primaries, and for small-scale situations where a majority isn’t likely on the ballot and the city can’t hold two elections.

    And I use a slash since the title of what Minneapolis, San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley are doing is RCV. But IRV is the title for everything vaguely close to IRV.

  6. IRV does *not* solve the spoiler problem, does *not* find majority winners, does *not* allow voters to cast sincere votes for their 1st choice without risking helping their last choice to win, and fails more of Arrow’s election fairness criteria than plurality voting. Other alternative voting methods, such as approval voting, Condorcet, Bucklin, range voting, the party list system – all are better than IRV-STV.

    IRV removes the right to have one’s votes counted fairly and equally with all other voters; removes the right to know that the effect of your vote is to help, rather than hurt, your favorite candidate’s chance of winning, removes the right to participate in the final decision of who governs by eliminating many voters’ ballots prior to the final counting round. In San Francisco and other towns using IRV to replace top-two runoff, they’ve had to repeal any laws requiring majority winners since IRV rarely elects majority winners as the number of candidates grows.

    Do not be taken in by “Fairytale Vote” and protect the integrity and fairness of elections by rejecting IRV.

  7. Richard

    Lots of the comments above are highly theoretical. In practice, IRV works great. It works fine in Australia, as we saw from the recent election. A variant of it worked fine in New York city 1937-1945. It has worked well in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for more than 70 years. I live in San Francisco and from my vantage point, it works very well in San Francisco.

  8. Jack

    #3 – On Burlington 2009: Not sure what you are talking about. Of the three strongest candidates, the leader in first choices (plurality voting winner) was the least popular when compared to each of the other two. RCV elected the candidate who initially was in second, but was more popular. It was like a runoff election.

    I’m with #7. These anti-RCV naysayers seem to prefer the system we have now. They don’t seem to have a clue about its impact on candidates trying to run as third party candidates.

  9. The US Parliament uses IRV for rules, the only single winner district in the US Parliament’s shere.
    (See below, rule #3)

    All other elections are for two or more members per district, and rule #4. This is the best way. Cambridge PR is better than SF IRV, because Cambridge is a nine member district, and SF is eleven single member districts.

    In SF, the threshold is 50% plus one vote, while in Cambridge the threshld is 10% plus one vote. Nine seats equals 10% plus one vote threshold, the tenth candidate gets 10% but they don’t get one vote so they don’t win. It’s the closest you can come to a ten-way tie. Thre nine extra votes, breaks all the ties.

    One member district = first one with 50% plus one vote
    Two member district = first two with 33.33% plus one vote
    Three member district = first three with 25% plus one vote
    Four member district = first four with 1/5th or 20% plus one vote.
    100 member district = first 100 with 1/101th (or .99%) plus one vote
    etc., etc.

    3. HOW THE VOTE-COUNT WORKS: Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for
    approving the rules, and all other single winner elections:
    Everyone’s vote goes initially to his or her 1st choice.
    If no alternative has a majority, then the alternative with
    fewest votes is eliminated, and each of its ballots goes to
    voter’s next choice. This process of elimination & re-distribution
    continues until 1 alternative has a majority of the ballots.

    4. THE SAINTE-LAGUE PARLIAMENT SYSTEM for seat allocation in
    all multi-seat districts: 1. Divide the election’s total
    number of votes by the number of seats. This is the 1st quota.
    2. Divide this quota into each candidate’s votes, and round
    off to the nearest whole number. That’s that candidate’s seat
    allocation. 3. If, due to rounding, this awards a number of
    seats different from the desired number of seats, then adjust
    the quota slightly up or down, till, when paragraph 2 is
    carried out, it will award all seats.

    See more at http://www.usparliament.org/rules.htm

  10. @9:

    It’s bad enough that IRV goes by the aliases of RCV, AV, and PV; please don’t also conflate it with STV.


    In Burlington, Montroll, the candidate in third-place when three candidates remained, would have beaten either Kiss (the eventual IRV winner) or Wright in a one-on-one contest; and the victory over Kiss would have been larger. That’s what #3 means.

    And as for RCV and third parties, YOU have no idea. Do you know how many third party candidates were elected by RCV in Australia this year, out of 150 seats?


    And that’s an improvement! The last three elections all saw zero. So that 1 third-party candidate out of the last six-hundred elections. RCV/IRV/AV/PV is crap for third parties.

    In San Francisco, plurality elected ONE 3rd-party candidate to council. But under IRV, they elected… ONE 3rd-party candidate to council. B.F.D. (And she’s changed her affiliation to Democrat since then, so woo-hoo.)

    And THIS anti-RCV activist doesn’t “like what we have now”; I like a system that would actually let 3rd-party candidates _win_ elections.

    Approval voting; score voting. Look into them.

  11. Richard,

    IRV has not worked well in Australia. IRV elections there appear to be massively distorted by tactical exaggeration, and has been about as two-party dominated as the USA Congress (despite the fact that we know single-member districts CAN and DO escape duopoly with voting methods such as top-two runoff).

    IRV has NOT performed well in San Francisco (where I live). There are SEVEN TIMES as many spoiled ballots as when we used plurality voting (whereas experiments show that spoilage goes DOWN with Score and Approval Voting).

    SF’s election costs seem to have INCREASED.

    We cannot have precinct totals, so all ballots must be transported to a central location for counting, contrary to best practices for election integrity, regarding chain-of-custody issues.

    And Gavin Newsom is all but assured re-election every term, particularly because of SF’s truncated form of IRV, which only allows voters to rank 3 candidates. For instance, in our last mayoral race in which we had something like 11 candidates, even if 90% of voters preferred EVERY SINGLE CANDIDATE over Newsom, Newsom could win because of “ballot exhaustion”.

    Also, many voters chose to “bullet vote” for just one candidate here in San Francisco. The rates of this behavior were much higher than in various Approval Voting elections we’ve looked at, contrary to your completely unsupported assertion that Score and Approval Voting would be too prone to that behavior.

    Now let’s go back about 6 years to when Matt Gonzalez made it to a runoff with Newsom. Despite being outspent 5-to-1, Gonzalez finished only 5% behind Newsom. The runoff gave voters a chance to focus on just those two candidates and hear Gonzalez’s arguments. They could then vote with absolutely no fear of supporting their favorite between those two (unlike with IRV, where a voter’s safest bet is to top-rank his favorite of the “electable” candidates, behaving roughly like plurality voting in practice).

    Finally, in the last couple of years IRV has been ceased in Burlington Vermont, Pierce County WA, and Cary NC — and its repeal in Aspen CO seems likely this fall. It doesn’t work well. It’s much more complicated and riddled with paradoxes and problems.

    Approval Voting is vastly simpler, more resistant to tactical voting and fraud, and democratic (as objectively measured via Bayesian regret). There is just no reasonable argument for preferring IRV to Approval.

  12. Also, I called the election administrator in Cambridge Mass in the summer of 2007, and she told me they use multi-winner STV for some city council, not IRV.

  13. The problem with IRV is it’s only good in single winner districts. For two on more (the more the better) it should be referred to as multi-winner STV, or in the US Parliament’s case, the Sainte-Lague Parliament seat distribution system.

    When IRV is used in a single winner district like SF, the threshold is still high at 50% plus one vote. SF uses eleven single winner districts.

    Multi-seated districts bring the threshold down, it comes down lower with each additional seat.

    If a minor party typically garners 10% support, then why not advocate for a threshold of 10% plus one vote, as in Cambridge? There are nine seats there, so the threshold is 1/10th plus one vote to get elected.

    Unfortunately, a lot of people advocate for IRV, but single winner districts aren’t helpful, except on single issues, like a single set of rules.

    Single winner districts tend to attract egotists. They must promote the idea they are better than all others, in order to win. While multi-winner districts attract team players.

  14. Clay said;
    “There is just no reasonable argument for preferring IRV to Approval.”

    Clay is incorrect. IRV is far superior to Approval in single winner elections, because more ties are guaranteed to be broken with ranked voting. Ranked voting (or preference voting, PrV) is superior to Approval Voting in multi-winner districts for the same reason. More ties get broken with ranked voting, than with Approval Voting.

    The voter must mark with consecutively ranked numbers, verses Xs or check, under Approval Voting.

  15. icr

    Clay is incorrect. IRV is far superior to Approval in single winner elections, because more ties are guaranteed to be broken with ranked voting.

    “More ties are guaranteed to be broken”? What does this mean? Do have links to any studies that show what you’re trying to say?

  16. Demo Rep

    For the many clueless and ignorant –

    There is BOTH a YES/NO and Number Voting (1, 2, 3, etc.) aspect in REAL reforms.

    i.e. YES or NO [Absolute Votes] regarding ALL candidates — just like on ballot questions.

    And, of course, Number Votes (relative votes) regarding ALL candidates — obviously not ALL Number Votes being approval — just the lesser of the various evil candidates involved.

    IRV totally ignores the Absolute YES votes aspect — due to the many IRV math MORONS hyping IRV — who will just love it when more and more Stalin/Hitler clones get elected and do what S/H monsters always do in public offices — with their manufactured mighty majority *mandates* (M4 from Hell.

  17. icr Says:
    August 28th, 2010 at 6:02 am
    Clay is incorrect. IRV is far superior to Approval in single winner elections, because more ties are guaranteed to be broken with ranked voting.

    “More ties are guaranteed to be broken”? What does this mean? Do have links to any studies that show what you’re trying to say?

    …to answer your questions…
    What I mean by more ties are guaranteed to be broken, is that under approval voting a voter makes a “tic” as a black dot, a check, an “x”, a hole punched, each tic is an equal unit of one. In approval voting each tic is a unit, but all tics are equal units.

    However in ranked voting, each “tic” is a number, and only consecutively ranked numbers, and no number can be used twice. Violation of these rules will cause a spoiled ballot. Now, since each tic under IRV is a different number, then the sums of the combined tics when added will vary much more than the sums of the equal unit tics of approval voting. So there are fewer chances of ties, because the spectrum of sums is much wider.

    Does this answer your question, as to why “more ties are guaranteed to be broken under ranked voting than IRV”?

    And no, I don’t have any links to explain this, but if you want a trusted mathematician, try searching for Mike Ossipoff.

  18. Clay Shentrup

    James O. Ogle,

    Your guesstimate is not mathematically sound. Here are the correct calculations by Warren D. Smith, the Princeton math Ph.D. who co-founded the Center for Range Voting.

    Mike Ossipoff is a proponent of Score Voting (aka Range Voting).

  19. James O. Ogle,

    Your guesstimate is not mathematically sound. Here are the correct calculations by Warren D. Smith, the Princeton math Ph.D. who co-founded the Center for Range Voting.

    Mike Ossipoff is a proponent of Score Voting (aka Range Voting).

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