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Center for Voting and Democracy ("Fairvote") Explains Why it Doesn't Support Approval Voting

Published on July 30, 2011, by in General.

The Center for Voting and Democracy, also known as Fairvote, is a national organization that works for Instant Runoff Voting and proportional representation. It really posted this statement of why it doesn’t also support approval voting.

9 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V – pending MAJOR public education about head to head Condorcet math.

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

  2. Dale Sheldon-Hess

    The entire analysis seems to key around these method’s failure to follow “later no harm”, a criteria created post-hoc specifically to argue in favor of IRV. (Harm that, by the way, is being avoided by the candidates, NOT the voters. Who benefits there?)

    (Although I also grin at the back-to-back assertions of “not been used in the real world” and “real-world failures.” It’s gotta be one or other. (And actually, I’d argue that it’s neither.))

    And REAL classy, btw, that they bought rangevoting.COM and pointed it at this little screed. Range voting advocacy can, of course, be found at rangevoting.ORG

  3. This piece is basically just a rehashing of the “later-no-harm” issue that Richie has been repeating for years. We at The Center for Election Science feel the available evidence does not support Richie’s assessment. Here’s a very detailed analysis of the underlying “bullet voting” argument that Richie is invoking.

    http://www.electology.org/bullet-voting

  4. Demo Rep

    How often do the CVD genius folks think there will be a Stalin clone and a Hitler clone in the final top 2 if IRV is used (due to the divided muddled Middle in a time of CRISIS — like today) ???

    It only takes ONCE for some really bad stuff to happen for a major office — i.e. Prez, Guv of a large State, etc.

  5. Rob Richie

    Dale and Clay,

    There’s nothing nefarious about having an easy URL to give out people who have questions about a voting system that you and others always raise as a proposal. No one owns the rights to the name of a voting method.

    Few serious reformers actually trying to get things passed see approval voting and range voting as serious. And the fact that neither method is used for ANY governmental election at ANY level ANYWHERE in the world (with absolutely no indication of that changing) is evidence that we just may be right.

    If you read one part of the piece closely, read the part about Bucklin Voting and its failures. Hard for me to believe you can read that and imagine approval voting really working. And also hard to believe that you think we magically time-traveled to tell these early 20th century analysts that Bucklin voting as failing due to the later-no-harm problem, which these folks wrote about quite directly.

    If you don’t like IRV and want third parties to be able to run hard and have a shot at winning, then take on winner-take-all elections with proportional representation Now that actually would make some sense and perhaps we could have something to agree on.

    And Thomas/DemoRep — gotta hand it to you for staying on message for the last 20 years.

  6. @DR Hitler won a plurality, which is exactly what irv would prevent, as a candidate would need to get a majority to win. As for hitler and stalin in the same election, they would deflate each others campaign as they both draw on the same populist bandwagon riders.

    The later-no-harm terminology is unfortunate, but the principle is sound. IRV is least susceptible to manipulation and gaming. It also allows each voter to express more about their preferences, while counting exactly one vote per voter. Think of irv as approval voting with the addition of ranked order info.

  7. Jim Riley

    #7 A voter in an IRV election can be harmed by voting his sincere preferences.

    In order to mitigate this harm, then it is rational behavior for a voter to tactically order their preferences in order to achieve a more favorable (or at least a less disfavorable) outcome.

    Voter pamphlets for IRV elections should explain this so that all voters may vote effectively.

  8. Rob Richie

    #8/Jim — The harm you say can happen by voting sincerely in an IRV election is the same as with runoff (Top Two) elections– yet far less prone to actual tactical voting than with runoffs, as a voter can tactically change a vote between rounds and cannot do that with IRV and because runoffs have to eliminate so many candidates after just counting first choices. Given this reality do you propose the same kind of voter instruction for runoffs?

    Furthermore, the scenarios for IRV causing this kind of effect are something you determine AFTER the election, not before. But with approval voting and other systems that violate later-no-harm, it’s something any strategic actor immediately know s– it’s true in every election, every time.

    Here’s some evidence for what I’m saying. San Francisco has a highly competitive IRV election for mayor this year. Bloomberg News did a story on the election this week, and for it included a video of the president of SF Board of Supervisors, mayoral candidate David Chiu, talking about IRV. Listen to it here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzaYWbcn7TM

    It’s highly instructive. At the end, Chiu says basically “Any consulting team that says they’ve figured out a way to beat the system is putting you on.” That is, they don’t know how to beat the system except to just try to get as many first, second and third choice rankings as possible, which sounds like democracy at work to me.

    But there is no way this would be said for approval voting. And it might not be said of traditional runoffs, as a candidate who is sure of winning 35%-40% in runoffs may get some supporters to vote for a prospective weaker runoff challenger, something they would never do with IRV.

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